Gold is available in several different colors. The most popular is yellow gold, followed by white gold and rose gold, though other gold colors are sometimes also available such as bronze, red and lime gold. Jewellery can also be made using a combination of different gold colors. These jewellery items are sometimes called two-tone, three-tone or multi-colored gold.
The gold content of yellow gold is measured in the similar way as it is measured for white gold. So an 18ct white gold ring contains 75% pure gold, just as 18ct yellow gold contains 75% pure gold. The difference in color between yellow, white and rose is determined by the metals used in the alloy mix.
As the color difference is due to the metal components in the alloy mix, the color of yellow gold and rose gold will not chip, fade or wear off with age. Yellow gold is made by mixing pure gold with alloy metals such as copper and zinc. Rose gold is made using a mix of pure gold with alloys including copper. The copper provides the rose-reddish color. White gold is an alloy of gold and some white metals such as silver and palladium.
Traditionally nickel was used in white gold, however, nickel is no longer used in most white gold made today as nickel can cause reactions with some people. When white gold rings are new, they can be coated with another white metal called Rhodium. Rhodium is a metal very similar to platinum and rhodium shares many of the properties of platinum including its white color.
The rhodium plating is used to make the white gold look more white. The natural color of white gold is actually a light grey color. The rhodium is very white and very hard, but it does wear away eventually. To keep a white gold ring looking its best, it should be re-rhodium plated approximately each 12 to 18 months. Most local jewellers are able to rhodium plate jewellery for a cost effective price.
As each gold color contains the same proportion of pure gold, all gold colors with the same carat weight when measured on the Vickers scale have the same Vickers score.
There can be a difference in color between the different carats of gold. 22ct yellow gold is more yellow than 18ct yellow gold with 22ct yellow gold having a richer golden color making 22ct yellow gold a more popular choice of yellow gold than 18ct for ladies engagement rings.
10ct rose gold has a darker rose-copper color than 18ct rose gold which has a more subtle rose color. 18ct white gold and 22ct white gold have a similar white color (as normally both have a rhodium plating finish).
When comparing the price of the gold colors in the same carat, white gold is normally a little more expensive than yellow gold and rose gold. Yellow gold and rose gold normally have approximately the same price.
When trying to decide between the gold carat types, there are three things to consider. The metals performance with every day wear, the difference in color between the 10ct, 14ct, 18ct and 22ct gold, the difference in price between the gold carats.
In practical terms, 22ct generally holds up to everyday wear better than 10ct and tends to look better than 10ct as it ages over the years. This is one of the reasons why 22ct is normally preferred for ladies engagement rings rather than 10ct.
22ct is the superior metal for lady's and men's wedding rings provided that the ring is not a lightweight construction. However, 22ct is more expensive than 14ct and 10ct, which is usually fine for ladies engagement rings, though in a large men's ring the 22ct price can be a noticeable difference.
10ct, 14ct, 18ct and 22ct are each equally suitable for use in dress rings, earrings, pendants, bracelets and necklaces. Many people choose 10ct and 14ct for their earrings and pendants due to its lower price.