Gold, Silver & Platinum Alloys – A Rainbow of Color

Have you ever wondered what makes “Rose Gold,” pink, or “Green Gold,” green? Combining gold, silver or platinum with other metals (creating alloys) increases durability and creates beautiful colors in jewelry.

The various colors you see in gold jewelry come from different metals being combined (alloyed) with other metals. Rose gold comes from the addition of copper and green from the addition of silver.  Gold, silver and platinum jewelry is almost never made of pure precious metal.  A 14K gold ring, for example, has 14/24ths gold and 10/24ths other metals. In percentages, that’s 58.5% pure gold and 41.5% other. Jewelry made of pure gold would quickly dent and scratch, loosing it’s beauty. In fact it’s so soft, it’s nearly impossible for a jeweler to work with unless it’s been alloyed. A piece of solid gold can actually be scratched with your fingernail!

Most alloys create only minor changes to the color of the gold. Pure 24K almost looks almost unreal because it’s such a bright yellow. The goal of adding other metals to gold was first and foremost to make it workable. But in the process, gold and silversmiths discovered that by adjusting the quantity of each metal addition, they could also create something new and different. Black Hills Gold is well known for it’s pink and green hues, but it doesn’t come out of the mine that way. A jeweler there coined the name after experimenting with different alloyed gold colors. There are many pieces of vintage jewelry made with green or rose gold long before the term Black Hills Gold was invented.

The chart below contains a list of common metal alloys and their component metals

Metal Alloy Used in Jewellry Metals Included in the Alloy
Yellow Gold Gold, Copper, Silver, Zinc
White Gold Gold, Nickel or Pallidium, Copper, Zinc
Rose Gold Gold, Copper, Silver
Green Gold Gold, Silver, and sometimes Nickel or Zinc in Rings
Black Gold Same as Yellow, with a Blackened Rhodium Plating
Platinum Platinum, irridum, ruthinium
(sometimes platinum, cobalt & copper)
Sterling Silver Silver & Coppper