Is Yellow Gold Old Fashioned?

My boyfriend thought he liked yellow gold better than white or rose until the moment he peeped some gold men’s rings and realized that shiny, new white gold looks slick under the jewelry store lights.

The saleswoman explained that yellow gold tends to be more “traditional,” while white gold is considered contemporary and up-to-date. Anything but traditional, my boyfriend was turned off by yellow gold’s association with old-school beliefs and values.

Most shoppers I encounter who don’t like yellow gold – “anything but yellow,” they say – explain it reminds them of their mom’s or grandma’s dated wedding sets. They would rather be cutting edge, in touch with the times.

What’s Up with White Gold?

White gold gained first gained popularity in the 1920s, when it was introduced as an alternative to precious and expensive platinum. The various colors of gold are made by mixing pure, 24-karat gold with other metals. In the case of white gold, pure yellow gold is mixed with another metal like nickel, manganese or palladium.

Platinum remained the preferred white metal until the 1990s, when consumers turned to white gold as a more affordable option. Pro-tip: These days, the price of platinum is usually about twice that of gold.

I’ll admit that high-quality diamonds can look dazzling when set in white gold. White metal can enhance the rare and breathtaking look of a colorless diamond and doesn’t distract from its clarity.

In recent years, consumers shopping for engagement rings and other bridal jewelry have more access to information about diamonds; they’re more knowledgable about how to purchase a diamond and what to seek. Therefore, they’re seeking the “best,” and the best diamonds tend to look most impressive set in white metal.

When Would Yellow Gold Be a Better Choice?

Yellow gold can mask a diamond’s imperfections and can enhance a slightly yellow diamond, which can emit a calming candlelit glow. In addition, certain gemstones look better set in yellow gold.

In my opinion, blue, purple, yellow, and green gemstones look best in yellow, while pink and lilac gemstones look stunning set in rose gold. I’d never wear a blue-purple tanzanite set in white gold, but it seems that this combination is popular in retail today.

Yellow Gold is “Forever”

If I plan to wear a piece of jewelry forever, I want to purchase something that will look timeless for decades to come. Fashion trends have shown us that what’s no longer in style will most likely come back in style. Though white gold may be more popular today, it may fall out of fashion in 10 or 20 years. For example, I sometimes wonder about diamond halos, which designer Neil Lane has made popular. Will they eventually look dated?

For a “forever” piece of jewelry, I also want something that requires as little maintenance as possible. Gold is mined yellow, and it will tend to turn yellow after time. White gold worn on a regular basis will most likely require routine rhodium plating, a process in which rhodium – a metal in the platinum family – is electroplated to coat a piece of white-gold jewelry. This plating restores the white gold to its shiny, new, white appearance. However, the plating doesn’t last forever and needs to be reapplied every one-to-two years. That sounds like a lot of work to me!

When choosing gold, especially for a piece of jewelry you hope to wear forever, think more about longevity than current trends. Decide how the metal highlights any stones in the jewelry, how the color or metal does or doesn’t complement your skin tone, and how much maintenance will be involved over time.

Personally, I love all colors of gold and think that each has a place and purpose. What’s your favorite color of gold?

Cover photo by epsos

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