About Colored Gold Alloys: A Rainbow of Options

Jun 14, 2012

What’s not to love about gold? It helps your computer run, makes for memorable Austin Powers characters, and makes your bling sing. But these days the cost of gold seems to be climbing ever skyward and many people turn to more economic solutions when it comes to their jewelry. However, you can still get the luxurious quality of gold but in a more wallet-friendly form: colored gold alloys.

One of the reasons that gold is a valued material outside of the jewelry industry is because of its highly malleable nature. Gold can be hammered into a leaf that is less than 100 nanometers thick. Gold also easily combines with other metals to create alloys. It’s these other metals that can give gold a different color and the two most common (and durable) colored gold alloys are Rose Gold and White Gold.

White Gold

Gold can be mixed with either nickel, silver, manganese, palladium, or combinations of these to create the look of white gold. A nickel alloy is the hardest and strongest of these, however, many people are allergic to nickel so a palladium alloy would be more allergy friendly. White gold was originally developed in the 1920’s as an option to the more expensive platinum.

Rose Gold

Also known as red gold and pink gold, this alloy combines gold and copper. This particular metal was popular in Russia at the beginning of the nineteenth century so it used to be known as Russian gold as well. The most common alloy will combine 75% gold and 25% copper, but the gold will have a stronger red color the more copper is used. Occasionally zinc will be added to this alloy to create a darker or reddish-yellow color.

Green Gold

Green gold is a combination of yellow gold and silver and creates a yellow gold with a green tinge. This alloy is preferred with using fired enamels in jewelry making as the enamel will stick to the gold better. Something to be careful about with green gold is that cadmium can be added to make the metal more green, but cadmium is toxic.

Black Gold

The look of black gold can be achieved through several processes either by electroplating with black rhodium, using a patina of sulfur and oxygen, chemical vapor deposition with amorphous carbon, or by the oxidation of a chromium or cobalt and gold alloy.

Blue/Purple Gold

Blue gold is an alloy of gold and indium and this produces a faint blue color, although gallium can be added to create a darker blue. Blue gold is not frequently used for making jewelry as it is a very brittle material. Purple gold, also brittle, combines gold and aluminum. Both of these gold alloys corrode easily and should not be exposed to sweat.
Because all of these golds are alloys, there is no such thing as a “pure” colored gold. Instead of combining gold and other metals to make an alloy, gold can also give the appearance of being color by means of a thin coating of paint, dye, or oxide. These colors are much stronger and brighter.

Established in 1912, the King family has owned and operated King Jewelers for five generations while building an outstanding reputation steeped in quality, value, and first-class service. Today, King Jewelers has brick-and-mortar stores located in Aventura, FL and Nashville, TN, both of which have won numerous regional and national awards of distinction. Offering a magnificent selection of fine jewelry collections including the hottest Italian designs, estate jewelry, colored gemstones and fancy-colored diamonds, as well as luxury European timepieces, King Jewelers prides itself in being one step ahead of the trend. In addition, King Jewelers offers on-site jewelry and watch repairs, custom design services, appraisals, estate buying, and corporate gift programs.

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