A Primer On Gold Wedding and Engagement Rings
Karats and Metal Alloys
To start, pure 100% gold is measured by 24 karats. This means that anything less than 24 karats has metal alloys in the mix, which produces the different colors in gold engagement rings. Since most gold jewelry is either of the 14k or 18k variety, let’s explain what these mean.
- 14 karat gold is comprised of 58.3% gold.
- 18 karat gold is comprised of 75% gold. 18k gold is more expensive and more vivid than 14k gold, but it is more prone to tarnishing (as it is softer). All golds are cheaper than platinum though.
Because there are different metal alloys used (and different percentages), we can make different colored gold wedding rings.
While pure gold is a sort of reddish yellow, colored gold can be produced in a few different shades.
The color of different gold engagement rings is actually determined by two factors:
- The type of alloy metal alloys in the mix.
- The percentage of said metal alloys.
Let’s look at the different types of colored gold:
White gold is a mix of gold and at least one white metal – probably nickel, manganese or palladium. The gold is then plated with a hard element called rhodium. The silver hue that embodies white gold engagement rings actually derives from the hard rhodium-plating.
(note: white gold is often the worst for allergies, as it nickel allergies are fairly common)
Here’s a good example of a white gold ring, our Einstein band:
Rose, Red, and Pink Gold
Rose gold is widely used for specialized jewelry. It is a beautiful and warm gold and copper alloy (good as an alternative for those with nickel allergies). Variations such as red or pink gold are in the same category – the only differences coming from the amount of copper in the mix.
Here’s a rule of thumb: the higher the copper content, the stronger red the ring will be.
Here’s one of our favorite rose gold wedding rings, the Dunia:
Yellow gold is what many people think of when they hear the world ‘gold.’ It is a distinct and warm yellow hue created by mixing pure gold with alloy metals like copper or zinc.
As explained previously, the gold engagement rings that you’re probably shopping for are not pure 100% gold. That would be 24k gold, and it would be far too soft to use in jewelry. Instead, in jewelry we use either 14k or 18k gold (58.3% gold and 75% gold respectively).
Which is better? Well, that’s all your preference. (note: read our guide on the differences between 14k and 18k rose gold for more information)
Here are the basic differences:
|14k gold||18k gold|
|58.3% gold||75% gold|
|Less expensive||More expensive|
|Less vivid||More vivid|
|Less prone to tarnishing||More prone to tarnishing|
|Normal jewelry||Fine jewelry|
Of course, it’s a bit more complicated than that, but this chart is a good heuristic.
As mentioned above, the cost of your gold engagement ring will depend on a few factors.
- The percentage of pure gold used.
- The types of alloys used.
- The craftsmanship of the ring.
- The market value gold.
- Where you buy it (taxes and whatnot)
Overall, though, gold rings are less expensive than platinum rings and are more expensive than silver rings.
Certain gold rings are more subjected to wear and tear than other rings (higher karat gold, especially). However, there are multiple ways you can care for your ring (we even put together this guide on cleaning your engagement ring).
Do Amore also offers free maintenance if you purchase a ring through our site (probably our second best benefit – behind providing two people with water for life!)