In the thirty one years I’ve been an educating jeweler, I’ve been asked, “what is in the alloy mix, (metals mixed in to gold for strength and ease of jewelry making,) for white gold and yellow gold?” The light bulb just went off in my head that I need to blog about this.
To digress for a moment, I recently wrote about nickel allergies and white gold. I offered safe white metal choices for jewelry lovers. The blog post about nickel allergies was written for people who want more information about when jewelers use nickel in gold jewelry. This current post on gold alloys is a more technical dive into various alloys used in the karating of gold.
White Gold With Nickel, The Most Common Mix
This combination gives white gold its durability and strength. Nickel white gold does need to be rhodium plated as part of its upkeep. See the blog about rhodium plating.
White gold (and yellow gold) is measured in karats. There are 24 karats in 100% pure gold. This is too soft for jewelry making. There is about 58% pure gold by weight in 14kt gold. The balance of metal is the alloy mix chosen to be combined with the pure gold.
What Alloy Metals are in Standard White Gold and Nickel Jewelry?
14k Standard White Gold with Nickel
58.3% fine gold
From – Precious Metals West
18K Standard White Gold with Nickel
75% fine gold
10 % copper
Information from Innovateus.
The above recipes for gold and alloy metals are just one example. There are other percentages used for these basic alloy metals. Many companies offer their own recipes or mixes of alloys and each has reasons they feels theirs are superior.
White Gold with Palladium Alloy, the Alternative Mix
Palladium is a hypo allergenic, (rare cases of palladium allergies do exist), sturdy, long wearing and naturally white metal. It is in the platinum metals group. It offers an excellent white metal choice for jewelry. I like to use it as an alloy choice with white gold.
Palladium is lighter weight than gold and platinum and has a similar malleability as a metal, to platinum. This means it is not as “hard” as nickel white gold. For some designs the nickel white gold holds its shine longer and its firm feel is preferred.
I frequently choose white gold with palladium alloy with no nickel for the design for my client’s white gold jewelry. It is less likely to show that strong yellow cast than the white gold with nickel alloy.
What Alloys are in White Gold and Palladium Alloy Jewelry?
14kt White Gold – Palladium Alloy
58.33% pure yellow gold (AU)
32.17% silver (Ag)
9.50% palladium (Pd)
18kt White Gold – Palladium Alloy
75% pure yellow gold (AU)
25% palladium or platinum
Information from Innovateus.com
Yellow Gold for Jewelry Making
Yellow gold is the only type of gold that can be used in jewelry making as 24-karats. Since white gold and rose gold require other metals in order to achieve their unique colors, there cannot be 24kt white gold or 24kt rose gold.
Yellow gold jewelry that is made in 24kt is 100% pure gold. This would not be practical, because of the softness of gold. But it can be done.
What Alloys are used in Yellow Gold Jewelry?
14K Yellow Gold
58.5% fine gold
12.5% fine silver
18K Yellow Gold
75% fine gold
10% fine silver
Rose Gold for Jewelry Making
Rose gold is also be known as “red gold” or “pink gold.”
Because rose gold is a man-made alloy, “pure” rose gold does not exist.
Rose gold with its higher copper content is a more difficult metal mix to work than yellow or white gold. With its rising popularity I want people to know that when rose gold jewelry needs repair be sure to go to a jeweler experienced in working on rose gold. Also know that your rose gold ring will probably need repair more often than yellow or white gold.
Some of this information is from Wikipedia.
What Alloys Are Used in Rose Gold Jewelry?
14kt Rose gold
18kt Rose gold
Hopefully I’ve answered any questions you have about the alloy metals used in making your jewelry.