One of the things I’ve observed that gold jewelry lovers struggle with is the choice of gold purity. 14k and 18k gold are the two types of gold that jewelers often use; therefore, it can be tough to choose between them.
What are 14k and 18k Gold?
To understand 14k and 18k gold, you should first know that gold is regularly mixed or alloyed with other metals. Gold is an incredibly soft metal, and combining it with other metals improves its strength (among other reasons).
The “k” in 14k and 18k gold stands for “karat,” which measures a gold piece’s purity. Karat is the unit that jewelers use to measure the fineness or purity of a gold piece.
The maximum karat purity of any gold piece is 24, so 24-karat gold is 100% gold. The number in front of the “k” signifies the proportion of pure gold in the alloy. The higher the karat number of a gold piece, the higher the gold content in a piece.
14k gold is 14 parts gold and ten parts other metals, and 18k gold is 18 parts gold and six parts other metals. Putting it in percentages, 14k gold is 58.3% gold and 41.7% other metals, while 18k gold is 75% gold and 25% other metals.
14k Vs 18k Gold
Below is a comparison of some features of 14k and 18k gold
Predictably, 14k gold is cheaper than 18k gold because it contains less pure gold content. However, the flip side is that you don’t have much re-sell value with 14k gold jewelry. Pawn shops and people who buy second-hand jewelry prefer pieces of higher purity.
If you’re among the many people for whom price determines their jewelry choice, then 14k gold is for you. According to this Karat Kalculator, a gram of 14k gold costs $29.03, while $37.68.
The difference between raw 14k and 18k gold prices might be a little. However, some 18k gold pieces can cost up to twice the price of a 14k gold piece.
14k gold looks great when you hold it alone; however, you cannot compare it to 18k gold. The disparity is greater in yellow gold; the higher gold content causes 18k yellow gold to have a richer appearance. Some lovers of rose and white gold also prefer 18k because it retains its gold-like appearance.
On the flip side, some people choose colored gold jewelry because they want pieces that look “unconventional.” The higher alloy content in 14k gold will make the jewelry appear less like gold.
Durability and Lifestyle Consideration
The greater alloy content in 14k gold jewelry makes it harder and more durable than 18k. The greater hardness means 14k gold won’t scratch as easily as 18k gold. Therefore, 14k gold is more suited for people with a more active lifestyle that might expose their jewelry to harm.
The best recommendation is to buy 14k gold jewelry for rings and watches. Earrings and necklaces do not experience as much wear and tear, and you can choose 18k gold. If money isn’t an issue, you can also have 14k pieces for everyday use and 18k for special occasions.
14k and 18k gold are the most common types of gold fineness that jewelers use. Therefore, getting any gold jewelry you desire in both metals is easy.
Note that 18k gold is more common in Europe and Asia, while 14k gold is more prevalent in the United States.
Comparing Types of 14k and 18k Gold
Yellow gold is the “default” type of 14k and 18k gold since it maintains that gold-like appearance. However, you should know how rose and white variants of 14k and 18k gold compare.
14k Vs 18k Rose Gold
Rose gold combines pure gold and copper; since 14k rose gold has less gold, it appears more “rose-y.” However, 18k rose gold has a higher lustrous appearance.
Copper isn’t tarnish-resistant, so 14k rose gold requires more protection from tarnish-inducing situations. You also need to clean or polish your 14k rose gold jewelry often to curb tarnish in its early stages.
Finally, copper causes allergic reactions in some people, and the higher gold content in 18k rose gold reduces the risk of these reactions. The copper content is 14k rose gold is almost half, so you’re more prone to allergic reactions with it.
14k Vs 18k White Gold
14k white gold has a whiter appearance than 18k, which is excellent for people who want that platinum-esque appearance. However, appearance isn’t a significant issue for white gold lovers since many jewelers rhodium-plate their white gold. Therefore, 14k and 18k white gold look identical many times.
White gold alloys created with platinum aren’t prone to tarnish, but this isn’t the case for silver-alloyed white gold. Your 14k white gold jewelry is more susceptible to tarnish than 18k, especially if you expose it to items that contain sulfur.
The white metal called nickel is probably the biggest allergen in jewelry production, and some jewelers make white gold with it. 14k white gold that contains allergens is more likely to cause allergic reactions than 18k.