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Yellow Gold Explained

Yellow gold is the gold we expect, it is… golden. Except for one problem, the gold that is in your gold jewellery isn't just gold, it is a mixture of metals.

Pure gold, precious and beautiful as it may be, is just too soft to be used in jewellery. Even with careful use, any ring, pendant or bracelet made of pure gold would soon become distorted or broken.

To make this precious metal durable enough for everyday use, jewellers add other metals to the pure gold to add strength without taking away from the innate beauty of the metal.

Yellow gold is the colour of pure gold, other colours of gold such as white or red have metals added to change the colour to the desired shade.

Even yellow gold can have different shades due to the mixture of metals used in the alloy.

Gold Carats Explained

Carat, when seen with gold, is the percentage of pure gold contained in the metal of an item.

In the UK, all items containing precious metals and weighing 1 gram, or more, must be stamped with a hallmark that certifies the purity of the metal in the article.

24-carat gold is the purest available form of gold. 99.99% pure. Yellow in colour and highly valuable. Pure gold is very soft, and so it is rarely used in jewellery.

22-carat gold is 91.6% pure gold. Still very soft, 22-carat gold is not usually found in items of jewellery except in wedding bands and similar jewellery.

18-carat gold is 75% pure gold. When alloyed with other metals to give colour and strength, 18-carat gold is popular for use in gold jewellery. The tone of 18-carat gold is warmer than 14 or 9ct gold.

14-carat gold has 58.5% pure gold. This is usually a warm coloured metal. The lower price of 14ct gold and its durability makes it a popular choice for jewellery.

9-carat gold is 37.5% pure gold. This grade of gold is a light yellow colour. A robust metal, well suited to use in jewellery to be worn every day. The low cost of 9ct gold assures its popularity. 9ct gold is the lowest grade that can, legally, be termed as gold in the United Kingdom.

What Is Yellow Gold?

Yellow gold as it used in jewellery is an alloy of pure gold and other metals. There is no fixed mixture of metals used to create yellow gold; however, the following examples are commonly used to create a light and darker metal:

18ct yellow gold: 75% gold, 12.5% copper, 12.5% silver

18ct yellow (darker) gold: 75% gold, 15% copper, 10% silver

Zinc is also used in the creation of yellow gold alloys.


Yellow gold is the form of gold least likely to cause sensitivities or allergies in its wearers. It is the most hypoallergenic.

Yellow gold has, for many years, been the precious metal of choice for use in wedding bands and engagement rings. It is the metal that we associate with beautiful jewellery.

Yellow gold complements lower colour grade diamonds, enhancing the slight yellow hue of such diamonds.

Yellow gold has the most golden colour of all the forms of gold.

Yellow gold is an excellent match for darker and olive skin tones.

Yellow gold is the easiest to maintain of all the gold colours. There's no need to re-plate the metal to retain the desired colour (white gold). The metal will not change colour over time (rose gold).

It is hard to imitate the colour of gold with cheaper metals. If you have gold, then everyone knows it!

If repairs are needed to yellow gold, they can be carried out efficiently and invisibly.


Yellow gold must be cleaned and polished to keep it looking good.

Particularly at the higher purity grades, 18 and 22ct, yellow gold is soft and subject to scratching and denting.

Some people see yellow gold as either flashy or old fashioned. Neither is true – of course!

Yellow gold can make diamonds look a little warmer, more yellow. This can be an issue when you have just bought a high colour grade diamond as it might make the lovely white gem look like a somewhat less expensive diamond.

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