White gold has grown in popularity over the recent years as a fresh alternative to yellow. White gold is alloyed with a combination of palladium alloy, zinc, and nickel. The shade looks particularly vibrant when accompanying a sparkling white diamond. The alloys in white gold make it harder then yellow gold. Depending on the alloys used to produce the white gold, much of it is finished with a rhodium plating that gives it a bright white finish. This masks the slightly yellowish tone that may appear.
Rose gold is a combination of copper and gold. Rose gold has a soft tone that compliments and enriches skin’s natural coloring, especially in fair skinned people. The highest karat version of rose gold is 22 karats; this is often referred to as Crown’s gold. A medium strength version of rose gold resembles the color blush.
The softness of gold allows it to be shaped into a variety of forms and designs. This quality also makes it necessary for gold to be alloyed with other metals to make it stronger and more durable if it is to be used in jewelry. Because the concentration of gold varies from piece to piece, jewelers use the karat system to designate levels of gold purity.
Pure gold contains 24 karats; however, due to its softness, this level of purity is rarely used in jewelry. Most high-end jewelry in North America ranges between 14-18 karats. The most common karat strength in gold jewelry is 14K, because this level of purity provides a popular distribution of hardness and flexibility at an affordable price. Most of the designer jewelry and finer imported European jewelry is 18K. The lowest level of gold purity sold in the United States is 10K. Below this level an item cannot be called gold jewelry.
In order to be sure of the purity level of a certain piece of jewelry, customers can check the quality mark. This designation will either provide the number of karats (the American system), or an exponent of the percentage of gold content (the European system).
18 karat = 18/24 pure gold or .750
14 karat = 14/24 pure gold or .585
10 karat = 10/24 pure gork or .417