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When you’re shopping for a piece of gold jewelry like a ring, necklace, or earrings, you have many different options to explore. One such option is the type of gold you want. Not only will you need to determine your preferred color of the gold jewelry, but you must also consider the purity level of gold. The purity level is also known as the karatage, or the percentage of pure gold that makes up a piece of jewelry.
Gold jewelry is not typically 100% gold. Because of the soft and malleable properties of gold, it’s actually not great for a piece of jewelry to be entirely gold. Jewelers have found more success with the durability and overall look of gold when they combine it with one or more other metals, creating an alloy of sorts. The other metals used in gold jewelry may depend on several things, but you’ll want to choose the level of purity you want your gold jewelry to have.
The two most popular types of gold are 14 karat gold and 18 karat gold. They look and feel similar, but they have some substantial differences that you’ll want to consider when making a decision. First, let’s look at what the karat numbers actually mean.
Gold karatage, or purity, is expressed in parts out of 24. Pure gold is 24 karats, meaning that all 24 possible parts are made up of gold. 18 karat gold consists of 18 parts of pure gold and six parts of other metals, making a total of 24 parts. Similarly, 14 karat gold is made up of 14 parts of pure gold and 10 parts of other metals, combining for a grand total of 24 parts.
With each type of gold (rose, white, and yellow), the metals used to complete the 24 parts will be different to best match the final color the jeweler is creating. Some gold will have nickel, silver, copper, zinc, or palladium added to create the final color. It’s important to note that while similar in appearance, there is a big difference between white gold and platinum, so if you like the look of the whiter metals but aren’t sure what metal you prefer, discuss this with our staff at Roman Malakov.
Now that you understand the difference in their makeup, let’s take a look at the different factors that impact your decisions when comparing 14K gold v. 18K gold.
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Since the overall aesthetic of your jewelry is of utmost importance, the 14k vs. 18k gold color will matter a great deal. While side-by-side, 14K vs. 18K gold may look slightly different, but when they aren’t next to each other, you aren’t likely to notice a huge difference. That said, the minute difference in color can impact your decision. In general, 14K gold will offer a warmer yellow, warmer white, and pinker rose. 18K gold, on the other hand, will provide a brighter yellow, whiter white, and a peachier rose. How you feel about the overall color may impact your choice.
Both 14 karat gold and 18K gold are far more durable than pure gold. However, the higher concentration of gold in 18k jewelry makes it softer and less durable than 14k gold. Generally speaking, 14 karat gold will scratch and dent less easily and show signs of wear and tear more slowly. While both are suitable for jewelry you wear occasionally, 14k jewelry is definitely better for everyday wear, such as in a wedding band or engagement ring.
In fact, when exploring engagement rings in 14K vs. 18K gold, about 90% of rings in the U.S. are made with 14K gold. Especially for those with more active lifestyles or who work with their hands a lot, the debate of 14K gold vs. 18K gold is quite simple: 14k jewelry is far more durable. If you’re shopping for an exquisite and unique piece of jewelry to wear for special occasions or specific events, 18K gold is a great choice.
You may be asking yourself, “Is 18K gold better than 14K?” While it’s true that 18 karat gold is purer, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better or even more popular. As mentioned above, 14K gold is more popular in engagement rings and wedding bands.
But when we’re talking about overall popularity, the location of the jewelry plays a big role. In the United States, the debate of 14k vs. 18k gold leans in favor of karat gold. However, in Europe and Asia, 18k is the preferred type of gold for most jewelry pieces. While lifestyle plays a role to some extent, often, it comes down to popular culture, what celebrities are wearing, availability, and cost.
Cost is perhaps the second most important factor in purchasing new jewelry. Due to the lower gold content of 14k jewelry, it will cost slightly less than 18k jewelry. In smaller pieces of jewelry or pieces with smaller or fewer gemstones or diamonds, the cost difference will likely be minuscule. But in more detailed or larger jewelry pieces, the price of 18k gold can be as much as 150% to 200% higher than 14 karat gold.
In a side-by-side comparison of 14K gold v. 18K gold, most people tend to lean toward selecting 14 karat gold because it’s more durable and more popular with a lower price tag. However, there are some advantages of 18k gold that you might want to take into consideration.
First, 18 karat gold has fewer non-gold metals, meaning the chance of an allergic reaction to your metal is reduced. Particularly, if you have a nickel allergy, you may wish to lean toward 18K jewelry to avoid issues. Second, when looking at 14K vs. 18K gold color, the 18K options are richer in color, often making them more visually appealing. While the color differences are subtle, they do exist, and if you have your heart set on a deeper gold color, you may want to select an 18K gold piece over its 14K gold counterpart.
If you’re on the hunt for a new piece of jewelry and are overwhelmed by the options, rest assured that Roman Malakov can help. We are located in the heart of NYC’s Diamond District, and our jewelry professionals are skilled in explaining the intricacies of jewelry options to our clientele. We look forward to helping you choose the right metal for your jewelry, whether that’s 14 karat gold, 18 karat gold, or something else. Our wide selection of engagement rings, necklaces, earrings, cocktail rings, bracelets, and more is sure to delight you, and we’re confident you’ll find something you love when you shop with us. Book an appointment online for an in-person or virtual consultation, visit us in-store, or shop online with Roman Malakov today.
There is more pure gold in 18k gold than in 14k gold. Since they are both alloys, they each have other metals mixed in with the gold to improve durability, but 18k gold is about 75% pure gold, while 14k gold is around 59% pure gold.
If you are viewing two pieces of jewelry side by side, one of 14k gold and one of 18k gold, you will notice a difference in their coloring. Since 18k gold has more yellow gold, it will have a richer yellow color, while 14k will appear a bit whiter due to the additional metals in its makeup.
When two pieces are otherwise identical, a 14k piece will be less expensive than an 18k piece. This is because there is more pure gold in 18k gold, so the price will be slightly higher. However, remember that metal is not the only thing that impacts the price of your jewelry. For example, an 18k gold ring with a small center stone will likely cost less than a 14k gold ring with a larger center stone, purely because of the price of the natural diamonds.
If you’re asking about worth, 18k gold is considered better simply because it has more gold and is more expensive. But if you’re asking about durability and scratch resistance, then 14k gold would be considered better. However, asking if 14k or 18k gold is better is a bit of a loaded question, as there is no singular objective answer. When deciding between the two, weigh the 14k and 18k gold differences and advantages, and choose the one that best suits your lifestyle and needs.
The higher the gold percentage, the fewer extra metals are in a piece of jewelry, and those additional metals tend to cause skin sensitivity issues. So if you’re trying to avoid skin irritation or have very sensitive skin, you’ll be better off with 18k gold.