Gold in its purest form has a natural, soft yellow color. It’s nothing like the shiny, reflective bars you see in the movies or the stunning chains hanging around the neck of your favorite rapper. Gold has a subtler, more nuanced color that demands your attention before you know it’s genuine.
White gold has long been a staple in wedding rings, commonly accented by a diamond as the focal point. Yellow and white gold are commonly used to commemorate NBA championships and lifelong promises of love and are used to make fraternity signet rings because of gold’s malleability in its unalloyed form. There are, however, some key differences between the two, and it’s important to understand those differences before you invest in either.
Jewelry made with white and yellow gold can contain the same amount of gold yet appear radically different from each other. Recently, rose gold has been making the rounds in social media and has quickly become a crowd favorite ever since Apple popularized it with the iPhone 6s. What exactly are the differences between these gold colors, and how will they affect the value of your investment?
Pure gold can be forged into any shape you can imagine. You can cut it yourself using basic tools found at most hardware stores, and it’s easily scratched by unglazed ceramic plates. To give it body and rigidity so that it can be fashioned into a necklace or a wedding band, or stored away in a vault in the form of a solid bar, it must be fused with other metals to make an alloy.
The difference between yellow gold, white gold, and rose gold is the metal used to create that alloy. Pure gold is very commonly mixed with zinc, nickel, copper, silver, and its more expensive and much rarer cousin, palladium. The color of your gold item will depend heavily on which of these metals are used and in what proportion to the gold itself.
Gold is a sectile mineral, meaning it can be cut in many different ways like a diamond. It’s measured in karats (with a “k,” not a “c”), with one karat being the minimum and 24 karats signifying the highest purity. If you see 18k, 16k, or 12k when shopping for gold at a jeweler, that only means 18/24, 16/24, or 12/24 of the jewelry you see is made of gold.
White gold is commonly alloyed with zinc, nickel, or palladium, giving it that silky, silver-like finish, while yellow gold is a combination of gold and copper. Nickel and palladium have a bleaching effect on gold, so more of them can be added to balance out the reddening effect of copper or lessened for a rose gold finish.
White gold has the same value as yellow gold, provided they’re the same number of karats. Karats are the only determinant of a gold item’s purity and, therefore, its ultimate worth. Different numbers of karats, however, have different practical uses.
Wedding rings are commonly 14 to 18 karats, alloyed with silver, nickel, and copper to keep their pristine form as they’re handed down from generation to generation. The rule of thumb here is that the less real gold found in your wedding ring, the longer it’s going to last. A wedding ring with 24 karats of gold will be much more valuable and have a more honest appearance but will more easily bend, scratch, and break.
Sometimes jewelers will charge more for white gold items, as they’re now commonly coated with rhodium. Rhodium, a precious metal, is a distant cousin of platinum and is used to strengthen gold while giving it a vibrant shine. Many people make the mistake of thinking that the color of rhodium is the color of white gold, so it’s important to know the percentages of the metals in your gold alloy.
A good metal ratio for white gold is 90% gold and 10% nickel. Some people, however, may unknowingly have nickel dermatitis, a minor skin rash caused by an allergic reaction to nickel that affects one out of eight people. You can minimize the nickel content of your gold item by adding in more copper, palladium, and zinc.
Gold has been used as an adornment since the dawn of recorded history. Its function as a luxury item was greatly touted during the Victorian and Gregorian eras of Europe, where they were combined with precious stones like sapphires and rubies to make crowns, crests, and embellishments for lords and ladies. Jewelers later added other rare metals to make more practical, inexpensive jewelry for commoners.
Gold has been mixed with nickel, zinc, and palladium since the early 19th century, but white gold largely remained obscure until the 1920s, when the supply of platinum was funneled for military use. With platinum rings, lighters, and necklaces in short supply, people began turning to gold, which was cheaper and just as long-lasting.
Americans and Europeans sought gold with the appearance of platinum, and so white gold had its heyday. The sales of engagement rings have since dwindled because fewer people are choosing to get married, but white gold jewelry is seeing a resurgence with millennials who are attracted to its clean, lustrous appearance.
As previously mentioned, white gold, yellow gold, and rose gold all have the same value, so it all boils down to your preference. White gold is currently taking the world by storm, edging out its yellow gold sibling in the market for wedding rings and fraternity rings. Yellow and white gold accessories are timeless classics and will look good regardless of your size, build, and skin color.
A warm skin tone, however, makes rose and yellow gold items pop, while cool skin tones are well-suited for white gold rings and bracelets. You can test your skin tone with an app on your phone or by going out in the sun. People with cool skin tones burn easily while those with warm skin tones get tan in a flash, so don’t forget to apply some sunscreen while testing.
You should also consider your eye color. People who have gray, blue, or green eyes commonly have brown, platinum, or blonde hair, making them perfect candidates for white gold accessories. People with brown, hazel, or amber eyes are likely to have black or red hair, which means yellow and rose gold may work better for them.
If a white gold heirloom, like a ring or a bracelet, is passed down to you, chances are high that it has a rhodium coating. If it’s a commonly worn item and has been around for a very long time, you will notice the rhodium starting to erode, revealing the base gold color beneath.
Eventually, all white gold alloys will start to reveal yellow undertones, especially in everyday items. Many factors can contribute to the speed at which this happens. For instance, in the age of COVID-19, your ring will more often come into contact with alcohol via hand sanitizers and other cleaning products.
Your skin’s pH level, how much you sweat, and the amount of pollution your white gold endures all contribute to the speed at which it yellows. This can, however, be fixed with rhodium recoating—a process that shouldn’t cost more than $50 at your local jeweler.
Forgers have faking white and yellow gold down to a science. It’s therefore imperative that you get your white gold from a reliable source. Sometimes, you can’t even go by the purity markings on gold bars and coins anymore until you have them verified by a trusted jeweler.
Get your gold items from a shop you can trust: Oxford Gold Group. Call 833-600-4653 today and avail yourself of our vast collection of gold, silver, platinum, and palladium coins. Everything we sell is certified 100% pure and genuine.
INSIDE THIS INVESTMENT GUIDE YOU WILL LEARN:
• How Gold & Silver can protect your savings & retirement accounts
• Types of Gold & Silver products available for Home Delivery
• How a Gold & Silver IRA can protect your Retirement account