Matching a shade of gold in photographs
February 16, 2009 5:04 AM   Subscribe

I have an engagement ring that is a unique shade of gold. How do i accurately depict that shade to a goldsmith 2,000 miles away?

My engagement ring is an antique, and is a pale shade of rose gold - a jeweller here in the UK described it as "pink" gold, but to my understanding there is no exact guide between "pink" and "rose", just a suggestion of intensity. I'd like to get a wedding band made to match both the colour and shape of my engagement ring, and have found a goldsmith in the states who has quoted me at least £100 less than my UK jeweller.

The wrinkle is, I don't want to mail my engagement ring anywhere, especially because it's an antique and in many ways, irreplaceable.

My question is:

1. Can you think of any creative way that i can depict an accurate shade of my ring to the jeweller so he can make a reasonable match, or

2. Is this just not going to work, and should i stop overthinking this and pay the extra £100? (I'd prefer to avoid this as we have the rest of the wedding to pay for)

Apart from taking the photo on a plain white background, the only idea that I have so far is to photograph the ring with something that is a constant colour - a red Lego brick, for example, so that he could compare like for like. I know how difficult colour-matching can be in photos, though, so I'm not sure if this is a lost cause or something worth pursuing.
posted by ukdanae to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I would say that you should ask the goldsmith this question, and if he can't solve the problem then find another goldsmith.
posted by winston at 5:06 AM on February 16, 2009

Did the jeweller in the US provide any suggestion as to how he/she might achieve a colour match without seeing the ring in person? If they did, then do that. If not, then I don't see how the quote you got is in any way meaningful.

If it were me I think I'd just suck up the extra £100, but then we had a pretty cheap wedding and had a few £100s left over. You've obviously already decided that it's important to you to have matching rings, and therefore if they don't match you'll regret your choice.
posted by altolinguistic at 5:14 AM on February 16, 2009

What if you took a photo of the ring against an appropriate paint chip sample strip--the kind with several different tints of the same color--laid against a black or white background? This would create several possibilities. You could photoshop the photo until it printed correctly, based on the paint chip sample strip, and send the jeweler that print. Or you could send the photo (electronic and print) along with the strip to the jeweler to allow him/her to triangulate to the gold color either by eyeballing it or by manipulating it electronically.
posted by carmicha at 5:30 AM on February 16, 2009

Like gems, precious metals have a color scale that any goldsmith/jeweler will know. Take it to a high end jeweler and explain the problem. S/he can match it to a standard color chart and give you a term that your remote goldsmith will understand.
posted by nax at 5:40 AM on February 16, 2009

If the color is important to you, I'd do it locally. I don't think sending a photo will work, no matter how carefully you match your prints.
posted by MegoSteve at 5:43 AM on February 16, 2009

a jeweller here in the UK described it as "pink" gold, but to my understanding there is no exact guide between "pink" and "rose", just a suggestion of intensity

Pink and rose are sometimes used interchangeably, and certainly are used very subjectively. And what is meant by "rose" has changed over time -- there's a lot of leeway for color in an alloy. (My great-grandmothers wedding ring was considered yellow gold at the time, but would be considered rose gold now.)

Complicating matters is that it is common for 10K gold to be used in fine jewelry in the UK, but 14K gold is commonly used for fine jewelry in the United States.

I'd advise to ship your ring to your US goldsmith, or get the work done locally. There's really no good way to accurately depict color of an alloy.

(IANAGoldsmith, but I work for one.)
posted by desuetude at 6:17 AM on February 16, 2009

#2 is your answer.
posted by electroboy at 6:30 AM on February 16, 2009

Best answer: If matching the color is important to you, either ship the ring to the US or shell out the extra money to a local jeweler. I'd go local, as shipping and insurance is going to cost you, too. If a jeweler does it sight unseen, it's almost certainly going to be a subtly different shade, and it's going to bug you. It's worth investing a little extra cash now on something that's going to be on your finger for the rest of your life.
posted by EarBucket at 6:38 AM on February 16, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks everyone, it looks like there's a clear consensus - I guess some other part of the wedding budget will have to be £100 poorer. Special thanks to carmicha for trying to come up with a solution for the colour-matching.
posted by ukdanae at 6:48 AM on February 16, 2009

Best answer: By and large there are a relatively finite number of alloys being used out there, but an individual artist or small studio might be all over the road. You might be able to find a gold smith who can just look at it and say, "Oh, that's XXXXXX" (Where XXXXX is a ratio of gold, copper and possibly silver), but you're not going to find out if he's right until you have your new ring in hand.

The proper way to find the right alloy would be to make a streak on a touch plate with your ring and a couple standard samples, then put a few drops of acid on them and observe how they react. That's pretty much a "gotta be right there" kind of operation.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 6:50 AM on February 16, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks Kid Charlemagne, that's really useful!
posted by ukdanae at 6:55 AM on February 16, 2009

Adding in shipping + import duties + customs handling fees etc the US ring will almost certainly be < £100 cheaper - it in fact could come out more expensive. I had some jewellery making supplies shipped from the states, the order total came to about £350 and the extra charges at customs came to nearly £90!!
posted by missmagenta at 9:19 AM on February 16, 2009

You could take a photo of the ring on a white background, lit by indirect sunlight, with reproducible samples of other *metals* next to it. A hunk of aluminum stock, a piece of brass tube, a pure silver coin, a new copper coin, a "standard" gold watch. I think that would make it easier for the jeweler to make an accurate color match. I suppose you could somehow measure the density of the ring as well to give a further clue as to its composition.
posted by gjc at 11:00 AM on February 16, 2009

gjc, all of the objects that you mention, except for the silver coin, are also alloys. And silver tarnishes, so that color wouldn't be reproducible either.
posted by desuetude at 11:22 AM on February 16, 2009

« Older Where do they all come from?   |   Help me ID this piece. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.