All that Glitters…The Low Down On Gold

How do you choose which type of gold to use for your wedding ring? With so many choices, we, as consumers are often faced with this dilemma, resulting in stress and in some cases, post-purchase dissonance over the decision we made. In order to avoid this, we have compiled some useful information that will help you make an informed decision. As gold is the most popular choice for wedding and engagement rings and other jewellery, it is important to know more about this precious metal. We take you through the two most important points to consider when choosing gold — the carat and the colour.

Which carat

The carat is quite simply, the gold content of the metal and this determines how much of pure gold is mixed with another metal alloy to make up the final piece. The gold carats normally used in wedding rings are 9kt, 14kt and 18kt. The higher the concentration of gold used in the final mix, the more valuable and expensive the piece will be. To illustrate this point further,

  • 9kt gold contains 37.5% pure gold
  • 14kt gold contains 58.5% pure gold.
  • 18kt gold contains 75% pure gold.

The remainder of the metals is usually made up by a combination of different metals that can help to give the finished product its unique appearance and colour.

Which Colour

The next step is to ask yourself the colour of gold you prefer, especially since gold is available in several colours. The most popular choice is yellow, followed by white and rose. Other less popular colours include bronze, red and lime gold.

Jewellery can also be made using a combination of different gold colours. These jewellery items are sometimes called two-tone, three-tone or multi-coloured gold. A good example is Cartier’s triple gold band. The difference in colour between yellow, white and rose is determined by the metals used in the mix. As the colour difference is due to the metals used in the alloy mix, the colour of yellow gold and rose gold will not chip, fade or wear off with age.

Yellow gold is made by mixing pure gold with metals like copper and zinc, while rose gold is made by mixing pure gold with alloys like copper. In fact, it is the copper that provides the rose hue. On the other hand, white gold is an alloy of gold and some white metals such as silver and palladium. When white gold rings are new they can be coated with another white metal called rhodium, which is very similar to platinum and shares many of its properties.

Rhodium is used to make the white gold look even whiter, especially since the natural colour of white gold is actually a light grey hue. In addition, rhodium is also very hard and therefore, durable. To keep a white gold ring looking its best it should be plated with rhodium approximately once every 12 to 18 months.

On the practical side, 18kt usually wears better than 9kt and also tends to look better as it ages. This is one of the reasons why 18kt is normally preferred for engagement rings. On the other hand 9kt, 14kt and 18kt are suitable for use in earrings, pendants, bracelets and necklaces due to their lower price.

Armed with all this information, you will now be better equipped when choosing your wedding rings and jewellery pieces!