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The John Atencio Jewelry Glossary The John Atencio Jewelry Glossary
Glossary › Yellow Gold

Glossary: Yellow Gold

Because pure gold is extremely soft, jewelry gold is made up of alloys, which are mixtures of several different metals. Gold can be combined with copper, silver, zinc, nickel and palladium, to create varying gold colors. The most common colors for jewelry gold are rose, white, green and, of course, yellow.

Yellow gold is made by blending pure gold with copper, silver and zinc. This combination retains the purest color of all the available gold colors. It’s also the most hypoallergenic and gives off a noticeable shine when contrasted with darker and olive skin tones.

Traditionally, yellow gold requires the least amount of maintenance of all the gold colors. Benefiting from the World War II declaration of platinum as a strategic metal, yellow gold has become the primary material for jewelry makers throughout the U.S. Over the past 75 years, it has remained a popular choice for all types of jewelry.

Easy and Practical

One of the oldest precious metals, yellow gold has a very warm and elegant look, making it a timeless gift for many different occasions. It’s also one of the easiest precious metals to maintain and repair. Re-sizing yellow gold jewelry is inexpensive, and repairs can be performed in a timely manner. Extensive repairs can sometimes take a few days but are still cost-friendly. Compared to other precious metals, yellow gold jewelry is very practical and easy to maintain.

Karat Grades

Gold alloys determine the karat grade of yellow gold jewelry. For instance, you can buy a ring in 18k, 14k, and 10k gold. The lower the karat, the less actual gold there is in the piece of jewelry. This is why higher karat gold jewelry is less durable than lower karat jewelry, which has been mixed with stronger metals. Most types of yellow gold jewelry will include a stamp indicating the karat of the raw materials used to forge the piece.

The easiest way to consider gold purity is to think of the karat scale as a parts system. 24K, for instance, is 24 of 24 parts gold, which makes it pure gold. When you move down the scale, you see a reduction in the purity in relative proportion. 18K yellow gold, for instance, is 75% pure gold because it is 18 parts gold and 6 parts other metals.

Although 24K is pure gold, it is very unusual to find the 24K mark on wearable jewelry because 24K gold is malleable, soft and prone to bending and scratching. This softness is the primary reason gold is mixed with other types of metal for jewelry. With the addition of some other metals, 18K yellow gold becomes more durable and longer-lasting than 24K gold, while retaining high value and its beautiful yellow appearance.

Yellow Gold Pros and Cons

As with all things, yellow gold comes with some noteworthy advantages and disadvantages when used in fine jewelry.


  • Yellow gold looks beautiful on virtually everyone.
  • 18K yellow gold is essentially the purest gold formula in jewelry.
  • Yellow gold pairs well with diamonds and all sorts of warmer-toned gemstones such as morganite, ruby, and purple sapphire.


  • 18K yellow gold is the most expensive type of gold in jewelry.
  • It can be harder to match certain variations of yellow golds.
  • Yellow gold is more likely to dent and scratch and must be polished regularly.

Despite its minor drawbacks, yellow gold is still one of the most sought-after precious metals. This is why yellow gold engagement rings and yellow gold wedding bands are so enormously popular. Its rich burnished color has been a symbol of prosperity and wealth for centuries. It will also never rust, corrode or tarnish with proper care. Yellow gold is also about 30% less expensive than platinum and much easier to work into intricate, fine designs.

From the metal to the gemstone to the design and the setting, John Atencio’s attentive jewelry experts can help you choose the perfect yellow gold jewelry piece for yourself or that special someone. Make an appointment at one of our convenient locations, where our knowledgeable experts can guide you toward a stunning jewelry piece in yellow gold that reflects your unique style.