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Jewelry Blog: Gold
Colored Gold
Gold is gold, right? A rich yellow, the color of a field of sunflowers or a bottle of Chateau d'Yquem sauterne.

tri color gold ringBut have ever compared the color of you wedding band against 24-carat gold artifacts from ancient civilizations? Then you many not be surprised that the world gold encompasses a wealth of hues, from green to rose and even purple.

Of course, pure, 24-carat gold is always the same color, but we rarely encounter 24-carat gold jewelry. Pure gold is a very soft metal, capable of being stretched into amazingly thin foil sheets, even to the point that it becomes translucent. In a ring, it would very quickly lose its shape.

Therefore, most gold jewelry is made from gold alloyed with other, more durable (and usually less expensive) metals. Since gold is the only yellow metal, any alloy will change the color of gold.

tri color gold necklaceThe most common form of gold, 14k yellow, is a paler shade of yellow due to the addition of silver and a bit of copper. The same metals are added in lesser amounts for 18k gold, more common in European jewelry, and 10k, often found in men's bands when heavy wear can be expected.

The most common alternate color for gold is white gold, an alloy that became popular first in the 1920's when a shortage of platinum coincided with art deco's enthusiasm for white jewelry. White gold can be made with several different recipes. The most prevalent has been copper/ nickel/zinc, which yields an adequately white gold that is relatively easy for jewelers to work with.

However, some people have an allergic reaction to the nickel in white gold, so other alternatives have been developed. The most popular of the non-nickel alloys for white gold is a palladium/silver/copper/zinc mix, which makes a fine white gold, albeit harder to work with and more expensive, since palladium is even costlier than gold.

rose gold Benchmark ringGoldsmiths have found ways to extend the color range beyond these two, however. Red/pink/rose gold, produced by bumping up the copper content in the gold alloy, while not truly red, has a distinct cast in that range.

By deleting copper and using only silver as the alloying metal, gold takes on a striking pale green hue. The combination of yellow, green and rose gold is often used in tricolor chains and rings that intertwine the three gold hues.

Other unusual forms of gold include purple or amethyst gold (gold and aluminum), blue gold (gold and iron), and black gold (gold and a variety of additives). However, each of these has shortcomings in durability and workability, so I wouldn't recommend them for use in rings or chains.

If you have a taste for the unusual, why stick with yellow when there is a rainbow of gold waiting for your display?
Posted by Tom B at 11:42 AM - Link to this entry  Share this entry
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