Just as rosé wine is becoming a popular alternative to traditional reds and whites, so, too, is rose gold making rapid inroads into the jewelry market. An increasing number of brides – primarily “millennials” – are opting for something different in their engagement rings and choosing rose gold over conventional white or yellow gold. But what is rose gold, and is it something new?
Actually, production of the alloy rose gold, also known as “pink gold” or “red gold,” dates back to early 19th-century Russia. But earlier Greco-Roman texts indicate that, in ancient times, it was noted that impurities in the smelting process sometimes resulted in a gold product that had a reddish color – or “red gold.”
The difference in hues seen in the colored-gold spectrum is dependent on the amount of copper and/or silver the alloy contains. The higher the copper content, the stronger the red coloration. Here’s a breakdown of the metallic composition found in pink and red golds:
• 18K red gold: 75% gold, 25% copper
• 18K rose gold: 75% gold, 22.25% copper, 2.75% silver
• 18K pink gold: 75% gold, 20% copper, 5% silver
• 12K red gold: 50% gold, 50% copper
If zinc is added during the smelting process, it can result in reddish yellow or dark yellow-colored gold. There are other colors, too. Green gold, or “electrum,” for example, was known to the Lydians of Anatolia (modern-day Turkey) as long ago as 860 BC. In spite of its name, the naturally occurring alloy of silver and gold actually looks more greenish-yellow than it does green.
Over the past several years, rose gold has been embraced by many top jewelers, including Tiffany’s; and fashion-forward designers, like Kate Spade. It has even made its way into pop culture, initially with Samsung’s rose-gold-toned Galaxy Note 3. Apple kicked it up a notch with a $10,000+ rose gold Apple Watch Edition and a rose-gold option for its 2015-release iPhone 6. According to Wired Magazine’s David Pierce, “Apple couldn’t make rose gold iPhones fast enough.”
Nowadays there’s no end to the tech gadgets you can buy in quietly stylish rose-gold hues. Apple leads the pack with its iPad, MacBook and Beats headphones in “rose gold.” The look is uber cool, but no electronic accessory can match the feeling of luxury that comes from wearing a necklace, bracelet or ring of genuine rose gold.