14K vs 18K Gold: Which Is Right for You?

Rose gold, yellow gold, and white gold – there are a lot of choices in today’s fine jewelry market. But the selection doesn’t stop there, there are also 14k and 18k gold to choose from. But what’s the difference?  

In this article, we’ll cover all of the basics between the two and fill you in on the pros and cons of 14 and 18k gold. From color and durability to cost and possible allergens, by the end of this post, you’ll be a wizard in all things gold.  

14k Gold vs 18k Gold: What’s the Difference?

If you’re reading this article, you might be asking, “what’s the difference between 14k and 18k gold, anyway?” When shopping for jewelry online, the first thing that you need to understand is the way that solid gold jewelry is created. Contrary to popular belief, it’s incredibly rare for a gold piece of jewelry or a gold diamond engagement ring to be made from pure gold. In fact, almost all gold is made using an alloy consisting of solid gold and a variety of other precious metals such as silver, copper, platinum, palladium, and zinc. These metal alloys are used to improve gold’s overall strength and durability as it is an incredibly soft precious metal that cannot stand up to daily wear on its own. 

Because of this, experts use a karat system expressed in parts out of 24 to determine the purity of gold within a piece. Pure gold sets the bar with 24k gold, next comes 18k gold which consists of 18 parts pure gold mixed with six parts other metals, and then comes 14k gold which is 14 parts pure gold combined with ten parts other metal.   

The mixture of higher karat gold and alloy metal is also responsible for the popular gold colors that we see today such as rose gold, white gold, and yellow gold. 

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14k vs 18k Gold: Which Should You Buy? 

14k and 18k gold are highly popular choices for modern engagement ring settings. However, the two types of gold have their pros and cons when it comes to color, cost, and durability.    

14k vs 18k Gold: Price Difference

If you’re sticking to a strict budget, 14k gold could be the choice for you. 14k gold contains less pure gold than its 18k counterpart, meaning that lab created diamond rings and other fine jewelry in this style are usually more affordable. 

14k vs 18k Gold: Durability   

As mentioned above, pure gold is super soft as far as metals go. For this reason, 14k gold is noticeably more durable than 18k gold. Keep this important factor in mind if you’re ring shopping for someone with an active lifestyle, as you’ll want to choose an engagement ring setting that can stand up to regular wear and tear.

14k vs 18k Gold: Color  

If you’re looking for that ultra-warm golden hue, 18k gold is the way to go. 18k gold’s biggest appeal is its purity, and it does offer a fabulous appearance that’s as close to pure gold as you can get. This extra oomph is especially noticeable in 18k yellow or rose gold settings which tend to skew warmer and more vibrant when paired with 18k gold vs 14k gold.

However, that’s not to say that 14k gold isn’t beautiful. Rings in this style still feature a relatively high pure gold content and still offer that fabulous rich yellow color associated with gold. In fact, the difference in intensity between 14k and 18k gold is really only noticeable if the two are compared side-by-side, so follow your gut and let personal preference lead you. 

14k vs 18K Gold: Wearability

Do you struggle with sensitive skin? Although it can contain small traces of nickel and other alloyed metals, 18k gold is less likely to trigger allergic reactions than 14k or 10k gold. The chances of skin allergies or contact dermatitis are still pretty unlikely amongst those who wear 14k gold, however, if you’re allergic to silver, copper, nickel, or iron, you might want to steer clear.      

Will 10k Gold Tarnish

Consisting of less than 50% gold, don’t be surprised if your jeweler doesn’t carry ten karat gold. 10K gold is often referred to as “discount gold” or “discount white gold.” While it can be purchased for a steal, 10k gold does require a little extra TLC to keep it looking its best.   

Long story short, yes, 10k gold will tarnish. 10k gold is often sold as white gold, a metal that is most commonly alloyed with silver and/or palladium. White gold jewelry is usually dipped in rhodium plating to improve its durability, color, and to prevent tarnishing. In addition to improving a piece’s overall appearance, rhodium also helps to address skin irritation caused by nickel allergies, a common occurrence with white gold. If you suffer from skin sensitivity but still love the look of a white gold wedding band, you’ll want to be mindful to have your piece re-dipped with rhodium every few years. 

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