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Different Tones of Gold: What Does the Yellow Color Mean?

Gold jewelry comes in many different tones, but the average consumer may not know how to tell gold’s quality from its coloring and shading. Gold is our best-selling metal, so we wanted to put together a guide so you can understand the differences in gold shades and answer the popular question: why is some gold more yellow than others?

Image credits: loosegrowndiamond.com

24k Gold: The Purest Form of Gold

24k gold is made of 100% pure gold, and therefore is highly valued, deeply sought-after, and the most expensive. 24k gold is extremely soft and malleable, so it generally isn’t a great choice for jewelry pieces (especially rings and bracelets)—due to its softness, it can easily be bent out of shape. 24k gold is pure, undiluted gold, and has an extremely bright and rich yellow color.

 

Because pure gold is so soft, it must be mixed with other metals to ‘harden’ it for jewelry. The resulting alloy is what we know as different ‘karats’ of gold—the most common are 18k and 14k gold alloys. Since pure gold is a bright, deep, yellow hue, the lower karat golds tend to be duller the lower you go.

 

18k Gold: What Flaire & Co. Uses

Upon opening your gold Flaire & Co. pieces, you may think that the color of the jewelry is a ‘yellower’ and a richer gold hue than what you are typically used to. That’s okay! All of our gold pieces are 18k gold-plated, which lends it a more yellow hue than other, lower karats.

 

Compared to 24k gold, 18k gold is mixed with other ‘hardening’ metals (like silver) to increase its durability for jewelry pieces. 18k gold is made of 75% pure gold, and can be used on all kinds of jewelry pieces because it is less malleable than 100% pure gold. We use a plating process called ‘PVD gold plating’ that allows the gold plating to be more durable (and therefore stay vibrant and last longer).


The deeper yellow color doesn’t mean anything is wrong—it’s just the color of the 18k gold. Remember: the higher the karat, the yellower and richer the gold tone is!

14k Gold: A Very Common Gold Alloy

For many gold jewelry pieces on the market, 14k gold is the most common and also the most inexpensive option. This gold alloy is 58.3% pure gold and is generally mixed with alloying metals such as iron, zinc, nickel, and silver. The reason that Flaire & Co. does not use 14k gold in our jewelry is because it can be potentially irritating to skin allergies, since it is often mixed with common irritating metals for those with sensitive skin (ie. zinc, nickel, iron).

 

The biggest upside to 14k gold is that it is inexpensive, highly durable, and affordable compared to other alloys. Since it’s harder than 24k and 18k gold, it’s a popular choice for wedding rings, bracelets, and necklaces (especially if you don’t mind too much about the gold content in your jewelry). If your pieces are fully gold, 14k can be the best choice for balancing durability and affordability.

 

14k gold is a very common gold alloy that is in a lot of jewelry—which is why Flaire & Co.’s 18k gold-plated pieces may look a bit more ‘yellow’ than you are used to, compared to the duller gold color of 14k gold.

 

10K Gold: More Affordable

10k gold is the most affordable alloy of gold, as it only contains 41.7% pure gold (and is the lowest percentage that can legally be considered ‘gold’ in most countries). It is one step below 14k gold, can also be quite common in jewelry (although 14k gold is usually the more preferred choice for many). It is a very pale gold color and is somewhere between ‘white’ gold and ‘yellow’ gold. It is not recommended for those with sensitive skin because it is 58.3% alloy metal (which can include zinc, copper, nickel, silver, or iron.

In Summary

Gold can come in many different tones, depending on the purity of the alloy. Each karat category has its own pros and cons, depending on what you’re looking for! In short, a good thing to keep in mind is that the deeper and yellower the gold, the higher the karat (which means higher gold content).

 

Flaire & Co. only uses 18k gold, so our gold jewelry pieces are a deeper, yellower hue than what you may be used to. We try our best to eliminate allergens from our products as much as possible, so we stay away from 14k gold just in case. This doesn’t mean 14k gold isn’t a great option for many—we just don’t use it for our pieces.

 

We hope this article has helped you make more informed decisions about which jewelry you buy. Thanks for reading, and happy shopping!

 

Image credit: kenanddanadesign.com