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What color shade is gold?

What color shade is gold?

Gold is a precious metal that has been valued for its warm, luminous yellow color since ancient times. But not all gold has the same exact shade – the color can range from a buttery yellow to a deep orange-yellow depending on factors like its purity and alloy metals.

Shades of Pure Gold

Pure gold, or 24 karat gold, has a bright, warm yellow color. But in its purest form, gold is almost never used for jewelry or other decorative purposes because it is very soft and easily damaged. Here are the different color shades of pure gold:

Karat Gold Purity Color
24K 100% Vivid yellow
23K 95.83% Yellow
22K 91.67% Warm yellow

As you can see, lowering the karat and purity slightly darkens the gold from a vivid yellow to a warm yellow color while still maintaining a rich golden tone.

Gold Alloys and Color

Since pure gold is impractically soft, gold used in jewelry, decorations, and coins is typically alloyed with other metals like silver, copper, nickel, zinc, and palladium to increase its durability. This also affects the final color.

Common gold alloys include:

Alloy Metals Color
White gold Gold, nickel, zinc Silver-white to pale yellow
Rose gold Gold, copper Pinkish hue
Green gold Gold, silver, copper Subtle soft green

The different metals interact to produce gold’s wide spectrum of shades from white to green.

Factors Affecting Gold Color

In addition to alloy metals, other factors can alter gold’s color:

– Purity – Lower karat gold appears more green, reddish, or pale yellow since it contains more alloy metals. 24K gold is the most vivid yellow.

– Oxidation – Chemical reactions on the gold’s surface can produce subtle color changes over time, usually making the gold appear more reddish or deeper yellow.

– Polishing – Highly polished gold reflects more light and appears brighter than matte, brushed, or textured finishes.

– Surrounding metals – The color of metals or stones in a gold setting can tint the appearance of the gold due to optical effects. Warm metals make gold look more orange, cool metals more greenish.

– Lighting – Gold can take on different hues in daylight, incandescent, or LED light. Yellow-toned light brings out gold’s warmness while blue-toned light can make it look a bit greener.


While pure 24K gold has a consistent vibrant yellow color, the gold used in jewelry and decorative objects has a wide range of shades depending on factors like purity, alloy metals, oxidation, polishing, surrounding materials, and lighting conditions. But whatever its exact hue, gold’s lush, warm yellow color in all its glorious variations has captivated people for thousands of years. Skillful goldsmiths can manipulate these factors to achieve the perfect colorful nuance for each unique gold piece they create. So while pure gold may technically have a single color, the answer to “what color is gold?” can be wonderfully complex based on how the gold is alloyed, processed, and displayed.