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What is Black Gold? Everything You Need to Know

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There are so many people all over the world who have heard about the varieties of rose gold, white gold, and yellow gold.

But have you ever heard of the newest variety known as black gold? This is a type of gold that is becoming more popular among most of the latest cool kids of the jewelry world that you might already be following on Instagram.

How is Black Gold Made?

Before we launch into a long explanation of what black gold is and how it is being used in society, it is first important to consider how it is made. There are several different ways in which the metal can be created to give it a black appearance, such as alloys, electroplating, and Femto-second laser-treated black gold.

We’ll take a closer look at each of these methods below.

piece of cobalt on periodic table of elements

Cobalt has been used in the production of high-performance alloys and rechargeable batteries.

Black Gold Creation Method #1: Alloys 

If you are trying to form a black gold alloy, the procedure involves mixing gold with another metal such as cobalt. This is usually done at a ratio of three parts gold to one part metal. The color is actually produced when a smelter heats the cobalt oxide on the surface of the gold.

But even though this is called an alloy, it is not really one. The black layer exists only on the surface, which is unlike other alloys that are formed where various metals are combined at a much higher concentration. Still, using alloys is a very good way to create a black finish on your special piece of jewelry.

Alloys can often be used as a base metal for plated or filled jewelry, which is how it usually happens with black gold. This gold is fused with darker metal such as cobalt, which will give your fine jewelry that striking and distinctive black appearance. 

Black Gold Creation Method #2: Electroplating

This is the most common way to produce black gold. This is where the gold piece of jewelry is plated with a black finish, usually with black rhodium plating or ruthenium. One major disadvantage of the electroplating process is that over time, the color wears off, and replating of the piece might be required, usually at the retailer.

But we’ll talk about that a little later. One of the best things about electroplating is that it is the most affordable (and simplest) option among all of the choices that we have discussed here. Using rhodium for the plating is an industry-standard because the rhodium imparts to the gold an incredibly shiny, polished surface.

Black Gold Creation Method #3: Femto-second Laser Treatment 

This is a method that has only recently been discovered. The most common procedure involves using intensely focused energy with a powerful femtosecond laser to manipulate the surface structure of the metal.

This process changes the surface of the metal by applying such high volume energy that it darkens the metal to become completely black. Out of all the methods we’ve mentioned, this type of laser treatment produces the most durable product.

All The Colors of Gold

Most people, even from a young age, have always pictured gold in the hue of a bright yellow that can glimmer and shine in the sun. It is also important to remember that there are some other colors available apart from yellow gold on the market, such as the eye-catching white gold and rose gold varieties. 

Variety is the spice of life in general, and the same can certainly be said in the world of colored gold. Any variant of gold is worth a mention, but black gold can be particularly appealing. Pair a few gemstones with some black ceramic or black gold pieces, and pretty soon you’ll have a real work of art in your collection of jewelry options.

Using Black Gold in Jewelry

Just recently, the modern world of jewelry has been given more variety with the introduction of black gold, which is actually the most expensive type of gold in the industry right now. But many people have been wondering what exactly is so special about this new form of precious metal?

When designing these exquisitely expensive pieces, it’s always important to create something that will really catch the attention of other people. This is a large part of why people splurge and invest in jewelry in the first place. That “bling” factor that you get in pitch black jewelry is something that designers are always looking for.

When you are among the first of your friends to show up with a stunning black gold ring with a matching gemstone or a watch made from black gold, you’ll definitely get them talking. You’ll probably find that so many of your friends envy what you have, and you’ll gain a lot of social capital simply by showing up with some black gold on your arm.

Better yet, why not surprise your loved one with a black gold engagement ring? If it is a hit and your partner really loves the ring, you can always have it converted to a wedding ring later on in the future to keep the magic alive. In fact, you might as well go ahead and make two wedding bands that are matching pieces.

How The Magic Happens 

Traditionally, gold has always been thought of as a yellow-colored metal. But with all of these new technologies and methods of jewelry production arising, varieties of it have become increasingly popular in the market. So, much like the rise of white gold and rose gold, the introduction of black gold has been a process to follow over the years.

Like we mentioned, a very popular way for jewelry designers to make black gold is the process of electroplating. This is when the gold is essentially plated with either black rhodium or ruthenium, and this creates a smooth black finish. Electroplating is a relatively straightforward process.

As explained above, the most popular method for creating black gold is known as electroplating. Designers can also use alloys, where the gold will be fused with darker metal such as cobalt, which turns it into black. It can be fascinating to watch the process of turning ordinary gold into black gold.

One reason why black gold is the most expensive type of gold in the market comes down to the femtosecond laser process of creating the jewelry. Due to the metal’s formula mix that uses elements like cobalt and rhodium to make it black, the finished product can often be much more valuable than the value of the gold itself. 

Black Is The New Yellow 

While black gold has been in the market for quite some time now, it is only just recently that people are starting to discover more about this precious type of jewelry. Because of this, it’s not widely offered and accepted yet by the older generation, who are much more used to yellow or white gold. 

Millennials are now beginning to dominate the jewelry market, and this means that more and more unconventional designs are penetrating the world of fashion and jewelry. In fact, black gold is still only offered by certain boutique jewelers.

These jewelers are bringing something fresh and unique to the market. Younger generations might be more open to the idea of black gold. Black gold tends to appeal more to the younger generation and more to men than to women due to the masculinity of the tone. 

So, how big is the price difference amongst all hues that are currently available in the market? At the moment, there is a big price difference in retail due to its scarcity. But it’s not really that far from the other gold metal colors, because it is still the metal’s gold content which is priced and valued.

Speaking of value, if you are also planning to invest in black gold jewelry, it is a good idea to choose a really unique design. When designing black gold jewelry, consider the best types of stones that can go with it. For example, black diamonds will usually look better set in black gold as opposed to other colors.

Black matches everything and it is often considered classy, mysterious, and timeless. If you are looking for something stylish and unique, black gold may be next in line to join your jewelry collection.

The Value of Black Gold

It can be expensive to own genuine black gold jewelry. The cost is always a factor of how much real gold is in the specific piece of black gold jewelry. The higher the percentage of gold, the more valuable the piece. Keep in mind that the black metals used in the creation of black gold do nothing to add or detract from the intrinsic value of the pure gold itself.

Like all other types of gold, black gold also is labeled according to its purity, usually in terms of karats. This means you are likely to come across labels such as 10, 14, and 18 karat gold ratings. People who want to purchase any type of fine jewelry, like wedding rings, will often decide on the 18 karat category. 

Any karat level below 14 means that the gold is not pure enough or does not have a reasonable market value. Pure gold averages at 24 karats, which often makes it too soft to use for most jewelry types. Most goldsmiths and retailers mix it with other alloys to help improve its strength. 

Recently, there have been some new guidelines issued for precious metals that also require jewelers not to sell anything that falls under the 10 karat category. Before purchasing any gold from retailers, always be sure to check the quality of the gold.

Usually, this information can be found in the form of an engraving indicating the karat level of the specific piece. Regardless of whether the metal has any scratches or not, it is important to identify the origin of the black gold. Usually, jewelers and other retailers will use a resource called an XRF precious metal analyzer.

This is a standard measuring tool within the industry. But if you just want to verify the quality of the jewelry on your own, you can use a solution like x-ray fluorescence technology. This is a convenient and non-destructive method for measuring the origin of black gold.

Also, investing in precious metals like gold can be a prudent strategy if you look at the precarious current economic conditions that are now common all around the world. Because gold rarely loses its worth, you’ll probably find that black gold will remain a good investment, and the value of your black gold jewelry is likely to stay consistent for many years to come.

Gold is still very appealing as an asset of real value. Whenever inflation starts rising or a recession is possible, many experienced investors tend to increase their holdings in pure gold.

Jeweller hand polishing and cleaning jewelry diamond ring with micro fiber fabric

Be careful not to use any abrasive substances when cleaning and polishing your gold.

How to Take Care of Your Black Gold 

Always avoid rubbing or abrading any black gold jewelry that you have, because this can cause it to scratch. If you would like to clean any of your black gold jewelry, always use a non-abrasive jewelry cleaner or a solution of warm soapy water with a soft-bristled brush or cloth to gently wipe off your pieces.

Also, be careful not to knock or bump any of your black gold jewelry because this can cause the plating to scratch (even though it will still reveal the gold underneath). As the plating wears off and the item appears faded, try to have the item replated at a jeweler to regain its shine and luster.

It should soon be looking as good as new again. Also, the risk factor of scratching is relatively low because replating is inexpensive and it can be avoided if you save your black gold jewelry for special occasions only.

Like any other plated gold, the color might eventually fade away after many years of heavy usage. But then you can just send it out for plating again. Also, many of the modern designs are scratch-resistant and resilient to this type of fading (or even to scuffs) because the designs are sometimes even further accentuated with the fading over time.

When you are storing your black gold jewelry, always place the piece in a cloth bag or lined box, so as to avoid any direct contact with any of your other jewelry items. This will go a long way toward helping keep your black gold as safe and free from scratches or any other damage as possible.

The “Wow” Factor

Do you have an anniversary or other special occasion coming up soon? If so, you might want to consider a piece of jewelry made out of black gold. While your significant other may not be the only person to own some black gold, we’re betting that it won’t be that common among your friends, either. So you’ll certainly be able to bring out that “wow” factor at the next social gathering!

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All articles are provided as a third party analysis and do not necessarily reflect the explicit views of GSI Exchange and should not be construed as financial advice.

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