A Complete Guide to Gold Jewellery
Choosing the right precious metal for your jewellery piece can be a challenge. Perhaps the most traditional choice is yellow gold.
Gold is loved for its durability and rich appearance. It is also an especially popular option for things like wedding and engagement rings.
There is an old expression that goes ‘All that glitters isn’t gold’. Similarly, everything that appears gold may not be! There is a wide range of gold colours to explore besides yellow gold, and a wide selection of gold types to suit all tastes and budgets.
Keep reading to discover our guide to gold jewellery.
Yellow gold is often used for jewellery and consists of a mixture of pure gold and other base metals.
What It’s Made Of
Pure gold cannot be used for jewellery making as it is too soft. It also has a brassier colour that is less desirable for most shoppers. Mixing gold with other metals results in a more durable metal with a better colour. This metal is referred to as an alloy.
To achieve this alloy, 75% pure gold is mixed with 25% other metals. While pure gold is 24 karats, this mixture is 18 karats. The result is a metal with a creamier, softer yellow colour that can withstand more wear and tear.
Jewellery made from a gold alloy, as opposed to pure gold, is also less expensive.
There are three different karat weights for yellow gold. These include 9 karats, 14 karats, and 18 karats. These differ mainly in colour and durability.
Gold with a lower karat rating includes a higher percentage of base metals. These metals usually include things like Silver, Palladium, Zinc, and Nickel.
The ratios are as follows:
18 Karats = 75% Pure Gold, 25% Base Metals
14 Karats = 58.3% Pure Gold, 41.7% Base Metals
9 Karats = 37.5% Pure Gold, 62.5% Base Metals
The higher the percentage of alloyed metals, the more durable the jewellery. However, while 9K gold is more resistant to wear than 18K gold, it is also less valuable, less pure, and less yellow in colour. 18K gold is used for jewellery most often.
Other Types of Gold
Much like yellow gold, white gold is an alloy. It is created by combining yellow gold with Nickel or Palladium and Zinc. It is then plated using Rhodium. However, while Rhodium is an extremely hard white metal, it can wear off with time. This means that the jewellery will occasionally need to be re-plated.
White gold is considered a good alternative to Platinum and has a bright, silvery white finish. If you are on a tight budget, however, you may opt for silver instead of white gold when you shop for that special piece.
Rose Gold is a mixture of pure gold and copper alloys. It has a pinkish, rosy hue, which is why it is also sometimes referred to as pink gold. The copper is the reason for its colour, but also provides some much-needed strength to the final product.
Black gold can be achieved by creating an alloy with yellow gold and cobalt. It can also be achieved with electroplating using Ruthenium or Rhodium. However, as with white gold, the plating can wear off over time.
Electroplated black gold is much more affordable than alloyed black gold.
A third way of achieving black gold is through a process called femtosecond laser treatment. During this treatment, energy is focused on gold until it turns black. The process creates microstructures that absorb light instead of reflecting it.
It is more durable than plating but sells at a higher price as a result.
Quality of Yellow Gold
A higher percentage of pure gold in an alloy means less durability. As a result, 18-karat gold jewellery is considered slightly prone to wear and tear. If you plan on wearing your gold jewellery every day, like in the case of a gold engagement ring, it will require more care.
How to Spot Real Gold
If you know what to look for, spotting counterfeit gold jewellery is easy. Real gold doesn’t rust or tarnish and is nonmagnetic. It also has other qualities that you can test at home.
Real precious metals all have a hallmark. These hallmarks can typically be found inside rings or at the back of jewellery pieces. With gold, the hallmarks also indicate purity.
The hallmarks to look out for are:
- 916 for 22K
- 750 for 18K
- 585 for 14K
- 375 for 9K
There are also some tests you can do at home to check the authenticity of your gold. For example, real gold will not float in a glass of water. This is true for all gold colours. Real gold can also be cleaned using vinegar, but counterfeit gold will get damaged.
Popular Yellow Gold Jewellery Styles
Gold jewellery has become a staple of any jewellery collection. It has also been a symbol of wealth and power for many years. Nowadays, yellow gold is considered timeless and classic.
Even with the growing popularity of white gold and rose gold, yellow gold still reigns supreme. Gold jewellery is perfect for neutral looks and provides elegance to any ensemble.
It has also become synonymous with minimalism and is perfect for daily wear. Jewellery designers working with gold opt for smooth lines, clean designs, and abstract shapes.
However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t choose a more playful style. Simple chain necklaces can be layered for something more bohemian, and gold rings can be stacked for added drama. Mixing and matching has also become a popular way of wearing gold jewellery.
Shoppers can pair a stack of gold bangles in different styles with a necklace and pendants. Bracelets with charms are also a great option. Additionally, solid gold jewellery is a popular choice for things like wedding rings and earrings.
Gold jewellery also looks good with a variety of stones. Some of the most popular gems to add to your yellow gold jewellery collection include:
- Diamonds / Cubic Zirconia
- Colourless/ Blue Topaz (one of the December birthstones)
- Pearl (one of the birthstones for June)
- Blue Sapphire (the September birthstone)
- Citrine (the birthstone for November)
- Amethyst (the birthstone for February)
- Ruby (the July birthstone)
When it comes to the cut of the crystal or gemstone, there are many that suit gold rings. Some of the most popular cuts include Oval, Pear, Marquise, and Brilliant. However, gold is a versatile metal, and selected lines may have different cuts for sale depending on what is trending. Feel free to shop around until you find the perfect ring.
Caring For Gold Jewellery
One way to maintain your jewellery pieces is by cleaning them with a cleaning solution that is safe for gold jewellery. Many jewellery makers and dealers sell these cleaning agents or include them with the purchase of a jewellery piece.
Alternatively, you can clean your gold jewellery at home using these steps:
- Mix warm water with a bit of mild dish soap.
- A few drops of Ammonia can also be added.
- Use a new, soft toothbrush to gently scrub your pieces.
- Rinse them in clean, lukewarm water.
- Use a paper towel or clean cloth to dry them carefully.
- You can also leave them to air-dry.
Remember that yellow gold is one of the softer metals, so be careful when scrubbing and drying your pieces. In this way, your jewellery will keep its sparkle for longer.
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