Rose gold seems to be everywhere! In recent years, this warm-hued shade of gold has re-captured our attention, especially capturing the hearts of millenials. Its popularity has made it an iconic color for long-awaiting iPhone cases, and its soft metallic color can be found on all the prettiest accessories now, where once you’d only expect to find yellow or white metallics. All of this popularity has sent many couples to jewelry stores seeking rose gold for their engagement rings, while others are wary that it may be too “trendy” to last.
At Secrete Fine Jewelry in Washington, DC, and Bethesda, MD, has been hand-making custom fine jewelry for decades, so we’ve prepared the everything-you-need-to-know guide about rose gold (AKA “red gold” or “pink gold”) to help you decide if rose gold is right for you.
This classic three stone engagement ring in rose gold features a trio of emerald cuts, handmade at Secrete Fine Jewelry's Bethesda workshop.
What is rose gold? Isn’t real gold yellow?
The short answer is that rose gold is gold mixed with a copper-rich alloy to give it its pink hue.
The full answer is that pure 24k gold is really orange. Almost all gold used for jewelry is mixed with other metals to make it strong enough to hold its shape and keep stones set in safely. The metals a goldsmith chooses to mix into the gold effect the color of the finished product. The amount of pure gold in the mixture is measured in karats, so 18 karat gold is 18/24ths pure or 75% pure. 14k gold is 14/24ths, so it’s 58.5% pure.
Yellow gold is normally mixed with a combination of copper and silver to give it a rich yellow color. White gold is mixed with white metals like nickel and zinc or palladium to disguise the orange, but it normally still a little yellowish, so most white gold is plated in shiny white rhodium. Rose gold is mixed with copper to make it pinker. There are other mixtures of gold “colors” that have been used in different areas and times throughout history, including “moon-gold” (which is a yellow goldbuttery) and “green gold” (which it just a silver-alloy gold that’s little greener than yellow gold, often seen in leaf designs on vintage grape-bunch shaped jewelry).
24k gold is gold in its pure element form. It is a rich, orange-yellow color.
Is rose-gold a new trend?
The history of rose gold is older than you may think. In the 1800s, famed jewelry designer to the Tsars, Carl Fabergé, used the pinkish copper-alloy gold in his famous Easter eggs and jewelry pieces for the Russian royal family. The warm beauty of rose gold was so iconically linked to Fabergé’s work that rose gold became known as “Russian gold.”
This rose gold Faberge egg is a gorgeous example of the warmth and richness this Imperial jeweler created in rose gold.
While rose gold has been in play for centuries in terms of popular jewelry designs, it’s had a few hay-days. The romantic Victorians loved this warm shade of gold, but it fell out of style a little bit as the soft and flowery Victorian age was taken over by the modern lines and sleek styles of the Art Deco era. By the beginning of World War II, however, demands for metals for the war effort led the white-metal trend to decline, so in the Retro era of the mid-twentieth century, rose gold had a strong comeback. In the coming decades, rose gold became best associated with the Romantic era or Bohemian old-world vibes.
Of course, rose gold has had a resurgence in the last few years. We like to think of it as a sort of Great Awakening of bridal jewelry. For several years in the recent past, it seemed like everyone had the same cookie-cutter engagement ring, but more and more over the last ten years, couples have felt free to express themselves more: people want more color, more shapes, more expression, and ultimately more freedom. Gone are the days when a shopping-mall jewelry store’s TV ads dictate what type of engagement ring you should have (btw… when was the last time you actually watched cable TV?). It’s a spirited, joyful, and happy time to design an engagement ring.
Secrete created this Victorian-inspired rose gold and platinum engagement ring for a bohemian bride, using antique diamonds like this amazing old European cut center stone, rose-cut halo stones, and single-cut side stones.
This D color, internally flawless oval brilliant cut (GIA certified) with a CanadaMark ethical origin certificate was the focus of this sweet, delicate engagement ring, so we asked the master jeweler in Secrete Fine Jewelry's Bethesda workshop to make this simple, feminine rose gold setting as the icing on the cake.
Will choosing a rose-gold engagement ring limit what other jewelry you can wear?
You might be ready to choose a rose gold engagement ring or rose gold wedding set, but you may worry if a rose gold engagement ring will make it harder to wear yellow gold or white metals at the same time. While it’s smart to think about whether your engagement ring will “clash” with your other favorite pieces, the color of the metal is hardly the only thing that makes or breaks a ring.
Many brides, especially young or youngish women, are in the beginning stages of building a jewelry collection when they get their engagement rings. Because of this, instead of worrying about whether the engagement ring will “match” the teenage and young-twenties costume jewelry you’ve accumulated, reflect on your growing sense of personal style. The composition and style of your ring should compliment your sense of style, neither matching your quirky college-era knick-knacks nor propelling you into a mature formality that doesn’t match your lifestyle. Focus more on the design than the color. Case in point: a Western silver belt buckle is white metal; it does not “match” an Art Deco platinum and diamond brooch.
Our advice is to follow your heart when it comes to your engagement ring design. It’s the piece you’ll wear every day. If that means you’ll want to change your earring choices or get a new necklace or two, so be it.
This modern tension-set diamond ring from Secrete's bridal collection proves that rose gold doesn't always have to be dainty or vintage-inspired. The rough fancy yellow diamond is an unexpected color pop in this 14k pink gold engagement ring.
A diamond is forever… the setting is a little less permanent.
At Secrete Fine Jewelry, we estimate that about 20% of our Washington, DC-area clients have reset, redesigned, or “upgraded” their engagement rings during the course of their marriage (and we are lucky enough to have clients with 50+ year marriages). Sometimes, these changes are practical: if the original ring is damaged in some way, a couple may choose to explore new inspirations when rebuilding it. Sometimes, “upgrades” to the setting can be gifts to celebrate milestone anniversaries and birthdays. One husband, now retired after a decades long career as a physician, told us about his financial constraints when he purchased an engagement ring as a college student, and was so proud that he’d been able to “add to it a little at a time” over the decades of their love.
While many brides feel too sentimental about their rings to ever want to change them, it does take a little bit of the stress away to know that it’s fairly common to change it later, and it’s not a big deal. So if you’re worried the rose gold trend won’t last, or that in ten years you might regret not choosing whatever your mother recommended instead, fear not! A skilled custom jeweler can even melt, refine, and reuse the gold from your old setting, even if you’re changing color (as long as it’s refined back to pure gold, the alloys can then be adjusted to change the color of the metal).
The Bottom Line
We love rose gold engagement rings! Whether they are romantic nods to Victorian times, modern minimalist tokens of love, or quirky one-of-a-kind creations, we love it! We also love love love rose gold on men-- an 18k rose gold band on a man looks as rich as fashion forward as a beautiful luxury pink gold Rolex (and it looks good next to one, too)! Even Audrey Hepburn wore a rose gold wedding band, so that's basically the seal of "classic style" approval.
If you love rose gold, follow your heart: that’s what being engaged is all about.
Secrete Fine Jewelry made these amazingly chic engagement rings for two Washington, DC grooms in white gold with an 18k rose gold inlay and a half-oxidized finish.
We made this unique engagement ring three years ago for a beautiful Maryland couple. The center emerald is bezel set and surrounded by a diamond halo in white gold, but the band flashes warm in 18k rose gold with bezel set diamonds all around.
Interested in starting the custom design process for your engagement ring?
It's easier than you might think! Contact us today, or stop by our DuPont Circle boutique in Washington, DC, or our Wildwood Shopping Center store in Bethesda, MD.