Rose Gold vs Yellow Gold Jewelry: An Expert Guide

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Although the natural color of gold is yellow, jewelers have created processes that allow the color of gold to be manipulated and changed. As a result, today, gold can be found in over 10 different colors.

JamesAllen Engagement Rings

When it comes to jewelry, and especially engagement and wedding rings, rose gold is one of the most sought-after colors. But is rose gold the same in value as yellow gold, and what are the pros and cons of each?

Keep reading as we outline what you need to know about rose gold vs yellow gold and our top pick of each.

Rose Gold vs. Yellow Gold Alloys

Gold, in its purest form, isn’t suitable for jewelry. It is too soft and too malleable, meaning that any jewelry made from the purest gold will lose shape and wear out very quickly.

The solution?

Alloys. This is why all gold jewelry on the market is an alloy of some sort, made by combining pure gold with other metals to produce stronger, more durable gold. Both yellow and rose gold come in various alloys, with the strength and color being impacted by the varying amounts of gold used in the alloy.

Gold wedding band
Yellow Gold Traditional Wedding Ring by James Allen. See it here.

Yellow gold is commonly alloyed with copper, zinc, or silver. This strengthens the gold, enhancing its durability. Yellow gold is found in varying alloys, with 10K, 12K, 14K, and 18K being the most common. The higher the karatage, the higher the amount of pure gold. So 18K yellow gold will be more golden in color, but less durable than a 12K piece, for example.

Rose gold wedding band
Rose Gold Women’s Wedding Ring by James Allen. See it here.

Rose gold (also called red gold, pink gold, and sometimes Russian gold which is now an obsolete term) is not found in nature. It is created by combining pure gold with copper and sometimes silver. A common ratio is 75% gold, 22.5% copper, and a small proportion of silver to complete the alloy. The copper is what gives the pink tinge to the metal and the proportion of the copper used impacts the color of the metal.

As with yellow gold, the amount of pure gold is what gives it its value. It is commonly found in 12K, 14K, and 18K in jewelry and comes in a variety of shades, from faint yellow-pink to dark rose.

Rose Gold vs. Yellow Gold and Skin Tone

Rose gold looks stunning on all skin types, from the palest to the darkest. It complements both warm and cool skin tones and brings out the subtle blush of your skin.

Yellow gold, on the other hand, looks particularly beautiful against warm skin tones, especially tanned, olive or dark skin but can make some cool skin tones look washed out.

To know more about this, check out our article on how to match your engagement ring with your skin tone.

Rose Gold vs. Yellow Gold Popularity

Yellow gold is undoubtedly the most popular metal color historically and was used over 2000 years ago in wedding rings. Even today, we still think of a traditional wedding ring as a simple yellow-gold band.

Rose gold pendant
Rose Gold Infinity Rings Pendant by Blue Nile. See it here.

Rose gold, on the other hand, is a relatively recent addition to the choice of metal colors. It was popular in the 1800s when it was first created in Russia. It was also popular in the Mid-Victorian Era but reached its peak during the 1920s. Towards the latter half of the 20th century, especially the 90s,  both rose gold and yellow were considered old-fashioned and fell out of favor, as white metals took prominence.

Yellow Gold Round Drop Earrings
Yellow Gold Drop Earrings by Blue Nile. See them here

However, today yellow gold is back in fashion as a classic metal and evokes a vintage vibe, which is highly in vogue at the moment. Rose gold is also extremely popular today, as it brings femininity and color to the fore. It is the perfect balance between a traditional and modern look. Both rose gold and yellow gold are timeless and classic colors, so any jewelry of these metals will always be relevant.

Rose Gold vs. Yellow Gold Durability

Yellow gold is prone to scratches and may also lose shape as opposed to rose gold. It may require more maintenance and polishing to maintain its luster.

Rose gold is much more durable than yellow gold (or even white gold) due to its copper content. Unlike white gold, rose gold does not require plating, and the color does not wear off. Rose gold requires minimal care and although it will receive scratches and scuffs over time, these can be polished off to return the metal to its original luster.

Bear in mind that this also polishes away some of your gold, and over time, the item wears thin.  For an active lifestyle, rose gold is more suitable than yellow gold as it can better deal with exposure and wear and tear.

Rose Gold vs. Yellow Gold Value and Price

The gold content in the varieties of gold is the main factor that determines its value. The gold karats in both yellow and rose gold are treated equally when it comes to liquidity and have equal value. For example, 14K rose gold and 14K yellow gold both contain 58% of pure gold, which has the same worth. However, the other metals in the alloy can also have an impact on the overall price.

When purchasing your metal, you’ll find that 14K is much more affordable than 18K, be it rose or yellow gold. At the time of writing this article, we found that on most retail sites, such as the James Allen website, the prices for a rose gold and yellow gold setting are generally the same, although the addition of gemstones and other considerations can alter the price somewhat.

Rose Gold vs. Yellow Gold – Which Should I Choose?

As we have seen, both these metals are very similar in terms of value and popularity, although rose gold has an edge over yellow in terms of durability. The main difference between the two is color. When deciding, whether to choose rose or yellow gold, let color be your determining factor.

yellow gold engagement ring
Yellow Gold Diamond Engagement Ring by James Allen. See it here.
Rose gold engagement ring
Rose Gold Diamond Engagement Ring by James Allen. See it here

Wrapping Up

Consider whether the color suits your skin tone and if it complements your appearance. Both colors are timeless and classy, meaning that whichever you choose, years down the line your jewelry will still be valuable and relevant. It could even become an heirloom to be passed on.

Dani Rhys

Dani Rhys has worked as a writer and editor for over 15 years in the jewelry niche. She holds a Masters degree in Linguistics and Education. She has always been interested in expression through fashion and accessories, and her extensive experience in the field has made her a respected voice in jewelry trends and education. As the chief editor of Jewelry Shopping Guide, she not only leads the content strategy but also shares her insights through engaging articles. Her passion for storytelling is reflected in every piece she curates, exploring the intricate relationship between jewelry and personal identity.

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