Jewelry Material - Gold Alloys

History of gold goes long back to the beginning of human civilization, affects its extension and development. The beauty of gold has attracted humans for long. The metal has been used across the globe, since as far back as 3000 BC. Also, the stability of gold makes it an ideal choice for jewelry as it is one of the few metals that are resilient to oxidation and corrosion.

One of the most popular jewelry-making materials, pure gold is relatively soft and therefore, not perfect for jewelry designs. However, in time, the advancements in jewelry trends resulted in the requirement of various elements fused with gold or 'gold alloys.'

What is a Gold Alloy?

Today, most gold jewelry mountings are forms of 'gold alloy.' An alloy is a mixed metal compound. A gold alloy contains one part of gold blended with one or more other elements. In most scenarios, gold alloys are blended with other metals like platinum, silver, or iron. Gold is perfect for creating alloys with other metals due to its flexibility and outstanding versatility. In making gold alloy, the gold purity decreases, and it results in hard and durable material.

Gold Alloy: Purity & Popularity

Today, the most popular gold alloy among consumers is '18K' gold. The purity of a gold alloy is measured in terms of karat, written as 'K' or 'kt.' An 18K gold alloy is stamped '18K' (USA), or '750' (Europe) to specify the purity (75% pure gold). Consumers are often unaware that 18K gold is a form of an alloy.

purity of a gold alloy

Nowadays, 18K gold is the industrial 'norm' for fine jewelry. It is followed by 14K (58.3% gold) alloy. 18K gold is 75% pure gold blended with a variety of other elements. Yellow gold (YG) is alloyed with copper, silver, zinc, or cobalt. 18K yellow gold items are preferred for value, flexibility, and strength. 18K yellow gold jewelry does not corrode or get affected by heat, moisture, or oxygen, in comparison to many other alloys.

Gold Alloy: Color(s)

The most preferred gold alloy tone other than yellow is 'white gold.' The most commonly utilized white gold alloy is 18K 'nickel' white gold, which is yellow gold blended with copper, nickel, zinc, or palladium. Other varieties of white gold are made for those who are suffering from nickel allergies, and to help reduce the requirement to re-plate white gold with rhodium. White gold with chromium and iron is an ideal solution for those with nickel allergies. For those with big-budget, 18K 'palladium' white gold is a perfect choice as it contains only gold and palladium.

gold alloy color

The 'colored' gold alloys fall in the purity range of 8K (33% gold) to 22K (91.66% gold). In the US, the purity of gold alloy should be a minimum of 10K (41.7% gold) to be regarded as 'gold.' Gold alloy with less than 10K purity is usually considered as 'gold plated.' By lowering the purity percentage, gold alloys are changed into different attractive colors such as:

  • Red: by blending copper
  • Pink and Rose: by blending copper and silver
  • Black: by blending chromium or cobalt
  • Gray: by blending manganese, silver, and copper
  • Green: by blending silver, copper or cadmium/zinc
  • Blue: by blending indium or iron and nickel
  • Purple: by blending gold and aluminum

Today consumers enjoy a variety of jewelry options as gold is available in a variety of different colors. With gold alloy to match any colored gemstones, they can get a customized jewelry with endless possibilities.