Precious Jewelry Metals

Properties

Pros

Cons

Yellow Gold

Made by mixing pure gold with alloy metals such as copper and zinc.

24 Karat: 99.9% Pure
22 Karat: 91.7% Pure
18 Karat: 75% Pure
14 Karat: 58.3% Pure

The higher the karat amount, the purer the gold content but the less durable the metal. Therefore, usually 14K or 18K gold is used to mount engagement and wedding rings.

  • Historically, most popular metal used for wedding and engagement bands, and thus appropriate for vintage style settings.
  • Symbolic of the best, like winning a gold medal for first place.
  • Yellow gold is the purest color of all the colored golds, as the mineral looks golden (yellow) when mined.
  • The most hypo-allergenic of all the gold colors.
  • Requires the least maintenance of all the gold colors.
  • Most malleable, easiest for jewelers to manipulate.
  • Complements olive and darker skin tones.
  • Does not complement pale or rosy skin tones.
  • Should be polished and cleaned regularly.
  • Can be dented and scratched.

White Gold

Is an alloy (or mixture) of pure gold and some white metal(s) such as silver, nickel, manganese and/or palladium, and often coated in rhodium.
  • More affordable than platinum.
  • Has been more popular than yellow gold for many years.
  • White gold is alloyed with stronger metals than yellow gold and thus is more durable and scratch-resistant.
  • White gold complements white diamonds better than yellow gold, according to some opinions.
  • Complements fair or rosy skin tones.
  • Needs to be dipped every few years to retain its color and luster and replace the rhodium plating, but this is inexpensive and many jewelers offer this service for free.
  • Often has nickel in it which causes allergic reactions to some, thus not hypo-allergenic unless made with other alloy metals.
  • Does not complement olive and darker skin tones.

Rose Gold

Alloyed with copper to produce the rose color. Red, rose, and pink gold refer to various shades of this family. Basically, the more copper, the redder the gold becomes. A common alloy for rose gold is 75% gold and 25% copper by mass (18K). Like white gold, since rose gold is an alloy, “pure rose gold” doesn’t actually exist.
  • Considered by many to be the most romantic metal due to its pinkish-red color.
  • May be more affordable than other metals since copper — the alloy used to make rose gold —  costs less.
  • Copper is also very durable and makes rose gold a tougher metal than yellow or white gold.
  • Rose gold is very much in style for both men’s and women’s rings.
  • Complements all skin tones.
  • Copper can causes allergic reactions in some people, therefore not a hypo-allergenic metal.
  • Even though rose gold rings are in style now, they are still not as widely available as yellow and white gold.

Platinum

Has a natural white/silver color. May also include other metals. In order for jewelry to be sold as platinum, it must have at least 95% platinum, less than that would be called a platinum alloy.
  • Very durable metal, stronger than gold.
  • Heaviest/densest precious metal.
  • Hypoallergenic.
  • Rarer than gold, and considered to be symbol of prestige, i.e., “platinum” credit card has greater privileges than “gold” credit card.
  • Like white gold, it looks best on fair and rosy skin tones.
  • Will get scratched and dull over time. Needs to be cleaned/polished every few years, but this strips away some of the platinum.
  • Significantly more expensive than white gold, which looks the same, for about half the price and less upkeep.
  • Does not complement olive and darker skin tones.