What’s More Precious Than Gold? A Guide to Different Types of Gold Jewelry
by Anne Reyes,
When you want to buy high-quality fine jewelry, it’s easy to get confused with the different types of precious metals available. What’s the difference between gold vermeil and gold-filled? Does color matter? Is yellow gold a higher grade of metal than rose?
Luxury jewelry is an investment. That’s why it’s crucial to educate yourself about the different types of gold available in the market. Whether you’re looking for heirloom pieces or ornaments you can wear every day, you’ll want to choose good quality jewelry that won’t tarnish or turn your neck and earlobes green.
To help, metallurgists or scientists who specialize in metals, have come up with a guide to different types of gold jewelry out in the market today. Read on and learn so that next time you buy luxury jewelry online or at a store, you’re armed and ready with the correct information to make the best decision.
Types of Gold Jewelry
Let’s get started with the five basic types of gold jewelry: gold-plated, gold vermeil, gold-filled, rolled gold, and solid gold.
Gold-plated jewelry is the most inexpensive type of gold metal on the market. As its name suggests, it’s composed of a base metal (usually copper or brass) topped with a very thin layer of gold. How thin? We’re talking around 0.05%. Because there’s not a lot of actual gold in gold-plated jewelry, it’s the cheapest type you can buy. Gold-plated pieces are not recommended for daily wear as they are prone to tarnishing and corrosion when exposed to sweat, water, and other liquids.
When should you buy gold-plated jewelry? If you’re looking for something beautiful and affordable to wear to a costume party or are eager to try a new trend without necessarily aiming for long-lasting quality, then gold-plated would be a good choice.
Next in line is gold vermeil. Pronounced “ver-may,” this type of gold is composed of a sterling silver base metal heavy-plated with 2.5 microns of gold. Because gold vermeil is made entirely out of precious metals (silver and gold), it is more valuable than gold-plated jewelry. Vermeil is also much more durable than gold-plated gold, does not tarnish, and is hypoallergenic.
If you’re looking for affordable, good quality jewelry that you can wear every day, gold vermeil is an excellent option.
Gold-filled jewelry is made by bonding a base (usually jeweler’s brass) with a solid layer of 12-14k gold. Because gold-filled jewelry is mechanically bonded using heat and pressure, it doesn’t fade or rub off with time. Like vermeil, gold-filled pieces won’t tarnish and are hypoallergenic. Because gold-filled jewelry has more solid gold in composition (1/20 of a piece’s weight) than both vermeil and gold-plated pieces, they’re more expensive and valuable.
Gold-filled jewelry is perfect if you have a higher budget for wearable luxury jewelry.
Specifically used for watches, rolled gold is made of thin strips of gold fused to a brass base. Unlike its gold-filled counterpart, however, the amount of actual gold in a rolled gold piece is only 1/40 of the piece’s weight, making it less valuable.
Finally, we get to the star of the show: solid gold. As you might have surmised from its name, solid gold is 100% gold. It doesn’t have any base metals or alloys mixed in its composition. Solid gold has the best quality and won’t tarnish or corrode. However, one downside is that solid gold is quite soft and pliable, so it can easily get scratched or bent.
Solid gold jewelry is best for heirloom pieces, formal occasions, or red-carpet events.
Karat: The Measure of Gold Purity
Now that we’ve covered the different types of gold available let’s look into karats, the measure of gold’s purity. The metric is quite simple:
- 9K - Composition: 37.5% gold
- 10K - Composition: 41.6% gold
- 12K - Composition: 50% gold
- 14K - Composition: 58.3% ideal for everyday use
- 18K - Composition: 75%
- 22K - Composition: 91.6%
- 24K - Composition: 100%
As a rule, 14K gold jewelry is what’s considered best for everyday use. Anything below 10K is considered lower quality pieces or costume jewelry.
Colors of Gold Jewelry
When other metal elements or alloys are added into pure gold, different colors are produced. Here are the most common types of gold jewelry colors:
The yellow hue of solid gold is its naturally occurring state. But in cases where metallurgists want to create a more durable metal, they mix silver, zinc, and copper to the gold, creating a more robust metal with a yellow color.
Shop yellow gold rings here.
What gives rose gold jewelry its trending color? 25% copper is added into the mix for its pink hue. Looking for rose gold jewelry? Find it here.
Sometimes confused with silver or platinum, white gold is mixed with palladium and/or nickel to give it its frosty color. Here is some white gold jewelry you might want to check out.
Quite new in the market, green gold is achieved with a mixture of the right amount of copper, silver, and zinc.
The Best Type Of Gold Jewelry For You
The answer depends on your lifestyle and what you need. If you’re looking for affordable, wearable luxury, gold vermeil and gold-filled pieces are most probably your best bet. For costume jewelry or pieces you don’t mind disposing of, gold-plated is perhaps good enough. If you’re looking for top-quality, valuable luxury pieces that will stand the test of time, then solid gold is what’s best for you.
So next time you’re looking to buy high-quality fine jewelry, make sure you ask about the metal type, karat, and color of the piece you’re looking at. This way, you know that you’re paying the right price for the right investment piece.
Where’s the best place to buy gemstone jewelry online? Check out Heaven-Roc. A sustainable brand that handpicks top-quality diamonds, natural gemstones, and gold, Heaven-Roc features a handcrafted timeless collection of wearable luxury for every occasion.