People are often confused about the different types of gold — both the quality and color. Some know gold is available in different colors, but other than personal preferences, don't really know what they are or why colors matter at all. I could discuss gold jewelry for hours, but for those of you who do not share my obsession, this is a bit of a crash course and will allow you to get the best gold jewelry options for your specific taste, budget and more importantly, for your lifestyle. At the end of the day, buying gold jewelry is a very personal decision and all about “YOU.” There is no formula. Our mantra is, you can and should “Express Yourself, Your Way!”
Gold is a chemical element and is represented by the symbol “Au” in the periodic table, short for the Latin word Aurum. In Latin, the word Aurum means “Glowing Dawn,” perhaps a reference to the golden glow reminiscent of the glow from pure gold. On a side note, our focus on gold is also the origin for the name of our company “Au Xchange.”
What are the different types of gold jewelry available?
When buying gold jewelry, you should look for the “K” or “karat” mark. This denotes the measure of purity of the gold. This “K” mark will tell you the gold content in the piece of jewelry you are purchasing. The mark “24K” or “999” stands for 100% pure gold, which is a very soft metal and not at all practical for use in making gold jewelry. It scratches and gets deformed very easily.
“18K” is 75% pure gold and 25% alloy and is recognized by the “18K” or "750" stamp. 18k gold is commonly used for fine jewelry due to its hardness. Diamonds and other precious stones set in 18K gold are pretty sturdy and have a smaller chance of getting loose out of their settings. 18K gold is more yellow in color due to the higher concentration of pure gold.
“14K” is 58.5% pure gold and 41.5% alloy and is recognized by the “14K” or “585” stamp. 14K gold is ideal for everyday use in fine jewelry. Due to its hardness, it is more resistant to wear and tear from everyday use. Moreover, its color makes it more suitable to more skin tones. It is also popular due to its relative affordability.
Some jewelers also make gold jewelry out of 12K, 10K or 9K gold, but it is not considered “fine jewelry.” Indeed, AuXchange does not make or offer any jewelry below 14K gold because of our belief in offering clients the best long term value proposition for their fine jewelry purchases, including maintaining and growing value.
What are the different colors of gold jewelry one can buy?
Pure gold comes in a deep yellowish-reddish hue, but as I noted above, it is not used to make gold jewelry because it is very soft and too fragile for everyday use. Pure gold is mixed or alloyed with other metals such as silver, copper, nickel, and zinc to improve its strength and resilience.
Gold jewelry is generally available in Yellow, White, Rose (also known as Pink gold) varieties.Pure gold comes in a deep yellowish-reddish hue, but as I noted above, it is not used to make gold jewelry because it is very soft and too fragile for everyday use. Pure gold is mixed or alloyed with other metals such as silver, copper, nickel, and zinc to improve its strength and resilience.
Yellow gold is made by mixing pure gold with an alloy of mostly silver and copper. It is the purest of colors because of its closeness to pure gold. A higher percentage of copper is used for a darker yellow shade.
White gold is made of gold and at least one white metal such as palladium, nickel or silver. White gold is more durable and scratch-resistant than yellow gold, and depending on which metal it is alloyed with, it could also be more affordable than both yellow gold and platinum. Initially, white gold was a mixture of palladium and yellow gold. But nowadays, it is most often created by combining yellow gold with alloys like zinc, copper, and a platinum compound. Rhodium plating is usually added to remove any trace of yellow gold that may still shine through, so it looks more white. Although this plating may need to be replaced every few years, it is an affordable fix.
Rose gold (or pink gold) has become more popular over the last decade or so. Rose Gold is alloyed with gold, copper, and silver. The more copper added to the mix, the deeper and redder the rose gold hue. Rose gold is more affordable than the other gold colors because it uses the inexpensive copper for its rose color. Due to its copper content, rose gold is also more durable than yellow or white gold. Peach Gold is obtained by mixing gold with just copper.
Green gold (or Electrum) is an alloy created by mixing silver with gold. For the highest caliber of green gold, look for a balanced mixture of 18K green gold, made up of 75% yellow gold and 25% silver. For rings, nickel or zinc may be added to strengthen the alloy. The deeper the gold purity, the deeper the green. For example, 18K green gold will be greener than 14K green gold.
Silver, copper, zinc, palladium are classic gold alloys. Use of non-traditional gold alloys or "low density" metals like cobalt, aluminum, potassium, and “high density” metals like silver, tin, lead results in unusual hues. Alloys of the most unusual hues are called intermetallic compounds. Intermetallic compounds include blue gold and its hues, ranging from light blue to saturated violet. Only problem is that these metals have low plasticity and high fragility and thus can dent or crack more easily.
Blue gold is a gold alloy with indium containing 46% of 11K gold, making it pretty fragile. A lighter bluish hue is obtained from a compound of gold and gallium, containing 58% of 14K gold, which makes it more durable.
Purple gold (also called amethyst gold and violet gold) is an alloy of gold and aluminum, where the gold content is around 79% and can therefore be referred to as 18 karat gold. Purple gold is more brittle than other gold alloys, which is highly problematic since it can shatter easily. Oddly enough, it is usually machined and faceted to be used as a "gem" in conventional jewelry rather than by itself.
Black gold is a type of gold used in jewelry and is typically a surface treatment, created by oxidation of gold. Gold–cobalt–chromium alloy (75% gold, 15% cobalt, 10% chromium) yields a surface oxide that's olive-tinted. Another method for obtaining black gold is by plating it with black rhodium or ruthenium.
WHAT COLOR OF GOLD IS BEST SUITED FOR YOU?
This is the million-dollar question. First and foremost, you should always choose jewelry that you will LOVE wearing for whatever reason, and especially if it’s a sentimental piece. Sadly though, people often buy a brand without considering whether the particular piece or brand compliments them.
Sometimes, people think because someone else was wearing something that looked amazing on them, it will also flatter them. Sometimes it does. But wouldn’t you rather know what metal color suits your skin best, both aesthetically and functionally? Because jewelry often rests on skin (although not always), the contrast of the metal against your skin is apparent. Understanding which metal compliments your skin tone is, therefore, critical.
Skin tone is not the same as your skin color. Skin tone or under-color is unchanging and related to ethnicity and biological composition (relative ratios of melanin and pigment), while skin color may go from pale to tan depending on exposure to environment.
White gold, platinum and silver compliments people with cool skin tones, while people with warm skin tones look good in yellow and rose gold, copper and brass jewelry. If you have a neutral skin tone, you’re lucky because you look good in both white metals and yellow metals.
Hope this has been helpful to you. Please do not hesitate to contact us at with any questions