As mentioned in some of my previous articles, gold per se is soft so you need alloys to make it hard. Metal alloys boost the hardness of gold and it can also modify some of its features such as value, color, and resistance to tarnish. Zinc, copper, and nickel are some of the most popular alloys used in making gold jewelry.
Individuals who have allergies to metal should in any way avoid low-karat gold jewelry because the high amounts of nickel in these jewelry pieces can activate skin reactions. Jewelry items that are 18k or higher are safe for those with sensitive skin. Below shows a list of some of the metal alloys used in gold as well as their corresponding attributions in making gold jewelry.
o Copper – copper is commonly used as a metal alloy of gold because of its softness. If other metal alloys are incorporated to gold to enhance its hardness, jewelry manufacturers often add copper into the mix to make it easier to bend and shape the materials to become jewelry. Copper, when mixed with gold, can create rose gold and red gold. When a piece of jewelry has a high amount of copper like twenty-five percent or even more then it warrants extensive care to prevent tarnish and patina from building up.
o Nickel – nickel is known for its strength and toughness, which is why nickel is regularly added to create white gold. Nickel can also be found in plated gold jewelry to reduce production expense.
o Zinc – Zinc like copper is added to jewelry to harden it and for increased durability. Most of the time, less than fifteen percent of the piece is composed of zinc. Zinc metal is also considered as a secondary bleaching agent in several colored gold jewelry in order to offset the alloyed copper.
o Indium – If a jeweler wants to create a blue-gray color in gold then he needs to add indium to gold. Indium is more brittle compared to other colored gold and the particles of Indium are predisposed to percolate whenever it becomes exposed to moisture. Because Indium is a soft metal, usually iron is added to blue gold to increase its toughness without taking away the blue hue.
o Aluminum – Aluminum is a kind of gold alloy that results to a purple hue. Because of the delicate characteristics of the elements of aluminum, purple gold is normally positioned in settings as faux stones. When aluminum is struck with the considerable strength it can disperse and shatter. All other colored gold are used in various industries but purple gold with a mix of aluminum is only exclusive to jewelry items.
o Silver – Silver is widely used in massive amounts of colored gold jewelry if they want to tone down the hues of each jewelry item. Varying ratios of silver and gold create yellowish-green or green gold. Silver is far less expensive compared to gold but it still is able to produce a sophisticated finish. Since silver is more radiant than gold it can provide jewelry items with a much greater shimmer.
o Palladium – Palladium is used to make white gold. Palladium is a soft white metal and because it is soft, its pliability is ideal for molding complicated designs and stone settings. The nice thing about palladium is that it is also hypoallergenic meaning it won’t cause any allergic reactions or skin reactions. Palladium is part of a group of platinum elements. Because it is rare it is more expensive compared to others.
o Rhodium – Rhodium is commonly used as a plating to enhance the shade of white gold. Often times, the gold and the alloys in white gold jewelry items create a yellow or light pink color. However, rhodium ideally is silvery white. Out of all the precious metals, there is, rhodium is by far the most expensive of all and when it’s added to gold it increases the price of jewelry made of gold.