Favorite Gold Nail Polishes

NOT TO BE AN ALARMIST, but the days are getting shorter and it seems to be cooling down (a bit), at least where I live. I am 100% a summer type of person, so I’m trying not to panic. In the meantime, I’m doing all I can to extend the ~idea~ of summer while I still can — coral lips, bronze-y eyes, and (my personal favorite!) gold nail polish.

I’m a big ol’ fan of gold year-round; next to red, it’s my favorite general category of nail polish. But something about gold in the summertime just feels RIGHT — is it the blazing sun? the road mirages that always make me think of Mad Max? that I am a Leo? Dunno, but gold + summer = good.

So without further ado, four warm gold nail polishes for your consideration:

L – R: SpaRitual Aurum, Nerdlacquer Aureate, OPI Goldeneye, Pahlish Pyrite

I did three coats of each and no clean-up (so you could see how much control was possible with the various formulas + brushes).

SpaRitual Aurum is an EXCEEDINGLY yellow-toned gold. It has ultra-fine flaky shimmer with a glossy, foiled shimmer. (It’s not a true “foil” formula, though, so you don’t have to worry about it clinging weirdly to itself and making bald spots as you add layers.) The formula was thin but not too runny, and its longish round brush had the right balance of length and flexibility (too long + floppy = no control; too stiff = “oh I just flicked gold polish all over my table”). It builds to opacity in 2-3 coats. A very EASY polish.

Me, brainstorming how to disclose that Collier both created and gifted me the Nerdlacquer polishes: “So funny story … one of my friends makes Nerdlacquer, and she sent this to me as a gift without expecting me to ever feature it on the blog. In fact, I felt compelled to ask her permission in order to do so. That friend just happens to be Collier, but”


(Collier DIDN’T make me include these, but I thought her disclosure was better.)

So yeah, Collier made this polish, it was not sent for promo purposes but I did get it for free, she did not expect it to be posted on the blog but I’m #SuchARebel. [Ed. : I DID NOT KNOW THIS WAS HAPPENING. Finch just sez “oh btw doing gold polishes on the blog today” and I went “eeeeee” and grabbed a handful of swatch sticks and sat in my closet painting fake nails AND THEN “oh btw two of them are NerdLacquers is that okaaaay” and I feel pretty awkward about it BUT I guess whatever? I’m here to kick ass, chew bubble gum, and deal with photo editing and HTML … not police my partner’s nail polish choices. <3] [Blogging partner, we’re not a married couple.]

Nerdlacquer Aureate is a warm gold tiny glitter in a shimmery bronze-gold base with black microspecks. Though the color of gold glitter is quite similar to that in Goldeneye, the black specks do quite a bit to dirty it up and deepen it. It has a bit of a grittier finish that leans a tad matte (thanks to the true microglitter, versus SpaRitual’s microscopic flakies or Goldeneye’s smooth, irregular, flat flakes), which is kind of cool on its own but can easily be smoothed out with the thick topcoat of your choice (Seche for me). It has a wide flat brush — one of the wider brush styles I’ve come across, actually — but coupled with the thicker formula I find that I have a LOT of control over the polish.

OPI Goldeneye is my favorite gold polish ever, and one of only two polishes I’ve ever completely emptied. (This is my third bottle.) Unfortunately, it’s discontinued. It features microflakes of irregular shape and size (but all very tiny) in a clear base; as it layers over itself, it ends up with the simultaneously smooth-but-not-quite-uniform finish of a gold-leafed frame. Catches the light gorgeously, BUT the sheer base means that if you have direct, bright, light it could highlight the uneven opacity. (In indirect light or shade it’s just fine.) The formula is a little watery, and even though I like the standard OPI flat brush, it is a bit difficult to achieve PERFECT control — as you can see, there are a few microflakes on my skin.

Pahlish Pyrite mixes irregular dirty gold flakes with tiny pewter shards in a sheerish base. While Aureate can come off delightfully dirty, this one seems more blackened — especially at the edges of wherever the light catches it. Just like the Goldeneye, the irregular layering and finish of the microflakes gives it an interesting, smooth-yet-textured finish; and like Goldeneye, direct light will highlight the uneven opacity. It has a thin-but-not watery formula and standard round brush which works just fine.


L – R: Zoya Godiva, Nerdlacquer Jemisin, SquareHue Honor, Zoya Ziv

Oh, you want some COOL gold options too? Well fine, then. If you must.

Zoya Godiva is such a pale, silvered gold that it borders on beige. It features tiny silver-gold glitters in a beige-ish base, and — as one of Zoya’s PixieDust line — dries down with a matte, glittered, gritty finish. (If you don’t like it, it smooths out nicely with Seche/Sally Hansen Insta-dri/etc.) It’s a thickish, easy formula with a standard round brush. I love that this one dries so quickly and that it’s practically neutral.

Nerdlacquer Jemisin is similar to Zoya Godiva in its gold-silvered-beigeness, but far more interesting — it blends tiny gold glitter, irregular small gold shards, EXTREMELY irregular large silver shards, and what seems to be pink-to-blue iridescent microshimmer. Though it’s quite a neutral gold-beige in the shade, it has a tendency to flash pink/purple/blue when the light catches it, and the larger shards of silver give it a unique finish. Like Aureate, it’s quite thick, which works well with the wide flat brush. I didn’t find that this one dried quite as gritty or matte as Aureate, but you’ll still want a glossy top coat if “omg smooth gloss” is your thing.

SquareHue Honor is long gone (it’s from a limited-run July 2013 collection), but it’s the exact same shade as what you get if you buy Essie Penny Talk and leave it in a dark Helmer for three years, at which point the copper apparently dries and becomes the palest silver-gold. THANKS ESSIE. Anyway, it’s a TRUE silvery-gold foil … meaning it has a tendency to bald if you don’t apply the second and third layers juuuuuuuust right. On the plus side, it’s opaque at two coats, has a lovely foiled finish, and isn’t as brushstroke-y as foils tend to get. It also dries LIKE WHOA, so it might be a good choice if you’re in a rush.

That Essie on the left USED to be copper, ugh.

Zoya Ziv is probably the most neutral gold of any of these — not a silvered gold, but not a particularly yellowed gold either. Gold microshimmer plus irregular gold microflakes gives it a smooth, foiled-shimmer finish with none of the hassle of a foiled formula and none of the opacity issues of a pure-microflake formula. Works well with everything, which is why it’s one of the three polishes I’m likely to use for a summer pedicure. It’s also the most ‘year-round’ gold — it’s just as Christmas-y or Spring-y a gold as it is “Unbearable Summer Heat” gold. Huge fan, and if you only get one gold polish this is probably a good bet. It’s just … gold, in a workable and wearable formula and tone.

So how about you? As big a fan of gold polish as I am? Have a favorite? A least-favorite? Any newer polishes you’d like to recommend? (Sorry — I know a lot of mine are older releases or actually DC’d.)