What Is Black Gold? Everything You Should Know

black gold wedding rings on the sand

In the past, black gold was the nickname for oil, especially as people who found it trickling out of the ground made a small fortune — akin to finding gold. Now black gold is the term that defines blackened gold. Black gold looks edgy and stylish, giving jewelry a fresh and modern look that yellow gold can’t provide. 

What Is Black Gold?

Black gold is the same yellow gold, but manufacturers use technology to change the color. Along with black, manufacturers can change gold into a wide range of colors. Different alloying metals produce different shades.

Manufacturers mix yellow gold with another metal, often cobalt. With a precise three-to-one ratio of gold and a second metal, the color changes, and the pairing becomes a pseudo alloy. A typical alloy mixes two or more metals. Because of the way metals distribute in black gold, it differs from authentic alloys.

Black gold also comes from electroplating, where yellow gold is plated with a black finish using rhodium or ruthenium. Unfortunately, the plating does wear off, so eventually, the yellow gold shows through the black coverage. It does eventually require replating. 

When it comes to choosing black gold, electroplated jewelry is the most affordable. Manufacturers use rhodium for other kinds of electroplating. As such, the process is easy to scale and do affordably.

Another method of turning gold into black gold is through femtosecond laser treatments. This process involves focusing energy on the gold until it turns the desired shade of black. It is durable and expensive because it is energy-consuming. 

Scientists recently discovered a laser application that uses high levels of energy to create microstructures that absorb light. So, black gold made with femtosecond laser treatments is technically gold altered to capture light rather than reflect it. 

Jewelers can also create black gold through oxidation. When jewelers apply acid to the surface, the yellow gold turns black. Oxidation can weaken metals, so this isn’t the most desirable method for jewelry people wear daily. 

Value of Black Gold: How Much Is It Worth?

Two black gold diamond engagement rings on a white background

Because black gold contains real gold, it is automatically valuable. The more yellow gold in the jewelry, the more its value grows. Despite the black metal and additional procedures to create the black color, the value is in the natural material. The cost of black gold also depends on labor. Some processes to electroplate, oxidize, or treat the gold are more costly. 

The type of gold under the black finish affects the price. For example, an 18k gold ring is not as valuable as a 24k gold ring. So, when you are buying your black gold jewelry, ask about the gold’s karat. 

Another consideration is gemstones, especially their cut, color, carat, and clarity. As with any other jewelry piece, any additional adornments will increase the price. A black gold ring with a diamond will be worth more than one with a less valuable stone. 

Black Gold & Other Black Metals

Because black jewelry fits with today’s fashion, jewelry manufacturers use several metals to meet the needs of consumers. 

Black Gold vs. Black Carbon Fiber

Because gold is a soft metal, it is easily scratched. It can also lose its shape, especially when worn as rings. On the other hand, black carbon fiber is strong, durable, and heat-resistant. The lightweight material is affordably-priced. Jewelers might also combine it with other materials, like wood grain and resin, to create unique rings and other jewelry pieces. 

Black Gold vs. Black Ceramic

Despite being a soft metal, black gold is durable. If you drop it, it might scratch, but it won’t break. The opposite is true for black ceramic jewelry. This material has a lovely sheen and luster, but if you drop it on a cement or tile floor, it could shatter. Black gold does not shatter, but it can bend. However, you can always have it bent back into its original shape. 

Black Gold vs. Black Titanium

Titanium has become one of the most popular jewelry materials because it is lightweight, durable, and scratch-resistant. Once it is made into a ring or other jewelry item, it cannot be remade. On the other hand, gold is more adjustable. Titanium is a strong material that is shiny and smooth. Titanium tends to be cheaper than gold, but additional labor costs associated with its hardness may up the price.

Black Gold vs. Black Tungsten

Like ceramic, tungsten is fragile and can shatter if hit hard. Like titanium, tungsten rings cannot be resized or remade. However, it is scratch-resistant and stays shiny for a long time. It has less flexibility than black gold. In addition, the lack of durability makes it more affordable than gold. 

Black Gold Jewelry Options

A black gold bangle with a lizard design next to black and white beads

Anywhere that you use yellow or white gold, you can use black gold. However, some jewelry styles and designs are more popular than others. When you wear black gold, you want others to see it. So most consumers choose pieces that people will notice. 

The sleek and bold styling stands out when worn as earrings and pendants. It also looks modern and bold when part of an engagement ring or wedding band. Whether or not the ring includes gemstones, the sleekness of the black gold is sure to stand out. 

When pairing gems with black gold, bold colors and cuts show off the unique metal. Clear diamonds and cubic zirconia can get lost in black metal. So, many consumers choose boldly colored gems like pink diamonds, emeralds, and rubies. 

Simple gem cuts like cushion cuts and brilliant rounds show off the gem and the black metal around it. Small gems are better used as accents, while large stones show the uniqueness of the metal and the wearer’s style. 

Keep in mind, not many people know that black gold exists, so you could hear some unexpected comments about your jewelry’s color. Some people start their black gold collection with small pieces, like earrings. 

When you buy black gold with gems, look carefully at the clarity and brilliance. You want to be sure to select a stone that shines brightly against such a dark metal.

Consider the way some colors look together. For example, black gold with a bold ruby will have a punk look to it, while a bold pink diamond might give a ring a retro style. Adding black onyx or a tourmaline will look modern. 

Black Gold Authenticity

To determine if your black gold is genuine gold, you’ll need someone who knows how to analyze metal. Jewelers use X-ray fluorescence technology to see below the top layer to determine if real yellow gold is underneath. A jeweler can tell if you have real gold under the electroplating or alloy layers. 

You can also be 100% certain that your black gold is real gold if you have your gold plated to be black. If you ever decide you dislike the black color, you can remove it and return to the natural gold color. You may also choose to have the jewelry replated with a different metal.

Black Gold Jewelry Replating

A workspace with glass jars and materials used for rhodium plating

Repairing any jewelry with electroplating can be challenging, but adding the dark black color ups the need for a skilled jewelry repair shop. If you must have your jewelry replated, you could add hundreds to the cost of repairs. But, if you do invest in jewelry, keeping the piece in pristine condition only adds to the value. No one will know if you had it replated or repaired. 

Rhodium plating has several benefits. It is hypoallergenic and has a beautiful sheen that people love to wear. It is rare, so it adds value to your jewelry. Replating your jewelry does not damage it, so you can re-plate with rhodium as often as necessary. 

Rhodium does not naturally come in black. To make it, scientists had to add colors to achieve the desired look. Your local jeweler might not have black rhodium, so you might have to make a trip to a jeweler who does. 

Caring for Black Gold Jewelry

In general, you should avoid wearing black gold while doing your hair, putting on makeup and lotion, and applying perfume. The chemicals can damage the plated finish. If you swim or work out, you should take off your jewelry so the chlorine and sweat won’t damage the finish. 

Since some finishes scratch easily, keep your black jewelry separate from your other jewelry. If you wear a ring made with black gold, do not wear another ring on the adjacent fingers. 

During food preparation and washing dishes, you should also take off your black gold jewelry. While rhodium plating is durable, acids can damage the plating. You don’t want food particles to get stuck in your jewelry, either. 

Cleaning Your Black Gold Jewelry

If you must clean your jewelry, the best choice is to bring it to a jeweler for a professional job. However, you can also clean your jewelry at home. Dawn dish soap is gentle enough for black gold. 

  • Add some gentle dish soap into warm water.
  • Using a soft baby toothbrush, clean your jewelry with gentle strokes using soapy water. 
  • Rinse with lukewarm water. 
  • Air dry on a cloth towel or gently towel dry.

Where to Buy Black Gold Jewelry

Two hands on a tree showing black gold wedding bands

Black gold jewelry items may be expensive, and the look isn’t as popular as other classic styles. You may not be able to find any pieces at your local jewelry store. Instead, your best option will likely be online stores.

Because the prices continue to increase because of the limited supply and high demand, scammers are trying to pass off black jewelry online as black gold. Before you buy any black gold, it is important to determine whether it is real gold or not. If possible, you’ll want a certificate of authenticity as well.