There's a new craze in the fashion world: rose gold.
Although it seems like everyone is in love with this dreamy "new" hue, the fact is it's not really new at all.
This beautiful shade of gold has shown up in jewelry and artifacts that's been found in archaeological digs as distant as ancient Colombia.
Just to illustrate how popular rose gold has gotten: the most pinned engagement ring of 2017, with more than 103,900 pins, was a simple rose gold band with a solitaire diamond.
How and why did rose gold suddenly become so crazy popular again?
Well, you could say that this beautiful gold has a complicated history.
It's a history that reads like an action-packed novel with heroes and heroines, queens and emperors, drama, political revolution, and more.
Maybe that's one of the reasons we love it. But we'll get into all that. For now, what exactly is rose gold?
Watch this short video:
Rose Gold, the Gold Everybody and Their Mama Is Going Gaga Over
It's all we're hearing about in the world of fashion and in the wedding industry.
It seems like everyone wants a beautiful vintage-styled rose gold engagement ring or wedding band.
However, if you're just learning about rose gold, maybe you don't really know what it's all about.
Check out this short video that shows several different beautiful rings set in this magical hue.
The Benefits Of Rose Gold And Why It's So Popular
This shade of gold isn't stylish just because it's beautiful and has a unique vintage feel. There are actually numerous practical benefits to going with rose gold.
"Rose gold is amazing -- it pulls out the blushy undertones in so many different skin colors. There's just a harsher contrast against the skin when someone is wearing yellow gold, silver or platinum jewelry. Rose gold is much softer, but still makes a statement."
-Ariel Gordan, jewelry designer (via Huffington Post)
Although not as strong as platinum, rose gold is more durable than yellow or white gold because of the excellent durability of copper.
Also, unlike white gold, which needs to be dipped in rhodium every few years to retain the unique color and luster, rose gold doesn't require any special upkeep.
It's virtually maintenance free.
If you're interested in having a ring that's sustainable, rose gold is an excellent choice. Copper is one of the most recycled metals in the U.S., and there's a chance that the copper in your ring is recycled. A win/win for you and the environment.
One downside, and we list this as a "con" in that section of this article, is that rose gold jewelry isn't always as widely available as yellow and white gold.
You'll have no trouble finding a ring in this style right now because it's so popular.
However, in the coming years, if rose gold declines in popularity, it may be harder to find a ring in this color of gold.
But is this really a negative?
Most of us want a piece of jewelry that's unique and not mass-produced.
Compared to the price of yellow and white gold, rose gold is surprisingly affordable.
Because the copper that's used to make rose gold is more affordable than most of the alloys used to mix with other gold colors.
Types of Jewelry That Can Be Made With Rose Gold
Any jewelry that can be made with yellow gold can also be made with rose gold. This includes rings, necklaces, bracelets, brooches, etc...
Another interesting rose gold pairing is tungsten carbide, a black metal that is one of the hardest known to man.
It's durable and highly scratch resistant. If you have an active lifestyle, this can be a beautiful and interesting choice.
An added bonus?
Tungsten carbide is very affordable.
This video shows a beautiful example of a rose gold and tungsten carbide men's ring.
Gemstones That Work Well With Rose Gold
Most gemstones work beautifully with rose gold, but a few stand out among the rest:
Rose Gold & Black Diamonds
Here is a ring with a beautiful black diamond solitaire with small black diamonds down the side.
History of Rose Gold and Its Popularity: From Ancient Columbians to the iPhone
Wait, so rose gold isn't new??? Indeed not. Maybe you didn't hear about rose gold until recently, but it's been around for a long time.
Thousands of years, in fact:
For nearly a century, we believed that rose gold first got its start in Russia.
However, a 2017 archeology find discovered an unexpected preference for rose gold jewelry in present-day Colombia from the first millennium.
"What's peculiar about finding it here in Colombia is that the whole Andean region is renowned historically for mastering the technology of gilding —that is, making metals more golden than they should be based on their composition."
-Marcos Martinón-Torres, archaeologist, University College London, and co-author of a study published in September 2017
Not much is known about these ancient Colombians, but archaeologists and researchers do know that they were highly skilled metalworkers.
This is all based on the rose gold findings in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Mara mountain range, which is near the Caribbean coast.
19th century Imperial Russia and "Russian Gold"
It was some centuries after ancient Colombians used this unique color of gold before its use was historically recorded.
Where in history do we look for the first recorded usage of our new favorite color of gold?
In the 19th Century, rose gold became fashionable in Russia, where it began to be referred to as "Russian Gold," because Russians were the only people at that time who were wearing it.
Rose gold surged even further in popularity and value when jeweler Peter Carl Fabergé began using the precious mineral in some of his creations in an exquisite collection of 50 Imperial Easter eggs.
The first 10 in the collection were commissioned by Emperor Alexander III as a priceless gift for his wife, Empress Maria Feodorovna.
Then, during his own reign, his son, Czar Nicholas II, purchased two eggs per year: one for his mother, and one for his wife.
According to The World of Fabergé, these eggs were one of the last great commissions of objets d’art.
Here is an example of one of the most valuable eggs ever created, the Gatchina Palace Egg by House of Fabergé.
Fabergé still creates some of the finest rose gold artisan jewelry in the world.
The Victorian Era
In the Victorian Era, soft femininity was the go-to look of ladies who dictated fashion trends.
Therefore, rose gold came into fashion as ladies needed jewelry to accentuate their feminine outfits.
Victorian-era jewelry designers used different meaningful motifs that included serpents symbolizing wisdom (one of Queen Victoria's favorites), secret acrostic messages, flowers, and more.
The 1920s and Cartier's Trinity Ring
After the Victorian era, we didn't see a resurgence of rose gold popularity until the 1920s.
This was a decade of excess, artistically, socially, and culturally.
What we've seen historically is that nothing screams opulence like rose gold.
Therefore, it stands to reason that this color of gold became hugely popular with fashionable women if the 1920s.
In terms of historical jewelry significance, it was a very simple design that changed everything.
Rose Gold and the Cartier Climb to Fame
Cartier catered to the fashion of his day by using rose gold in many of his designs, but one design stood out above the rest: Trinity de Cartier, better known as the Trinity Ring.
Commissioned by French artist, poet, filmmaker, and artist Jean Cocteau, this design was remarkable even in its time.
Legend says that Cocteau had a dream about the rings of the planet Saturn and asked Cartier, a friend, to design it for him.
Nothing quite like it had ever been made before.
Because of the era of opulence in which it was made, the sheer simplicity of the Trinity Ring was a bold move.
With no embellishments, its beauty lies in its simple, clean lines.
Here's a video that shows Cartier's Trinity Ring in all its splendor.
The design became a cult classic.
It's comprised of three bands of gold: one white, one yellow, and one rose.
However, the decision to use all three colors of gold wasn't random.
So why those three?
They were chosen specifically for their individual meanings:
Rose signifies love, yellow gold is a reminder of fidelity, and white gold (or grey, as it was called) symbolizes friendship. As a whole, the three bands represented different stages of relationships: passion, love, friendship, and fidelity.
The Trinity Ring spawned an entire collection of Cartier Trinity jewels, and they all have the same intertwined bands of white, rose, and yellow gold.
Besides the beautiful rings, Cartier also makes the design in bracelets, necklaces, and earrings.
The Trinity de Cartier is one of the most influential designs in the history of jewelry.
It received new attention when worn by the late Princess Diana.
World War II
After the Wall Street Crash of 1929, the world's commercial landscape was forever altered.
Suddenly, simple and austere jewelry was back in vogue, as understated styles began to be seen everywhere.
People began to prefer icy white color schemes that included platinum and silver.
But everything changed:
During World War II, platinum was considered too strategic a mineral to use for jewelry.
Some countries even began to prohibit the use of platinum in jewelry, making room for copper and yellow gold again.
The world began to see a prolific use of gold, both rose and yellow, during the hard years of World War II.
Biennale des Antiquaires
In recent years, we first began to hear murmurings of rose gold being in vogue again in late 2012, at the Biennale des Antiquaires.
This annual event is one of the most important art fairs in the world. International exhibitors gather under the roof of the Grand Palais in Paris, France.
Every year, a vetting commission guarantees a display of a selection of galleries with the highest levels of trust, authenticity, and transparency.
At the event in 2012, jewelers from Cartier to Piaget began to display rose gold with their haute joaillerie, showing collections as luxurious as Michael Kors and Marc by Marc Jacobs in shades of this opulent color of gold.
Blake Lively's Ring
When actress Blake Lively began sporting a $2-million 12-carat diamond set in a band of rose gold, people began to notice.
Lively's husband, Ryan Reynolds, commissioned the piece with Lorraine Schwartz, a popular jeweler beloved by many celebrities.
It was as if this color of gold had never been seen before.
“It’s beautifully balanced and the diamond radiates with the understated pink glow of the rose gold."
Natalie Bos, founder of Jewels du Jour, via Blouin Artinfo
Apple and their $17,000-plus Apple Watch Edition and the iPhone 6s (yes, really...that Apple)
Although there was a slow build-up of the resurgence of rose gold, it really started when Apple created a $17,000 rose gold Apple Watch.
Within hours of its debut on the Apple website, the crazily-priced watch sold out.
However, a watch (or car!) at that price isn't something that just everyone can afford.
But then Apple did something delicious:
They took rose gold mainstream with an iPhone.
When Apple came out with the iPhone 6s, they probably were unaware they were creating a fashion and jewelry industry firestorm.
Surely they knew we'd go nuts over a "pink" iPhone. But change fashion trends?
PINK IPHONE PINK IPHONE PINK IPHONE NOTHING ELSE MATTERS SOUND THE ALARMS #AppleEvent— Omar L. Gallaga (@omarg) September 9, 2015
Or maybe they were aware. I say that because although everyone who saw the rosy-hued new iPhone 6s went crazy over "the pink iPhone," Apple was quick to correct them and call it what it was: rose gold.
Apple tryna sell this pink iPhone calling it rose gold nah fam that's pink lol— Snapchat: kel12121 (@kel12121) September 9, 2015
Regardless, one thing is clear: whether they did it deliberately or not, Apple took rose gold mainstream.MacRepairDundee.co.ukCC BY-SA 4.0Wikimedia Commons
Wired notes that Apple wasn't the first to bring back rose gold, but Apple, but they're the ones who put rose gold on the modern-day map.
And how did they do it?
By calling it rose gold. Not pink. Never pink.
It started with a $10,000-plus Apple Watch Edition. Then came the iPhone 6s, which is when rose gold really took off. You could say, as BuzzFeed did, that the Internet lost its damn mind. Apple couldn't make rose gold iPhones fast enough. (via Wired)
Then Pantone followed suit...
"There's a lot of research that goes into what color means and how it makes a statement to most people. When we get to the rose family, we get these same kinds of verbiage: Compassion, composure, warmth, something that draws you in that has great appeal." (via Wired)
-Leatrice Eiseman, color expert and executive director of the Pantone Institute (via Wired)
Perhaps that's why the Pantone Institute chose Rose Quartz as one of its colors of the year in 2016.
Along with a calming blue called Serenity, Rose Quartz seemed to come at a time when all the world wants is a little more peace and love.
Watch Pantone's release video.
Eiseman says that these colors are:
"[...] an answer to the stress of modern-day lives. A yearning for reassurance." (via Wired)
Pantone chose Rose Quartz because they believe it conveys a:
[...] sense of order and peace, something that speaks to people. Something that has a bit more mindfulness attached to it." (via Australian Diamond Brokers)
We couldn't agree more. Yes, rose gold is soothing and calming. It's timeless. It speaks to us. We love it.
The Jane Seymour Diamond
Not long after Apple and Pantone sent us all over the moon with this beautiful color, the World of Diamonds Group launched an unbelievably lavish and exceptional ring: the Jane Seymour Diamond ring.
The company, which is one of the world's most influential privately held diamond corporations, chose to use this piece of jewelry to pay homage to iconic actress Jane Seymore.
What is it?
A rare 2.08-carat vivid blue diamond is set in rose gold plated platinum.
No doubt this breathtaking stone would have been exquisite set in any color of gold, but the company chose to pair it with rose gold, and we can see why.
The result is stunning:
This ring is so exclusive that its potential future owner had to meet a specific selection criterion to even have the privilege of being considered as a buyer.
“The invitation to behold this creation would rather you not compare The Jane Seymour to anything else in the high jewelry world. It is a celebratory treat, more comparable to a mega-yacht or a ticket to the moon."
-Karan Tilani, Director, World Of Diamonds Group (via Forbes)
It's not often you see a piece of jewelry make this kind of statement.
The Jane Seymour ring didn't get quite the press that the iPhone 6s got, but the fact that the company chose to use rose gold to set this beautiful stone speaks volumes.
Tips for Shopping for Rose Gold Rings
When you go shopping for your rose gold wedding jewelry, keep these tips in mind.
Be wary of sellers who don't have a strong reputation
It's vitally important that you keep this in mind:
It's impossible to know the karatage of a rose gold wedding band based solely on the ring's color. A 10K ring can be as bright and light as an 18K ring.
If someone tells you that a ring is 18K gold, make sure that person is a reputable dealer. Definitely, if you buy from a jewelry store, you can expect to get the ring they say they're selling you. However, if you're going for a unique ring on sites like Etsy, check the feedback and reviews of the seller to make sure they have a solid reputation for quality.
Never get a "rose gold plated" ring
Typically, if a ring is gold plated, it may be made of silver—or even brass or copper—and has a thin plating of rose gold. This plating is typically less than the width of a single human hair. Here is what you can certainly expect:
It will wear off and it won't take long to do so. Read the fine print carefully, especially if you're buying your ring from Amazon or Etsy.
Make sure your diamond is certified
Preferably, your diamond should be certified by the AGS, GIA, IGI, or EGL. If you're buying an antique ring, get an appraisal from an antique dealer with expertise in appraising antique jewelry.
Don't assume your "antique" ring is actually an antique
Many rose gold rings sold by private sellers are actually artificially aged and sold as antiques. Again, if you want to be sure you're getting a genuine antique rose gold ring, stick with reputable dealers.
The Unique Color of Rose Gold and Where it Comes From
Are you now officially in love with rose gold?
Maybe you're drawn into rose gold's romanticism and timeless appeal, but you're still unsure about whether or not you want to tie yourself to rose gold via your wedding jewelry.
After all, this is one of the few purchases you'll have with you for a lifetime.
We get it. It's a tough decision to make.
Let's dig a little deeper:
The Different Weights of Rose Gold
If a jeweler or artisan tries to sell you 24K rose gold, they are either misinformed or their piece is a fake. To get the pink tones in rose gold, gold must be mixed with copper. So it's impossible to get 24K rose gold, and for that matter, the same goes for white gold.
Understanding the Karat
The karat is the unit by which to measure the purity of gold.
Karatage indicates the actual percentage of real gold in a piece of jewelry.
You measure karate purity at 24 times the pure mass of the piece of jewelry, divided by the total mass.
24 karat gold is 99.9 percent pure gold.
The deeper the pink or red tint, the more copper the gold has in it.
To illustrate this, let's look at karatage.
Yellow gold is the most commonly known color of gold. It's made of pure gold and alloy metals.
Here is the breakdown of karatage of the most commonly seen gold jewelry:
Crown Gold (22K rose gold) is a mixture of copper with 91.667 percent pure gold. Though exquisite, Crown Gold is too soft to wear as a wedding band or engagement ring. We recommend going with no higher purity than 18K gold.
Crown Gold was used to make coins in England in the distant past.
There is no such thing as 24K rose gold
Looking at that chart, you can see how 24K white gold or rose gold cannot exist.
If your ring is 18K gold, the most commonly seen karatage of rose gold engagement rings, your ring contains about 25 percent copper and likely a small amount of silver metal of some sort -- usually silver or zinc.
If your ring is redder in color, and you don't know the actual karatage, your ring is probably 14K gold.
This means that your ring is 41.7 percent copper.
Or, your piece could be 18K gold but with 25 percent copper and no white metal.
The more copper there is in your jewelry, the more durable it will be.
"Alloy metal suppliers will vary the copper, but whether you call it red, pink or rose gold, it's all the same process. Rose gold is more rare, whether that's because it's made to order or there's just less of it being made."
-Duvall O'Steen, director of jewelry promotion for the World Gold Council (via LA Times)
If you want a darker color of rose gold and can afford a custom commissioned ring, ask your jeweler to create your ring with:
For a lighter shade, raise the ratio of silver and zinc.
You can even adjust the amount of yellow gold, down to 14K or even 10K.
Gold's durability depends on the Vickers Hardness Values (HV) that measure metal's resistance to scratching.
The durability of rose gold depends entirely on the alloy metals used.
Although white gold has a higher HV, it is still not as durable as rose gold because it has to be dipped periodically in rhodium to keep it shiny.
Also, to get pure white gold, you have to go with a lower karatage of gold than with rose gold.
Furthermore, rose gold will stay shiny with no maintenance.
Another important consideration:
If a white gold ring has nickel as an alloy, allergic reactions can occur.
As jewelers began to phase out nickel, the cost of white gold may rise as different metals are used.
14K and 18K rose gold has an edge over yellow gold and white gold in terms of scratch resistance.
The Value of Rose Gold
Which color of gold actually has more value? There's a short answer to this question:
Gold is gold.
An 18K rose gold ring has the exact same amount of gold in it as an 18K yellow gold ring.
As we've explained in this article, the only difference in the three main colors of gold is the metals and percentages of metals that are used as alloys when making the jewelry.
On the other hand, resale value (if you think you'll ever sell your piece) is a different matter entirely.
It will depend largely on trends and the uniqueness of your ring.
Gold traders pay the same rate per gram of rose gold as they do per gram of yellow gold.
How to tell if your rose gold is real or fake
Rose gold rings that have a lot of copper alloyed into it may look very similar to copper.
For example, 10K and 14K rose gold is going to be redder in appearance than 18K rose gold, depending on the ratio of white metals.
Here's how to tell the difference:
Copper is darker, almost reddish-brown in color. Furthermore, after exposure to the elements, copper will oxidize and tarnish.
This will give it a pastel green patina:
Also, rose gold rings will usually have a hallmark on the inside of the band unless it's a very narrow band.
The hallmark is the etching that will say 14K or 18K, for example.
If your piece's hallmark says 18K but it's very red in color, it may be a fake.
There are other ways to tell:
When shopping for previously owned rose gold jewelry, look for discoloration on the inside of the ring where it will show the most wear.
If you see another color besides the gold underneath, it may be gold-plated or costume gold.
One more tip: learn a bit about the hallmarks of gold jewelry.
Distinct jeweler marks can tell you the exact gold content of a piece of jewelry.
You can even do an at-home test that will indicate that your jewelry is fake rose gold. If the magnet attracts it, it's fake. However, note that if the magnet doesn't attract it, it doesn't necessarily indicate that it's real, either. It depends on the metal it's made of. But if it attracts, it's definitely fake.
Here's a helpful video that illustrates beautifully the difference between yellow gold, rose gold, and copper.
The Downsides of Rose Gold
Like any product, there are a few cons to rose gold. Although the list is short, we want to be sure to point out a couple of things about rose gold, especially since one of them is important.
As mentioned in previous sections, to get the rose color in rose gold, it has to be mixed with copper.
If you're allergic to copper, you may also be sensitive to alloys that include copper.
However, not everyone who is allergic to copper will have a reaction to copper alloy.
If you don't react to rose gold, alloys may be one of the ways you can enjoy the beautiful look of copper jewelry.
Another negative of rose gold is that it's not always as widely available as yellow gold or white gold.
Although you can find some rose gold jewelry in jewelry stores, you'll be more likely to find your unique ring on sites like Etsy.
With that said, most people who want a rose gold engagement ring are totally OK with not having a mass-marketed piece of jewelry.
So we're not sure if this is actually a negative.
You're buying a color that goes in and out of fashion.
How to Care for Rose Gold
As a rule, rose gold jewelry requires care similar to that of yellow gold.
Avoid exposing your rose gold jewelry to hard blows or knocks.
However, if you do somehow ding it, it can usually be repaired by a jeweler.
Cleaning rose gold
To clean your rose gold jewelry, simply wash it in warm water. Using a gentle soap is OK, but if you can avoid this, it's best. Whatever soap you use to wash your hands will suffice, or a drop of dishwashing liquid. If needed, you can scrub very gently with a soft toothbrush. Then, thoroughly dry your jewelry with a soft cotton cloth.
Storing rose gold
If you're not wearing your jewelry daily and need to store it, put it in a separate jewelry pouch or the box it came in so that it avoids the risk of being scratched by other jewelry. Also, this will also ensure that your rose gold jewelry doesn't scratch the other jewelry.
Don't touch your center stone
Always avoid directly touching your center stone if you have a ring with a precious or semi-precious gem.
"Diamonds and other precious stones are magnets for dust, dirt, and body oil. When you put on or take off your ring, try grabbing the band on either side of the stone instead of grabbing the stone itself. If your stone ever looks hazy or cloudy, it’s likely something is stuck underneath it."
-Taylor Lanore, engagement ring designer and diamond consultant for Lauren B. Fine Jewelry and Diamonds (via Brides)
Maintaining the vintage or antique patina of rose gold
This is important to know if you buy a piece of vintage rose gold jewelry. Rose gold will never tarnish. However, over time, rose gold will develop a rich patina. It takes a lifetime for rose gold to establish its signature vintage patina, but once it does, its value increases significantly and it becomes highly desirable.
Avoid harsh chemicals
With all of your jewelry, you should avoid letting it come into contact with chemicals like bleach or other cleaning agents. They will dull the finish and harm porous gemstones like emeralds.
Do scheduled monthly maintenance appointments
with a jeweler
If your ring has precious stones, it's important to do regular maintenance with a jeweler.
Never remove your ring in public
This may seem a strange tip for a section on how to care for your rose gold jewelry, but it may be the most important one. It's very common for people to remove their jewelry in public to wash their hands in a restroom, for example. Doing this increases the likelihood of you accidentally losing your ring by leaving it behind. It's a good practice to always keep your rings on your person anytime you're not at home.
Put ring holders around your house
You can lose your ring in your home the same as you can in public, perhaps even more so because we're more relaxed at home. If you remove your rings frequently, place cute little ring dishes around the house and make it a practice to always put your rings on one of those when you remove them from your fingers for any reason.
"It is very important to schedule maintenance appointments with your jeweler at least once a year to make sure the prongs are tight, the diamond isn't loose and there are no hairline cracks in the shank. All around maintenance is vital."
-Susan Foster, Susan Foster Jewelry (via Brides)
Wrap Up: Here's to Hoping Rose Gold Is Here to Stay
Is it too much to ask that rose gold be in vogue forever?
As we've clearly illustrated in our section on the history of rose gold, this beautiful shade of gold is highly susceptible to fashion trends and it tends to come in and out of fashion.
However, one thing is certain:
If you invest in a beautiful piece of rose gold jewelry, it will increase in value over your lifetime and the lifetimes of your descendants.
We hope that the "new" trend in rose gold popularity lasts a good long time.