Gold is an obvious choice when looking to make a safe jewelry investment. It retains its value over time, can easily be polished when scuffed, and is capable of maintaining a brilliant appearance over its lifetime. To be sure you are making the right choice for you, it is important to understand what distinctions exist between different types of gold.
While the price of gold fluctuates, yellow and white gold will always be more expensive than rose since they are purer. Yellow gold is the purest and softest of the golds. White gold is more durable since it is made with platinum. Finally, rose gold is a combination of gold, silver, and copper and can serve as an inexpensive alternative.
You should know that the price of gold changes over time, but that rose gold will almost always be less expensive than yellow gold. Keep reading to learn why white and yellow golds are valued more highly and to also learn about their individual durability and popularity over time.
- The History of Gold
- Different Colors of Gold
- Durability by Color and Karat
- Price Differences by Gold Color
- Popularity by Gold Color
- Which is the Best Gold Color to Buy?
- Final Thoughts
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The History of Gold
Gold is the debris from our universe’s dead stars. During the early days of the earth’s formation, this debris was forced down to our planet’s core by molten iron. While gold has been around since the earliest days of our planet, the precious metal’s first documentation came around 4,000 BCE.
Described by Ancient Egyptians as being as prevalent as sand, it was heavily featured in their hieroglyphic writings, artworks, and jewelry. Today, their smelting technique is still used in the creation of gold accessories.
The Ancient Egyptian production technique is not their only carryover for this metal. Much like in the modern day, there is plenty of evidence to indicate that Egyptians revered gold as a status symbol and used it in their currencies.
While gold has not been backed the American dollar since 1971, it is still seen as a status symbol and as a fantastic investment. In fact, the price of gold has increased from its value of $44.60/oz in 1971 to $1,742.92/oz as of November 10th, 2022.
The price of gold fluctuates daily and is determined by a variety of factors including supply and demand. Beyond the market price of gold, your individual piece will be valued based upon its karats and color. Keep reading to find out why color is important to the price of gold.
Different Colors of Gold
Gold comes in a variety of colors including yellow, white, and rose. While it would be easy to assume that the color is simply a natural fluctuation in tone, the reality is that yellow is the purest form of gold and its natural color. White and rose golds are created through the addition of other metals.
Yellow gold offers the most natural appearance of the gold options. The color can be intensified by adding silver, zinc, or copper. In its purest form, yellow gold consists of around 91% gold and 9% other materials. Additionally, it is the most hypo-allergenic of the golds and requires the least maintenance.
White Gold is alloyed with platinum (palladium) or with a combination of palladium, nickel, and zinc. The purity percentage for white gold is usually 75% gold and 25% other metals. Being less pure than a true yellow gold or platinum piece, white gold is an affordable alternative to both metals.
Rose Gold offers a stunning combination of gold, copper, and silver. The purity percentage for rose gold is usually 75% gold and 25% copper. Due to the price of copper, this pink toned gold is the most affordable color option when compared to both yellow and white.
Although the distinctions of gold types are largely made by color, it is the mix of materials that determine much of your gold’s long-term value, price, and durability.
Durability by Color and Karat
The durability of gold varies by karat and color. The purer the color and karat, the softer the gold will be with pure 24-karat yellow gold being the softest and 10-karat rose gold being the strongest.
Karats are determined by the number of gold parts to alloy parts (or the added metals). 24-karat is the purest gold with 0 parts alloy. This lack of added metals makes this metal particularly prone to scratches and wear and tear. Because of its lack of durability, you should not wear 24-karat gold on a regular basis.
At the low range, 10-karat gold is 10 parts gold and 14 parts alloy. The higher the alloy content, the more durable the gold will be since gold in its purest form is quite soft. This means 10-karat gold is highly durable and suitable for everyday use.
Because durability is based upon the purity of gold and its added metals, the color of your gold piece will play a role in determining its strength.
Yellow Gold is the least durable gold. As the purest form of the precious metal, it offers the least resistance to scuffing.
White Gold is alloyed with platinum. At 75% gold and 25% platinum, white gold is more durable than yellow gold, but less durable than rose.
Rose Gold is the strongest of the golds. It usually has 75% gold and 25% copper—an extremely durable metal.
Now that you know the role purity and color play in the durability of your gold pieces, you might be wondering what to expect in terms of price differences.
Price Differences by Gold Color
The price differences of gold are determined based upon the karat and brand. Karat is the measurement of gold in a piece of jewelry with 1 karat being equal to 1/24ths gold.
For example, because pure gold has 0 parts alloy, it is 24/24ths gold and is given the designation of 24-karat.
Yellow Gold is the only gold that can be sold in pure 24-karat form. As such, yellow gold is simultaneously the softest of golds and the most expensive. For 1 ounce of 24-karat gold, you can expect to pay around $1,700.
White Gold’s price can fluctuate to more or less expensive than yellow gold. The price of white gold depends entirely upon its karat quantity and the percentage of platinum. For 1 ounce of 18k white gold, you can expect to pay around $1,500.
Rose Gold is often the least expensive option when purchasing gold, but this of course depends entirely upon its karat amount. For instance, 1 ounce of 18k rose gold goes for around $1,300, but higher karat amounts would retail for even more.
The takeaway from these numbers is that color does not necessarily indicate the price of your gold pieces. While tone can be a strong indicator of relative price, it is primarily the karat amount that determines the value of your gold.
Now that you know the distinctions between karat classifications and colors of gold, you might be wondering if the popularity of a gold color will have an impact on its price.
Popularity by Gold Color
The price of gold is primarily driven by supply and demand rather than by color. That said, the most expensive gold happens to also be the most popular gold color: yellow.
Gold as a metal has been extremely popular since at least the Ancient Egyptians. Used as currency, gifts, and in the creation of extravagant art pieces, gold’s future popularity is secure.
But what about the popularity of gold in relation to its different colors?
Yellow gold is the most frequently requested and adorned of the colors. This may be due in part to its pure nature since no other gold can be said to have a 24-karat valuation.
While yellow gold is a timeless wardrobe classic, it is not recommended to have the purest karat forms for everyday use. Instead, you should opt for a lower karat rating (no higher than 14k) when purchasing for rings and necklaces.
While white gold is less popular than the classic yellow, its striking appearance has been elevating wardrobes since the 1920s.
Following the discovery of platinum, 18k white gold was created as an alternative to the expensive and highly sought-after metal.
Jeweler Peter Carl Faberge is credited with bringing rose gold onto the scene with striking pink golds decorating his renowned eggs. With its romantic and unique hue, this gold color has been making its way onto the bridal scene over the past few years and is gaining in popularity.
The popularity of gold colors is subject to fluctuate over time, but these shifts in fashion will not necessarily indicate the value of your jewelry. Instead, it is the purest forms of gold that will fetch the highest returns.
With that in mind, you might be wondering which color is the best to buy. The answer will depend upon your individual style and the reason for your purchase.
Which is the Best Gold Color to Buy?
If you are purchasing for investment reasons, the best color gold is a 24-karat yellow. However, if you are purchasing for personal reasons, you should consider the reason for the purchase, your individual style, and if you want the piece to easily coordinate with your everyday wardrobe.
The reason the 24-karat yellow gold is the best choice for investment purposes is because of its purity.
Earlier in the article, we talked about the reasons for a gold piece’s value and while its color may play a small role, it is largely the purity of gold that determines its price.
Of course, if you are purchasing your gold for personal reasons, you should consider whether you are looking for a timeless, contemporary, or bright look.
Yellow gold is a classic standby for any style. Remaining popular over thousands of years these pieces will never be out of fashion.
Contemporary looks favor the romantic pink hue of rose gold. Made popular by its appearance in countless products, a rose gold ring or necklace will update your wardrobe with style.
For a brighter look that has been circulating since the 1920s, the white gold band offers the durability of a lower karat with the elegance of platinum.
Finally, if you are purchasing a ring for personal use, you should consider the durability of the material before making a final decision.
Remember that the higher the karat, the more prone your gold will be to scratches and damage. For this reason, you may want to stick to a 12-karat or 14-karat gold for an everyday piece.
Making a jewelry purchase with real gold doesn’t have to be daunting. Simply ask yourself the reason for the purchase and then opt for the piece that will best suit your needs.
If you are purchasing the gold for its investment value, you should consider purchasing the purest 24-karat yellow gold as it will hold the greatest price over time.
If you are purchasing for yourself, you may want to consider your lifestyle and design preferences. For instance, if you want an everyday ring that will hold a timeless look, you might consider a 12-karat white gold band as it will be durable enough for everyday wear.
Our Team of 10 includes jewelry experts, antique Buyers & Sellers, baseball card collectors, and other appraisal experts.