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What is it about gold? Prized for over 5,000 years for its beauty and rarity, gold is the most influential metal in human history. As early as the thirteenth century, in Europe, gold rings were exchanged as a symbol or marital engagement. Since that time, yellow gold engagement rings have become the iconic symbol of matrimony for most of the world.
The purity of gold is defined by karats; not to be confused with carats, the weight unit for diamonds. Karats are a measurement system based on 24ths. Pure gold is 24 karats, meaning 24 of its 24 parts are gold. Pure gold is too soft to be used in jewelry and most other applications, so pure gold is usually mixed, or alloyed, with other metals. Fine jewelry is typically 18 karat (75% pure gold, or 18 of 24 parts) or 14 karat (58.5% pure gold). Lower quality jewelry is available in 10 karat (comprised mostly of other metals), which has a lower luster and weaker color.
The metals alloyed with pure gold are harder and more durable than the gold itself. The most common alloys of yellow gold are copper, zinc, and silver. Copper’s reddish hue allows the finished metal to retain much of the rich color of pure gold. Still, the higher the concentration of yellow gold, the deeper and more saturated the color; 18K yellow gold is often preferred to 14K for this reason. On the other hand, 14K is slightly more durable, due to its higher proportion of hard alloys. While 14K is less prone to scratches than 18K , both require minimal upkeep.
Over time, a patina will develop in a yellow gold ring (faster in 18K) which is simply a fancy word to describe the tiny scratches that eventually give the gold a dull luster. While many prefer this look, buffing with a soft, dry cloth will restore some of the shine to a yellow gold engagement ring. Ideally, yellow gold should be kept out of excessive contact with harsh chemicals or detergents. If a gold ring is worn long enough, over decades it can wear to the point where the band becomes so thin it will need to be re-shanked or replaced.
Yellow gold is an especially appropriate choice for engagement rings with diamonds of lower color. When a diamond has visible traces of yellow color, surrounding the diamond in a yellow gold setting can camouflage the diamond’s color. Conversely, setting a colorless diamond in yellow gold will allow small amounts of yellow color to be reflected into the diamond itself. However, those who genuinely prefer yellow gold to white metals may actually value the warmth that yellow gold brings to the setting and center diamond.
Every Lumera yellow gold engagement ring is stamped 14K or 18K, and contains no nickel (an alloy known to irritate sensitive skin). As you review options, note that most of our yellow gold settings have white gold prongs around the center diamond to better complement the colorless or near colorless appearance of the diamond.
Some of our most popular Yellow Gold styles: