There are various types of gold to choose from when purchasing a new piece of gold jewellery. Besides any aesthetic difference there are differences in the composition of the metal itself. This article aims to outline some of those differences so that your shopping experience can be a little more informed.

Yellow Gold

This is the standard that we all think of when we think of the colour of gold and that is for good reason. Pure gold is the metallic yellow colour we are so familiar with. It is, nowadays, very unlikely that you will come come across a piece of 24 carat (pure) gold item. Generally the highest purity to look for will be 18 carat. The reason for this is that the metal is very soft and so other chemicals are alloyed to it make it more robust. Usually copper and silver are added in equal measure to maintain the gold colour. Very often a small amount of zinc is added to strengthen the alloy further.

White Gold

Similarly to yellow gold, the purity of white gold is measured in carats. The difference lies in which metals are added to the gold alloy. Usually added are white metals like nickel, manganese or palladium. Depending upon which of these is used the gold will have substantially different properties.

The addition of nickel will make for a strong and durable gold alloy, ideal for rings and pins whereas the addition of palladium will provide a soft and pliable alloy which is more suitable for intricate gem settings.

Even in these alloys copper can be used to increase the malleability of the metal so that it can be fashioned more easily. The quantity of copper used in this is not sufficient to alter the colour when an amount of zinc is applied to temper the colour change.

Rose/Red Gold

Rose gold very often will be of a similar purity to yellow. Unlike yellow however there is no addition of silver to reduce the affect of the copper added. The redness of the gold directly corresponds with the level of copper added to the alloy.

Red typically has roughly 50% copper and 50% gold. This obviously means that the gold is around 12 carat.

18 carat rose gold on the other hand will use 25% copper. This results in a pinky hue, which is the traditional rose gold aesthetic favoured by so many. This gold is used to make much high quality jewellery.

Which one to buy?

The choice of gold is entirely yours, dependant upon your aesthetic preference on a particular item. The purity of the gold is largely unaffected by which you choose as even yellow gold is usually diluted with other metals to make a more suitable alloy.