Whether you’re getting ready to shop for wedding bands or working to build out your gold coin collection, you may be curious to know about the different gold options available. You may be surprised to learn that it’s not just a matter of choosing “gold vs. rose gold” or selecting your preference in terms of karats. Here, we provide an overview of the different types of gold, including the array of karats, colors, and plating options at your fingertips.
It’s All About the Karat
While shopping for gold jewelry, you likely heard terms such as “18 karat gold” or “14k gold ring.” These terms describe the purity of the mineral. When a piece of jewelry or collector’s item is described as “24 karats,” the gold is in its purest form. Most gold is mixed with other metals (alloyed) to fashion the item you’re interested in now. This is done to give the gold strength, create different colors, and reduce the gold price to a more reasonable range.
You can shop for gold pieces in the following karatages:
- 24 Karat: As we mentioned earlier, 24k gold is gold in its purest form (at 99.9% pure). You can identify this type of gold by its shiny and yellow appearance. It’s extremely expensive but is highly resistant to tarnish and corrosion and is gentle on the skin. Unfortunately, it’s very soft and malleable and, therefore, not well-suited for many types of jewelry.
- 18 Karat: Items marked as “18k” consist of 75% pure gold and 25% other precious metals, such as copper and zinc. This type of gold isn’t as shiny as 24k gold, but it’s much stronger.
- 14 Karat: 14k gold is made up of 58.3% pure gold and 41.7% other metals and is the most popular option for gold used in jewelry.
- 10 Karat: 10k gold only has 41.7% gold, meaning it has a rather dull appearance. This type of gold is not an ideal option for special occasion jewelry, such as engagement rings, because the appearance is low-quality and often causes skin irritation (due to a higher nickel content).
Color Me Pretty: Types of Gold Colors
In addition to its karatage, gold is often defined by its color. The color varies based on the types and quantities of alloys mixed into it. Most people consider the color of gold when they are buying jewelry because the color adds to its visual appeal and can either highlight or clash with the wearer’s skin tone.
The most popular colors of gold include:
- Yellow Gold: Gold is naturally yellow, so it makes sense that gold pieces with a high karatage are described as yellow. You will find that even when pure gold is mixed with copper, silver, and zinc, the gold item will still have a yellowish appearance. However, the color will not be as bright as if the gold were pure.
- White Gold: When gold is mixed with zinc, nickel, platinum, or palladium in the right amounts, white gold is created. The color of this type of gold is similar to silver or platinum. White gold jewelry is rising in popularity because it is more durable and resistant to scratches than yellow gold.
- Rose Gold: Even more popular than yellow or white gold, rose gold contains 25% copper and sports a stylish pink or red hue. In addition to its color, rose gold’s copper content is responsible for the gold’s durability and affordability.
- Green Gold: Not quite as common as yellow, white, or rose gold, green gold has made a name for itself in various industries. It contains a healthy amount of silver to create that green tint it’s known for.
As you research different types of gold, you’ll read about other colors of gold, including purple gold, blue gold, and even black gold. However, these types are often brittle, rare, or too malleable and are not well-suited for jewelry.
The Finer Details: Gold Plating Options
We can’t discuss the different types of gold without mentioning the variety of plating styles you may encounter when shopping for gold jewelry. The style used on a particular piece of jewelry will vary based on the gold content and the method used to create the item. Popular types of gold plating include:
- Gold Leaf: This plating option is used when the item is largely made of other metals. The gold is hammered into a thin layer and then wrapped around the piece of metal.
- Gold-Toned: Jewelry described as “gold-toned” are pieces made with little to no gold and simply designed to look like real gold.
- Gold-Plated: Gold-plated items are made with a base metal that is not gold and covered in a gold coating through electroplating. The gold coating must be seven-millionths of an inch thick and be of at least 10k gold quality.
- Gold-Filled: Despite its name, this type of jewelry is not filled with gold. Instead, it is made of brass or copper and covered in sheets of gold.
Want to Buy Gold Jewelry? Have Gold to Sell? We Can Offer a Great Deal!
Now that you know more about the different types of gold, you’re likely jumping at the chance to expand your collection by purchasing items from our expert gold coin buyers or bringing in the cash by selling your gold jewelry. Whether you’re interested in buying or selling, you can trust The Jewelers & Loan Co. to provide incredible deals and a pain-free shopping experience. Stop by our pawn shop to learn more or get an idea of how much you can get for your gold items using our gold calculator.