What to Know About Gold

January 15th, 2016 | Ali Brownrigg


The best thing about gold (aside from its lustrous beauty) is the number of hues it comes in. Learn the difference between rose, white, and yellow gold, and the scoop on karats.


The Rainbow Connection
Gold is most commonly found in three colors: yellow, white, and rose, but if you double-down on your Internet skills you can also find green, red, blue, even purple. How is that possible? While gold is naturally yellow, the color of the metal can be manipulated by mixing it with other metal alloys when molten.

For example, if silver (or other white metals such as nickel or palladium) is added to pure gold, the gold becomes less yellow, whiter in hue, and called white gold. White gold is often plated with another metal called rhodium—closely related to platinum—that provides an extra bright silvery-white finish and helps protect the metal. This is the version of white gold you’ll find in most fine jewelry today. While the rhodium finish can fade over time, a simple re-plating is all it takes to bring back its original shine.

When copper, which is a reddish hue, is added to yellow gold, the metal takes on a pinkish shade referred to as rose gold. (Aluminum is the alloy that makes gold purple, by the way.)

Petite Diamond Engagement Ring in 14k Yellow Gold
Petite Diamond Engagement Ring in 14k Yellow Gold
Petite Twisted Halo Diamond Engagement Ring in 14k White Gold
Petite Twisted Halo Diamond Engagement Ring in 14k White Gold

The Fine Print
Gold purity—or its fineness—is measured in karats. Karats measure the purity of the gold per mass, in fractions of 24. In layman’s terms, 24-karat gold is 100 percent pure, while 18-karat gold is 75 percent pure, and 14-karat gold is 58.5 percent pure. The remaining percentage is comprised of different metal alloys. So the higher the amount of pure gold in the alloy, the higher the karat number will be. This is also why you will see real gold stamped with a 750 (for 18k gold) or 585 (for 14k gold).

While pure 24k gold is a bright, rich yellow, it can be too soft for everyday wear, although some cultures, South Asian in particular, have an affinity for it. 14k and 18k are the most common karat designations found in fine jewelry, and are the karat weights that Blue Nile carries exclusively. They are both perfectly suitable for engagement and wedding rings.

Double Milgrain Comfort Fit Wedding Ring in 14k Yellow Gold
Double Milgrain Comfort Fit Wedding Ring in 14k Yellow Gold
Monique Lhuillier Petal Garland Diamond Eternity Ring in 18k Rose Gold
Monique Lhuillier Petal Garland Diamond Eternity Ring in 18k Rose Gold
Mid-weight Comfort Fit Wedding Ring in 14k White Gold
Mid-weight Comfort Fit Wedding Ring in 14k White Gold

Long sought after for fine jewelry, gold is a classic metal that never goes out of style. What hue is right for you largely comes down to personal preference. While you can never go wrong with yellow or white gold, rose gold has been enjoying a surge in popularity recently and is a hit on many jeweler’s trend lists.

January 15th, 2016
Ali Brownrigg
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