Gold is a cherished, timeless metal that’s on everyone’s radar. Conveniently, gold is available in a variety of colors, making it a diverse jewelry metal.
You’re familiar with elegant white gold and trendy rose gold, but what about black gold? No, we’re not talking about oil. We’re talking about the bold metal that’s making waves in the jewelry market.
Still can’t quite wrap your head around black gold jewelry? Don’t worry, we’ll mine up all the details on this unique and unconventional jewelry metal.
Here’s everything you need to know about black gold.
Does black gold occur in nature? Not quite. Black gold is originally yellow gold. So, how does it become black? Just like rose or white gold, there’s a manipulation process that transforms yellow gold into black gold. Here’s a brief explanation of the various processes of creating black gold.
The most popular method for creating black gold is called electroplating. The name sounds complex, but electroplating is a pretty simple process. Essentially, the gold is plated with either black rhodium or ruthenium, which creates a black finish.
Electroplating is the most economic form of black gold, however it also tends to wear quicker than other methods. That said, rhodium plating is a trusted process that provides a sleek finish that’s eye catching and elegant.
An alloy is a mixture of two or more metals. Generally, alloys are used as a base metal for plated or filled jewelry, and that is the case with black gold. Gold gets mixed with a darker metal, like cobalt, which creates black gold.
When alloys are used to create black gold, there is a standard ratio: 1 part metal to 3 parts gold. Technically, this isn’t an alloy but a layer of black that covers the surface of the gold, rather than being combined into the mixture of metals.
The most modern method for black gold is to use a femtosecond laser. This process alters the surface of the metal by applying a pulse of high volume energy, which darkens the metal to be completely black.
Of all of the methods of creating black gold, laser treatment produces the most durable product. However, efficiency comes at a cost. Because laser treated black gold requires technique and skill, it’s quite expensive. As such, it’s not widely used to create black gold jewelry—yet. Market demand generates an increase in production. It’s reasonable to assume that laser treated black gold will become more available, and affordable, in time.
If you love the appeal of black metals, you’ve likely researched alternatives. Let’s compare the various black metal jewelry options and see how black gold stacks up.
Black ceramic is a gorgeous metal that retains luster because it’s not just coated in black, but is black throughout the entire metal. Black ceramic is also affordable, however it is more fragile and prone to cracking.
Like black ceramic, tungsten can also shatter. That said, it’s highly resistant to scratching or tarnishing. Tungsten is a great option for those with sensitive skin as it’s hypoallergenic. Unfortunately, tungsten rings aren’t ideal for those that might need to resize their ring down the line.
Black carbon fiber is highly durable while also being lightweight. Furthermore, it’s affordable and stylish.
Titanium is known for its durability. In addition, it’s a sleek and aesthetically appealing metal that is smooth and scratch resistant. Like tungsten, it’s not easy to resize titanium due to its durability.
While all of these black metal options have advantages and disadvantages, black gold is simply more valuable because it contains pure gold. If you choose to invest in black gold jewelry, you’ll want to know how to care for it to keep it in showroom condition.
Here are helpful tips to keep your black gold jewelry clean and shiny:
To clean black gold jewelry, use a gentle cleanser or jewelry cleaner that is non-abrasive. Alternatively, you can clean black gold with soapy warm water and a soft brush or cloth.
Because black gold is plated, you’ll want to be mindful not to rub or bump it as it can scratch the surface and expose the gold base beneath.
With any plated jewelry, wear and tear will require replating down the road, which will rejuvenate the gorgeous luster and shine.
Try not to leave your black gold jewelry out where dust and floating particles can scratch it. It’s best to store all fine jewelry items in a fabric-lined jewelry box away from the elements.
The amount of pure gold used as a base for black gold ultimately dictates the value. Higher amounts of pure gold create a more valuable product. For example, 18k gold is more pure than 14k gold, therefore it will likely be more expensive.
The black gold itself doesn’t necessarily alter the price or value of the jewelry as it’s mainly dependent upon the actual gold’s purity.
Of course, embellishments such as diamonds or gemstones and the karatage used in the center stone will contribute to the pricetag.
Black gold is not as popular as other gold-coated jewelry, however it’s carving its place in the jewelry market. Because black gold is so unique, it’s becoming more popular as an engagement ring and wedding band.
The great thing about black gold jewelry is that you can easily remove the surface plating. If you’re interested in trying out a black gold engagement or wedding ring, you can easily change your mind and return it back to a white or clear-plated ring.
Black gold isn’t widely sold, so finding black gold jewelry can prove challenging. As with any gold jewelry investment, you’ll want to purchase from a trusted retailer.
Bottom line: black gold jewelry is a bold, unique and eye-catching investment that will stand out among other jewelry metals. If you love statement jewelry, black gold may be the right jewelry metal for you!
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