14K vs. 18K Gold: Which Should You Choose?

The metals used in jewelry are widely varied. They include palladium, platinum, silver, copper, tungsten, stainless steel, and, of course, gold (amongst others). Now, gold is historically the most popular metal for fine jewelry, with its quintessential rich and warm yellow glow.
However, there are multiple types of gold, such as yellow gold, white gold, and rose gold. There is also the distinction between 14k and 18k gold which needs to be examined. Which type is better? What are the differences? What does ‘k’ mean?
We’ve got all the answers for you to explore.
Different Metal Types

What Does ‘k’ Mean?

The ‘k’ in gold descriptions refers to karat, which is the measurement of the proportion of gold in an alloy. This term is not to be confused with ‘carat’, which refers to the measurement of weight of a gemstone, such as a diamond. The word ‘karat’ does come from the original ‘carat’, which itself came from the Arabic qīrāṭ, which means "bean pod".
Gold in jewelry is measured out of a total of 24 parts within an alloy. 14k gold would be 14 parts of gold out 24, and 18k is 18 parts out of 24. 24 out of 24 parts would be classed as pure gold, and this method of determining proportion dates back to ancient Roman times, where a siliqua (a small roman coin) was worth 1/24th of a golden solidus, another Roman coin.

What Differentiates 14k and 18k Gold?

Not many pieces of jewelry will be made of pure gold, as this pure metal is incredibly soft (in fact, you can dent it with your teeth). Creating an alloy, where two or more metals are combined to make a stronger mix, ensures that the jewelry will be more robust and resistant to wear over time.
This is where the karat system comes into use, where it determines how pure a piece of jewelry is, showing how many parts of another metal have been used in its creation. Some of the other metals that can be used in creating these alloys are nickel, copper, zinc, silver, and palladium, all of which can produce different colors of gold as well as adding strength.
When it comes to 14k and 18k gold, 14k is equivalent to 58.3% gold (14/24), and 18k is equivalent to 75% gold.

14k and 18k Gold: Which is Better?

The Pros and Cons of 14k Gold

14k is not as pure as 18k, which makes it more affordable. For example, peruse the two beautiful wedding rings below. Why is the cost different?
14k Yellow Gold Benchmark 7mm Comfort Fit Wedding Ring
14k Yellow Gold Benchmark 7mm Comfort Fit Wedding Ring
18k Yellow Gold Benchmark 7mm Comfort Fit Wedding Ring
18k Yellow Gold Benchmark 7mm Comfort Fit Wedding Ring
The answer is the karat measurement. The 18k ring uses a higher purity of gold in its composition.
Due to its smaller amount of pure gold within the alloy, 14k is actually more durable than 18k. It’s not as durable as more robust metals such as platinum, but it will definitely exhibit a more significant resistance to scratches, scuffs, and dents. This makes 14k gold the perfect choice for someone who either has an active, hands-on job, or an active lifestyle.
Additionally, 14k gold still retains the rich appearance that purer types of gold do. There is a slight change in brightness, due to the fact it’s made of over 40% non-gold metals. However, this slight change will only be obvious when worn next to jewelry of a higher gold purity.
14k gold jewelry, such as wedding rings, is also a highly accessible metal, making up the vast majority of jewelry purchases. This means it’s incredibly easy to find.

The Pros and Cons of 18k Gold

Many people will find the idea that 18k is 75% pure gold as a highly desirable quality. It is the purest form of gold that still remains practical to use in jewelry, as higher purity levels will become too soft. The initial advantage of this is the look of 18k gold—it displays the most gorgeous and vibrant golden color that’s emblematic of the longstanding heritage of gold itself.
Another undeniable, and oftentimes surprising, advantage is that 18k gold is less likely to trigger any skin allergies that wearers may have. The presence of other metals in the alloy that may produce reactions are present in much smaller quantities, so the risk of issues such as contact dermatitis or allergic reactions is reduced.
18k White Gold Verragio Venetian Lido AFN-5005W-2 Diamond Wedding Ring
18k White Gold Verragio Venetian Lido AFN-5005W-2 Diamond Wedding Ring
18k gold also looks fantastic when crafted in white gold. For example, look at the intricate and regal feel given by the 18k White Gold Verragio Venetian Lido Diamond Wedding Ring. It’s a wonderfully complex wedding ring, exactly the type that Verragio has come to be known for.
The downside of 18k gold comes from its purity. As we’ve said, this means that it’s much easier to scratch when compared to 14k, so if your intended recipient has an active lifestyle, it may be worth considering 14k or another metal. 18k white gold also needs rhodium plating to give it a bright white luster.
Additionally, 18k will evidently cost more than 14k because of its purity. However, it is completely up to you what kind of budget you choose to work with.

Our 14k and 18k Gold Jewelry Examples

18k Yellow Gold Tacori Dantela Diamond Pendant

Tacori FP643 Dantela Diamond Pendant
Tacori FP643 Dantela Diamond Pendant
The Dantela Diamond Pendant from Tacori features all of Tacori's best design details. Fine milgrain, delicate prongs, and a halo of diamonds highlight the center diamond, creating an incredibly intimate and stunning piece of jewelry—a true piece of superb craftsmanship.

18k Rose Gold Simon G. Fabled Diamond Engagement Ring

Simon G. MR1394 Fabled Diamond Engagement Ring
Simon G. MR1394 Fabled Diamond Engagement Ring
Part of the Fabled collection, the Simon G. Fabled Diamond Engagement Ring is a defiant and spellbinding use of rose gold. With a twisted shank that features a round brilliant melee, and a stunningly delicate design that brings all eyes to focus on the central diamond.

14k Yellow Gold Benchmark Hammered Milgrain Wedding Ring

Benchmark Hammered Milgrain Wedding Ring
Benchmark Hammered Milgrain Wedding Ring
A sterling example of the perfect 14k masculine wedding band, this 14k Yellow Gold Benchmark Hammered Milgrain Wedding Ring shows how understated doesn’t need to be boring. With a hammered-finish center being flanked by milgrain on each side of the band, and a highly polished edge, it’s a quietly confident choice that shows 14k gold can be just as inspiring.

Discover The Gold Jewelry You Need In Your Life

Everyone is on the lookout for the best quality gold jewelry. Whether it’s bangles or bracelets, earrings or engagement rings, there are myriad choices within the global jewelry market.
The first place we would recommend you look is here at Whiteflash, where you will find a stunning array of some of the highest quality 14k and 18k jewelry available, designed by some of the world’s most respected jewelry designers. Click the links below to discover the gold jewelry you need in your life.

Be Inspired By Our Designer Engagement Rings

Find the perfect Designer Ring for your special diamond by clicking the links below, and let us build the ultimate ring for the love of your life!