Yellow, White and Rose Gold
Photo: Annzakharchenko / Adobe Stock
Often, we see ‘gold’ used as an all-encompassing term even though many different variations and types exist. As you may have seen from our guides before, we’re all about education here, and this is why we’re digging into the topic today (excuse the pun!). By the end, you should know all about yellow gold, white gold, rose gold, and about different karat values. Let’s take a look!

What is Yellow Gold?

Although we think of yellow gold as the pure form of the metal, this isn’t necessarily the case. When used for rings and other jewelry, it’s normally an alloy that certainly contains pure gold but also contains copper, zinc, and other metals. The higher you go with the karat amount, the more gold it contains… but this comes with a problem. The higher the gold content, the less durable and strong the jewelry. Later, we’ll compare the difference between 14K and 18K gold.


In terms of appearance, yellow gold tends to suit most people. However, it stands out more against darker and olive skin tones. Often, those with fairer skin are advised to lean towards rose and white gold.

When choosing yellow gold, there’s a few things to keep in mind and the potential for damage is one of the most important. Especially with a high karat value, yellow gold will sometimes succumb to dents and scratches when not cared for properly. If you want to keep your jewelry sparkling, polish and clean it as frequently as possible.

For engagement and wedding rings, yellow gold works with both vintage and modern styles. Since it’s possible to manipulate yellow gold, jewelers have more freedom compared to other golds. With this in mind, it also makes resizing easier.

What is White Gold?

Gold is gold, so how do the colors differ? Well, the main difference compared to yellow gold is that the white variation combines gold and then a white metal. Rather than zinc or copper, white gold contains nickel, palladium, or manganese. When rings contain nickel, you can be sure of durability and this is why many choose this combination for engagement and wedding rings.

With regards to rings and jewelry, white gold seems to be an ideal middle ground between platinum and affordability; you get a similar appearance but with a much lower cost. Also, it’s the better option (compared to yellow gold) when you’re worried about denting and scratching. However, this doesn’t mean it avoids all maintenance responsibilities. Not only must owners polish and clean regularly, the metal should be dipped (re-coated) to retain color and luster. Don’t worry, some jewelers actually offer this service with no charge.

White gold isn’t perfect, and one of the biggest problems comes with allergies. When white gold contains nickel, there’s a potential for allergic reactions. This doesn’t mean you need to avoid white gold altogether; it just means you need white gold with a nickel-free alloy.

Finally, white gold tends to work with all skin tones. This being said, it complements rosy and fair skin very well.

What is Rose Gold?

As our third gold, we have a copper alloy that you might also see labelled as ‘pink’ gold or ‘red’ gold. Rose gold is now widely available, and it’s growing in popularity as people seek unique jewelry. In wedding rings and vintage-style engagement rings, rose gold shines, and some jewelers actually combine rose gold with yellow or white gold for a multi-colored appearance.

If you’re looking for strength and durability, this is the one you need. Copper is already strong, and it gets even stronger in the alloy for rose gold. Just as we saw with nickel, allergic reactions may be a problem for some. We recommend rose gold with any skin tone, but it tends to stand out against pale skin.

Gold Karat

To end, we have two notes about the karat value of gold. When you see this number, it actually describes the purity of the metal. Here’s a guide:

  • 24K – 99.9% gold
  • 22K – 91.7% gold
  • 18K – 75% gold
  • 14K – 58.3% gold

If you’ve read our guide on diamonds, you’ll know that there’s a difference between Carat and Karat. While Karat measures the purity of gold, Carat measures the weight of diamonds.

Elsewhere, should you buy 14K or 18K gold? We know that 18K is the purer of the two, but 14K is the more durable (because it contains a harder alloy of other metals). Furthermore, 14K gold is more affordable and still has a high gold content. On the other hand, 18K gold is purer and this leads to warmer hues.


There we have it, the differences between yellow, white, and rose gold. Which will you choose? With the 14K vs 18K debate, we recommend considering your own needs; for example, 14K is better for those with certain allergies.