New Gold Standard To compete in a colorful, crowded market, jewelers try more rose gold By CHERYL LU-LIEN TAN This spring, jewelry designers are nudging shoppers to think pink -- pink gold, that is. After seeing consumers gravitate more toward colorful jewelry in recent years, retailers from Fortunoff to Tiffany and designers such as Dominique Cohen are launching more pieces made with pink gold, which is also known as rose gold and is a mix of gold and copper. Saks Fifth Avenue is carrying earrings and necklaces by Ms. Cohen featuring ice-blue or mint-green topaz stones set in rose gold. Tiffany, which had a few pieces in rose gold in its "Mesh" collection before discontinuing the color, is reintroducing the pink metal in the line next month. At Fortunoff, where the selection of rose-gold pieces is double what it was last spring, shoppers are buying engagement and wedding rings made of the pink metal, says Ruth Fortunoff, executive vice president of jewelry merchandizing. The trend is a reaction, in part, to the popularity of gold and silver handbags and accessories in fashion this spring, she says. "If you're carrying a metallic gold bag, you're not going to want to wear a lot of shiny yellow jewelry -- it's too much," she says. "It's more subtle if you wear rose gold, which mixes well with silver as well." Rose gold has more copper in it than yellow or white gold, but the price tag is often the same. That's because the percentage of pure gold in yellow, white and rose gold is the same. Duvall O'Steen, spokeswoman for the World Gold Council, an industry organization, says the price of gold -- no matter the color -- is largely driven by the amount of pure gold in it. Eighteen-karat yellow and rose gold, for example, both contain 75% pure gold and 25% other metals. In rose gold, however, copper is the predominant other metal, giving it a pink tinge. There is no discernible difference in durability between these different types of gold. The pink metal has long been used in jewelry. It became chic in the 1920s when Cartier unveiled its "Trinity" ring featuring three intertwined bands of white, yellow and rose gold and the French writer Jean Cocteau wore it, Ms. Duvall says. The metal surged in popularity in the 1940s when platinum was in short supply. Tobina Kahn, vice president of House of Kahn Estate Jewelers, says rose gold jewelry holds its value as well as yellow or white gold jewelry. High-end watchmakers are also experimenting with the metal. Responding to what it says has been a gradual increase in sales of rose-gold watches for both men and women, Patek Philippe began increasing its rose-gold offerings in 2000. It now makes 25% of its new styles available in rose-gold versions. The trend is expected to gain momentum through the fall -- at the Baselworld watch and jewelry show in Switzerland earlier this month several jewelers showed rose gold pieces that will be available at retail in six months. The rose-gold trend dovetails with another fad -- mixing different-colored metals in stackable bangles or layered necklaces. Jewelry designer Tina Tang, who sells online and in her two Manhattan stores, says she first started dabbling in rose gold a year ago and now makes 33 charms in rose gold and introduced six necklaces in the metal. Ms. Tang believes people like the color because its warm tone is more universally complementary. "White or yellow gold can look bad on some skin tones," she says. "But rose gold often looks good on pale or dark skin." Fortunoff -- Price: $395 to $1,595; Comment: The bangles are made of 14-karat rose gold with inset diamonds. Price varies according to the thickness of the bangle. Dominique Cohen -- Price: $6,000; Comment: An 18-karat rose-gold 'floral lace' opera necklace, 42 inches long. Tiffany & Co. -- Price: $475 in gold; Comment: These 'Mesh' narrow rings come in 18-karat rose-, white- or yellow- gold and sterling silver. Patek Philippe -- Price: $26,300 in rose or white gold; Comment: An 18-karat rose-gold men's 'Nautilus' mechanical watch with alligator strap.