Black gold is the newest kind of colored gold in the jewelry industry and is swiftly rising in popularity. There are many kinds of black metal, but black gold brings several advantages.
So what is black gold? This article will explain everything you need to know about black gold jewelry.
If you’re interested in more conventional colors—like yellow gold or rose gold—why not take a look at our gorgeous 18-karat gold vermeil ring collection?
Joyce Layered Stack Ring
Charisse Vintage Ring
Midi Knuckle 2-Ring Set
What is black gold?
For a long time, there was only regular, stock-standard yellow gold. Over the years, several new colors have popped up, including white gold, rose gold, and even blue and green gold. These are often made using different metals in a gold alloy.
This is true even for yellow gold. Pure gold is never really used in jewelry since the precious metal is too soft.
An alloy is when two or more kinds of metal are combined. For rose gold, it’s a higher percentage of copper, whereas, for white gold, it’s zinc (with rhodium plating added for extra shine).
But what about black gold? What makes the black color?
Well, like rose gold and white gold, black gold can also be an alloy. Usually, black gold is gold and cobalt in a 3:1 ratio. This is relatively uncommon, though.
The more common method of making black gold is electroplating. Electroplating involves bonding a different kind of metal to the surface of the gold in thin layers. For black gold, a metal-like black rhodium or ruthenium is used. This is referred to as rhodium plating.
Rhodium plating is the most common and gives black gold jewelry a gorgeous, polished sheen.
Rhodium is a durable metal, and black rhodium doesn’t tarnish. Rhodium is usually a highly reflective silver color (hence, why it’s used in white gold and sterling silver to enhance the color).
Black rhodium doesn’t exist in nature. Exactly how black rhodium is created isn’t known for sure since the method is secret. But it’s probably an alloy with another black metal like ruthenium.
Black rhodium will give your black gold jewelry a gorgeous gunmetal look with a highly reflective sheen. The gothic look of black gold is rising in popularity right now, and rhodium plating may be one way to make your black gold jewelry shine.
Cons of black rhodium
Rhodium plating will erode over time with general wear and tear. This is especially unfortunate for black rhodium because the lighter-colored metal beneath the plating will show very clearly.
Further, rhodium plating on gold doesn’t make it black gold jewelry. In fact, black gold is a bit of a misnomer since most “black gold” out there is normal yellow gold or white gold that has been electroplated with black rhodium. This isn’t necessarily a disadvantage to black gold jewelry, but it’s good to know what you’re actually buying!
The main thing to worry about is that the plating will wear away over time. If this is a concern to you, you could buy black gold jewelry that won’t have much wear and tear (like earrings, perhaps), or you could consider a different black metal.
Black gold versus other kinds of black metal
Alternatives to black gold include black titanium, ruthenium, tungsten, and black ceramic (I know, not a metal, but still!). Any dark base metal will produce a black finish in jewelry.
Tungsten is durable and resistant to scratching. It may hold its black finish for longer than black rhodium plating. But, unlike black gold, tungsten is brittle and can shatter when hit hard enough. Tungsten jewelry also cannot be resized, unlike black gold jewelry.
Black ceramic has a stunning black color. But, like tungsten, a ring made out of black ceramic will easily shatter. This is where a black gold ring really has an advantage!
Black titanium is an excellent metal to make a ring out of. It’s durable, lightweight, and scratch-resistant with an awesome black color. But, unlike black gold, it cannot be resized.
Black is an unusual and uncommon color for jewelry, and because of that, any black gold jewelry will make a statement. When it comes to black gold jewelry, a ring is probably the best choice. But, because of daily wear and tear, it might fade over time. Black gold earrings might last much longer.
What about a black gold engagement ring? An engagement ring in edgy black gold would undoubtedly be an attention-grabber, but it might be a step too far for some.
And don’t forget, if you end up not liking your black gold, you can always have the plating redone in a different color!