Nina’s guide to gold jewellery - quality, strength, & type

Nina’s guide to gold jewellery - quality, strength, & type

Gold, with its naturally radiant beauty, is undoubtedly one of history’s most popular jewellery choices, whether it’s for wedding bands, engagement rings, earrings, necklaces, or any other design.

When it comes to choosing the type of gold, learning the differences between the various shades and karat weights is important; particularly when choosing a “forever” piece of jewellery.

Gold has been the preferred precious metal used in jewellery due to its versatility, its anti-tarnish properties, high accessibility and wide availability.

Whether you want to stay informed when designing your own diamond ring, or you want to learn more about gold purity, this article will help clear any confusion before purchasing your next statement piece.

The 3 types of gold

The 3 main shades of gold jewellery are yellow, white, and rose gold, which all vary in both composition and colour. Selection for your jewellery should primarily be based on your personal preference, taking into consideration price and composition.

Yellow gold

Yellow gold has been the classic jewellery choice for so long, it is even appropriate for repairing any broken vintage jewellery. Created using a mixture of pure gold and alloy metals such as zinc or copper,  the amount of pure gold used in each piece of jewellery is measured in karats. Higher karat amounts contain purer gold content that makes it more malleable, and much more durable, which is why many 'forever' pieces including both engagement and wedding rings are made using 14 or 18 karat gold.

White gold

White gold is a quite popular alloy or mixture of pure gold with white metals such as palladium, silver, or nickel, and a final coating of rhodium for the bright silvery-white appearance. The process of alloying gold with other metals is what makes white gold much more scratch-resistant than yellow gold.

White gold can be used to enhance classic white diamonds, showcase exceptionally coloured stones, and looks similar to platinum with the added benefit of being much cheaper. The down side is that it usually needs to be rhodium plated every 12 to 18 months to maintain its appearance, otherwise yellow-gold tones will start to appear.

Rose gold

Rose gold covers the red family of colours including rose gold and pink gold shades, which has been achieved by mixing pure gold with a copper alloy. The more copper used, the redder the gold appears. A common rose gold mix has historically been 18 karats, which was created using 75% gold with 25% copper.

Rose gold can be used to enhance the tone of pink diamonds, making it a favourite for setting Argyle pink diamonds at Nina's.

What is platinum?

Platinum, on the other hand, is a naturally white metal that looks almost identical to white gold and is most commonly used to create jewellery that ranges between 95% to 98% pure.

What are karats?

To find out how much gold has been used in a piece of gold jewellery, it is measured in karats. Each karat amounts to 4.167 of gold content.

Because pure gold is too malleable for most types of jewellery, these alloys are measured in varying amounts of karats to be mixed with other metals which will ultimately be much more durable.

9 karat gold has the lowest gold content, making it the hardest out of the four most common purity levels of gold. Unfortunately, though, this makes it more inclined to wear and tear, being tougher and less durable. The better option for ensuring longevity in your most precious jewellery items is 18 karat gold, which Nina's uses for engagement rings or other special forever pieces. Finally, there is 24 karat pure gold which is most commonly used for plating, as it is so malleable it can be bent with bare hands. 18 karat gold is Nina's gold of choice, as it gives the wearer the best of both worlds - additional strength from the alloys, and the malleability and durability of natural gold.

Gold pricing

The prices of all gold jewellery is determined by using a combination of the gold’s craftsmanship, purity, as well as the current market value.

Considerations for gold jewellery

While the decisions about the type of gold used for your gold jewellery, gold and diamond jewellery designs and gold diamond rings are most commonly based on personal preferences, you should also consider which one best suits the type of diamond, your skin tone, as well as current fashion trends.

The purer the gold, the less likely to cause allergic reactions or skin irritations, so anyone with sensitive skin should consider at least 18 or 24 karat gold.  

Our GIA certified Master Jewellers have over 70 years’ experience, and can guide you in making the best choice for you and your chosen design. If you design your own diamond ring, you are going to have complete control over the entire design process, including the quality, colour, and strength of the gold. Contact us to begin the journey.


Fact-checked by: Emma Donovan