Colors of Gold

Fresh-from-the-earth gold is a warm and brilliant golden yellow. And while yellow gold is the most popular color of gold, it is also found in other colors, including white gold, rose gold and even green gold. How are these colors created? What colors of gold look best on different skin tones? Read on to learn more!


Gold is a Soft Metal

Pure 24 karat gold is very soft. It's so soft, in fact, that it is rarely used to create jewelry. Gold is often alloyed with harder metals to create a durable metal to work with. However, when pure gold is combined with other metals, it can take on a variety of colors and shades that are desirable to different people. At Zales, you can find rich shades of gold and paler shades - it's all in how the gold is mixed.


Yellow Gold

Yellow gold is the most popular shade of this precious metal and is used to create a majority of the jewelry on the market today. Yellow gold is especially popular in engagement and wedding styles. Yellow gold gets its warm and luxurious hue from the addition of silver and copper. Yellow gold is available in many different shades, depending on its purity. For example, 18 karat gold has a richer, deeper color than 14 karat gold, while 10 karat gold has the lightest color.

Yellow gold is the perfect way to showcase diamonds or gemstones. Yellow gold also looks great on just about anybody, but especially those with warm skin tones. Its rich hue adds a golden glow to any attire.

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White Gold

White gold is another very popular color of gold. White gold is often used in engagement rings and wedding rings as it makes diamonds appear whiter and brighter. White gold gets its color from the addition of palladium, zinc, copper, tin and manganese. The highest quality of white gold is 18 karat white gold, which is an alloy of pure yellow gold and bright white palladium. Lesser karat gold, including 14 karat white gold and 10 karat white gold, contain less palladium and is therefore less white. To counter this, most white gold jewelry is plated with a coat of rhodium, a bright white metal in the platinum family. Rhodium plating ensures a sleek white tone but will wear away after time. You will often hear people say they are getting their white gold pieces "dipped." This simply means that a fresh layer of rhodium plating is being applied, bringing the piece back to its original brightness and luster.

White gold shows off diamonds and colored gemstones equally well. The lightness of the metal allows the colors of the gemstones to really pop, while making diamonds appear brighter. White gold is a lovely look on any skin tone, but looks particularly lovely on cooler skin tones.

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Rose Gold

The most romantic hue of all the golds is rose gold. Rose gold, also called pink gold, gets its striking and unique color from the addition of copper and silver. The most precious rose gold is the 22 karat weight. It is often referred to as 'crown gold' because 22 karat rose gold was used to create a the gold crown coin, which was introduced in England in 1526. Like yellow gold, the more copper that is used in the alloy, the deeper and rosier the color. Therefore, 18 karat rose gold has the richest and deepest color, while 14 karat rose gold has a mid-tone; 10 karat rose gold is the lightest rose in color.

Today, rose gold is experiencing a resurgence in popularity. Rose gold is being seen more and more in engagement and wedding ring styles as well as everyday jewelry. Rose gold makes diamonds appear warmer and brighter, and certain gemstones, like morganite, appear richer and rosier. Rose gold set with black, champagne or cognac diamonds is a lovely, on-trend look being recognized both in fashion and bridal jewelry. Rose gold in any karat weight is one of those rare metals that looks beautiful on any skin tone.

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Other Colors of Gold

While yellow gold, white gold and rose gold are the most popular colors of karat gold jewelry, gold is available in other shades as well. These colors are not generally used in jewelry, except as an accent. It is rare to find an entire piece of jewelry made from these colors of gold.

  • Green Gold - is a mix of yellow gold, silver, copper and cadmium.
  • Grey Gold - is a blend of yellow gold, silver, manganese and copper. This color gold contains no palladium, which is a brightener.
  • Purple Gold - also called Amethyst or Violet gold, is an ally of yellow gold and aluminum.
  • Blue Gold - is a blend of yellow gold and either gallium or indium.
As you can see, gold is a versatile metal and unique colors can be created when alloyed with others.