White Gold Vs Yellow Gold Vs Rose Gold October 25, 2017 – Posted in: Jewelry Blog

Everyone talks about different colors of gold when, in reality, only yellow gold will ever be mined. So how – and why – did we end up with other colors, and what difference does it make to a ring?

In terms of the difference, we’re mainly talking about aesthetics, but that is still very important to most people.

What is Yellow Gold?

Pure Yellow Gold

Yellow gold, the “real” version of the precious metal, is rarely used in its purest form. We do talk about 24 karats (24k) gold, but at this purity, the gold is extremely malleable. It can cause problems with wearing and misshaping even with great care.

Of course, yellow gold is a beautiful metal for rings and other jewelry. It is highly resistant to corrosion as well as being non-toxic and hypo-allergenic in its pure form. Many ways are always being found to make it more usable for jewelry manufacture.

Alloyed Yellow Gold

The lower the official rating, the lower the purity. At anything less than 24k, yellow gold is combined with other metals such as nickel, zinc, palladium, copper, and more. The numbers are important, as gold is considered to have 24 “parts”.

To remove some of the softness of pure gold, it is common for the highest grade of gold used in modern ring manufacture to be 22k. The other 2 parts are copper. 18k is usually the most traditional grade of gold on the market. At 9k, therefore, the metal is only 37.5% gold (100÷24*9=37.5).

High-quality gold jewelry wasn’t always also from alloys. It once was common for 24k gold to be the primary type of gold. This all changed when the common masses began ordering wedding bands. In order to avoid high costs, the rings were often quite narrow and thin. If a wedding band from, say, a century ago were to be viewed now, it’s likely that at least one part of the band would be worn very thin, and may even have snapped due to the constant wearing.

But, whatever the grade, there’s no denying that yellow gold makes for an exquisite ring, and pairs very well with diamonds a little higher up the color scale, as the combination of the yellow gold, and the slight yellow tint of the diamond give the whole piece a warm feel that is in stark contrast to the coolness that naturally goes with colorless diamonds and white metal. Using yellow gold can also look spectacular when against olive or darker skin tones.

  • Art Deco Five Stone Diamond Ring - Avalon Ring 14026 TV
    Avalon Ring. Circa 1920
  • Edwardian Openwork Platinum Yellow Gold Ring - Fenmore Ring 14028 TV
    Fenmore Ring. Circa 1910
  • Elongated Marquis Motif Antique Ruby And Diamond Halo Ring 14037-TV-1000PX
    Medina Ring. Circa 1890
  • Edwardian Old European Diamond Cluster Ring - Lamego Ring 14031 TV
    Lamego Ring. Circa 1905
  • Cluster Diamond Earrings Stanton Earrings Top View
    Stanton Earrings
  • Aquamarine Diamond and Yellow Gold Ring - Elliston Ring
    Elliston Ring
  • Retro Era Five Stone Engagement Ring - Melbourne Ring 14002 TV
    Melbourne Ring. Circa 1945
  • Antique Yellow Gold Ring Lafayette Ring Top View
    Lafayette Ring. Circa 1880
  • 0.55ct Rose Cut Center Diamond Floral Motif Cluster Engagement Ring 13966-TV-1000PX
    Escan Ring. Circa 1890

What is White Gold?

White gold is often used as a less expensive substitute for platinum, as it bears very similar color properties. It isn’t, however, without its own inherent issues.

Originally, yellow gold was alloyed with nickel in a ratio of 9:1, as the nickel acts as a bleaching agent for the yellow of the gold and also served to make the metal more durable. The downside to this practice is that, even in such a low percentage of the overall weight, nickel can cause skin irritations for around 1 in 8 people. As a result, many countries now have stopped using nickel altogether in their white gold jewelry.

An alternative formula was sought, of which a gold, palladium and silver alloy is now commonly used. As palladium and silver are also precious metals, the reduction in price over 24k gold isn’t as great as when nickel is used, but it significantly reduces the chance of dermatitis occurring in the wearer. Even with the addition of the two white metals, the finished alloy still has a slightly warm look. Rhodium plating brightens the alloy.

The problem with the plating is that it is, in itself, not particularly durable, and white gold rings and other items will require re-plating after several years, due to the rhodium wearing off.

However, despite this minor inconvenience, white gold has brought the “platinum look” to far more people than would otherwise have been possible with simply using platinum. White gold is beautiful with colorless diamonds, and also complements colored stones like rubies, emeralds, and sapphires perfectly. Click here to compare white gold and platinum.

  • Diamond and Emerald Half Eternity Band - Sylvan Band 13985 TV
    Sylvan Band
  • French Retro Diamond Ring Verdun Ring Top View 13973
    Verdun Ring. Circa 1945
  • Ruby and Diamond Half Eternity Band - Elmhurst Band 13986 TV
    Elmhurst Band
  • 0.91ct Cushion Cut Floral Cluster Diamond Engagement Ring Top View DYL40-TV-1000PX
    Delray Ring
  • Emerald Cut Zambian Emerald Cocktail Ring - Winslow Ring DYL43 TV
    Winslow Ring
  • Vintage Old European Cut Diamond Ring - Virginia Ring 13519 TV
    Virginia Ring. Circa 1950
  • 1.39ct Fancy Yellow Oval Diamond Marquis Cut Halo Engagement Ring DYL42-TV-1000PX
    Miramichi Ring
  • Vintage Retro Era Wide Gold Band - Andover Ring 13805 TV
    Andover Ring. Circa 1940
  • French Cartier 18k White Gold Band - 12426 TV
    French Cartier White Gold Band. Circa 1990

What is Rose Gold?

Rose gold, originally known as “Russian gold” due to its popularity there in the early 19th century, and now commonly also referred to as pink or red gold, is another alloy, and has been increasing steadily in popularity over the last 20 years, even to the point of being simulated as a finish for smartphones.

Rose gold is an alloy of yellow gold, copper, and silver. The copper to silver ratio usually determines how rose/pink/red the final color will be. The yellow gold volume is usually fairly consistent at around 75% making rose gold, in effect, 18K gold. It also doesn’t bring any of the plating or skin irritation problems of white gold but has greatly increased durability over yellow gold.

Rose gold is common in wedding rings. It is just that bit different and is likely to draw admiring comments. When used to set stones, rose gold is surprisingly versatile but is best when set with colorless diamonds. The contrast between the white of the diamond and the relative boldness of the rose gold makes a breathtaking combination.

  • 18k Yellow Gold Old European Cut Engagement Ring Hyde Ring Top View
    Hyde Ring
  • Half-Eternity Band Rose Gold and Diamonds - Sabine Band
    Sabine Band
  • Fancy Colored Pink Diamond Ring Top View
    Scandia Ring
  • Georgian Citrine and Pearl Halo Ring Bennett Ring 13226
    Bennett Ring. Circa 1840
  • Blue Topaz and Diamond Gold Ring Ridgewood Ring
    Ridgewood Ring
  • Neston Ring Top View
    Neston Ring. Circa 1900
  • Askern Earrings Top View
    Askern Earrings
  • Newry Ring TV Front
    Newry Ring
  • RR02259AM Richmond Ring
    Richmond Ring

White Gold Vs Yellow Gold Vs Rose Gold

The real answer to this question will entirely be based on your preference. There is no absolutely correct answer.

The color of the metal is usually directed by personality and/or previous jewelry you may own. In most cases, the decision will be final. It is highly recommended to put plenty of thought into the color of your ring before making your purchase.