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Rose Gold vs. Yellow Gold: Which Is Better for You?

When it comes down to it, there’s only one thing separating rose gold from yellow gold. Each has metals differentiating them from pure gold, which is too soft on its own to be worn as jewelry. These mixtures are called alloys, and like these two showstoppers, they’re common, practical, and all result in unique coloring. The individual gold alloy combos also result in finer quality and more resistance to scratching and dents. To help make your decision between rose gold vs. yellow gold and see which has better chemistry (ba dom cha), we break down their bonds in this guide.

What is rose gold?

Rose gold is actually part yellow gold and part copper. So when you’re torn and feeling FOMO about missing out on yellow gold, technically you’re getting both with rose — but this option has a softer look about it. That’s because the presence of copper gives this jewelry its romantic pink hue. Copper has historically represented the goddess of love, and in rose gold, it brings that swoony beauty and passionate desire to gold’s luxury.

Rose gold is also called Russian Gold because it was said to make its first appearance in Fabergé Eggs. With its feminine pink tint, you could say rose gold puts the “fab” in Fabergé. There’s enough yellow to satisfy popular tastes in men’s jewelry, but any gender preference is simply that: a matter of preference.

Rose Gold Pros

  1. Rose gold flatters all skin tones. The reddish copper accentuates warmer complexions, while its resulting pink complements paler skin and blue undertones. You can choose rose gold jewelry based on the amount of copper that looks best for you or your loved one.
  2. Rose gold is super durable. Copper is heavy, so it makes for an alloy stronger than those in yellow and white gold. The main perk: Rose gold jewelry can be worn every day.
  3. Rose gold is affordable. Copper isn’t as expensive as other alloy metals, so if your jewelry has less gold, you save more coin.
  4. Rose gold has a more delicate look. Its adorable pink is graceful, yet modern. The higher the karat (gold purity), the lighter the shade of your jewelry. Alternatively, more copper will reveal a stronger red for a deeper pink.

Rose Gold Cons

  1. Rose gold is not hypoallergenic. Copper is trouble for sensitive skin. So while you can shop for rose gold with higher gold purity to reduce the reaction, it’s best to leave the color to your diamond or gemstone and choose a different metal for your band.
  2. Rose gold is less common. Even though it feels like it’s everywhere, it’s not as prevalent as white or yellow gold. But as it experiences a revival and the trend surges, it’s becoming more available.

What is yellow gold?

Yellow gold is a mix of pure gold with white metals. Typically, it contains sterling silver, zinc, and (drum roll) copper. So rather than the gleaming Fort Knox bricks or the nuggets mined by pioneers, yellow gold actually has more of a bronze appearance. It’s the timeless shade we all know and love in wedding rings and watches, so this is the classic option between rose gold vs. yellow gold. This glinty metal leans more into the wealth and status symbolism of traditional gold, rather than pink romance.

Yellow Gold Pros

  1. Yellow gold works well with warmer skin tones. Olive and dark skin tones, we’re looking at you (and you look great!). The tell for warmer tones tends to be greener veins.
  2. Yellow gold is hypoallergenic. That is, as long as you’re filtering for nickel-free options. Then you’re in the clear (including your skin, aka no rashes).

Yellow Gold Cons

  1. Yellow gold isn’t as flexible with paler skin tones. Depending on who you ask, it can wash you out (bad) or brighten you up (good). Not worth the risk? Consider white gold, which enhances cooler complexions.
  2. Yellow gold may need a rhodium plating. If you intend to wear it regularly, this softer jewelry will require a protective coating to shine safely. The barrier will last anywhere from 3-12 months before needing to be re-plated.
  3. Yellow gold needs polishing. Scratching may occur regardless. But yellow gold makes for durable wear if you’re one to only sport jewelry on the odd occasion.

Rose Gold vs. Yellow Gold: Durability

Precious, pure gold is too fragile to be worn daily. Enter, alloy mixes like rose gold and yellow gold. They’re more prone to wear and tear when it comes to higher karats (that’s not to be confused with carats, or diamond weight).

The real issue with gold is weakness when you’re on the go. The bigger the karat (aka the higher the gold purity), the more careful you have to be with rose and yellow gold. Pure gold is soft, so activities like gardening and exercise can put rings with high gold purity at higher risk for damage. Lower karat? Less gold content means less to think about. Yellow gold does require a bit more polish, so if you’re looking for less maintenance, consider rose gold.

If yellow and rose gold are the frame for your gem, your diamond’s cut and shape can also factor into the exposure. In other words, a prominent display of the jewelry can also make it susceptible to harm.

Rose Gold vs. Yellow Gold: Alloys

Alloy? More like ally, working together to protect your jewelry. This is when a metal bonds with another chemical, which can even be another metal.

With rose gold and yellow gold, you’re getting all the pretty parts of pure gold metal, like its luster, but then also benefitting from its impure properties, which make it harder and stronger. So basically, an alloy is longer-lasting jewelry with a lower cost. When it comes to yellow gold, though, its alloy makeup doesn’t last that much longer without rhodium plating and diligent polish. Alternatively, copper gives rose gold the strength it needs to keep calm and carry on.

Rose Gold vs. Yellow Gold: Price

Neither rose gold or yellow gold is more expensive. It comes down to the presence of gold in your jewelry compared to what’s mixed with the metal. From there, the price is based on the purity of that gold. For example, rose gold actually contains yellow gold. What you’re looking for is the karat. A higher karat implies a high percentage of purity, and therefore, a higher cost. It goes like this:

You can plan your budget range accordingly. Otherwise, yellow and rose gold share similar enough properties that your color choice won’t affect price. If gold purity is important to your purchase, you can get tips for saving money on the rest of your ring in our diamond buying guide.

Rose Gold vs. Yellow Gold: Skin Tone

Rose gold wins this round. The rust in rose gold’s copper mixture creates a pink tint as it blends with pure gold and silver alloys. So it’s got it all: vibrant for the warm tones, subdued for the cooler ones. Yellow gold, on the other hand, can sometimes seem harsh against fair skin.

Speaking of complements, rose gold and yellow gold have nothing but kind things to say about each other. Because they both share copper, they easily mix and match. So if you’re lucky enough for yellow gold to suit your complexion (to be “fair,” only you can decide this), the versatile rose gold can be worn in tandem.

Remember, the more copper that’s present in your jewelry, the pinker it will be. However, this can take away from the luster because it imbalances the gold. If you go under 14k (the ideal pink), your rose gold will start to dull. Diamond color can also bring some much needed sparkle if you’re shopping in the lower karats. Then you can focus on a suitable gem for your skin tone.

Rose Gold vs. Yellow Gold: Allergies

Not all metallic compounds are made equal. Because of its copper content, rose gold can cause an allergic reaction. Trace amounts of copper are comparatively safer — another reason your jewelry’s composition matters. On the other hand, out of all the alloys, yellow gold is the gentlest material for sensitive skin. If this is a concern, search for yellow gold without nickel. Splurging for jewelry above 14k can also guarantee higher gold purity, which can help minimize the chance or intensity of allergic reaction.

FAQs

Why is rose gold pink?

Rose gold’s copper blend gives it a red base, which inspires that famous sunset-pink glow.

Is rose gold real gold?

Yes, rose gold is basically the “new and improved” edition of gold, featuring copper in its alloy. Like a painter’s palette, the varied blends of alloy metals will result in different shades. Alloys are simply pure gold forged with extra elements. But yes, they are still considered real gold.

Which is better, rose gold or yellow gold?

It’s mostly a matter of pink vs. yellow. Their cost is fairly identical as long as their gold purity is as well. But if maintenance is most important to you, choose rose gold. The copper in it won’t tarnish as quickly as yellow gold’s soft exterior.

Is rose gold considered gold?

It always contains a portion of pure gold. The value will decrease as the gold purity declines, but on the plus side, that also means you get a pinker metal.

Is rose gold more valuable than yellow gold?

Not inherently. As long as they contain the same amount of “pure” gold, they share equal worth. Have you ever heard the expression worth its weight in gold? This is a more literal interpretation, because the value of these metals depends on how much actual gold you’re willing to pay for. Because these are alloy metals, aka mixtures of other elements, the price of both rose and yellow gold will vary with pure gold content.

Is rose gold worth buying?

Yes! Rose gold has been making recent waves, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find unique jewelry among the crowd. And even though it’s trendy and feels fresh, it first came on the scene in the 19th century, so it’s just as heirloom-worthy as other metals.

Final Thoughts

Rose or yellow gold, an alloy metal makes sure you get the exact color you want in your jewelry and ultimately strengthens it (and your choice) as a whole. When you’re ready to find your color a companion, shop all diamonds at Brilliant Earth for ethically sourced gems. Or read our precious metal guide to learn more.

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