Last updateTue, 07 Apr 2020 8pm

The Story Behind the Stone: The Markle Effect

JarrettCall it Markle Madness - the custom-made engagement ring Prince Harry designed for fiancée Meghan Markle contained two side diamonds from his mother Diana the Princess of Wales’ collection. Cleave and Company, Court Jewellers to Her Majesty the Queen helped Harry pull it all off. The center stone - looks like a 4-carat sparkler perhaps - is from Botswana, a sentimental reference to their favorite holiday locale in southern Africa.

The big news of course is her choice of color for the gold - it’s yellow, her personal fave. It was only a matter of time before some person of prominence turned things back around to a preference to using warm yellow gold for important jewelry. White gold and platinum has been de rigueur for eons. Especially if one has good (high) color diamonds, it’s always been the metal of choice. Stones with a yellowish tinge, however can benefit from using yellow gold to actually make them look whiter by contrast. I’ll hazard a guess that this detail was not a consideration for Ms. Markle. She just loves yellow gold.

Trend spotters latched on to this news immediately, spiking a call for yellow gold bridal jewelry in the UK and US. And that gives retailers some fresh conversation with their clientele who may be waffling on what to select - how about a royal preference this time?

All gold jewelry, whether it’s white, yellow, rose or any of the more exotic gold varieties, is a mix of pure 24K gold with other metals that alter its color while adding tensile strength. Modern jeweler designers today like to mix it up with unusual metal alloy choices that produce striking new varieties of gold - green, grey, black and more.

In the case of white gold - besides the 24K yellow gold that goes in, it has a least one other white metal, usually nickel, but it can also be manganese or palladium. The result is still a slightly yellowish metal. That’s where rhodium plating adds a glistening finish - rendering it ultra-white and bright.

Jarrett ring

If we’re looking at yellow gold used in modern gold jewelry, we see it’s a combination of pure gold with warmer metals added, such as zinc and copper. Rose gold has a higher ratio of copper in its alloy to turn the gold a warm rosy tone, by the way. The higher the karat (10, 12, 14 or 18K) the higher the actual gold content in proportion to the other metals. Gold karats are expressed in units of 24, so 24k gold is 100% pure gold. 18K gold for example is composed of 75% pure gold alloyed with other metals which lend strength. Although some cultures enjoy wearing 24K gold jewelry for the pure luxury of it  - it’s a very soft metal and easily bent so it’s not practical at all.

This spring will likely show more designers creating numerous jewelry collections in yellow gold. I mean, if the Royal fiancée will be wearing her yellow gold bridal jewels for the rest of her life, she’ll need a few accent pieces to go with it.

Award winning trade journalist and gemologist Diana Jarrett is a Registered Master Valuer Appraiser and a member of the Association of Independent Jewellery Valuers (AIJV). She’s a popular speaker at conferences and trade shows. Jarrett writes for trade and consumer publications, online outlets, her blog: Color-n-Ice, and www.jewelrywebsitedesigners.com. Contact her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., visit her website at www.dianajarrett.com, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter (Loupey).