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What are the differences between the types of gold?



  • What does the karat rating of gold mean?
  • What makes white gold white?
  • How do rose gold and green gold work?
  • Why do there seem to be so many shades of gold?

I get these questions all the time, so I will do my best to explain them as simply as possible.



First, let’s talk about karats:

Pure gold is 24 karat. Those of you who “do math” will appreciate that gold is divided into 24 equal parts. 24 parts of 24 parts = 100%. Those of you who hate math will just have to skip the rest of this paragraph and read the answers. So, 14 karat gold is 14 parts gold and 10 parts alloy (other metals), and 10 karat gold is 10 parts gold and 14 parts alloy.

Another way to look at it is to convert the ratio into a percentage. For example, 18 karat gold as seen as a fraction/ratio : 18/24ths. Divide 18 by 24 and you get the percentage equivalent = 75% pure gold and 25% alloy.

So for you who hate math, I did it for you  :)

  • 10K gold =  41.67% pure gold
  • 14k gold =  58.33% pure gold
  • 18K gold =  75% pure gold
  • 22k gold = 91.67% pure gold
  • 24k gold = 100% pure gold



If pure gold is yellow, how is coloured gold made?

Easy. Coloured gold is NEVER pure! It’s the impurities (alloys) that dictate the overall hue of the gold mixture. Typically in North America, jewellery is made from either 10k or 14k. This means that there is between 58%-42% impurities in jewellery gold. Wow, thats right around a half! No wonder gold can come in so many shades, it’s only made up of about 50% gold! However, being only partially pure gold is not a bad thing. Actually, karated gold enhances the character traits and can make the gold more apt for engagement rings. Pure gold is very soft and malleable (meaning is can bend easily). So we add alloys to the pure gold and make the gold more scratch resistant and less prone to bending and wearing out prematurely. Here are some examples of coloured gold alloys:

  • Yellow gold is mixed with silver, copper and zinc.
  • White gold is mixed with nickel (or palladium), copper and zinc
  • Rose gold is mixed heavily with copper
  • Green gold is mixed heavily with silver



What types of white gold are there?

White gold is usually made with either palladium or nickel. Nickel is the better choice if you want a shiny white gold that doesn’t need rhodium plating. Palladium alloys are hypoallergenic and make for a ring that is easier to resize and has stronger gemstone setting prongs. I highly recommend using the X-1 white high nickel gold. It is very white and does not require plating. X-1 white gold is very hard and holds a very high shine that is scratch resistant. I offer all my handmade engagement rings in X-1 white gold and palladium white gold.



Does higher karat gold make for better jewellery?

This really depends on the alloys used, your lifestyle, and your preference. For example: white gold is often alloyed with nickel (because nickel is very dominant and white), however, some people are allergic to nickel. So instead it can be mixed with palladium, which is hypoallergenic, but isn’t as dominant in colour. So now, you get a palladium alloyed gold that has a sort of yellowy colouring, and needs to be rhodium plated to make it pure white.

This is where the preference comes in. Do you want to have to have your rings plated every year or 6 months to keep it shiny white?

Now for lifestyle. If you are really active (the ring will get a beating on a daily basis) and don’t want to have to plate your rings, then I suggest a 14k high nickel white gold. It will remain polished for much longer and will never turn yellowy as it wears down.I wouldn’t recommend using a 18k or 22k nickel white gold for an active person, who wants a white ring that needs little maintenance, because the higher gold content will soften the product and make it more yellowy.

This all being said, if you contact me, we can go over any questions you may have and I can make personal recommendations so suit your needs.