Are you wondering what colour jewellery should you wear?
It’s an age-old question that’s bothered men and women for thousands of years. Yes, thousands! As far back as we can trace, from the earliest finding of jewellery approximately 25,000 years ago, humans have always adorned their bodies with precious metals, gemstones and more. Sure, the oldest known piece of jewellery, found in a cave in Monaco, was just a simple necklace made of fish bones! But over the centuries our refinement of metals and precious stones means that our jewellery has come a long way. Thank goodness!
However, choosing what colour jewellery and in particular what colour metal to wear, is still something that baffles many people now. In this blog we’ll tell you what makes gold different from silver. We’ll explain the difference between yellow, white and rose gold. And, we’ll share some tips to help you choose which metal is best for you. But first, a brief history lesson, so you can learn a little more about how gold and silver jewellery has been worn throughout the ages!
History of gold jewellery
It’s believed that jewellery was first worn as a talisman or protection from danger. Early hunters believed that jewellery would bring them success in their hunt and people wore necklaces, bracelets, rings and more to protect against bad luck and illness. Over the centuries, jewellery became symbolic tools that indicated wealth, religious devotion and love.
The Royal Tombs in ancient Sumer in Iran, built around 3,000 – 4,000 BC, were embellished with many significant pieces of gold jewellery such as headdresses, crowns, pendants, chains, earrings and rings. A couple of thousand years later in ancient Egypt, the royal jewellers used gold adorned with gemstones like turquoise and amethyst. Tutankhamun’s tomb alone contained approximately 9,000 kilograms worth of gold!
Moving forward hundreds of years later, gold had become a precious commodity in ancient Rome. Only senators were allowed the privilege to wear gold rings. Roman citizens wore silver rings and slaves were only permitted to wear iron. It was really during the Georgian and Victorian eras that people began to wear the type of jewellery that’s still worn today. The goldsmiths of that time figured out that mixing pure gold with other metals would make a more durable and less expensive piece of jewellery and so, gold became more accessible to all.
History of silver jewellery
Our silver story starts around the end of 4,000 BC in Anatolia where the ancient Turks discovered how to extract silver from lead ore in a process called cupellation. Silver became greatly admired for its strength and colour and became almost as popular as gold. In fact, 400 years after Tutankhamun’s reign, King Sheshonq II was buried in an all-silver sarcophagus.
The ancient Greeks and Romans used silver for coins and wore it for jewellery such as rings, anklets and armlets. In 800AD the Vikings were responsible for much of the transport of silver to Europe where silversmiths refined their craft by making stunning silver jewellery.
What exactly is gold?
Gold is a precious durable metal that can be quite easily melted down and re-forged, making it a valuable resource. The purity of gold is measured in carats. The purest form of gold is 24ct and is quite soft which means it can be moulded, but also scratched quite easily. Blending gold with other metals reduces the number of carats and makes the gold far more durable. It can also be blended to create different colours. The result of these blended metals is called an alloy.
Gold jewellery is mainly made in a range of 8ct to 24ct, but it’s most common to find it in the 9ct and 18ct. Although it’s useful to understand how the carat of gold is measured, it’s really not terribly critical when buying jewellery. Choosing the colour that you prefer is more important.
What’s the difference between yellow, white and rose gold?
The classic yellow gold is usually blended with a small amount of other metals such as zinc, copper and / or silver to enrich its colour and make it more durable. It’s been revered as the classic choice for fine jewellery for centuries and has been synonymous with engagement rings and wedding rings for many years.
White gold is an alloy of gold and a white metal such as palladium, zinc, nickel or manganese which provides additional strength and also alters the colour. Just like yellow gold, white gold’s purity is measured in carats. Like all precious metals, white gold requires a little maintenance to help retain its shine so it’s worth dropping it in to our jeweller at Hoskings every 12-18 months in order to retain its brilliant colour.
Rose gold contains significantly more copper than yellow gold. This beautifully romantic gold is actually the strongest of the three types of gold, because copper is very robust, and the resulting alloy is very durable. It’s worth noting however that copper can cause allergic reactions in some individuals, so it’s a good idea to have a trial if you have sensitive skin.
How is silver different to gold?
While silver is also easy to shape and work into beautiful designs, it’s naturally harder than gold. It’s also considered a “noble metal” because it resists corrosion and it is very durable. It’s usually blended with another metal to harden it and protect it from scratching. Silver is universally loved by jewellers because it’s one of the most versatile metals for jewellery making.
Unlike gold, silver is not measured in carats. Instead it’s graded or rated using a numerical system. Pure silver is rated 999. A piece of silver jewellery must measure at least 925 purity (92.5%) in order to be classified as sterling silver. The remaining 7.5% is usually a blend of other metals.
Silver plated jewellery is jewellery that has a thin layer of silver covering a base metal which might be copper, brass or nickel. It’s very common to see silver plating on very detailed items like this beautiful jewellery box.
Gold versus silver versus gold – which one should I choose?
Now that you know what you’re dealing with, here comes the fun bit! Choosing the right colour jewellery for you! Whether you’re looking for a base metal ring to hold a very special diamond or a piece of jewellery as a gift for a loved one, there are a few tips on how to choose which jewellery metal colour is the best.
Over the decades gold and silver have become susceptible to fashion trends. Of course “#farshun” is great fun, but if you’re choosing a piece of jewellery that’s going to last a lifetime, like an engagement ring, you might want to consider which metal colour suits you the best. That’s not to say if you choose one you can’t wear the other! In fact, you can wear gold and silver interchangeably or even wear both together. The only rule is to feel awesome wearing it!
What colour jewellery does my favourite celebrity wear?
Sometimes it’s good to be inspired by the celebrities we see on our screens and in our magazines. For example, you’ll notice Duchess Kate Middleton’s wears a lot of silver or white gold with emerald or blue gemstones including her engagement ring which is similar to our 9ct White Gold Sapphire and Diamond Flower Ring.
If, like Amanda Seyfried, you might be tempted to stick to the cooler tones of silver or white gold. But like Amanda, choosing a simply classic gold band will also look beautiful and timeless.
Emily Ratajkowski wears a stunning yellow gold engagement ring, suiting her beautiful perfectly.
If you like Goddess Beyonce, then let’s face it, you can wear anything! Beyonce does! Often layering both gold and silver together like this stunning necklace or this beautiful 3 tone diamond ring.
What if I still can’t decide what colour jewellery to wear?
Here’s the good news. You really don’t have to stick to just one colour metal. It used to be considered a faux pas to mix gold with silver, but those days are long gone! And rightly so. Why not channel a little Beyonce and try combining different colours with layered necklaces or ring and bangle stacks. Brands like Von Treskow and Thomas Sabo love a little mix and match like these beautiful Von Treskow earrings and this stunning Thomas Sabo bracelet. Remember, as long as you love it, that’s all that matters!
Where can I find a great range of different colour jewellery?
That’s a trick question isn’t it? Right here at Hoskings of course! We love helping our customers choose the perfect piece for them. So, if you can’t see what you’re looking for online, or are a little overwhelmed by the huge range we have, then pop in store where we’ll be only too delighted to help you!
Call 1800 819 796 in VIC/ NSW/ QLD & TAS. Or call (08) 8981 8895 if you’re in NT/WA or SA.
Written by Niamh Hislop
Cover image: Amy Shamblen – Unsplash