The Most Common Types of Gold
Gold wedding rings are without a doubt incomparably handsome. Over the past several decades, 14k gold wedding bands in yellow gold have been the most popular choice for both men and women. However, there are other types of gold that are commonly used in wedding rings as well. Gold jewelry is most often alloyed, which means that it is a combination of pure gold and other metals.
The different types of gold are distinguished by their karat purities, which is to say, the percentage of material that is purely gold as opposed to alloying material. Popular alloying materials include silver, palladium, copper and nickel (or some combination of several of these metals). Different alloying materials can also be used to change the color of the gold itself. While there are several different hues of gold available, the three most popular colors seen today are yellow, white and rose. No matter which color of gold that you choose, there are three different types of gold that are most commonly seen in wedding bands.
Types of Gold
- 18K gold: This type of gold is, generally speaking, the highest level of gold karat used in wedding bands. Although there is certainly higher karat grades of gold available, such as 22k or 24k, those varieties are considered to be too soft to withstand the everyday wear and tear that wedding rings must endure. Gold that is 18K is 75% pure gold.
- 14K gold: This variety of gold is 58.3% pure. While gold is a relatively soft metal, it’s also very malleable and ductile, allowing it to be intricately carved and combined with inlays and other metals. Although 14K gold wedding bands can be susceptible to damage, they can usually be repaired by an experienced jeweler.
- 10K gold: At 41.6% pure gold, 10K pieces have the least amount of pure metal out of the three most common purity grades. This means, of course, that 10K gold rings also tend to be the most reasonably priced. As such, 10K bands present a viable alternative for people on a tight budget who still wish to have a precious metal ring.
Common Gold Colors
- Yellow gold: The particular color and luster of yellow gold has made it a favorite choice in wedding bands for many years. Gold is the only naturally occurring yellow metal, something that has lent it an exclusive quality since its discovery by ancient cultures. The variety of today’s yellow 14k gold wedding bands is virtually endless. In recent years, yellow gold rings with inlays, or bands made with a combination of yellow gold and other metals or gemstones, have become increasingly popular.
- White gold: Typically an alloy of yellow gold combined with silver, palladium or zinc, white gold first became commonplace in the 1920s. The most pure type of white gold is 18k, and tends to be an alloy of yellow gold and precious metal palladium. While white gold is stronger than yellow gold and slightly less expensive, it is sometimes coated with rhodium, and some white gold jewelry will need to be recoated periodically to maintain a silvery white hue.
- Rose gold: An alloy consisting of yellow gold and copper, rose gold may also contain smaller amounts of zinc, palladium or silver. Depending on the amount of each metal present, rose gold can vary in color from subtle pink tones to brassier hues.
Nowadays, wedding rings come in a broad range of metals and materials: silver, platinum, titanium, stainless steel, tungsten carbide, ceramic and cobalt chrome, to name just a few. However, it’s hard to deny the allure of gold. There’s a reason why 14k gold wedding bands have been the favorite choice for generations of men and women about to walk down the aisle! No matter what karat weight or color you end up choosing, it’s hard to go wrong with traditional, elegant and timeless gold.
Cindy White writes about 14k gold wedding bands and other jewelry materials for JustMensRings.com.
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