URSA METAL GUIDE
GOLD COLOUR & CARAT
Of all the precious metals, gold has widest varieties. It can be worn in different levels of carat purity and mixed with other metals to create a range of colours. Gold is grouped by levels of purity. Gold purity is measured in carats - 9, 14, 18, 22 & 24ct. 100% pure gold is 24 carat. So gold purity is measured by how many parts per 24 are pure gold. For instance, 14ct gold is 585 / 1000 parts gold.
Pure 24 carat gold is very soft and not suitable for everyday wear, as it would bend and misshape. Instead, it is mixed with other metals to add strength and durability and this alters its colour. This is known as an alloy. Yellow gold is alloyed with copper, silver and zinc for durability.
Since alloys with a higher carat number have a higher gold content, the resulting metal colour will be closer to its natural colour: warm yellow. So 18ct yellow gold will be more yellow than 9ct yellow gold, as it has a higher gold content.
9ct Yellow Gold or 14ct yellow gold is great for delicate designs, as it is more robust because it is mixed with other metals. 9ct is a soft, almost industrial yellow colour, 14ct is a mid-warm tone, whereas 18ct yellow gold is very bright yellow. 18ct yellow gold is better suited to chunkier designs, as this will ensure the ring doesn’t misshape.
Rose gold alloys have the same gold content as their yellow gold counterparts. But they get their rosy colour by being mixed with a larger portion of copper than silver and zinc. Higher carat rose gold alloys will appear more peachy since they contain more gold, which is naturally yellow. Lower carat rose gold alloys have a larger dose of copper and will therefore be more pinkish in tone.
Like yellow gold, 9ct rose gold or 14ct rose gold is great for delicate designs, as it is more robust because it is mixed with other metals. 9ct is a rich pink colour, 14ct is a mid-warm pink tone, whereas 18ct rose gold is very peachy. 18ct rose gold is better suited to chunkier designs, as this will ensure the ring doesn’t misshape.
The world of white gold is more complex as there are multiple options. The main points to think about when choosing between white gold alloys are metal allergies, colour preferences and general maintenance.
NICKEL WHITE GOLD
Like rose gold, the colour of white gold is attributed to the other metals that the pure gold is mixed with. In traditional white gold alloys, nickel is used as a bleaching agent to deplete the yellow colour of the gold, so it is cooler in colour tone. Although some jewellers work with nickel white gold, we don’t, as customers can have nickel allergies. However, as it’s part of the white gold family, it’s important to include in the metal line-up.
PALLADIUM WHITE GOLD
In palladium white gold, the precious metal palladium is used as the bleaching agent to deplete the yellow colour of the gold along with silver and copper, so reduce the yellow colour of the natural gold.
You can read more about palladium below – it’s a higher price point in its pure form than when it is mixed with white gold. So palladium white gold is a great option as it’s a lower price point than pure palladium, but also for another important reason: by using palladium instead of nickel, the resulting alloy of palladium white gold is hypoallergenic. Palladium White Gold is a warm grey-white colour. As this alloy still appears slightly yellow, it is commonly rhodium plated, to give it a colour closer to silver.
Most commercial white gold jewellery has a layer of rhodium plating. This gives the surface of the metal a bright white colour, rather than its natural yellow tinge. As it is a coating, it will eventually wear off. How long plating lasts for varies from person to person. Plating usually needs to be reapplied every 1 to 2 years but depending on the wearer’s natural body chemistry and how often the jewellery is worn, it could need to be re-plated as frequently as each 6 months.
Platinum is naturally greyish white in colour, lighter than palladium. Like palladium, platinum is hypoallergenic and needs no rhodium plating. Platinum is malleable, so it is great for setting stones in intricate jewellery designs.
Palladium is rarer than gold. It's greyish white in colour, just slightly darker than platinum. In jewellery it is always alloyed for strength; 95% pure palladium mixed with ruthenium. Palladium is great for jewellery. It is a malleable metal, which makes it perfect for holding diamonds and gemstones in place, yet it is still a very durable metal that resists scratches and marks better than platinum or white gold. Its naturally white colour means there’s no need to rhodium plate. Palladium is also hypoallergenic. Palladium is less dense than other precious metals, so a piece of jewellery of the same size and shape will be lighter in palladium than in platinum or white gold. So, it’s great for creating wedding bands that feel easy to wear and comfortable. Palladium is currently the most expensive metal, above white gold and platinum. It’s purity, hypoallergenic quality and lower maintenance are the main arguments for choosing this alloy over other precious metals.
METAL GUIDE OVERVIEW
YELLOW GOLD – 9ct, 14ct, 18ct are most commonly used in jewellery, the higher carat of gold, the more yellow the colour.
ROSE GOLD - 9ct, 14ct, 18ct are most commonly used in jewellery, the higher carat of gold, the more peach the colour.
WHITE GOLD – 9ct, 14ct, 18ct are most commonly used in jewellery.Opt for Palladium white gold to avoid nickel allergies. White gold can be rhodium plated to give it a silver colour.
PLATINUM - Grey - white colour, lighter in colour than palladium. Hypoallergenic and it needs no rhodium plating. The price of a platinum ring currently falls just below 18ct white gold.
PALLADIUM – Grey - white colour, darker in colour than platinum. Higher price point than platinum, durable and hypoallergenic. The price of a palladium ring currently falls just above 18ct white gold.
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