All That Glitters

Gold is one of the most traditional and sought-after metals in jewelry. It is dense, soft, and shiny, and it will not tarnish, rust, or corrode. When selecting your engagement rings, necklaces, or bracelets, there are a couple things to consider when it comes to gold.

Colors of Gold

Rose Gold Ring

Pure gold has a bright yellow color, but it can also be mixed with other metals to be different colors. Although it can also come in blue, purple, green, and even black, the three most popular colors of gold are yellow, white, and rose.

White Gold Ring

Yellow gold is naturally occurring and is the pure form of the metal. White gold is mixed with different metals (palladium or nickel) to give it a color close to silver or platinum. Rose is an alloy including about 25% copper, which gives it a pinkish color.

Dangling the Golden Carat

Pure gold is too soft of a metal for any type of use, so it is mixed with copper and other metals to make it harder. The hybrid of these two or more elements is called an alloy. The gold content of gold alloys is measured in carats (k), with pure gold's designation at 24k. The World Gold Council defines gold measurements based on the The Cartage System, which measures it in fractions of 24ths.

  • Because it so soft, pure gold (24k) is rarely used.
  • Still rare, 21k gold (21/24ths of 100% gold) is about 87%, with the other 13% being an alloy with copper. 
  • Popular in high end jewelry, 18k gold has a relatively high gold content (about 75%) and is much stronger than 24k or 21k.
  • Because it's only 58% gold, 14k is popular because of its affordability.
  • The lowest legal gold content in the United States is 10k, which is less than 42% gold.

When purchasing your next gold bracelet, necklace, or ring, be sure to take into consideration your preference (or the preference of the person for whom you are buying the gift) for the color of gold and its gold content.