Rose Gold vs Yellow Gold: Understanding the Differences

Last Updated on April 3, 2023 by Juli "Jewels" Church

Wondering about the difference between rose gold vs yellow gold jewelry?

You've come the right place. We're diving deep into this topic to try to answer some burning questions such as: 

rose gold vs yellow gold
  • Is yellow gold more pure than rose gold?
  • Does rose gold need rhodium?
  • Why are some rose gold more pink than others?

Main Differences Between Rose Gold vs Yellow Gold

Here’s a quick guide between these two ring metals. For more detail, check out my article below. 

  • Rose gold is mainly offered in 14K, whereas yellow gold is often available in 14k or 18k.
  • Yellow gold has been around since ancient times, whereas rose gold dates back to the 1800s.
  • Yellow gold is considered to have a vintage vibe, whereas rose gold is more trendy.
  • Rose gold doesn't tend to look as good on a skin tone with a pale undertone, whereas yellow gold is said to look good on almost all skin tones.

Rose Gold vs Yellow Gold: Origin

Rose Gold

Rose gold jewelry didn't enter the jewelry industry until the 1800s in Russia. Because of this, it was first called Russian gold. It was later changed to rose gold as it began being produced everywhere.

rose gold engagement ring

Early on, all gold was made up of 24 karat pure gold. It's gold in its purest form. Problem was, pure gold is a very soft metal. 24 karat pure gold is not recommended for jewelry you want to last.

By combining pure gold with other metals, it creates a durable metal mixture. They are known as metal alloy. To create a rose gold engagement ring, you have to mix yellow gold and copper. The copper is what give a rose gold ring its pink tone.

Rose gold alloy metals: 

  • Gold (75%)
  • Copper (22%)
  • Silver (3%)
  • The proportion of the copper and silver can be adjusted to created a pinker (more copper) or paler (more silver) hue.

    Today, you can find more rose gold engagement rings in jewelry stores than 20 years ago. However, there aren't rows and rows of them. There are many places online that offer their gold engagement rings in all gold colors.

    Yellow Gold

    Yellow gold was the original jewelry metal. That's true for all color gold. Both white gold and rose gold need yellow gold to be created. The difference between yellow gold and white gold is in the alloys used and their ratios, with white gold using white metals such as palladium and platinum in the alloy.

    Yellow gold alloy metals: 

    • Gold (75%)
    • Copper (12%)
    • Silver (12%)

    As you can see, yellow gold has the same metals as rose gold, but different ratios, with copper making up a higher percentage in a rose gold alloy.

    Back in the day, you could find a yellow gold engagement ring anywhere you looked. That was until everybody wanted a platinum ring. But platinum rings were so expensive, so white gold rings were created later on.

    yellow gold engagement ring

    Like a rose gold ring, it might be difficult to find a wide selection of in-store yellow gold engagement rings. It'll be much easier to find yellow gold wedding rings or wedding bands.

    Rose Gold Jewelry vs Yellow Gold Jewelry: Appearance

    Yellow Gold

    Yellow gold varies in appearance, but a lot of people don't notice it. There can be variations in the yellow tone of yellow gold engagement rings. A 18K yellow gold engagement ring will have a richer yellow color than a 14k or 10k yellow gold engagement ring.

    The tone of your yellow gold piece depends on its karat gold of it. The more gold content, the more yellow it’ll be. An 18K yellow gold ring might look like fake gold to someone because of its brightness. Similarly, a 10K yellow gold ring might look a softer yellow and not as bright. The traditional wedding ring yellow gold carat is 14 karat.

    14K yellow gold oval solitaire

    Yellow gold is used to plate over a variety of other metals to give it a shiny luster without the cost of a solid gold piece. You can find gold filled jewelry, gold plated jewelry, and vermeil gold. Gold plating is electroplated over another base metal. 

    • If the base metal is sterling silver, it’s called vermeil jewelry
    • If the gold plating is .5 microns thick in any karat, it’s gold filled jewelry
    • If the gold  plating  is under .5 microns thick in any karat, it’s gold plated jewelry

    Yellow gold can also be paired up with two tone look alongside rose gold, white gold, and sterling silver. Though yellow gold is said to look great on most skin tones, it looks fantastic on people with darker skin tones. Yellow looks great on warmer skin tones too.

    Rose Gold

    Rose gold is often mistaken for copper. It's made of copper and silver alloys, after all. Rose gold is offered only in 14K at most fine jewelry retailers. Still, they can have different nuances in rose gold shades. Rose gold can also be called red gold or pink gold. Pink gold and red gold have more copper alloy in it.

    emerald cut solitaire rose gold

    Like a yellow gold setting, a rose gold engagement ring can also be plated. It's not as common, but rose gold plated jewelry is out there. You can also find rose gold with other metals like:

    • Rose gold and yellow gold
    • Rose gold and white gold
    • Rose gold and sterling silver
    • Rose gold, yellow gold, and sterling silver
    • Rose gold, yellow gold, and white gold

    Rose gold is also a favorite setting for colored gemstones. Morganite rings are most often set in rose gold to accentuate pink and red gemstones. It is said that sometimes Russian gold doesn't look as good on people with cool skin tones or fair skin. However, people with dark skin and warm skin tones tend to look better in it.

    Rose Gold vs Yellow Gold: Price 

    Just like yellow and white gold, rose gold should also have the same price. The color of gold doesn't dictate the price of the gold. It's the karat.

    I guess it could be said that yellow gold is more likely to cost more than rose gold. But that's because yellow gold is usually offered in different karat gold. Most places only offer 14K rose gold while yellow gold is offered in a variety of karat gold.

    But overall, the price of a 14k rose gold ring and 14K yellow gold ring should cost the same. The only exception I can think of would be if a company had to re-create a custom ring design in another gold it doesn't normally come in.

    The price of a plain gold band is easier to estimate compared to a diamond engagement ring. The gold isn't priced separately from the stones in it. But a plain gold band has less factors of its cost. Other than the karat gold, the price of rose or yellow plain wedding rings will also depend on the width of the band. But there won't be a difference between the price.

    The last thing that might cost one colored metal over another is the details of the band. Just because it doesn't have gemstones doesn't mean it can't have intricate designs on it. There are carved, etched, hammered. and satin finished gold wedding rings that could cost more than a plain band of another color. Two toned wedding bands often cost more than wedding bands of a single gold color.

    Rose Gold vs Yellow Gold: Value

    Unlike white gold, both rose gold and yellow gold jewelry don't need rhodium plating. This is a cost that could save you $40 to $120 every year or so, unless you get a fantastic warranty like James Allen. Rhodium plating is needed for white gold because the color will fade in everyday wear. Though their natural color won't fade, both precious metals should be still be cleaned and polished regularly when needed.

    Does Rose Gold Tarnish?

    No, rose gold doesn't tarnish, need rhodium plating, or fade. It can dull from scratches.

    Does Yellow Gold Tarnish?

    Nope, just the same as rose gold.

    Another thing to consider when determining the value of your gold ring is the threat of an allergic reaction. Typically, gold is recommended for those with slight allergic reactions. Nickel alloys are the most common cause of metal allergies.

    However, neither is considered a true hypoallergenic metal. Both metals contain copper, which is a less common metal allergy. Yellow would be better for those with severely sensitive skin from copper than rose. Rose gold contains more copper content, so that would be a no-go. Honestly, platinum would be the best option for someone with severe allergic reactions to metals.


    It can be a tough decision when comparing rose gold vs yellow gold. At their core, they are both gold that needs to be mixed with different metals. Pure gold, whether traditional yellow gold or trendy rose is too soft for jewelry.

    Both gold colors should cost the same and have the same overall durability. They both also look better on warm skin tones or dark skin, but yellow looks better on a fair skin tone than rose. Likewise, yellow gold is said to look better on cool skin tones than rose.

    When it comes to in-store, you're more likely to find yellow gold options in fine jewelry. It's the traditional wedding band color.

    Either one of these metals can create beautiful pieces. Before I started working at a jewelry store, I was a white gold lover. Now I love all kinds of gold and it really depends on the piece itself.

    If you're looking for a lot of rose and yellow gold metals, taking your search online would be best. Both Brilliant Earth and James Allen would be excellent picks for yellow and rose engagement rings.

    Meet Your Jewelry Expert

    Learn More About Jewelry

    Want to learn more about jewelry? Check out these other helpful resources written by our jewelry experts!