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14K Gold vs. 18K Gold: What’s The Difference And Which “K”  Is Right For You?

Anyone who has uttered the old adage, “all that glitters is not gold” didn’t have a sparkly diamond attached to it! As beautiful as gold is, between colors and karats it can be hard to comb through all the options. Read on to figure out which one is right for you.

First Of All, What Is A “K”?

K is for Karat and represents the purity of gold used in a piece of jewelry. (Not like carats – which are used when referring to diamonds. Learn more about those C’s HERE). For this K, the higher the K, the more pure the gold. BUT be careful; a higher K does NOT necessarily mean a better or nicer piece of jewelry.

In fact, there are multiple factors to consider when deciding what type of gold to use for what piece of jewelry. We will break down the difference between 14K and 18K gold, how does it affect the color, the piece, and if one is better than the other? Why or why not? (Spoiler alert? The answer is no!) 

Read on to find out which gold and which “K” is right for you!

14K vs. 18K

Gold is the most popular metal used for all jewelry for a reason. It is strong, flexible, and in its purest form, soft. In order to make the metal usable for jewelry, an alloy (or a mix of metals) is added. How much alloy is what jewelers use to determine the amount of “K.”

For example, 24K is pure gold and therefore too soft to be used in jewelry and general everyday wear. 24K gold easily dents and scratches, and is simply too fragile for even the most careful jewelry expert. 18K and 14K, which still have a high ratio of gold but enough alloy to be workable, are the most popular choices for both jewelers and purchasers.

What Is The Difference Between 14K And 18K Gold?

Let’s start with this chart:

Pros of 14K

  • Very Durable
  • More Affordable
  • Softer Yellow Color

Pros of 18K

  • Purer Gold
  • Better For Those With Metal Allergies
  • Brighter Yellow Tones

The higher durability of 14K gold makes it an ideal choice for jewelry that is worn everyday, for those with an active lifestyle, and for jewelry with intricate detail and added or placed stones, such as in gold engagement rings.

This tension set engagement ring is a great example. Its modern artful design can only be created thanks to the strength of 14K gold.

Their durability, combined with the greater affordability, make 14K gold engagement rings the top choice for many couples. Check out more white 14K gold engagement rings HERE and yellow 14K gold engagement rings HERE.

18K gold can be a preferable choice for those with allergies or are very sensitive to alloys, since 18K is more pure gold. 18K gold is also advantageous because although it is more delicate, when it IS scratched, it does so in a way that appears vintage.

Explore our collection of 18k gold fine jewelry rings HERE.

So is 14K better than 18K? The short answer is no. Each metal offers different advantages, therefore the better metal depends on you. 14K gold might be a better choice if you are very active, whereas 18K gold can be better for more delicate pieces of fine jewelry.

The differences in appearance are often quite minimal and a matter of personal choice, whichever karat you go with, you will be sure to shine!

Yellow Gold: 14K vs. 18K: Spot The Differences?

Gold: Which “K” & Color Is Better For You?

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The difference in color between 14K and 18K yellow gold, while a factor, is not terribly strong, and a matter of personal preference. Overall, yellow gold is universally flattering but it can really enhance wearers with warmer skin tones. Both 14K and 18K yellow gold pairs well with gemstones.

White gold, in both 14K and 18K, like its yellow counterpart, looks great on everyone. Yet it ever so slightly amplifies those with cooler skin tones. White gold also pairs well with gemstones. While yellow gold can pair better with more earthy tones, white gold can pair better with more vibrant colors.

These 14K white gold ruby hoops make the perfect gift for that special someone born in July and this 14K yellow gold blue topaz bracelet is the best way to say “Happy Birthday” to that friend born in December.

Don’t Forget The Rose

Rose gold is also available in 14K and 18K, and similar to its yellow and white counterparts, 14K rose gold is more durable, while 18K rose gold is more pure. The romance of both 14K and 18K rose gold allows it to pair well with colors, for both casual and fancy occasions.

It is a wonderful choice for engagement rings, wedding rings, and any other piece of fine jewelry. Check out these examples from James Allen:

Whether choosing yellow or white, or rose gold, 14K or 18K, you can be sure to add lots of gemstones and colors to your jewelry collection. Want to know more about gemstone and birthstone jewelry? Check out our blogs and read everything you need to know HERE!

Which Gold Is Best For Which Ring?

14K gold is the most popular choice for engagement and wedding rings. Whether yellow, white, or rose, 14K’s mix of purity and durability makes it an ideal choice for these rings since they are geared for everyday wear. The affordability of 14K gold adds to it being a very popular choice for both engagement and wedding rings.

18K gold is also a great choice for engagement and wedding rings for those with allergies as 18K gold has more gold and less alloy.

Both 14K gold and 18K gold work great for fine jewelry. 18K gold is often a popular choice for fine jewelry rings, as the color is considered more “true” and its delicacy makes it ideal for pieces meant for special occasions.

So whether you want a gold ring you can wear to the gym everyday, or you want a ring you can save for anniversaries and holidays, we have the metal and the ring for you!

What About Earrings, Bracelets, & Necklaces?

Whether you prefer a more durable 14K or a more gentle 18K, white gold, yellow gold, or rose, James Allen has the right gold, at the right K, for any event. Check out these great options and explore more HERE:

Which Gold Is Best For YOU?

As you have probably guessed by now, the perfect gold for you depends on you. A 14K gold engagement ring might work for your active lifestyle, while an 18K rose gold ring is perfect for that special night out.

A 14K white gold wedding ring might be perfect to wear everyday, while an 18K yellow gold necklace is the perfect birthday present. Whatever your needs, preferences, and budget, James Allen has the gold ring, bracelet, necklace, and earrings that are right for you!

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Jackie is a writer who loves a good deal, especially when it comes to jewelry!