The Different Types of Gold Used in Jewelry

The Different Types of Gold Used in Jewelry

Gold has been treasured for centuries, prized for its beauty, rarity, and enduring value. When it comes to jewelry, gold remains one of the most popular and timeless choices. However, not all gold is the same. Understanding the various types of gold used in jewelry can help you make informed decisions when shopping for that perfect piece. In this guide, we'll explore the different types of gold, their properties, and what makes each unique.

1. 24-Karat Gold (24K)

24-karat gold is considered pure gold. It is 99.9% gold, with no other metals mixed in. This type of gold is very soft and malleable, making it impractical for everyday jewelry. Pure gold is also more prone to scratching and bending.

  • Color: Bright yellow.

  • Purity: 99.9% gold.

  • Properties: Soft, malleable, rich color.

2. 22-Karat Gold (22K)

22-karat gold is another high-purity gold option. It contains 91.7% gold and 8.3% alloy metals such as silver and copper. This alloy gives 22K gold improved durability while still maintaining a rich gold color.

  • Color: Deep yellow.

  • Purity: 91.7% gold, 8.3% alloy.

  • Properties: Durable, rich color.

3. 18-Karat Yellow Gold (18K)

18-karat gold is a common choice for fine jewelry. It consists of 75% gold and 25% alloy metals. This combination provides good durability while retaining a high gold content and a warm, yellow hue.

  • Color: Warm yellow.

  • Purity: 75% gold, 25% alloy.

  • Properties: Durable, retains value, warm color.

4. 14-Karat Yellow Gold (14K)

14-karat gold is a popular choice for both affordability and durability. It contains 58.5% gold and 41.5% alloy metals. This type of gold is less prone to scratches and dings, making it suitable for everyday wear.

  • Color: Warm yellow.

  • Purity: 58.5% gold, 41.5% alloy.

  • Properties: Durable, affordable, common choice.

5. 10-Karat Yellow Gold (10K)

10-karat gold is the minimum karatage allowed to be considered "real" gold in the United States. It contains 41.7% gold and 58.3% alloy metals. While it is the least pure form of gold, it is also the most durable and affordable.

  • Color: Pale yellow.

  • Purity: 41.7% gold, 58.3% alloy.

  • Properties: Very durable, affordable.

6. White Gold

White gold is an alloy of gold and white metals such as nickel, silver, or palladium. It does not occur naturally and is created by mixing pure gold with these metals, often rhodium-plated to enhance its whiteness. It can be 18k, 14k or 10k.

  • Color: White with a hint of yellow.

  • Properties: Durable, scratch-resistant, often rhodium-plated.

7. Rose Gold

Rose gold gets its pinkish hue from a higher percentage of copper in the alloy. It is a blend of gold, copper, and sometimes a small amount of silver. The more copper in the mix, the stronger the red color. It can be 18k, 14k or 10k.

  • Color: Pinkish-red.

  • Properties: Durable, scratch-resistant, unique color.

8. Green Gold

Green gold, also known as Electrum, is an alloy of gold and silver. It has a pale greenish-yellow hue due to the silver content. Green gold is not very common in jewelry, but it can be used for unique and distinctive pieces.

  • Color: Pale greenish-yellow.

  • Properties: Uncommon, unique color, not widely used.

9. Black Hills Gold

Black Hills Gold is a distinctive type of gold jewelry originating from South Dakota, USA. It is usually 10K or 12K gold with pink and green leaves made from gold alloyed with silver and copper. The design often features grape clusters and leaves.

  • Color: Yellow gold with pink and green accents.

  • Properties: Unique design, typically 10K or 12K gold.

10. Vermeil

Vermeil (pronounced ver-may) is not a type of gold but rather a combination of gold and sterling silver. To be considered vermeil, the gold layer must be at least 2.5 microns thick over the silver. It provides the look and feel of gold at a more affordable price point.

  • Color: Yellow gold over silver.

  • Properties: Affordable, gold appearance.

11. Gold Filled

Gold-filled jewelry consists of a base metal (such as brass or copper) covered by sheets of gold. The gold content must be at least 5% of the total weight. It is more durable than gold-plated jewelry and can last a lifetime with proper care.

  • Color: Varies depending on the base metal.

  • Properties: Durable, more affordable than solid gold.

12. Gold Plated

Gold-plated jewelry has a thin layer of gold electroplated onto a base metal such as brass or copper. The layer of gold is thinner than gold-filled jewelry and can wear off over time, revealing the base metal beneath.

  • Color: Varies depending on the base metal.

  • Properties: Affordable, less durable than gold-filled or solid gold.


Whether you're drawn to the warm glow of traditional yellow gold, the romantic allure of rose gold, or the sleek elegance of white gold, understanding the different types of gold used in jewelry can help you make the perfect choice for your style and budget. From pure 24-karat gold to more durable alloys like 14-karat and 18-karat, each type offers its own unique properties and characteristics. Whether you're shopping for an engagement ring, a necklace, or a pair of earrings, knowing the differences in gold types ensures that your jewelry will be as beautiful as it is timeless.

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