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Rose Gold, Red Gold, Pink Gold: Alloys and Jewellery (Jewelry)

Updated on October 24, 2012

Rose Gold, Red Gold and Pink Gold Alloys

So, what is the difference between red gold, rose gold and pink gold?

It's all in a name. Or, at least it is all in the name of copper.

The difference between red gold, rose gold and pink gold alloy is the copper content: the higher the copper content, the stronger the red colouration.

Until you really think about it, one is not acutely aware that gold and copper are the only two coloured metals. All other metals are silvery grey.

Gold is yellow, copper is red.

As on any palette, the combination of the two colours, in various proportions, give varying reddish hues. The more gold (yellow), the paler the hue.

The Colour's of Magic

By adjusting the proportions of the metals gold, silver and copper, it is possible to vary the colour of gold alloy from very pale yellow, usually called green gold, to a deep red or to a deep gold.

So jewellers and metalurgists have to make magic happen with just a limited palette to work from..They have to make the most of what they are given in order to create colour in precious metal alloy.

Fallacies About Reddish Gold Alloys

Is red gold, old gold? Many people are under the impression that this is so.

Is old gold better than new gold? Only an ageist could ask this question.

Well neither belief is accurate.

It is true that some old gold was reddish. It is true that some old gold is better than some new gold. But it would be wrong to make brad statements to the effect that either statement were true 100% of the time. Or even 50% for that matter.

Decrease Silver Content

It is very simple to produce a gold alloy with a reddish colouration. All that is needed is to increase the proportion of copper in the mixture.

To maintain the correct proportion of gold in the alloy, this usually means decreasing the silver content.

In the past, many goldsmiths have reduced the silver content and increased the copper content to save cost, as copper is less expensive than silver.

What is the Difference Between Red Gold, Rose Gold and Pink Gold?

So what is the difference between red gold, rose gold, and pink gold?

Only the name. Well almost

All three are basically the same, although "rose" gold has a certain romantic marketing ring to it! Many goldsmiths use all three expressions interchangeably.

However, the words rose and pink carry softer overtones, so the use of red to describe a deeper red and pink or rose to describe a softer, warmer colour is acceptable.

The range of colours in the red spectrum of gold alloys is determined, almost exclusively, by the percentage of copper in the alloy mix. Where there is more copper, by mass, there is a corresponding increase in the redness of the gold alloy.

So, a gold alloy with a copper percentage in the mid-range would, generally, yield a mid-range or rose gold alloy. Likewise, a copper percentage that is higher would tend towards a redder or red gold. And a copper percentage that is below the mid-range would yield a lesser red or pink hue.

Take too much copper out of the mix and you lose the reddening influence of copper altogether and move into the green range.

Rose Gold

The precious metals of silver and copper are blended in an alloy with pure gold to create rose gold. Gold and copper are the only coloured metals, all the rest are silvery in colour.

Rose gold does not occur in nature. Rose gold is made using a mix of pure gold with alloys including copper. Rose gold has a very subtle and delicate colour that intensifies with age. Common 18k rose gold alloy constituent quantities are:

  • 75wt% gold and 25wt% copper and
  • 75wt% gold, 21wt% copper and 4wt% silver.

Rose gold may also vary quite a lot in colour depending on the amount of copper mixed with the gold, 9k rose gold has a darker rose-copper colour than 18k rose gold which has a more subtle rose colour.

Tumbaga is a gold and copper alloy.

For a description of rose gold see Rose Gold.

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Rose Gold and Red Gold Jewellery (Jewelry) Store

My Rose / Red gold jewellery store is full of great rose gold & red gold rings and other rose / red gold items especially picked and recommended by me for you!

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Red Gold

Red gold is a copper-rich alloy of gold.

The higher the copper content, the stronger the red colouration. The higher copper content makes the alloy more durable than its yellow or green counterparts.

  • 18k red gold is 75wt% fine gold with 25wt% of alloy.
  • 12k red gold alloy is 55wt% copper, 37.5wt% gold, 7.5wt% silver mix.
  • The most common formulation for 12k red gold is 50wt% gold and 50wt% copper.

It is also possible to create a much more intense, although brittle, red gold compound using temperature oxidation. The resultant intermetallic red gold is usable for high-end jewellery as an inclusion, as with enamels, rather than as an alloy that can be moulded into any usual jewellery product.

Pink Gold

A common alloy for pink gold is:

  • 75wt% gold, 16wt% copper, 9wt% silver by mass.

Pink gold is also known as rose gold or red gold. Although the names are often used interchangeably, the difference between red gold, rose gold and pink gold is related to the copper content in the gold alloy.

The lower the copper content the more subtle the pink hue. Pink gold will therefore vary quite a bit as copper is reduced and other admix metals are increased in the gold alloy mixture.

Pink gold can also be incorporated onto a gold alloy substrate by electrodeposition of a hard, bright, pore-free ductile gold alloy having a pink coloration, useful for decorative purposes.

This is effected using an aqueous cyanide-free electroplating bath.

Pink gold is a subtle shade in the red spectrum and is well-matched for selection when considering bi- or tr- colour combination in jewellery products.

For further reading on pink gold see Pink Gold.

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Pink Gold Jewellery (Jewelry) Store

My Pink gold jewellery store is full of great pink gold rings and other pink gold items especially picked and recommended by me for you!

Why not treat yourself to a piece of pink gold jewellery by clicking:

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    • humagaia profile image

      Charles Fox 7 years ago from United Kingdom

      It took a time to pick the right ones for illustation purposes. You can note that different people have different ideas about what "pink" constitutes. As is noted elsewhere pink, rose and red are all interchangeable and this leads to much confusion.

    • LeanMan profile image

      Tony 7 years ago from At the Gemba

      The pictures look really good, this is a very nice shade for gold.

    • humagaia profile image

      Charles Fox 7 years ago from United Kingdom

      I must admit the subtler shades look better, particularly on a hand wth delicate skin.

    • Wendy Krick profile image

      Wendy Krick 7 years ago from Maryland

      My favorite is the pink gold. Great information here.