Gold is a classic precious metal, the white or yellow color can be quite striking when paired with the right outfit. There are some out there that prefer something with a bit more edge, and that includes your humble author. Black gold has risen to meet these demands and while it isn't quite as precious as pure gold due to technically being an alloy it can still command quite a price.
As you might've pieced together, there is certainly such a thing as black gold. Today we're looking at what makes gold black. There are a variety of ways to create black gold, and some of them retain more value than others. If you are in the market for a black gold ring it's extremely important to know exactly what you're looking at before making the leap and dropping a hunk of cash.
Varieties of Gold
You're probably well aware that there are many types of gold and alloys floating around on the jewelry market. White gold, blue gold, green gold, rose gold... And of course, the newest addition to the family: Black gold! What used to be a colloquial term for oil can now be taken in quite a literal sense and in my personal opinion, it looks amazing!
Caring for Black Gold
While black gold is much more resistant than natural gold, it still needs to be cared for and maintained in some capacity. Use a soft jewelry brush and a non-abrasive jewelry cleaner or you'll risk scratching off the coating. Bumping or knocking your black gold jewelry can cause the plating to scratch and reveal the gold underneath.
When storing your black gold pieces I'd highly recommend an anti-tarnish cloth bag or a lined box to keep your jewelry from knocking against other jewelry pieces. This is the best way to prevent scratches. Wear and tear might also be a factor in caring for your black gold. Re-plating should take place roughly every 6 months and will cost around $35-$60 each time, depending on the size of the piece and the jeweler you're dealing with.
Methods of Making Black Gold
Probably the simplest method of creating black gold is to simply coat your gold with another metal such as cobalt. The generally accepted ratio is one part metal to three parts gold. Alloys generally involve melting down and combining two metals, but this is rarely the case when creating black gold. I suppose it should be called plating, but that might confuse things when comparing to the other methods of creating black gold...
While alloy is the simplest method of creating, electroplating is the most popular by a long shot. An extremely thin layer of rhodium or ruthenium is applied via electricity. It is the cheapest option available but personally I can't stand it. It's hard to go against the grain however. What is the basis for my bias? Well, the plating that is applied will eventually wear away and need to be re-plated. I'd prefer to pay a bit more up front and avoid the continuous costs of maintenance fees.
The newest of these methods, femto-second lasering involves exactly what it sounds like. The surface of the gold is manipulated with high amounts of focused energy. The massive energy is released in a femto-second, hence the name, and the end result is a metal that is pitch black. This is the most durable version of black goal but it also commands a very hefty pricetag. Perhaps the method will be refined in the future and cost-friendly in the future, until then I'll need to stick with my alloys.
How Valuable Is Black Gold?
The value of black gold is largely determined by the amount of 'real' gold present in the piece of jewelry. A safe bet is to weigh your jewelry and subtract 25% from that price, assuming that your black gold is an alloy. Electroplating is much closer to gold's actual price, while femto-second lasering is actually worth far more than normal gold at the present time. Since femto-second lasering adds no weight to the gold, even at it's lowest price it will still always be equivalent to pure gold... Because it is pure gold.
How To Wear It
A little bit of black gold can go a very long way. You certainly don't want to slam someone over the head with a statement piece made of black gold in most cases. The proper usage for black gold should be accentuation of your outfit or other pieces of jewelry. Small, delicate black gold jewelry will have a much more far-reaching effect than going overboard.
Reasons To Love It
Black is quite an uncommon color for jewelry, so you will be sure to snag immediate attention with black jewelry. If that isn't enough to sell you on it, keep in mind that due to the plating processes black gold requires far less maintenance. There is much less worry about things like exposure when dealing with black gold. These two things combined are more than enough to put me head over heels.
What If I Hate It?
Black gold is a very low risk investment. If you end up hating the piece you can quite simply just pay to have it replated. This is because all black gold is the result of some sort of surface treatment. Don't like your black gold jewelry? A quick and easy replating with rhodium can turn that piece into plated white gold in relatively short order!