Precious Metals Used in Jewelry: GOLD

Learn about some of the most popular types of metals that are commonly worn in everyday jewelry.


Renowned for its gleaming luster and denseness, gold is known as the softest and most pliable natural metal. In its purest form, gold is bright yellow in color, but is often mixed with other metals, such as silver and copper, to form a more durable alloy that's more resistant to everyday wear and tear. Additionally, these alloys help color gold and produce shades of white, yellow, and rose. 

Gold Purity

There are various grades of gold purity, determined by the ratio of their alloy composition and rated by a karat system. Typical karat purities range from 10 karats to 24 karats (pure gold), with a wide variation of usage from country to country. In the United States, the most popular composition is 14 karat gold.

Below are some of the most common gold densities, along with the characteristics and pure gold content of each:

24 Karat Gold
In its purest form, the metal is comprised of 100% gold with virtually no alloy metals. Pure gold is extremely soft and pliable, which is why it's often mixed with other metals, such as copper and silver, to forge jewelry.
22 Karat Gold
This level of gold is 91.7% pure which is still too soft to make jewelry and not as durable as 18K or 14K.
18 Karat Gold
This alloy consists of 75% gold and 25% alloy metals. 18 karat gold has been found to be the perfect balance between gold purity and strength. Brilliance offers a variety of exquisite 18 karat gold jewelry.
14 Karat Gold
14 karat gold is 58.3% pure gold; the remainder is comprised of alloy metals. Any gold purity less than 14 karat gold is not recommended for high quality jewelry.
10 Karat Gold
This tier of the metal consists of 41.7% gold. This is the minimum purity that can still be considered gold in the United States and is not used for high quality jewelry.

Colors of Gold

Due to its inherent softness and malleability, gold is rarely used alone when forging a jewelry piece. Instead, it's blended with other fine metals to lend more hardness and durability. When pure gold is combined with these other metals, it takes on a variety of rich shades that have become desirable in their own right. At Brilliance, we offer an assortment of contrasting hues in our fine gold jewelry:

Yellow Gold

The most popular shade of the precious metal, gold, is used to create a majority of the fine jewelry on the market today, especially yellow gold engagement rings and wedding bands. It gets its warm, lustrous hue from the silver and copper alloys with which it's mixed. Within the yellow gold family, there can be a marked difference in shading based on the karat weight-for instance, an 18 karat yellow gold ring will be richer and more brilliant in color than one measuring 10 karats.


 Suzy Levian yellow gold eternity band

White Gold

Another popular choice, white gold engagement rings and wedding rings get their gleaming silver hue from the addition of alloy metals, including palladium, zinc, copper, tin, and manganese. The highest quality of white gold jewelry is generally 18 karats, consisting of a mixture of pure yellow gold and palladium. White gold can be re-dipped in Rhodium periodically to help maintain its original luster.

 Suzy Levian white gold eternity band

Rose Gold

Often heralded as a romantic metal, rose gold jewelry gets its striking coloration from the addition of copper and silver. The larger the ratio of copper, the darker the rose coloration will be. Referred to as 'crown gold,' the most precious rose gold has a 22 karat weight. The more common 18 karat rose gold is comprised of 25% copper and 75% gold.

 Suzy Levian rose gold eternity band

Gold Pricing

Gold is generally an expensive metal, due to its rarity and excess of demand. The price of the metal is determined by its fineness, or by the karat purity that marks the ratio of pure gold to other metals. Another factor that comes into play when determining the price of jewelry is the aesthetic design and the method of craftsmanship. As a general rule, a carefully handmade piece will be more expensive than a mass-produced version.

Care & Maintenance

Although gold is resistant to corrosion, it may become dull or dirty with frequent wear. Periodic cleanings of your fine gold jewelry can help to restore its original luster and keep it looking its best. Below are some tips and techniques on safely maintaining your gold jewelry:

For a cleaning solution, use a mix of mild non-abrasive detergent and warm water. Gently scrub the surface of the gold with a soft-bristled jewelry brush. Using a small brush will help to cleanse hard-to-reach areas, such as in between the prongs of a diamond ring setting or the clasp of a gold watch. Use a soft cloth to polish the jewelry piece. Be sure to wipe until the gold is completely dry.

When not in use, store your gold jewelry safely to avoid contact with other pieces, which can cause scratching. Ideally, each gold piece should be kept in its own plastic zip-lock bag or soft cloth pouch to avoid tarnishing. 

Avoid contact with chlorine, bleach, harsh soaps, and lotions, as these can damage or compromise the surface of the gold.

History of Gold

Discovered as early as 3,000 BC, gold has served as an ornamental and economic fixture for many centuries. A chemical element, it's a highly prized metal mined from rocks and sediment. From the ancient civilizations of Egypt, Greece, and Rome through the Middle Ages and the modern period of the 1800s, gold has figured prominently in the history and culture of societies spanning the globe. In 1848, the California gold rush brought about a drastic spike in the production and distribution of the metal. Today, gold lends timeless beauty and longevity to a majority of the fine jewelry on the market today. At Brilliance, we're proud to offer a hand-picked assortment of gold rings, earrings, bracelets, and necklaces, available in a rich medley of colors and karat weights.


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