Guide to Yellow Gold Engagement Rings

Modern yet classic at the same time, yellow gold engagement rings are experiencing a renaissance in popularity. It has a rich, luxurious appearance and gives an undeniable glow to any engagement ring. Before choosing a yellow gold engagement ring, there’s plenty to know about the features of yellow gold so you’re making the best choice for you and a ring you’ll treasure for a lifetime.

What is Yellow Gold Made Of?

Yellow gold used in jewelry is actually a gold alloy. Pure gold is too soft and pliable to be used to form jewelry, so it is mixed with stronger metals to form an alloy. The resulting metal can then be used to create an engagement ring that is strong and durable while also exhibiting a lovely, rich hue of yellow gold.

Yellow gold is primarily mixed with whitish metals like silver and palladium to give yellow gold a softer, more creamy yellow look. The color of pure 24K gold is a more buttery, brassy color. Softening that hue with whitish metals gives a yellow gold engagement a beautiful warmth and glow that is a gorgeous complement to diamonds and gemstones.

Just as with white gold or rose gold, there are differing purity levels for yellow gold. The karat number on gold jewelry indicates how much pure gold is used in the alloy. 18K gold is 75% purity level, 14K is 58.3% purity level, and 10K is 41.7% purity level. The rest of the percentage in each case represents the amount of alloy metal. With yellow gold, the lower the purity level, the stronger the gold alloy, but also the softer the yellow hue. Read on for a guide comparing 10k, 14k, 18k, 22k, 24k gold.

wedding rings made of different karat weight yellow gold

Which is Better: White, Rose, or Yellow Gold?

White gold, rose gold, and yellow gold are all beautiful metals for an engagement ring. While their color is the most obvious difference between all of them, there are some others that may make one more preferable. Yellow gold is a classic favorite for engagement rings, is the purest of all golds and thereby the most hypoallergenic, and the easiest to maintain. However, since it’s the most malleable of the golds, it may need more frequent polishing to keep it scratch-free and could temporarily tarnish under certain conditions.

White gold is a timeless choice for an engagement ring and extremely durable because it’s alloyed with such strong metals. Its bright, silvery hue really complements the white color of diamonds, making them appear even more colorless and brilliant. But every couple of years, white gold engagement rings need to be replated in rhodium to keep that bright appearance.

And rose gold is quickly becoming a romantic and unique choice for an engagement ring. Its rosey pink hue looks equally beautiful on all skin tones, and because it’s alloyed with copper (one of the most durable metals) it creates a very durable engagement ring. If you’re considering a gemstone though, rose gold may not be the way to go. The pinkish flush of the gold clashes with more vibrant or cooler-hued gemstones like rubies, emeralds, blue sapphires or yellow sapphires or diamonds.

Is Yellow Gold a Good Choice for an Engagement Ring?

Yellow gold is a classically beautiful choice for an engagement ring. It fell out of favor a bit with the rise in popularity of white gold and platinum, so it makes for a fantastic vintage and retro-inspired style. Yellow gold is a wonderful complement for sleek modern looks, sculptural nature-inspired pieces, and intricate vintage-inspired designs.

One of the greatest benefits of yellow gold is the warmth that it emits. Because of that, diamonds with color grade I and J will likely still appear as colorless as a G or H color grade diamond. And going lower to a K color grade will produce an engagement ring with a beautiful golden hue throughout. Just be sure to match any larger side diamonds to the same color grade.

Yellow gold engagement ring stack

Yellow gold engagement ring stack

What Type of Yellow Gold is Best for an Engagement Ring?

Yellow gold is available in different levels of purity and which one you choose will likely come down to color preference. There are some differences in strength and durability between 18K, 14K, and 10K yellow gold, but since the color is what you’ll notice every day, it’s best to let that guide your choice for an engagement ring.

The purest form of yellow gold widely used in jewelry is 18K. With 75% of the alloy being pure gold, this yellow gold will have the strongest yellow look and a brighter glow than the 14K and 10K versions. 14K yellow gold engagement rings contain just over 58% pure gold and still display a lovely golden hue, they just lack more of the luminosity. 10K yellow gold has just over 41% pure gold, and while the most affordable, often displays more of a light white tone.

For reasons of the lack of yellow hue and brittleness inherent in more alloy metals, it’s not often you’ll find 10K gold being used for engagement rings. And when it comes to 18K and 14K, they’re two wonderful options. 18K yellow gold will tend to be more scratch-resistant and less likely to tarnish, but 14K yellow gold is the more affordable option, being $200-$500 cheaper depending on the setting. 14K yellow gold is also the most commonly used option for yellow gold and is recommended for stone heavy designs because it is more durable.

Designing Rings with Yellow Gold

Yellow gold evokes a lush history featuring prominent gold jewelry from Egyptian pharaohs, Roman emperors, and royalty from every corner of the world. It will always be a timeless and chic choice for an engagement ring. And while yellow gold perfectly accentuates warmer skin tones, it truly is a lovely contrast for every skin tone.

Yellow gold is very easy for jewelers to manipulate, making it an incredibly versatile metal for intricate settings and embellishments from detailed design techniques. It can easily take on a classic look with a vintage-inspired design or look strikingly contemporary with a bold and fresh appearance in a nature-inspired style. Halos and hidden halos also look lovely in yellow gold as they tend to stand out more with the color contrast, like our oval hidden halo ring, below.

Yellow gold also looks fantastic with many different kinds of gemstones. Vibrant and saturated tones of ruby, emerald, and blue sapphire are given a lush finish with yellow gold. And a yellow diamond or sapphire will absolutely pop with color when set in yellow gold. Likewise, there are options for diamonds as well. A higher color grade in the I to J range will still appear colorless alongside yellow gold, and a K color grade will exude a glowy warmth.

The beautiful golden glow is also a perfect pairing for a textured band. Go for a smooth, high polish, a brushed finish, twisted rope, or even dotted with bezel-set diamonds for a very unique look that still delivers a pretty luster. And mixing metals is always a popular choice that makes a statement. It can be as simple as switching out yellow gold prongs for platinum ones, or twisting white gold and yellow gold together for a signature band.

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