Yellow Gold vs. White Gold vs. Rose Gold. Which is Best?

Sep 2nd 2021

Yellow Gold vs. White Gold vs. Rose Gold. Which is Best?

You know the lyrics to the classic holiday song: On the fifth day of Christmas, her true love gave her five gold rings. But which type of gold is best? White gold? Yellow gold? Rose gold? We’re here to help you understand the differences, so you can pick the perfect engagement ring or “just because” gift for your true love!

What’s the Difference?

Color is the most noticeable difference among these types of gold, but there are also variations in their composition. Different metals are incorporated into each form of gold, which makes some more durable than others.

Yellow Gold: This might look like pure gold, but there’s more than meets the eye. Yellow gold is actually pure gold that’s mixed with other metals, like copper and zinc, to make it sturdier and complement its yellow tone. This has traditionally been the most popular gold for engagement and wedding rings, so it looks great in vintage-style bands too. Yellow gold is the most hypoallergenic choice, but it’s most likely to show scratches. You’ll therefore want to regularly clean your yellow gold jewelry.

*Pro Tip: If you’re shopping on a budget, consider buying a cheaper diamond with a hint of color. This will still appear white and flawless against a yellow gold band.

White Gold: If your partner loves the sleek look of platinum, white gold has a similar appearance and is easier on your wallet. Its makeup consists of pure gold and white metals, like zinc, nickel and palladium. It also tends to feature a rhodium coating, which makes it a more durable and scratch-resistant option than yellow gold.

*Pro Tip: White gold’s rhodium coating tends to wear over time. We therefore recommend getting your jewelry re-plated every few years to maintain its beautiful sheen. This process is typically inexpensive, so check with your jeweler for details!

Rose Gold: The strongest and most romantic color of the three options, rose gold is a combination of pure gold, copper and silver. Copper is primarily responsible for rose gold’s strength and range of red to pink shades. A piece that displays a deeper red glow will have more copper in its composition. Despite its pink hues, rose gold is fashionable for both men and women’s jewelry.

*Pro Tip: While it’s important to clean all types of jewelry, you might have to polish rose gold more frequently than yellow and white gold. You don’t want that ravishing red color to grow dull!

Why is Gold Mixed with Other Metals?

In its natural form, pure gold is actually soft and can’t be used in jewelry. As a result, other metals are added to increase its durability.

If you’re wondering how much pure gold is in the piece of jewelry you’re eyeing, you can tell by its weight. More karats mean a greater amount of pure gold. For example, a 24-karat ring is nearly 100% pure gold, but it’s not very sturdy. You’ll typically see 14-karat (58% pure gold) or 18-karat gold (75% pure gold) in engagement and wedding rings, as these are durable options for daily wear.

History of Gold in Jewelry

Gold has been used in jewelry for thousands of years! In fact, the International Gem Society reports that archaeologists once found a 4,000-year-old pearl and gold earring in Bahrain, an island near Saudi Arabia. Gold jewelry was particularly popular during the Georgian era and Romantic Period (1700s and 1800s). Gold sheets, 18-karat to 22-karat gold and various gemstones, from emeralds to amethysts, were commonly used.

White gold was created in the 19th century but wasn’t commercially available until it appeared in Germany in 1912. It quickly gained popularity and was considered an affordable alternative to platinum by the mid-1920s. This type of gold offered a new twist to the standard engagement ring, and it has since become more fashionable than yellow gold.

Which Costs More?

Regardless of the gold you choose, you’ll find similar pricing. However, rose gold might be slightly cheaper due to the strong presence of copper. Remember, copper gives rose gold its reddish tint, and it’s typically a more affordable metal.

You’ll instead see the biggest price difference in the gold’s weight. A good rule of thumb: 18-karat gold is almost always more expensive than 14-karat gold.

Which Color is Best for My Jewelry?

We’ll leave that to your personal preference! But keep in mind that certain colors are better suited for specific skin tones and gemstones. For example, yellow gold is the perfect contrast to olive and darker skin tones. White gold works perfectly with fair and rosy skin tones, while rose gold pairs well with all skin tones.

As for gemstones, rose gold is a gorgeous base for all gems, but it works best with fancy cut diamonds and stones with strong color, such as emeralds and rubies. If you’re leaning toward white gold, it looks stunning when paired with white diamonds.

You might also want to factor durability into your gold decision. If your partner has an active lifestyle, white and rose gold are stronger than yellow gold and can withstand daily wear and tear.

Have a question? We can help!

Gage Diamonds is Chicago's premier jewelry showroom and online retailer of engagement rings, wedding bands, and fine jewelry. We offer a variety of metal options for all of our jewelry, including yellow, white and rose gold.

We’re committed to helping you find the ring of your dreams. For inspiration, browse our selection of engagement rings or set up an appointment with a member of our trusted staff at our in-person showroom.

We offer no-credit-needed financing – feel free to apply and get your approval within 24 hours!

Pay over time, because love shouldn’t wait.