In these Instagram-filtered times, rose gold has firmly edged itself into mainstream jewelry and refuses to go away.
Although Pantone’s rose quartz was declared as Color of the Year in 2016, this rosy toned metal continues to influence the younger consumers. From rose gold engagement rings, wedding bands to rose gold dresses, shoes and even wedding themes – the reign of rose gold rages on in 2021.
From rose gold jewelry to rose gold engagement rings, this colored metal adds a very unique, luxurious look over the traditional shinier white gold or the warmer yellow gold. The best part is that both men and women can wear rose gold jewelry and accessories with confidence.
If you’re intrigued by the popularity of this metal, we have put together a comprehensive guide about rose gold’s history, composition, aesthetics and other commonly asked questions. So, let’s deep dive into the evolution of rose gold and how it came to be.
#1. What is Rose Gold?
Rose gold stands in sharp contrast with the other two traditional gold tones – white gold and yellow gold.
Essentially an alloy of gold and copper, the combination of which imparts a soft pink hue to the metal, earning the title of ‘pink gold.’ To understand why alloys are mixed in gold, you need to first understand that pure gold is too soft to be used in jewelry.
Gold, a transition metal with atomic number 79 and indicated with symbol is Au (from the Latin Aurum), is a ductile, malleable and soft metal. If used in jewelry in its purest form, the jewelry will not be sturdy enough and lose its shape and design. But when copper alloy is added, it improves the durability of gold because it hardens the metal so that any jewelry created will retain shape and design remarkably well.
1 karat represents 1-in-24 parts gold in the alloy
The amount of alloy metals added can change the karat, or unit of purity, of the gold being used. This is why you will often see the purity of gold jewelry being indicated using terms like 14 Karat gold or 18 Karat gold.
#2. Does that mean rose gold is not real gold?
Unlike gold, rose gold isn’t naturally present in mother nature. However, even though it is a human-made color, that doesn’t make it any less of gold.
Rose gold results from a blend of yellow gold, copper, and (sometimes) silver metals. When the percentage of copper is higher, the reddish copper color will be more pronounced in the resulting metal. This is where a small amount of silver comes in to tone down the red color into a more pinkish shade.
So when you buy jewelry that’s 10K, 14K or 18K rose gold, you are actually buying:
- 10K rose gold – Contains more alloy metals than pure gold and will be the reddest of them all. There is 41.7% pure gold with 38.3% copper, and 20% silver.
- 14K rose gold – Contains 58.3% gold and 36% copper, with the remaining alloy containing silver and zinc. Higher copper presence means the resulting metal would be more reddish than 18K gold, which has 22.5% copper.
- 18K rose gold – Contains 75% gold with rest being copper and other alloys.
#3. How does this ‘pink metal’ change color with ‘karats’?
Although rose gold is often interchangeably described as ‘rose’, ‘red’, or ‘pink’ gold, these terms actually describe the different colors of gold achieved based on the proportions of yellow gold to copper.
Pure 24 Karat yellow gold needs to be mixed with other metals in order to be used for jewelry. Hence, it is alloyed with other metals to strengthen it and make it suitable for daily wear. Different alloy ratios with yellow gold result in white gold, yellow gold, and rose gold.
Rose gold is made by blending specific quantities of gold, silver, and copper into an alloy. When we say ‘karat’ number, it indicates the ‘parts’ of gold within that element. Therefore, 24 Karat gold would be 100% gold whereas, 18 Karat gold would be 75% gold, or simply 18 parts gold and 6 parts alloy. This ratio determines the intensity of color in the resulting rose gold.
Lesser yellow gold and higher copper, will result in a more flushed rose colored metal. And that’s why 14K rose gold will appear more reddish than 18K rose gold because higher copper content saturates the gold’s yellow hue.
As for the price, there’s a marginal difference between the 14K rose gold and 18K rose gold variants. Thus the higher the gold percentage the bigger the price will be. For instance the price difference between this 14k rose gold engagement ring and its 18K rose gold variant is about $143 (at the time of writing this article).
#4. What is making rose gold so popular?
Culturally, rose gold speaks to a younger generation that has accepted trans models on the runway, uses social media to drive a point on gender spectrum and has accepted gender-neutral clothing lines in stores. Understated in elegance and exuding a unique vintage quality that appeals to both sexes, this shade of pink has come to be pretty much a genderless mascot for the ‘woke.’
While yellow gold is often seen as decadent and a status marker for rich, rose gold has truly come to be wielded as a contemporary resplendence. Another reason that has helped the rose gold to stay relevant, according to some, is thanks to the social media. Rose gold photographs well, making all the rose gold fine jewelry accessories a great prop for the Instagram generation!
Alison Brie, who has appeared on popular shows like Mad Men and Community, wowed everybody when she showed off her rose gold engagement ring from fiancé Dave Franco.
Other women celebrities who have shown us just how voguish this pink gold can be includes Leighton Meester (Gossip Girl actor) and her four-carat cushion cut diamond bezel-set in rose gold; MTV reality show actress in The Hills and designer, Lauren Conrad and her very classic but a stunning round-cut rose gold solitaire; Maria Sharapova’s custom-made 18K rose gold emerald-cut diamond engagement ring, and several others.
Rose gold dazzles in various settings, but it’s most appealing in a classic wedding ring design. It is easy to co-relate the hues of red and pink with sentiments and emotions one feels in a relationship. For instance, the blush tinge of 14K jewelry is easy to be seen as the flush and excitement of first love. What’s more is that rose gold jewelry, wedding rings etc. are capable of being paired with a myriad of wardrobe color choices.
So now, you know why rose gold has come to have such symbolic value in the jewelry industry.
#5. Emotional significance of this trendy color
This soft, golden-tinted shade of pink speaks of luxury. It is associated with grace, elegance, and affluence. According to popular belief, yellow gold signifies loyalty, white represents friendship, and rose gold denotes deep love.
As per color psychology, this shade of gold eases anger and creates a sense of calmness. The soft hue of rose gold is considered gender-neutral and stands as a symbol of romanticism, refinement, and serenity.
According to the digital fashion editor of Marie Clair, Penny Goldstone, “Rose gold has become a pop culture phenomenon. While it’s been around since 2015 but it’s still massively popular.” Probably its gender-neutral approach makes the metal so desirable to the modern generation. It’s fresh, cheerful, glows magically, and is very modish. As the saying goes, ‘History repeats itself.’
Going by the historical trajectory, we’ve seen rose gold appear and reappear in many unique forms across different time periods. So, one thing is for sure, rose gold is here to stay.
#6. The story of rose gold’s evolution
While the 21st century is witnessing a rise in the demand for rose gold, the color has a long history behind it.
It starts with the Romans…
Rose gold was accidentally discovered by Romans. Beginning from the time of the Roman Empire, some coins were reddish, this was because of the impurities present in the making of the Roman currency. This was the first “unintentional” making of rose gold.
Then traces of rose gold were found in South Africa…
Archeological explorations of Columbia discovered red-hued gold in South African artifacts. Artifacts in Colombian museums showed that skilled metalworkers from the Nahuange period (AD 100 – 1,000) probably used copper, gold, and other metal to create red and orange metal colors and also bright yellows.
Britishers introduced it to High society…
In 1526, England’s Henry VIII introduced a 22 karat red gold – Crown Gold. Crown gold or the ‘crown of the double rose’ was an English coin introduced as a monetary reform of 1526 to compete with the French écu au Soleil. However, they were replaced very soon. It is also said that this red metal was not limited to a coin. This 22k red gold was also used to make Henry VIII’s crown.
The French launched it in their multi-gold trend…
Around 1750, the French used rose gold in their Quatre-Couleur Jewelry, an intricately designed four-colored jewelry. This design used the techniques of layering different gold-colored elements to create design details, most commonly, botanicals on snuff boxes, bracelets, and other gold items. The mixing of gold to create new colors had been practiced earlier, but it was improved, upgraded, and popularized by the French around this era. Quatre-Couleur patterns were designed using rose gold, white gold, and green gold, over a base of yellow gold.
Then Russia came into play…
All through the 1800s, red gold became so popular in Russia that people from other parts of the world started calling it ‘Russian Gold.’ In the 19th century Imperial Russia, Carl Fabergé, a renowned jeweler to the czars, blended yellow gold and copper collectively to form a blush-toned shade.
He used this mix of metals in one of his remarkable creations – the Fabergé Eggs. The most valuable Fabergé egg was made in pink gold, commissioned by Tzar Nicholas II for his partner Empress Alexandra. This was the first time ever that rose gold was spread to other parts of the world.
It became a popular Victorian trend…
During 1837 – 1860, rose gold became a popular choice for Victorian wedding rings. Victorian rings used both yellow gold and rose gold with diamonds. Noticeably, channels, halos, and clusters of diamonds became famous during this era.
Rose gold entered the American scene…
All thanks to the French goldsmith, Henri LeBeau, from South Dakota in the 1870s, rose gold made its first appearance in America. Gold was newly discovered in the Black Hills. The Black Hills Gold jewelry design was inspired by LeBeau’s dream. The design included motifs of leaves, grape clusters, and vines in ornaments.
The Black Hills Gold jewelry was distinctly known for its motifs and unique colors such as pink, green, and white-toned gold. The Black Hills Gold jewelry designs still continue to sell. According to the law, Black Hills jewelry must only use the gold sourced from the black hills.
In the 1920s, jewelry lovers were in awe of rose gold…
Rose gold became famous in the United States during the extravagant 1920s. It was seen in fine jewelry and engagement rings. It was then that rose gold gained a major push through the iconic jewelry label, Cartier. Cartier sparked the trend of rose gold hue in many of its jewel designs. One jewelry piece, in particular, aided the revival of rose gold in jewelry – the Trinity Ring. Cartier’s Trinity ring depicted three intertwined bands in yellow, white, and rose gold. Jean Cocteau, a famous French filmmaker & writer, further popularized rose gold jewelry by wrapping two trinity rings on his pinkie finger.
World War II, women, and the highly famous pink gold…
After the Second World War, roughly in the late 1940s, retro jewelry exploded to fame. Bold and modern shapes were paired with rubies and diamonds in different settings on rose gold metal. These designs were being embraced by Hollywood stars as well. Naturally, rose gold designs became a hit with the common public.
It was also the first time ever when women in larger numbers were joining the workforce, deciding what to spend their wealth on, and refused the smaller feminine designs prevalent at the time. They embraced more daring, modern, and strong-looking, post-war cosmopolitan jewelry designs. For women back then, rose gold was “different” gold, symbolic of their new and different status in society. It gave a sense of individual identity and empowerment.
#7. Pros & Cons of rose gold jewelry
Rose gold has not only created waves in the world of jewelry but has taken over fashion trends in different sections too; from couture gowns and runaway dresses to fancy tech and accessories. Unlike the traditional white gold or platinum setting, rose gold allows you to sport an offbeat jewelry style. Why fit in, when you can stand out!
Rose gold is an external manifestation of the younger, millennial desire to break traditions and create a unique identity of their own. And having read through reasons for its popularity and the history of the metal, now let’s take a look at some important Pros and Cons that you should be aware of:
It is stylish with a distinct vintage appeal: Reinforcing somewhat nostalgic but romantic look, rose gold jewelry is a definitely designed to stand a cut above the rest.
Highly durable: As copper is a hard metal, it is less likely to get dents or scratches. Hence, this blend of copper and gold can make long-lasting jewelry.
Looks perfect on all skin tones: No matter what your skin tone or undertone is, rose gold jewelry looks flattering on all skin tones.
It’s in vogue: This vibrant yet subtle pink tone is considered as an unconventional choice when compared to white and yellow gold metals, but that’s also it’s biggest plus.
- If you are allergic to copper and have sensitive skin, the alloy can cause skin irritation or rashes.
- Copper can darken the ring: Due to the presence of high amounts of copper, the ring is prone to oxidation. An oxidized version can make the ring look more vintage, but it may lose it’s ‘subtle pink hue’ look.
- Not available everywhere: Even though rose gold is highly popular, not all jewelers offer engagement rings and wedding bands in this unconventional metal.
#8. Maintenance and durability of rose gold
- Does rose gold jewelry tarnish?
Over a period of time, jewelry can turn darker, grimier, or develop a layer of dirt over them. That’s the metal tarnishing. Tarnish is basically when the metal loses its luster due to a chemical reaction with air. Although rose gold doesn’t tarnish, it can get darker with time. However, that usually takes years to happen. And a slightly redder rose gold will just make the jewelry look more vintage and much prettier
2. Is rose gold jewelry durable like white gold and yellow gold?
Since pure gold is soft, alloys are used to make it stronger. Copper is considered the most durable metal. Hence, rose gold metal is one of the most sturdier versions of gold. Rest assured, your rose gold jewelry items of jewelry will last for years.
3. How do you maintain rose gold jewelry?
Like any other gold jewelry, rose gold jewelry also demands some care. They must be cleaned and wiped gently at regular intervals. You should avoid spraying alcohol-based perfumes in proximity to rose gold jewelry (this goes for all metals). Lastly, keep your jewelry organized and don’t mix metals, especially gold as it can react with other metals. You can keep your rose gold jewelry in jewelry boxes or organizers, separate from other gems and metals.
#9. Difference between yellow gold, white gold, and rose gold
Since you have three wonderful gold options to choose from, let’s understand the differences between these three famous metal colors:
Yellow Gold: Historically, yellow gold has been a popular choice of engagement rings. However, it is the most malleable and so, it scratches and dents easily. Thus, yellow gold (especially 22K) isn’t the ideal choice for those leading an active or sporty lifestyle. However, since it is malleable and in a more pure form, it is convenient to resize yellow gold rings. Yellow gold is generally alloyed with copper and silver but the yellow color shines due to the presence of pure gold in the alloy. It does look good on all skin tones but looks particularly appealing when worn by people with warmer undertones.
White Gold: White gold is created by mixing palladium, manganese, or nickel. It is perfect if you want a muted yet sophisticated look. White gold is a fabulous choice if you want the elegance of platinum without spending a lot on the jewelry metal. When comparing white gold vs. yellow gold, white gold is more durable (since it has a mixture of different metals). So, it is less likely to scratch or dent. On the downside, white gold comprises nickel which can cause allergic reactions in some people with sensitive skin. While it looks good on all skin tones, it looks the most appealing on people with cooler undertones.
Rose Gold: Apart from the unique look rose gold imparts to a jewelry item, one of the biggest advantages of rose gold metal is its durability. It is at par with white gold when it comes to costs and yet not as malleable as yellow gold. So while your rose gold jewelry won’t dent easily, it also won’t need an annual rhodium polish to maintain it’s shine (like white gold). Rose gold has a vintage charm and interestingly, it has made numerous comebacks in the world of fashion, making it an ever-enduring style.
#10. Choosing a style for rose gold rings?
The warmth of rose gold works well with diamonds, as well as with colored gemstones. The color grade of your diamond will be much less significant when choosing yellow or rose gold setting. It would probably be impossible to notice even a I-J-K colored diamond when it is set in one of these colored gold settings.
Color is one of the 4Cs of diamond, which is why it is always tipped as an important characteristic to consider when looking for diamond ring. The color grade of a diamond is rated between D and Z, D being colorless and Z having a light brown or yellowish tint to it.
But the pro tip we have for you is that if you are looking for a ring in yellow gold or rose gold band, then the diamond’s color will not be noticeable, allowing you to choose a more affordable diamond color (This isn’t in all cases, as it partly depends on how well the diamond is cut).
Also, remember that step cut shapes like emerald and Asscher diamonds have a higher tendency to show color than classic brilliant round, oval or pear cut diamonds. Because the elongated step cut diamonds reflect more of your rose gold band’s color, they will make the diamond look less white. So, make your choice knowing what feels good to you.
Here are three stunning settings options for your rose gold wedding ring.
Style 1: Halo engagement ring styles made their debut in the 1920s and the trend carries on strong. A halo ring setting is typically a single center stone circled by a string of round pavé or micro-pavé diamonds giving a majestic layer of sparkle.
Take cue from our Eliza Engagement Ring setting which makes the center stone look much larger and brings a touch of extra glitz. The main diamond’s color is elevated by this halo in stylized v-prong and the additional two-row of micro prong set shank.
Style 2: The main reason why vintage ring setting majestically complements rose gold is because the metal itself gives off an antique appeal. Our Melizee oval engagement ring vintage engagement ring elegantly balances old-world charm with a modern day aesthetics.
Delicate vintage motifs, along with ornamental milgrain details on the shank makes this beauty. To make sure that your diamond looks as white or colorless as possible, be sure to select a setting style with side stones lower in color than the center diamond.
Style 3:The trend of mixing metals opens the door for customers to explore two-tone settings in their rings.
Two-tone ring settings can absolutely amplify the look of your wedding ring. While the center stone is the star of the show, the metal accent adds a quirky style to the band.
For instance, along the shank of Ellery Round Engagement Ring, the tiny diamonds are framed in two sizes complete with intricate milgrain detailing with an exotic rose gold band that’s bordered by a line of smaller round diamonds set in micro prongs. This is a heirloom worthy ring style.
When looking for a bridal ring set in rose gold, it is suggested to buy the rose gold engagement band and the wedding ring together. That’s because rose-gold has a ratio of copper in it, and this percentage can change the color of the metal.
If your rose gold engagement band and ring don’t match, then it could be quite a predicament. Additionally, with a wedding set you can save significant amount of money as well.
Even though rose gold first reached its peak of influence in the early-20th century and continues to be relevant. We at LovBe love creating designs in rose gold, and look forward to creating the perfect rose gold engagement ring, or fine jewelry piece for you!
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Is rose gold costlier than yellow gold?
A: When gold jewelry is made it is not 100% pure gold, but an alloy of gold and other metal. The jewelry industry uses methodized karat designations to imply the percentage of pure gold to other metals in the combination. These karat designations are applicable to yellow gold, white gold, and rose gold. So this does not make rose gold more or less costly than yellow gold, it all depends upon the karats in the jewelry piece. Since 14k rose gold or 18k rose gold contains the same volume of gold as 14k or 18k yellow gold, they are typically worth the same.
Q: Are red gold, rose gold, and pink gold the same?
A: Many people use these terms synonymously, but there are slight technical differences. There is no such thing as pure or natural rose gold since rose gold is a man-made alloy of copper and gold. The alloy ratio of the three of them are:
- 14K Red Gold comprises of 75% gold + 25% copper + 0% silver
- 14K Rose Gold comprises of 75% gold + 22.5% copper + 2.75% silver
- 14K Pink Gold comprises of 75% gold + 20% copper + 5% silver
Q: Are rose gold and sterling silver a good fashion combination?
A: Many fashionistas and stylists adore stacking these rose gold rings with different colored rings to create a dual-tone effect. It gives an elegant yet contemporary touch to the overall look. Hence, yes, it is a very good option to add a modern aesthetic touch.
Q: What jewelry can you make using rose gold?
A: You can make any kind of jewelry design with rose gold metal, just like you can with white or yellow gold. Rose gold’s elegant pink color pairs well with both gemstones and other colored metals. Today, there’s a wide variety of rose gold jewelry designs available with numerous jewelers worldwide.
Q: Is there a way to tell the difference between fake vs. real rose gold?
A: The best way to check whether a rose gold is fake or real is by searching for the hallmark and checking the karat weight of the metal. However, there is another way to determine if the rose gold is real or not. Generally, fake rose gold is created by adding magnetic elements in the alloy.
Rose gold contains copper and silver which are not magnetic. Hence, if the metal gets attracted to a magnet, then the rose gold is fake. Also, you can base your judgment on how the jeweler is marketing their rose gold jewelry. Rose gold is man-made and so, there is nothing called 100% pure rose gold.