Gold is a naturally-occurring, yellow-colored element that is resistant to tarnishing, rusting, and corroding. When in its pure, 24 karat, state, gold is far too soft for jewelry applications. To make gold strong enough for everyday wear, alloys are added to strengthen the metal; that is why gold is generally sold as 10, 14, and 18 karat.
Colored gold such as white and rose gold all begin the same way, as yellow gold. The beautiful white and rose colors come from the specific alloys that are added to the pure gold for its strength. The following chart shows the most commonly used alloys for each color gold.
Since gold is a natural element, it is susceptible to harm by harsh chemicals such as chlorine and common cleaning products. Prolonged exposure will cause gold to become brittle and break. Those exposed to the most chlorine damage to their gold jewelry are in the healthcare and education professions. They are constantly washing their hands and using hand sanitizer, most of which contain chlorine, throughout the entirety of the day.
It is recommended that you have your gold jewelry cleaned once a month by a professional jeweler. They will be able to check your jewelry for any signs of damage and assess them before the loss of any stones occurs.