4 Types of Gold Jewellery
Gold jewellery is fashioned in a number of colours:
- Yellow Gold
- White Gold
- Rose Gold
- Platinum (Not technically gold)
Each type of gold is manufactured differently and has unique positive qualities and drawbacks. Let’s explore each of these for their properties and uses.
Yellow gold has been traditionally popular for wedding bands. It is made by mixing pure gold with an alloy such as zinc and copper. Because of the alloys used to form yellow gold, it is considered the most hypo-allergenic (anti-allergic reaction) of the different types of gold. Yellow gold is more malleable than the other types, so jewellers have an easier time working with it. Of all colours of gold, yellow requires the least maintenance. Yellow gold settings match better with lower colour graded diamonds. Yellow gold has a couple of drawbacks. The higher the karat, or gold purity, the easier it is for jewellery to become damaged. Some skin tones are complimented better than others by yellow gold.
White gold can be made by mixing pure gold with any number of white alloy metals including silver, palladium, nickel and manganese. In recent years it has become more popular than yellow gold. The alloys used in white gold are stronger than those used in yellow gold—making it more durable and damage resistant. White gold is more affordable than platinum. Many customers believe that white diamonds show better in a white gold, as opposed to yellow gold, setting. White gold compliments fair skin tones that yellow gold doesn’t match well with. White gold is often coated or plated with rhodium. This gives a piece of white gold jewellery a dazzling shine that makes diamonds look bigger and brighter. One of the disadvantages of rhodium plated white gold is the plating wears off and can need to be re-plated or dipped every few years to keep that amazing shine. Many jewellers offer this service and is a relatively inexpensive process. A bigger concern with white gold is the use of nickel as an alloy. Nickel is much less expensive than other white gold alloys so it is commonly used as the main alloy or in a combination. Nickel is a very common skin allergen. About 10% of the population develop contact dermatitis anywhere a piece of jewellery containing even trace amounts of nickel touches. The problem is considered serious enough that the European Union, with the Nickel Directive in 2009, has banned the use of nickel in jewellery.
Rose gold, sometimes referred to as red or pink gold, is combined with copper to give it a distinctive shade. The more copper in the mixture, the redder the gold is. An experienced eye can estimate the karat of a piece of rose gold jewellery simply by examining its’ hue. Rose gold’s popularity has gone through peaks and valleys. In the early 1920’s it was all the rage. Currently is is making a strong resurgence in fashion circles. It has also benefitted in periods of tri-colour gold jewellery popularity such as the 1980s. Rose gold is considered by many to be romantic because of its’ reddish colouring. The copper alloy in rose gold affords it greater strength and durability than its’ yellow or white cousins. Copper is also a common metal, which means rose gold can often be made more economically than its counterparts. Rose gold is also said to be neutral and complimentary to all skin tones. Unfortunately, although far less frequent than nickel, some people are allergic to copper so it cannot be considered hypo-allergenic. Some may forego pink gold for items such as wedding bands since it tends to come and go out of fashion.
Platinum is not actually a gold. It is a different metal in its own right. It has a natural silvery-white hue. Often confused or believed to be white gold, platinum must be at least 95% pure in order to be considered platinum jewellery. A higher ratio of alloy than 5% requires to be called “platinum alloy”. Platinum is actually much rarer than any of the golds. It is a dense precious metal that is much more durable than gold. Platinum is considered more prestigious than gold. One main feature of platinum is that it is considered hypo-allergenic. It is, however, significantly more expensive than white gold. Platinum can dull and scratch so requires cleaning and polishing every few years. This process strips away some of the platinum. Platinum jewellery may or may not be considered a good investment, not only because of the higher cost, but also because it cannot be reused or re-melted like white gold. There are fewer avenues to sell an estate piece of platinum than one made of gold.
Good Customer Service
Yellow gold, white gold, rose gold, and platinum all have their admirers. The main idea is to give the customer a variety to choose from. Where one can be more helpful is by tailoring the customer’s needs or desires to the item that best suits them. Being knowledgeable regarding allergy causing alloys, durability, maintenance requirements, budget, skin tone factors and preferences can create great customer satisfaction and generate repeat business. When one informs the customer, one avoids returns because of allergic reaction, complaints about breakage or damage, and complaints about required re-plating, cleaning or dipping. When the customer knows what to expect, they understand the requirements and are prepared to accommodate the needs of the jewellery they require. Informing them after the fact—once they return with a problem—may seem like making excuses and erode the customer-jeweller trust relationship you have established.