What Is Black Gold? Should I Use It in My Jewelry? (A Full Guide)

Back in black: a newfound interest in black gold jewelry...

When it comes to jewelry, some wearers prefer an accessory that speaks to their soul. They choose colored gemstones, specific styles, and even metals that best match their personality and wardrobe. Yellow and rose gold are popular choices for switching up one’s look, but have you ever heard of black gold? Gold comes in all shades, and black gold is a hot trend that brings alternative flair to the table.📈

Black Gold Eternity Diamond Band
Image: Noémie

But, what is black gold? And how is it made? Let’s dig deeper into the details of black gold, as well as:

  • Is black gold real gold and what’s it truly worth?
  • How does black gold compare to other dark metals?
  • Is black gold right for you?
  • How should you care for black gold jewelry?

Basics: What is black gold?

So what is black gold and what is it made of? For starters, black gold is a metal that is, well, black!

Colored gold typically consists of standard gold—which has a yellowish color—mixed with various other metals to create an alloy.

However, for black gold, professionals use chemical treatment processes to plate, deposit, or oxidize a black material—such as cobalt—onto the surface of another metal. In short, black gold is not natural and is always created.

Certain processes used can even create a variety of dark metal colors ranging from brown to deep black, but that jet black shade is the most popular option available.

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How does black gold get its color?

In order to understand how black gold gets its rich color, let’s look at how other gold alloys are manipulated to create different shades. Then, we can discuss the various methods used by experts to create black gold.

Alloys: Understanding colored gold alternatives

Yellow, white, and rose gold are the most common colored gold choices, and their process is much different than that of black gold.  

These three metals are alloys, and they’re mixed with different metals to create their color. The most common metals blended with gold include copper, zinc, nickel, silver, and palladium. For instance, rose gold contains more reddish copper with a hint of silver, whereas yellow gold incorporates almost equal amounts of copper and silver for a golden glow.

White gold is a bit different, as its color requires an extra step. The base white metal is a blend of gold and at least one other white metal, such as nickel, silver, or palladium. However, to create a brighter white sheen, experts adhere a layer of rhodium to the surface of white gold pieces.  

This rhodium layer makes white gold the closest to black gold out of these three metals, as it’s one of the processes we’ll discuss in the next section. While all three are alloys both inside and out, black gold is really just a base metal with a black exterior.

5 ways to produce black gold

So how is black gold made? Experts create black gold through various processes, and some require more work than others! Here are a few common ways artisans craft this dark metal:

Rhodium Plating

Just like white gold, black gold can be electroplated onto a base metal. Jewelers use black rhodium or ruthenium to create a dark coating, and they do so by coating the base metal in a thin layer of these metals. However, the product isn’t necessarily “black gold” unless that base metal is, in fact, gold!💡

While the result is eye-catching, pieces with rhodium plating require maintenance to retain their color. Jewelers typically recommend replating your rhodium-coated jewelry at least every 2 years.

Alloys

While black gold alloy technically exists, it’s not what you think! Jewelry makers create black gold alloy by mixing 3 parts gold with 1 part cobalt or another dark metal. However, instead of crafting the entire piece out of this alloy, they use a base metal and adhere the black alloy to its surface.

Unlike white, yellow, and rose gold, black gold alloy is not sustainable on its own. As such, it’s more of a coating rather than a useful jewelry metal.

Laser Treatment

A more recently discovered technology, this process requires a femtosecond laser to create black gold! Using the laser, experts create nanostructures on the metal, deforming its surface and creating a plane that absorbs any light that interacts with it.

The result is a pitch black metal, and it’s the most durable form of black gold on this list. However, the process is expensive and consumes an insane amount of energy, so it’s not quite mainstream yet. But, this new technology does seem to be the key to the future of black gold!

Oxidation

Another way to create black gold is by starting with an alloy and oxidizing it. Experts combine gold alloyed with cobalt and/or chromium with an oxidizing agent, which is anything that removes electrons from the metal. This procedure blackens the metal, creating a strong color on the surface of the piece.

While oxygen itself is an oxidizer, there are many chemical substances that can be used to accelerate the process.

Black Painting

Sometimes, jewelry makers simply “paint” a black layer on top of the base metal. A liquid with a consistency similar to paint is brushed across the entire surface of the piece, covering every inch and filling all corners. Then, they polish each surface to create a bright, shiny piece of jewelry.

The value of black gold

Should you expect to pay a hefty price when looking at black gold jewelry? Let’s look at how the value of black gold breaks down.

Is black gold REAL gold?

This is a tricky question, but ultimately it comes down to what the jeweler used as a base metal when creating the piece. If the base metal is gold or the alloy contains a majority of gold, then yes it is gold.✅

Jewelry pieces that have tungsten or other bases that are plated with black rhodium are not considered real gold. The same is true for base metals that are not gold and are painted, oxidized, etc. Having a high gold content is the only way a black gold piece is considered real gold!

NOTE
Retailers typically include whether a jewelry piece was plated, painted, alloyed, etc. in the product description. However, some are sneaky and do not offer such information, trying to pawn off a different black metal as “black gold”. Always buy from reputable shops that give you the full details regarding what you are purchasing!

How much is black gold worth?

Black gold’s worth depends on how much gold is used in its production. Overall, black gold jewelry created through plating and other processes that require painting over a base metal is very affordable.

The gold itself is what brings value to the piece. For instance, any black metals included in a black gold item, such as tungsten or rhodium, do not add or detract value from the overall piece. In contrast, more gold will always add more value.

In a cursory search, you can find “black gold” pieces for anywhere from $20 to $2,000. However, make sure you read the description of each item carefully. Some retailers are not very honest about advertising what’s in their black gold, and they may try to sell you a black painted metal that has no gold in its base.

🔍Make sure you read as much as you can regarding the piece of jewelry you’re interested in. Never be afraid to ask the jeweler questions to make sure you’re getting the type of black gold you want!

Black gold vs. Other black-colored materials

What alternatives are there to black gold and how do they measure up? Let’s look at 4 other popular black materials below:

Black gold vs. Black titanium

Although black gold can withstand daily wear, black titanium is even more durable. Additionally, this strong metal is lightweight, making it perfect for those who prefer a “barely there” fit for rings.

Black titanium does scuff over time, meaning it requires routine polishing. Plus, it’s also difficult to resize, meaning you’ll have to choose the right fit the first time! Artisans rarely craft intricate pieces out of black titanium, due to its hard nature.

Black gold vs. Black tungsten

For wearers with sensitive skin, black tungsten is actually a great alternative to black gold. This hypoallergenic metal is a bit more expensive than other options, but it’s worth the added comfort.

Similar to black titanium, tungsten is difficult to resize and may not be ideal for wedding jewelry as a result. This tarnish and scratch-resistant metal can also shatter if hit with the appropriate force, so wearers should take extra care of any black tungsten pieces.

Black gold vs. Black carbon fiber

While not technically metal, black carbon fiber is a durable alternative to black gold. Black carbon fiber consists of tightly woven fibers, and the bond is so strong you could drive over your ring with a car and it would be fine (though we do NOT recommend this!).

Any scuffs or scratches on black carbon fiber can be polished off easily, and the material is also very lightweight for comfortable wear. It’s hypoallergenic, comes in a variety of designs, and is affordable on most budgets.

Black gold vs. Black ceramic

A lustrous alternative to black gold, ceramic carries a distinct shine that sets it apart from other materials. Black ceramic retains its luster for its entire lifetime, and the dark color is consistent throughout the piece rather than being the product of plating.

Despite its affordable price tag, black ceramic requires extra care to ensure your piece does not break. It’s fragile compared to other options, and it can easily shatter or crack if it hits any surface just right.

Black gold in jewelry: Is it right for me?

Should you add a black gold piece to your jewelry collection? Can you make this ominous metal fit your personal style with a little bit of creativity? Let’s discuss the psychology behind black gold and how you can shake up your look by incorporating black gold pieces.

Why people love black gold jewelry

Many people shy away from black accessories, yet others crave the neutral look black items offer. The color black can elicit different responses from individuals, meaning everyone has their own way of styling black pieces.

Despite the color being associated with many negative things across time—Black Plague, black magic, blackhole, etc.—it’s still a symbol of power and elegance. A “black tie affair” calls to mind well-dressed guests with cocktails, exuding sophistication and decadence. 🤵🏻

Solitaire 14K Black Gold Diamond Ring
Diamondere

Black is also the shade of style and professionalism. Black suits, black dresses, and black shoes are common staples in the business world, and they often make the wearer look serious and dependable.

So, it’s only natural that this love of black clothing has made its way to the jewelry world as well. Black gold is an easy way to make a personal statement. Maybe you’re looking for a punk or gothic piece, or maybe you just want something luxe yet dark like this black gold sapphire ring.

Whatever you’re looking for, there’s probably a black gold piece that can suit your needs!

Switch it up: Try an all-black look or mix it with other colors

Black actually represents the absorption of all colors, meaning it’s a true neutral that looks amazing with other metals, bright gemstones, and more! Because it’s easy to create black gold looks with surface treatments, you can make black jewelry suit your personal style for any setting.

Many people prefer an all-black appeal, with black accessories, clothes, etc. If you prefer the more streamlined look of black on black, try black gold earrings to draw attention to your face. Or, consider adding a thin black gold band for a chic yet understated style.

If you prefer colorful looks, incorporate black gold with other metals. This black and yellow gold bangle is sure to stun guests at your next cocktail party. You can also combine sunny gemstones in black gold rings to create contrast.🎬

Pear-Shaped Two-Tone Black Rhodium Gold Ring
Zales SKU: 20319624

Popular black gold jewelry options

One of the biggest areas black gold is making a splash is wedding jewelry. From engagement rings to wedding bands, black gold has become a popular choice for rings meant to symbolize one’s commitment to his or her spouse.

Black gold men’s wedding bands are becoming increasingly popular, as black rhodium can easily be added for a unique touch to an otherwise plain band. This black and white gold men’s wedding band is another great piece for anyone who just wants a bit more detail.

However, black gold has definitely found its way into women’s wedding jewelry as well, and black gold engagement rings are a fun but gorgeous accessory. Engagement rings are also a great piece for mixed metal looks, like this black and rose gold ring. Pair either of these rings with a black gold wedding band for a complete black gold wedding set!

Caring for your black gold jewelry

Unlike the rhodium plating of white gold, any dark surface on black gold may wear unevenly and create noticeable color changes. As such, it’s important to take excellent care of your black gold to keep its color looking fresh. Here are a few tips for maintaining your black gold jewelry:🥂

Wear

Try to avoid any rough contact with your black gold jewelry and other surfaces. Rubbing, bumping, knocking, and any other aggressive contact can cause scratching or chipping. While the damage may appear minimal at first, these cracks in the black veneer can widen and cause even larger sections of base metal to show through.

Cleaning

To clean your black gold jewelry, dip the piece in a mix of warm water and gentle dish detergent, such as Dawn. If you can find a gentle jewelry cleaning solution, that works as well!

Then, use a soft-bristle toothbrush to carefully scrub the surface of your black gold and get underneath any gemstones as well. Finally, rinse the piece under warm running water and use a non-abrasive, lint-free cloth to dry your jewelry.

As previously mentioned, rhodium-plated pieces require routine maintenance. Make sure you take your black gold items to your trusted jeweler whenever the base metal begins to shine through.

Storage

Black gold jewelry should be kept in its own bag or lined container away from other pieces that could scratch the outer layer. Additionally, take any black gold pieces off when handling harsh chemicals. You can maintain your black gold’s outer layer much longer by avoiding wearing your piece while in the shower, washing dishes, swimming, or even working out.

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Betting on black: Deciding whether black gold is right for you

Black gold can be an exciting way to add a punchy, gothic energy to your look. With its rich color and ability to go with any gemstone, black gold is great for pieces you plan to wear in casual settings. However, black gold isn’t necessarily built to last, so keep maintenance costs in mind for pieces designed for long-term wear such as engagement and wedding rings.

Are you choosing black gold for your next jewelry purchase? Or are you still looking at other options? If you like the idea of gold but aren’t sure the black variety is sturdy enough for your needs, take a look at our articles on yellow, white, and rose gold instead!

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