Know Your Gold: How to Choose a Perfect Piece

how to choose gold jewelry

Gold is a soft, shiny and malleable metal that, when obtained in nature, has a yellowish tone. But yellow gold is not the only type of gold, as you may know. 

One of the most used materials in the world of fine jewelry is gold. It is one of the most distinguished precious metals that exist with such a high corrosion resistance.

When you are buying gold jewelry, you often get to choose between different types of gold colors. What do these colors mean? Is there a big difference between the different gold types? And how can you choose between ones?

We have compiled a quick guide to learn about gold colors and the ways in which they are made. Keep reading to find more about the different types of gold.

The different hues

Gold is a soft, shiny and malleable metal that, when obtained in nature, has a yellowish tone. But yellow gold is not the only type of gold, as you may know.

Some of the gold varieties don’t look at all like the yellow metal people usually associate with the word “gold”. Those different kinds of gold are simply alloys made by mixing pure gold with different metals.

Since yellow is gold’s original color, any alloy of this metal that has a different hue is considered colored gold.


Yellow gold is made by mixing pure gold with silver, copper, and zinc. Yellow gold is the most common type of gold used in jewelry.

It is the purest color, the most hypo-allergenic, and requires the least maintenance of all the gold colors.

It should be noted, however, that although yellow is the natural color of gold, yellow gold is not the same as pure gold.

Since this metal is very soft, it is not suitable for jewelry making, unless it is mixed with other metals to make it harder.

The yellow gold jewelry you see in stores has varying degrees of purity depending on how much actual gold it contains as measured by its karat.

The lower the percentage of gold content in a piece, the lower its karat number is.
In general, lower-karat gold jewelry has a yellow color that is less intense than that of higher-karat pieces. Low-karat items are also harder and more durable than gold jewelry that is purer.


White gold is made of gold and platinum (or palladium). This is the most popular gold alloy used in jewelry. To achieve a white color, gold is mixed with metals such as palladium, nickel or zinc.

White gold is more durable and scratch-resistant than yellow gold. It is also more affordable than both yellow gold and platinum.

Adding white metals is not enough to get a perfect white color, though, and a white gold alloy still looks a bit yellowish. This is why it is plated with rhodium, which actually gives white gold jewelry its color and luster.


Rose gold (or pink gold) is alloyed with gold, copper, and silver. Rose gold owes its color to the copper that is mixed in the alloy. The more copper there is, the more pronounced the rose color becomes.

High-copper rose gold alloys have an intense reddish hue and are therefore also known as “red gold.” Rose gold varieties that contain less copper have a faint color; for that reason, those alloys are also called “pink gold.”

Rose gold is more affordable than the other gold colors because it uses the inexpensive copper for its rose color. Due to its copper content, rose gold is more durable than yellow or white gold.


Green gold (or Electrum) is mixed with gold, silver, and sometimes copper (and more rarely, cadmium). Silver is what gives the gold alloy the green nuance.

The green color is usually not very intense, and most green gold looks more like yellow gold with a greenish hue.

Other colors

These are the most popular colors of gold used in jewelry. True, the list is not quite complete – gold can be blue, grey, purple and even black.

A gold alloy can be turned black by using several methods. One way is to simply cover the surface of the piece with a black compound (such as black rhodium).

Another option is to treat the surface of the item with certain chemicals so that it changes color. It is also possible to change the color of a gold alloy containing cobalt, copper, titanium, or iron by causing its surface to oxidize through the use of heat.

The grey color of this alloy is achieved by mixing gold with copper, silver, and manganese.

In purple gold, the purple color of this alloy is achieved by adding aluminum and pure gold together. Purple gold is, however, not very durable and can break easily because the compound is relatively brittle.

One way to produce blue gold is to mix indium with pure gold.

An alternative way to make blue gold is to mix gold with iron or rhodium and treat the resulting alloy with heat so that the mixture oxidizes and forms a blue layer.
Like purple gold, the resulting blue gold compound tends to be brittle. That is why purple and blue gold is not so common in making fine jewelry.

Depends on purpose

The properties of gold can vary largely, based on the metals and quantities (percentages) used in the blend. The decision about the quantities of other metals with gold is based on their purpose.

For example, combining gold with nickel results in a hard alloy that is ideal for brooches, pins and rings. If gold is blended with a softer metal like palladium, it is ideal for gemstone settings in which a malleable gold alloy is needed.

We hope this overview offers you some insight into the various types of gold that are available. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you would like to know anything else about gold.