Throughout history, gold has been a popular choice of precious metals for jewellery. However, the properties of gold are such that, when it is amalgamated with other metals to form an alloy, it changes colour and also becomes more durable. The intricacies of jewellery design make it difficult for the craftsman to work with 24-carat gold, which is soft and malleable. Therefore, jewellers typically use 14 or 18-carat gold. The availability of colours is an additional boon for the jewellers as coloured gold is much in vogue.
Many people think that yellow and white are the only available colours in which jewellery can be made. In reality, there are several colours available, and each shade depends on the composition of the alloy. Coloured gold makes the jewellery look more attractive and also allows customers to have choices, resulting in a great degree of personalisation.
Jump to section:
In its natural state, the colour of gold is yellow. However, when the precious metal is mixed with other metals like silver or copper, greater strength is achieved. However, this process lightens the colour of gold. As a rule, when yellow gold is available in a higher carat, such as 22 or 24, the depth of the colour yellow is greater. Yellow gold is universally popular and used to make a wide range of jewellery including necklaces, earrings, studs, rings, bracelets, etc.
When yellow gold is mixed with nickel, copper and zinc, a white hue is achieved. Sometimes, this white gold is plated with rhodium to get a harder, more polished surface and accentuate the white colour. The price of white gold is very similar to that of yellow gold and it is a popular choice for making all types of jewellery. Rings, necklaces and bracelets all look great in white gold and is usually available in high street jewellery showrooms, as well as online retailers. A word of caution though, if you are allergic to nickel, it may be advisable not to wear white gold.
When the level of copper is increased in the alloy, a distinctive pink tint can be achieved. As more copper is used, the colour of the gold turns red. At lower levels of copper, the colour is pink. This type of gold was very popular in Russia during the early 19th century and was known as ‘Russian Gold’. The change of colour does not affect the price of the metal and once again it is a popular universal choice.
Green gold can be made by the addition of silver to yellow gold. However, in order to attain the colour green, copper must be removed altogether. Green gold is not as easily available as the other colours of gold. When making jewellery, green gold is sometimes used as an accent to enhance designs. For example, a ring with a design of leaves on it can have the leaves tinted in green gold to give it that special look and feel.
When gold is treated with a layer of ruthenium for added strength, black gold is made. This is one of the ways in which black gold can be produced. The other involves using potassium sulphide to treat gold that has copper in it. A black or brownish colour is achieved in the process.
Gold can take on the unique colour of purple when mixed with aluminium and indium. Although it is relatively soft, it can be used to make intricate jewellery. Purple gold is still relatively rare, as it hasn’t caught on with buyers of jewellery yet, however, it is an excellent choice for creating accents or designs to enhance the look and feel of jewellery made from traditional yellow gold. It can also be used to make brooches, rings, bracelets, etc.
The value of gold is the same no matter what colour it comes in. Ultimately, the value of gold used in jewellery is dependent on the amount of gold that it contains. So, a ring made from 14-carat gold is the same whether it is yellow or white gold, or it comes in any other colour. To know more about coloured gold and how to buy gold, call our experts on 020 7060 9992 or drop us a line and our team of gold experts will soon be at hand to answer all your queries.
Image Credit: Fernando Arcos
Daniel Fisher formed physical Gold in 2008, after working in the financial industry for 20 years. He spent much of that time working within the new issue fixed income business at a top tier US bank. In this role, he traded a large book of fixed income securities, raised capital for some of the largest government, financial, and corporate institutions in the world and advised the leading global institutional investors. Daniel is CeFA registered and is a member of the Institute of Financial Planning.