Rose gold was first used in the early 19th century by Carl Fabergé in his famous Fabergé Eggs, but it only really started to gain popularity in engagement rings and wedding rings from the 1920s onwards.
In recent years, we've witnessed renewed demand for rose gold engagement rings and wedding rings, with growing numbers of customers falling in love with its pinkish-orange tone and the way in which its natural warmth contrasts beautifully with the cool bright white of diamonds.
In this article, we try to answer the main questions that our customers ask us about rose gold, including how it's made and how it differs from other types of gold.
Is rose gold real gold?
Rose gold is a precious metal that contains real gold, but it is not pure gold. Pure gold is too soft to be used to make jewellery and is famously yellow in colour. Instead, rose gold is a mixture of gold and another metal (an alloy), which is added to make the gold harder (and so suitable for making jewellery) and to change it from yellow to a pinkish-orange colour.
What is rose gold made out of?
Rose gold is made from a mixture of gold and copper. The two metals are heated to more than a thousand degrees Celsius in order to melt them (gold has a melting point of 1063°C and copper 1084°C) before they are mixed in precise proportions to produce the particular fineness (measured in carats) that the goldsmith requires.
The percentage (by weight) of the gold in a piece of rose gold jewellery is measured in the UK at one of four assay offices (in London, Birmingham, Sheffield and Edinburgh), and the jewellery is then stamped with a small mark (the hallmark) as follows to confirm its "fineness":
|Rose Gold Carats||Gold Content||Copper Content||UK Hallmark|
In the UK, 9ct rose gold is most commonly used in costume jewellery, and 18ct rose gold is most commonly used in fine jewellery, such as engagement rings and wedding bands.
14ct is a standard commonly used in the US, and 22ct is a standard commonly used in India, but both of these are occasionally seen in the UK too.
Yellow gold vs. rose gold vs. white gold
All three colour variants of gold used in jewellery start with pure gold (also known as 24ct gold or fine gold), which is, of course, yellow in colour.
However, even the yellow gold used in jewellery is alloyed with other metals to make it harder. In fact, copper is one of the alloys used in yellow gold, but silver is also added, typically in equal quantities to copper. This means, for example, that most 18ct yellow gold is 75% gold, 12.5% copper and 12.5% silver (by weight).
Similarly, white gold is also alloyed, but not with copper. Instead, white metals such as silver and palladium are used. One alloy to look out for in white gold is nickel, which can cause skin allergies in some people, though at Ingle & Rhode our white gold is completely nickel-free.
In terms of their cost and value, all three gold colours are broadly the same for any given fineness or carat. That said, the cost of palladium has increased dramatically in recent years, meaning that some jewellers do charge more for white gold than for yellow or rose gold.
Another difference is that white gold is usually rhodium-plated, which is not the case for yellow or rose gold. The rhodium plate gives white gold an even brighter white colour, very similar to platinum, but it does fade over time with wear and tear, so white gold rings may need to be replated every few years. For more information, read What is white gold?
To maintain the lustre of yellow gold and rose gold rings, they will need polishing from time to time. Although harder than pure gold, they still pick up scuffs and scratches over time. A word of caution though: a tiny amount of metal is lost every time you polish gold, so if you want your jewellery to last a lifetime, it is advisable not to polish it too frequently!
Does rose gold tarnish?
Like white gold and yellow gold, rose gold engagement rings will not tarnish. But unlike white gold, rose gold and yellow gold do not need replating over time. However, all gold jewellery does need polishing over time, and this needs to be done with care and not too frequently since some metal is lost when gold is polished.
Is rose gold more expensive than white gold?
Generally, no, and at Ingle & Rhode, our rose gold engagement rings cost the same as our white and yellow gold rings. In contrast, some jewellers charge a premium for white gold over and above what they charge for yellow or rose gold to cover the cost of palladium alloy and rhodium plate.
Do rose gold, yellow gold, and white gold contain the same amount of gold?
It depends. It's not the colour of the gold that matters, but rather its fineness measured in carats. All 9ct golds (regardless of colour) contain at least 37.5% gold by weight, and all 18ct golds (regardless of colour) contain at least 75% gold by weight. So as long as the carats are the same, then yes rose gold, yellow gold and white gold all contain the same amount of gold.
Rose gold is a beautiful precious metal that was first used in jewellery a little over one hundred years ago but has experienced a resurgence in demand over the last decade. Its warm tone contrasts beautifully against bright white diamonds. Available in the same finenesses (gold carats) as yellow gold and white gold, it offers customers a third option to consider for those looking for something a little bit different.
If you have any questions about rose gold, if you'd like to view some of our rose gold engagement rings or wedding rings, or if you'd like to discuss commissioning a bespoke piece of jewellery in rose gold, please don't hesitate to get in touch. We'd be delighted to help!