Black Gold Jewelry Explained (What Is It?)

Wondering about black gold jewelry?

Perfect in this LearningJewelry.com guide you can expect to learn:

  • What is black gold jewelry?
  • How much is black gold worth?
  • Where can you buy black gold jewelry?
  • And much more!
what is black gold jewelry explained

When we think about gold, the picture that comes to mind is the yellow-colored metal. Interestingly, it is supposed to be referred to as ‘yellow gold’.

Why? 

Gold comes in a variety of colors from white gold to fancy rose gold. There’s a trend that’s slowly bursting out and you may have heard whispers of black gold.

Yes, black gold jewelry is already making its name out there and just like its counterparts, this metal has a lot of interesting features. 

In this review, we’ll go straight into what black gold is all about and how exactly scientists came up with this interesting reality. Yes, black gold cannot occur naturally (spoiler alert). Anyways, scroll on as we unravel the nitty-gritty…

What Is Black Gold Jewelry?

Black gold is made from yellow gold and other dark-colored alloys or sometimes blackened using various surface treatment methods. It does not occur naturally.

Read Also: What's the difference between 10K, 14K, 18K, 24K, Gold?

To understand how this type of gold becomes black, we need to look at several processes, as recommended by Calla Gold, a jeweler in Santa Barbara; 

Laser Application

Laser application is a recent discovery and uses the latest technology to blacken gold. Scientists discovered by applying high levels of energy to a spot of a metal, microstructures occur and capture nearly all light that falls in it. The result is a pitch-black area. 

Well, I’m no geek but that seems like some pretty high-tech application. Unfortunately, this method is intensive and requires high amounts of electricity and a special femtosecond laser, so we’re not expecting to see this unravel in jewelry anytime soon. 

Electroplating

Rhodium plating is widely used in the processing of black gold. The metal’s black color is obtained from plating ruthenium or rhodium, which brings out the black finish. A rhodium-plated gold is eye-catching but will wear quicker than other methods. 

Read Also: What is rhodium plated jewelry?

Despite its durability issues, rhodium plating is a standardized process and gives dazzling and perfectly finished pieces of jewelry. 

Alloys

In alloys, certain metals are mixed as the base for filled jewelry and with black gold, the ideal ratio is 1 part metal to 3 parts gold. Metals are mainly used to create different colors of gold, which, in this case, cobalt is mostly used.

How Much Is Black Gold Worth?

Black gold is no different from other variations of the precious metal. This is mainly because it is made from yellow gold, and the price depends on how much yellow gold was used. Black gold is a mixture of yellow gold and other black metals

So, when it comes to pricing, gold is valued separately and so are the other alloy metals. So a 14k black gold will still be cheaper than an 18k one. If it’s an engagement ring, or any other jewelry containing embellishments such as diamonds, or other gemstones will affect its price.

Black Gold vs. Other Popular Black Metals

There are a couple of black jewelry available on the market. Let's see how they compare to black gold

Black Gold vs Black Carbon Fiber

Carbon fiber is extremely durable and one of the sturdiest materials used for wedding bands. While some metals like tungsten shatter or break when dropped, black carbon fiber stays in shape. It is an affordable, scratch resistant jewelry choice as it’s not entirely metal. 

Black Gold vs Black Titanium

Black titanium is a lightweight, but durable metal. Its shiny appearance is almost the same as enamel. Due to its durability, black titanium is not easy to resize. Titanium will also have scuff marks over time. 

Black Gold vs Black Ceramic

Black ceramic is famous for its consistent luster and has a uniform color throughout the ring if it is not surface replated. Unlike titanium black ceramic is fragile and breaks easily.

Black Gold vs Black Tungsten

Black tungsten shatters easily and is quite resistant to tarnishing. Since the metal is hypoallergenic, tungsten is a great jewelry option, although not ideal for wedding rings (limited resizing options).

As you can see black gold has a slight difference from other dark metals, but it's still generally expensive. Since they are hardly resizeable. black tungsten and other sturdy dark metals may not be ideal options for lasting pieces like wedding bands or engagement rings.

Black Gold Jewelry Explained

Black gold jewelry didn’t get much recognition as white and rose gold did back in the 19th century. In fact, we’re not sure if, at that time, they were discovered yet. This interesting piece of black jewelry can only be understood by a couple of fashionistas. In jewelry, white and rose gold are more popular but black gold’s status is slowly on the rise. 

Due to its unpopularity, black can be a tough color to have on. If you’re looking to explore black gold jewelry, I’d suggest you start with smaller pieces like pendants and earrings which requires minimal maintenance and may last longer. 

For rings, consider the choice of stone carefully. Diamonds should be as clear as your budget can allow. It magnifies the stone’s intensity in contrast to the black gold ring. Gemstones should have a bold saturated hue but still bright enough not to get hidden in the black metal. 

Red rubies look great and add a punk style to the ring. For a classy look, drop black diamonds, moissanite, or black onyx as side stones. Gems like pearls, topaz, or even turquoise will glow when nestled in black gold rings. 

Can’t seem to find black gold? No worries, just take your yellow gold and blacken it! Since black gold is an alloy, you can easily blacken your gold jewelry. On the contrary, you can always turn it back to your desired color whenever you feel tired of the black metal.

How To Replate Black Gold Jewelry?

Now that we know black gold is actually a plated version of yellow gold, there come durability issues like all black plated jewelry. The process of black plating takes a lot of polishing, cleaning, and some science too! 

Before we dive into replating, let’s look at the black rhodium plating process first. 

Rhodium Plating Process

First off, black rhodium is also not naturally occurring! It is obtained in the lab from adding a mix of additives which scientists decided not to share at the moment. Essentially, black rhodium is medium grey to darker shades of black. 

Unlike most plating processes where jewelry is dipped in an electrolysis solution, rhodium plating involves covering the top part of the base metal rather than combining molecularly. Take it as dyeing your hair. You’re just adding an extra layer of color which may last a while but not permanently.

Replating

With that in mind, there comes a time to replate your black piece of jewelry. I’d recommend replating whenever you notice the color of the base metal peeling up, commonly known as “bleeding.” Replating brings back black gold’s color and you may have to do this after a couple of months or years depending on the depth of rhodium metal. 

Although rhodium replating is not as expensive, you should consider the process as an aftercare cost.

How To Clean Black Gold Jewelry?

You need to take good care of black gold, as it is delicate and not as sturdy as a piece of black metal jewelry. Since we’d expect the jewelry to wear off over time, we can prolong its lifetime by following certain cleaning processes.

But before we jump right into it, I’d like to share a couple of tips to keep your black gold jewelry as good as new. 

  • Avoid directly exposing your black gold jewelry to make-up, perfume, or hairspray 
  • Remove your black gold jewelry while preparing acidic foods
  • Avoid swimming in chlorinated or saltwater pools wearing your jewelry
  • Excess sweating may corrode the rhodium and you might want to avoid wearing black gold during exercises
  • Store your black gold jewelry in a separate encasement to prevent damage from other jewelry items

Now that you’re a step ahead of preserving your jewelry, it’s time to see how you can keep it clean and shiny: 

To remove body oils or other solutions, use a damp cotton ball, or a jewelry cloth once you feel your jewelry was exposed. If your piece of jewelry feels sticky, try to clean with warm soapy water. Just mix one cup of warm water and two drops of dishwashing liquid. Place your jewelry into the bowl and soak for about 10 minutes and clean dry piece by piece. 

Remember, you can only clean black gold jewelry that doesn’t have embellishments like pearl and other gemstones. If your jewelry has center stones, use a cotton ball soaked in the liquid and rub gently as you wipe it clean. 

For any jewelry design that is carved or engraved (e.g gold engagement rings ), never use sharp objects to remove soil or other dirt. Just use a smaller cotton swab to do away with the dirt. Sharp objects can potentially damage the outer black rhodium layer.

Where Can You Buy Black Gold Jewelry?

Black gold jewelry is still breaking in the jewelry market and not as popular as other ‘colored’ gold jewelry. However, the metal is getting some space in jewelry stores across the United States and beyond. Because of its rising popularity, black gold rings are turning into wedding and engagement favorites. 

They are available in select mom and pop jewelry stores, but you can get hold of a variety through online searches. Since black gold wedding jewelry is mainly available online, it goes without saying that there are scammers out there and you should be careful. 

Always check reputable sellers with warranties, free maintenance, and reasonable return policies. Again, anything too good is also a possible red flag. Routinely ask questions throughout your search, check customer reviews (verified if possible), ask more from sellers and demand things like certificates or appraisals. These are the ultimate markers of high quality. Though these steps may sound obvious, they really help! 

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