While shopping for gold, you are likely to come across the terms 14K or 18K stamped somewhere on the item. The K stands for Karat, which refers to the amount of gold that is used in that particular piece of jewelry.
But what if you want to buy jewelry made of ‘real gold’ or ‘pure gold’ and not gold mixed with something else?
This is where most people find it confusing. Not everybody wants to buy jewelry made of gold alloy. They prefer to buy pure gold jewelry because not only does it look good, but it can be a fantastic investment too. If pure gold is in such high demand why then is it so difficult, actually almost impossible, to find jewelry made from pure gold.
The reason is quite simple. Gold in its pure form is extremely soft and malleable. You can simply apply a little pressure on it to shape it into whatever you want. While this may seem interesting, nobody wants to buy designer gold jewelry only to find it changing shape every time they touch it! To make gold less pliable, it is usually combined with another metal to make it stronger and sturdier so that holds its shape and stays looking beautiful no matter how much it is handled.
All those beautiful gold jewelry you see in high end jewelry stores contain different percentages of gold combined with silver, zinc, copper or nickel. The percentage of gold in that item will be indicated by a number followed by ‘k’.
This is what it really means:
If you see 24k stamped on the item (which is very, very rare), it means that piece of jewelry is made from 100% gold. No other metal has been combined.
18K gold indicates that there is 75% gold and 25% alloyed metals.
18K White Gold: 2.16 ct Round Cut Diamond Engagement Rin
14K gold indicates that there is 58% gold and 42% alloyed metals.
14K White Gold - 1.87 ct Princess Cut Diamond Engagement Ring
It is almost impossible to write all of these percentage details on jewelry items, especially small, delicate pieces so the 14K, 18K system has been adopted universally by all jewelry manufacturers and goldsmiths. This makes it easier for any gold buyer to quickly and easily determine the exact percentage of pure gold in the piece that they are interested in purchasing.
10K gold does not have much value as the gold content is very low. In the US, it is not even considered as commercial gold.
So should you buy 14k gold or 18K gold? There is no one correct answer. Your choice will depend on several factors.
Learning some more about 14K vs 18K will help you make a more informed decision.
14K vs 18K- appearance & uses
The difference between 14k gold and 18K gold is almost imperceptible. To an amateur buyer, they both appear to have similar color tones. Experts will disagree though. They claim that 18K gold has a richer and more vivid yellow color as compared to 14K gold.
In terms of usage, 14K gold is the alloy of choice for making most jewelry in the United States. This is because it is more resistant than 18K gold and does not show scratches and marks that come from daily use. For this reason, almost 90% of wedding bands are made of 14K gold.
Salient features of 14K gold
14K gold contains 58% pure gold. As we said earlier, this alloy is most commonly used for everyday items of jewelry such as wedding bands, necklaces and bracelets.
14K is sturdy and durable and shows no signs of wear even if worn every day.
Although it is premium gold it is very affordable because of the addition of the second metal.
Nobody else will be able to tell whether you are wearing 14K or 18K gold because of their similar appearance and coloration.
Salient features of 18K gold
18K gold contains 75% pure gold.
This alloy is used in high end jewelry but is mainly reserved for pieces such as earrings, which will not be subjected to a lot of contact or wear and tear as it tends to get scratched and deformed quite easily.
Diamond engagement rings are usually made of 18K gold because the user is not likely to be wearing it while doing any physical work.
18K gold is expensive but does not tarnish easily, which makes it a worthwhile investment.
Gold rings are rarely made with a higher gold content than 18K because their surface and even their shape would get marred too quickly.
So, back to the question of which one should you buy – 14K gold or 18K gold? To sum it up:
14K gold is a better choice if you are looking for jewelry that is durable, wears well and looks good but comes without a very high price tag. The fact that it will not get scratched or show signs of wear and tear makes this very good value for money.
18K gold is what you should look for if you do not mind splurging on high quality jewelry that contains a higher percentage of gold. Jewelry with 18K gold does look more exquisite but will also require the wearer to be more careful while wearing it.
Now you are ready to choose a ring! You'll find 18K and 14K in our wide selection of engagement rings!