Rose Gold is popular again but is it real or plated?

Rose Gold is popular again but is it real or plated?

Written by Laurie McGrath on 7 March 2018

Rose gold has long been a popular choice for precious jewellery, having originally been developed in Russia in the mid to late 19th century. According to the auction house, Sotheby’s, it was originally developed by Faberge and called Russian Gold until it became popular with other jewellers and was re-named Rose gold to reference it’s warm coppery shade [1]

Rose gold became increasingly popular in the 1920’s with the decadence of the era reflected in jewellery designs becoming more elaborate and ornate. Designers such as Cartier used rose gold to add intricate flourishes to their jewels[2] and it is its use around this time which I believe gives rose gold its modern association with vintage and delicately detailed designs.

During the mid to late 20th Century the popularity of rose gold declined as designers and jewellery lovers favoured the modern crisp white look of platinum and later palladium. This was especially true of engagement and wedding rings and until a few years ago white metal remained the most popular choice for our commission customers.

In the last few years I have seen the trend towards using rose gold in engagement, wedding rings and fine dress jewellery become increasingly popular. This has led to many more enquires about rose gold jewellery across all three of our studio locations and therefore increased the need to include more rose gold items in our ready to wear collection. Our team of designers have developed a number of exciting new one-off engagement and wedding ring designs in rose gold for sale in our studios and we have also added new collection pieces made of rose gold across our dress jewellery range to keep up with demand.

The designs we have created in rose gold display a staggering spectrum of inspiration, from delicate vintage and nature inspired engagement rings to bold modern bubble inspired rings set with rose cut diamonds.  It seems that the revival of rose gold’s popularity is partly to do with the way it gives designers a sense of freedom in design style, it is fresh and exciting to use yet has a history to it as well which appeals to the modern fine jewellery audience perfectly.

With its increased popularity we have experienced questions around the make-up of rose gold, is it a type of gold in its own right or is it another metal which has simply been plated? The answer is that it is very similar to any other kind of gold which is alloyed for use in jewellery- all gold when it is mined from the earth is yellow in colour and incredibly soft so to make it into the gold we use in jewellery the pure gold is mixed with a series of other metals to make it workable and suitable for everyday wear. The metals it is mixed with are called alloys and it is the colour of these alloys which determine the end colour of the gold. For example yellow gold is mixed with metals such as brass, white gold with silver, platinum or palladium and in the case of rose gold copper is used to give it a warm rosy-hue[3]

So 9 carat or 18 carat rose gold is in fact completely solid rose-coloured gold and if you cut through a rose gold ring it will be a consistent colour all the way through. That’s not to say that plating is not available in rose gold, it actually is possible to make an item of jewellery in silver or brass for example and then electro-plate it with yellow or rose gold. This jewellery would not be possible to hallmark as 9 carat or 18 carat rose gold because the testers at the Assay Office would be able to tell that it is not solid metal and therefore would not mark it. Any jeweller who does plate their silver with rose gold would be required by law to disclose that the rose gold is only surface plating or vermeil as it is often called. So if you are looking for genuine solid 9 carat or 18 carat rose gold the best thing to do is look for the 375 or 750 hallmark inside your jewellery to ensure it’s not plated.


[1]A History Lesson on Rose Gold, Ashley Flight, 19th May 2016,
[2] Ibid.
[3] Rose gold information page HK Jewellery Website