Modern Buying Guide for Wedding Bands and Engagement Rings Part 1

(Keum boo ring with 24k gold accent, by Anna Harper.)

Modern Buying Guide for Wedding Bands and Engagement Rings
Part 1: The Color of Gold

Over the last ten years the world wide web has changed way people shop for wedding bands and engagement rings. Today shopping for wedding jewelry is more convenient, offers a huge range of options from around the globe, and more competitive pricing. No matter what your style or budget is for an engagement ring or wedding bands, you are sure to find thousands of option to fit your style and budget.

The thing that makes shopping for wedding jewelry more challenging is there are too many options to make a quick deception. I've had a number of customers  ask me for help deciding what options work best for them and their circumstances and I want to share what I've learned here with you. This is the first of a multi-part series, to help educate shoppers on what’s out there now and help them narrow down their list to find the perfect ring to suit their needs.

The first thing to consider is the type of metal you want. It is the number one factor to consider when you are looking for wedding bands that are budget friendly. And it can be the deciding factor of comfort or torment if you have allergies to nickel or other metal alloys.

Pure Gold

24k 2.5 Hardness level Mohs Scale

There is no such thing as naturally occurring rose, white, black, or green gold. Pure, 24k gold is naturally yellow and has a brilliant luster. At 2.5 on the Mohs Scale, it is too soft for most jewelry applications, but it is ideal for adding accents. All other colored golds are mixed with pure 24K yellow gold to produce different the other colors. Pure gold is beautiful and has a rich luster like no other metal, but it is too soft to wear as a ring everyday.

Yellow Gold

18k 2.8 Hardness level Mohs Scale

14k 3.5 to 4 Hardness level Mohs Scale

A percentage of the other metals (copper, silver, zinc, nickel) produce different shades of gold. Any combination of metals is called an alloy. For example, 14K yellow gold is an alloy consisting of fourteen parts pure gold blended with ten parts other metals.

Rose Gold

18k 2.75 Hardness level Mohs Scale

14k 3 to 4 Hardness level Mohs Scale

Rose gold, also known as pink gold, has a light warm pink color that intensifies with age, due to very slow oxidation. Rose gold is an alloy, usually made up of silver, copper and gold, but can also have some zinc or nickel added for durability and different shades of rose. Copper is what gives it it’s pink tint. The hue of rose gold jewelry can show up differently when viewed under different types of lighting: natural light, incandescent light, LED, or fluorescent light. 14K rose gold contains as much gold as 14K yellow gold, the only difference is it is slightly pinker in color. Rose gold is available in both 14K and in 18K. The 14K rose gold usually has a more pronounced rose color, due to a higher content of copper, but some custom blends, depending to the designer, may take on different hues of rose. If having jewelry that matches in color is important to you, you may want to buy from the same designer to make sure it is the same blend of metal.

White Gold

18k 2.8 Hardness level Mohs Scale

14k 3.5 to 4 Hardness level Mohs Scale

White gold is made by increasing the percentage of lighter neutral colored metals (zinc, silver, nickel). Nickel and zinc are added to make white gold harder. 14K white gold contains the same amount of gold as 14K yellow gold, but is nearly white in color. White gold has a very light yellowish hue unless it is plated, a common industry practice. Plating white gold with rhodium gives it a white color. The plating eventually wears off, exposing the yellow areas and will need to be replated every few years. There is also the new Argen ultra white gold. The newer alloy Argen has a nickel content of 15%. All Argen’s metal is made from recycled or reclaimed metal. White gold comes in both in 14K and in 18K. The 14K white gold has less of the yellow hint.

Green Gold

18k 2.75 Hardness level Mohs Scale

14k 3 to 4 Hardness level Mohs Scale

The term green gold can seem misleading when seeing it for the first time. The green color, like rose gold, can be very subtle. Green gold is best described as yellow gold with a slightly greenish hue. Green gold is most noticeable when it is used in a piece of jewelry next to a contrasting metal or gemstone. The mixture that produces green gold is an alloy of pure yellow gold and pure fine silver. Green gold rings are blended with a small amount of harder metals such as nickel or zinc to make them gold more durable. 14K green gold is fourteen parts yellow gold and ten parts silver. 18K green gold would contains eighteen parts yellow gold to six parts silver.

Black Gold

18k 2.8 Hardness level Mohs Scale

14k 3.5 to 4 Hardness level Mohs Scale

Black gold is mainly produced by electroplating, using black rhodium or ruthenium. Solutions that contain ruthenium are slightly harder than those that containing rhodium. Like white gold, the plating eventually wears off in raised areas. The difference is, there are not many jewelers that can repair it.

Continue Reading: A Modern Guide to Buying Wedding Bands & Engagement Rings: Part 2 Precious Metals

Reference: Wikipedia “Colored Gold”

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