Black gold is a fascinating and alluring metal for engagement rings and wedding bands. Not many people have heard about it and the very words ‘black gold’ can sound like a contradiction in terms.
But this metal is becoming more sought after as young couples look for edgier, more daring options for their engagement and wedding rings.
Here’s a guide to this mysterious black metal and whether you should buy a black gold ring.
- A brief look at black gold:
- Is black gold real?
- How is black gold made?
- What is the value of black gold?
- Should I choose a black gold ring?
- Is black gold durable enough for jewelry?
- Black Gold or Other Black Metals?
- What maintenance does black gold require?
- How to buy black gold jewelry
A brief look at black gold:
- A valuable metal
- Edgy, unique and sophisticated choice
- Ideal for a non-conservative look
- Easy to clean but is high maintenance
- Needs to be re-plated over time
- Limited designs
Is black gold real?
Black gold eternity band by Jewelry By Garo. See it here.
In the past, black gold referred to oil – the literal black stuff that made people plenty rich.
Black gold today refers to a metal. We all know that natural gold is yellowish in color. So, what is black gold then and how can something like that be real?
Black gold is not a naturally occurring metal. It’s a manufactured metal that can be made in a couple of different ways, using yellow gold as its base. In short – it’s a gold alloy that’s coated to make it black.
However, the fact that black gold doesn’t exist in nature doesn’t make it any less real or enticing. It’s more durable and unique than yellow gold and fast increasing in popularity.
How is black gold made?
Black gold engagement ring by Vidar Boutique. See it here.
One of the reasons black gold is rising in popularity as a jewelry material is because modern technology is making black gold more economically viable and durable. There are several different ways to form black gold.
- Artificial alloys. One common way to make black gold in recent years is to create an alloy from gold and other metals such as cobalt. These metals are usually mixed in a 3-to-1 ratio in favor of gold to achieve the desired result. It’s worth noting, however, that this is usually not a true alloy as the black layer is only created on the surface and below it the gold remains yellow.
- Femto-second laser-treated black gold. The most modern method, this way to create black gold relies on the use of a powerful femto-second laser to manipulate the surface of regular yellow gold. This process uses high amounts of energy that alters the structure of the metal and turns it into a pitch-black gold. This is a very stable and durable method, however, it’s also very expensive and not yet economically viable. Hopefully, in the future this method will become even more viable and will help make black gold more popular.
- Electroplating. The most common and affordable method to date, electroplating involves plating regular yellow gold with a black finish of metals such as ruthenium or black rhodium. This type of plating tends to wear off after time so note that when you buying eloctroplated black gold jewelry, you’ll most likely need to get it replated after a while.
What is the value of black gold?
The value of gold is calculated with a simple formula that has remained stable through time, because gold doesn’t lose its value.
Pure gold is 24 karats and it’s the amount of karats (gold purity) in the black gold that gives it its intrinsic value. Black gold is typically found in 14K and 18K gold alloys, meaning 58% and 75% gold purity respectively. This would correspond to the value of that percentage of gold.
What this means is that black gold has the same value as any other type of gold. It’s more valuable than other types of black metals because of this reason.
Black gold leaf motif wedding ring by Gispan Diamonds. See this ring here.
The price of a black gold piece is ultimately dependent on the value and the price of the pure gold within it – the electroplating or alloy methods that go in the creating of the black surface color don’t alter the overall price that much.
The one exception is black gold created through Femto-second laser technology as this method tends to drive the price further up, but as this isn’t yet a commonly used method, it won’t be a worrying factor.
Simply put, you can expect a piece of black gold to cost as much as it would have if it was still in its original yellow form. In fact, black gold created through electroplating can easily be stripped of its black plating and turned into a standard yellow gold base if you change your mind after a while.
Should I choose a black gold ring?
A black gold ring will surely stand out and gather you a lot of looks and compliments. It’s ideal if you want something different, dramatic, alluring and non-traditional.
The trouble with black gold rings at the moment is that there’s a limited range on offer across retailers. This isn’t a popular metal color as most people lean towards white metals, yellow or rose gold.
Also, before you buy a black gold engagement or wedding ring, consider how you might feel about your choice down the track. Is it something you think you’ll love decades down the line? For a piece of jewelry you plan to wear everyday of your life, it’s a good idea to go with something classic rather than trendy.
Having said that, black gold can always be plated to another color, such as white gold. So you can always alter the ring later on if you fall out of love with it.
Here’s what real readers say about buying a black gold engagement ring:
Narai: Me and my partner went with black gold wedding rings because we wanted something different. It was hard to find the perfect rings because they’re not common but the search was worth it.
Moira: No one else I know has a black gold engagement ring so that made me absolutely want one. No regrets, it’s fun having people ask about my ring.
Pixxie: I have a ring with black gold accents. I like the contrast it gives. I think black gold alone would have been too much for me. Way too different.
If you do decide to go with a black gold engagement ring, consider these tips:
- Black gold looks amazing in intricate and carved metal designs, as the color makes every detail stand out clearly.
- Black on black for a solid look is breathtaking. Consider a black center stone like black diamond, black sapphire, black spinel, moissanite or cubic zirconia.
- Black gold tends to highlight gemstone colors beautifully, especially striking, popping colors like pink, green or blue. Consider pairing your black gold with emerald, pink or blue sapphires or rubies for an arresting look.
Here are a few black gold engagement rings to get you inspired:
Black gold ring by Jewelry by Garo. See it here.
Art deco black gold ring by Design Masters. See it here.
Stunning black gold ring by Winter Fine Jewelry. See it here.
Black gold solitaire with pink sapphire by Paris Design Boutique. See it here.
Is black gold durable enough for jewelry?
Compared to other black jewelry materials such as black titanium or carbon fiber, black gold created through electroplating or with an artificial surface alloy is less durable.
Laser-treated black gold is significantly more durable than these two methods but even it is still not as hard as carbon fiber and titanium, for example.
However, all types of black gold are durable enough to be used for engagement rings and wedding bands. The material will need to be protected and well taken care of but that’s the case with regular yellow gold as well.
Black Gold or Other Black Metals?
Here’s how black gold performs against other black metals:
1- Black gold vs. black carbon fiber
Carbon fiber rosewood ring by Alpine Leaf. See it here.
Carbon fiber is exceptionally strong, durable, lightweight, affordable, and heat-resistant – a great choice for jewelry that surpasses black gold in all of these characteristics. What black gold has over carbon fiber is the same thing it has over most other materials – it’s gold and therefore, it’s more valuable.
2- Black gold vs. black tungsten
Tungsten and rose gold ring by Braverman Oren. See it here.
Tungsten is resistant to scratching and is hypoallergenic. It’s also quite affordable and, unlike black gold, its finish is much more durable and long-lasting. However, tungsten can crack or shatter if dealt a hard blow, whereas black gold tends to bend. It’s also nowhere near as valuable as black gold.
3- Black gold vs. black titanium
Black titanium wedding or engagement ring by Psyrelic. See it here.
Titanium is extremely durable and scratch resistant. It’s also eerily lightweight, shiny, and smooth. However, titanium can’t be resized and is very hard to cut through in an emergency unlike black gold.
4- Black gold vs. black ceramic
Black ceramic ring by The Opal Dealer. See it here.
Black ceramic has amazing luster and is consistently black in color even below the surface. It’s also more affordable than black gold and extremely durable. While it can shatter if struck with force, it’s highly resistant to damage and scratching, making it ideal for outdoor and active lifestyles.
What maintenance does black gold require?
The care and maintenance that goes into black gold jewelry are very similar to that of regular yellow gold. As black gold is equally soft and prone to scratches and surface damage, avoid abrading, knocking or rubbing your black gold ring as much as possible.
When cleaning your black gold jewelry, it’s important to use softer and less abrasive cleaners and solutions to avoid damage to the gold and its coating. A warm and mild soapy water should be enough to restore the shine of your black gold.
As the black color is only present in the coating, the gold beneath it is yellow in color and stands out quite strongly when revealed by scratches. If the plating has peeled or been scratched off, a professional can have it replated for you.
How to buy black gold jewelry
Black gold is spiking in popularity in recent years, both for engagement rings and wedding bands, as well as for other types of jewelry. However, it’s still not the most popular black jewelry material with tungsten, titanium, ceramic and carbon fiber being ahead of it in availability, affordability, and popularity.
This means that black gold jewelry can still be somewhat difficult to find both online and in physical stores.
However, that seems likely to change in the future. Even today, bigger online and local chains tend to offer black gold in many different types and styles of jewelry.
As with any other type of jewelry, it’s important to buy black gold only from reputable vendors you can trust.
Additionally, since most black gold is created through electroplating, it requires replating every so often, so factor that into your purchase – ask what options and prices the vendor can offer for future replating and base your purchase on that as well.
We recommend starting your search on Etsy as there’s a wide range of black gold engagement and wedding rings on offer to suit all tastes and budgets.