What Is Rose Gold?

Kara Eads | Unsplash

Rose gold is a colored gold with a distinctive pink hue. It is also sometimes called pink gold or red gold. Rose gold is a popular option for engagement rings and other jewelry due to its romantic vintage appeal.

Read on to find out more about this gold alloy, from how it’s made to where you can buy it.

How Is Rose Gold Made?

Contrary to popular belief, pure gold is not used in making jewelry. This is because pure gold is an extremely soft metal. Instead, gold alloys are used, in which other metals are added to gold to increase its strength and durability.

Rose gold is an alloy composed of copper and silver mixed with pure yellow gold, which gives the metal its characteristic pink hue. The copper content is what determines the color of the metal, with more copper resulting in a more vibrant rose color known as red gold.

There is no set standard for the amount of copper that needs to be present in the alloy for it to be regarded as rose gold. This is why you may come across rose gold engagement rings that appear lighter or darker than what the jewelry industry advertises as rose gold.

Are Pink Gold and Red Gold The Same As Rose Gold?

As mentioned above, rose gold displays a certain degree of color variation due to the varying amounts of copper used in making the alloy. These color variants are sometimes referred to as pink gold and red gold.

Redder rose gold contains more copper, resulting in a darker reddish hue, while pink gold comprises less copper, giving it a more inconspicuous rose color.

A Brief History of Rose Gold: Why Is Rose Gold Called Russian Gold?

Russian gold is an obsolete term for rose gold that references the country where it was first popularized in the 19th century. The popularity of the alloy soon spread to other countries, becoming the most fashionable choice for fine jewelry in Victorian England.

18K Rose Gold Three-Stone Emerald Cut Diamond Engagement Ring by Blue Nile

By the 1920s, its popularity had risen again. This time, as a result of the renowned French jeweler Cartier, who introduced his signature ‘Trinity Ring’. This ring comprised one rose, one white, and one yellow gold band entwined into one – a combination that is still popular today.

Despite the famed Trinity Ring, the popularity of rose gold plummeted after the 1920s, only to rise again during the 1940s. This was due to the prohibition of platinum for engagement and wedding rings, as it was being used for military purposes.

Nowadays, rose gold is more popular than ever and is widely used for engagement rings and other jewelry. Its delicate pink hue has also become a trendy color for everything from makeup to laptops and hair dye.

So, while ‘Russian gold’ is a term that is no longer used, rose gold continues to remain one of the most popular metals for both the modern and vintage bride.

Is Rose Gold Measured In Karats?

Gold purity is measured according to the karat system. ‘Karat’ is the unit of measurement used in this system, which is used to describe the ratio of pure gold to other metals in gold rings and other jewelry pieces. For example, 24-karat gold is the purest and stands for 24 out of 24 parts gold.

Rose gold is available in the same karats as yellow gold. For example, a 14-karat rose gold ring contains just as much gold as a 14-karat yellow gold ring. That is, they both contain 14 out of 24 parts gold (or 58.3%).

Generally speaking, rose gold rings with a lower purity level contain more copper, which can make the gold appear redder (though this is not always the case since the jewelry may also contain other metals). Thus, rose gold with a higher karat usually has a lighter, more pinkish tone.

Rose Gold Vs. Yellow Gold

14K Yellow Gold Classic Wedding Ring by Blue Nile

While the popularity of rose gold appears to rise and fall with the times, yellow gold will always be a timeless choice.

However, yellow gold is more prone to getting scratched and damaged than rose gold. This is because rose gold jewelry is more durable than yellow gold due to the silver and copper alloys it contains.

On the flip side, yellow gold jewelry is a much more hypoallergenic metal than rose gold because it does not contain copper alloys, which some people are highly allergic to. Nonetheless, yellow gold is still a gold alloy that can trigger an allergic reaction when it is 14 karats or less, especially if it contains nickel.

One similarity between yellow gold and rose gold is price. An engagement ring in a 14k rose gold setting will typically cost the same as an identical ring in 14k yellow gold. This is because the value of gold jewelry is based on its gold content, not its color.

Rose Gold Vs. White Gold

14K White Gold Classic Wedding Ring by Blue Nile

White gold is a gold alloy composed of pure gold mixed with various white metals, such as nickel and silver. Like other alloy metals, white gold is stronger and more durable than pure gold (though not as strong as platinum, which has a similar color). In addition, white gold jewelry is also covered with a rhodium plating for extra protection.

However, the rhodium coating eventually wears off and needs to be reapplied every few years to prevent the actual color of the gold from being exposed. Rose gold, by comparison, does not require any additional coating to maintain its pigment or shine, making it one of the easiest precious metals to keep in good condition.

While the brilliant silver sheen of white gold is better suited to modern jewelry designs, the refined, feminine appearance of rose gold is more suitable for recreating vintage-style jewelry, especially from the Art Deco era. But, despite its antique appeal, rose gold can also come across as fashionable and chic and is often seen in more contemporary pieces. This is unlike its white or yellow gold counterparts, which are somewhat limited by their color to a particular style.

Again, there are no price differences between fine jewelry pieces made from white gold and rose gold. Thus, an 18k rose gold ring will cost the same as an 18k white gold ring with a similar style, setting, and center stone.

Does Pure Rose Gold Exist?

Unlike yellow gold, rose gold is not found in nature. Instead, rose gold is an alloy created by adding a non-gold metal such as copper or silver to pure gold. Thus, a more intense rose color is actually a sign of an alloy with a lower purity level because it contains a higher ratio of copper to gold. A lighter rose color, on the other hand, indicates that the metal has a lower copper content and more gold, thereby making it ‘purer’.

So, when a person refers to a wedding band or engagement ring as being made from ‘pure rose gold’, they are only correct insofar as they are acknowledging that the piece is made from rose gold and not another precious metal like white gold or sterling silver. This is because there is no such thing as ‘pure rose gold’.

Should You Buy A Rose Gold Ring?

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With its delicate pink color and inherent association with romance, rose gold is a beautiful metal for an engagement ring or wedding band. In addition, rose gold makes the perfect gift for an anniversary or Valentine’s Day.

However, there are a few things you need to keep in mind when shopping for jewelry made from rose gold. Firstly, rose gold is not recommended for people with metal allergies and sensitive skin. If this is the case with your partner, it is advisable to choose a more hypoallergenic metal like classic yellow gold or sterling silver.

Alternatively, if your partner is dead set on rose gold, you could look for a ring with a higher karat. A higher karat means that the metal contains more gold and less copper, making it more hypoallergenic. However, rose gold pieces that contain more gold also tend to be softer, meaning they are less suitable for everyday wear. By contrast, rose gold pieces with a lower karat are harder and more durable, which is preferable for jewelry that will be worn daily.

Lastly, when buying rose gold jewelry, keep in mind that higher karats usually command a higher price. In other words, an 18k rose gold ring will always be more expensive than a 14k ring. Also, remember that rose gold is not necessarily cheaper than yellow gold because the price of these metal alloys is based on their gold content, not their color.

Where Can You Buy Rose Gold Jewelry?

Owing to its massive rise in popularity in the past few years, rose gold jewelry is readily available from most local jewelry shops. You can also find it online, but be careful of products marketed as ‘pure rose gold’. As you know, pure rose gold doesn’t exist and, as a result, these products may be overpriced. So, always check that the cost matches the quality of the item before purchasing.

Our top recommendations for buying rose gold jewelry online include James Allen and Blue Nile.

Frequently Asked Questions About Rose Gold

Is rose gold real gold?

Rose gold is real gold unless it’s plated.

Is rose gold red or pink?

Jewelry made from rose gold displays variations in color due to the amount of silver and copper used in the final product. More copper produces a redder alloy, while less copper results in a metal with a lighter pink hue.

Is rose gold valuable?

Rose gold is valuable because it is a precious metal containing varying amounts of gold and silver.

Is rose gold less expensive than yellow gold?

Rose gold is usually sold for the same price as yellow gold because its value is determined by its gold content, not its color.

Can rose gold tarnish?

18k and 14k rose gold does not tarnish over time. However, removing your jewelry before exercising, showering, swimming, and handling chemicals is recommended since these activities can remove its shine.

Is a rose gold engagement ring a good choice?

With its delicate pink hue and romantic vintage appeal, rose gold is the darling of precious metals. This makes it the perfect choice for an engagement ring, especially when paired with a round-cut diamond.

Who can wear rose gold jewellery?

Rose gold suits warm and cool skin tones alike, though individuals with a fair skin tone with a red undertone may want to steer clear of it.

How many karats is rose gold?

Contrary to popular belief, the gold purity levels of yellow, rose, and white gold are measured in exactly the same way. This is because they all consist of pure gold mixed with other metals. The addition of these metals is what gives these alloys their strength and color, but it does not impact their value per se. Rather, only the percentage of gold that each precious metal contains influences its price. In other words, a 14k rose gold piece has exactly the same number of karats as a 14k yellow or white gold piece.

How to clean rose gold?

Here is a step-by-step guide to cleaning your rose gold jewelry:

  1. Using warm water and a mild detergent or pre-packaged jewelry cleaner, gently scrub your jewelry with a soft-bristled brush to remove built-up dirt and grime.
  2. Rinse with cold water and gently dry with a soft cloth.
  3. If you don’t intend to wear the piece again straight away, store it in a cloth-lined box or a soft cotton cloth bag away from direct sunlight.

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