We’re often asked about the differences between the purities of gold, and if one will wear better than the other. We hope you’ll find the following information useful when making the best choice for your wedding band.
Pure gold, also referred to as 24 karat or 24K, has many unique and desirable characteristics that make it valuable. For instance, it doesn’t tarnish, it is non-allergenic, it is very malleable/workable, it polishes to a mirror-like shine, it is rare, and it is highly valued in every country in the world. However, 24k in its pure state is very soft and pliable, and is generally considered unsuitable for wedding bands and other jewelry. As a result, e-Wedding Bands doesn’t offer wedding bands made from 24K gold.
In order to make gold jewelry that is durable and long lasting, gold is combined with other metals--called alloys--to make it stronger and change its color. Alloys add strength, but dilute the value of the gold and may cause jewelry items to eventually tarnish and/or cause allergic reactions. In an attempt to achieve the best balance between the strength of alloys and the valuable and desirable properties of gold, three different karat gold combinations have become standard: 18K, 14K, and 10K. All three of these karat golds are available in white gold, rose gold or yellow gold. White gold alloys are typically stronger than yellow gold alloys, so a white gold ring will be slightly stronger and last a little longer than a yellow gold ring. All three of these karat golds are available in white gold, yellow gold, or rose gold, and are offered in many styles that you can choose from.
18K Gold Wedding Bands contain 75% gold and 25% alloy. 18K gold and rose gold are the softest and purist of these three karat golds, and the most expensive because of the high gold content. They’re typically used in higher-end jewelry such as fancy diamond rings or where a richer yellow or warm rosy color is desired. For instance, when yellow gold or rose gold is combined with platinum, it can create a stunning and contrasting two-tone look. It is the most resistant to tarnishing of the three karat golds, and although it is the softest, it is still hard enough to be used for rings and wedding bands. 18K gold and rose gold wedding bands will show signs of wear sooner, and wear out slightly faster than 14K and 10K gold bands. However, they are still the preferred choice of those wanting something a little finer.
14K Gold Wedding Bands contain 58.3% gold and 41.7% alloy. 14K gold and rose are generally considered to be the ideal karat gold for rings and wedding bands. Both are strong, and will not easily tarnish. Probably 90% of all the gold engagement rings and wedding bands sold in the United States--whether yellow gold, white gold or rose gold--are made with 14K gold. It still has a good yellow color for those wanting yellow bands instead of white or the pinkest hue of rose. When choosing the best karat gold for wedding bands based on all-around beauty and practicality, 14K gold can’t be beat. 14K rose gold contains 58.33% pure gold, so it is a bit cooler and pinker than 18K rose gold.
10K Gold Wedding Bands contain 41.7% gold and 58.3% alloy. 10K gold and rose gold are the only karat golds that contain more alloy than 14k and 18k. 10K gold wedding bands are typically requested by individuals looking for a slight discount from 14K gold prices. It is the least pure and therefore the least expensive of the three karat golds, and is the preferred metal for class rings and other jewelry pieces where a lower cost is desired. It will tarnish more quickly in recessed and hidden areas than 18K and 14K gold jewelry, and 10K yellow gold jewelry items are slightly paler in color than 14K yellow gold jewelry items. 10K rose gold, on the other hand, is the pinkest, coolest color of rose gold, since it contains the least amount of pure gold and more alloy. It’s actually a favorite around our offices, because it is the pinkest in color. 10K gold and rose gold is generally considered to be harder than 14K, but there is much unresolved discussion within the jewelry industry about whether or not it actually wears longer than 14K.
With the internet making it possible to buy gold jewelry from anywhere in the world, many manufacturers are now using international gold marks to show the purity of their gold jewelry items. In these cases, the fineness of the precious metal content is expressed in parts-per-thousand. This marking system is universally recognized, is actually more accurate, and we have listed the applicable marks here along with their corresponding karat marks:
We mark certain bands with these marks, so if you receive a ring from e-Wedding Bands with an international marking stamp inside, rest assured that the quality is the best available!
White Gold Rings and Rhodium Plating
Because white gold is made from yellow gold and various alloys, white gold in it's natural state has a slight yellow tint. It's not a true white metal like platinum or silver. To enhance the whiteness of white gold jewelry, and no matter where you purchase white gold jewelry, it has become standard in the jewelry industry to plate (or cover) white gold jewelry with another metal called Rhodium. Rhodium is very white, reflective, extremely hard and virtually tarnish free, so it's the perfect protective coating for a white gold ring.
This Rhodium coating may eventually wear off and need to be re-applied through a simple re-plating process, if the bright, whiter look is desired for the piece of jewelry.
We have received many inquiries about how often the re-plating process will be needed, but that depends completely on the amount of normal wear to the jewelry item. It could be needed as often as every 6 months, or as seldom as every 5 years. The Rhodium coating wears off gradually and many people end up loving their rings with the natural white gold look.
What do we wear? We polled our own employees to see what they chose: Of those who have gold rings, approximately 10% chose 18K Gold and 90% chose 14K Gold.
We hope this information will help you with your decision, but if you have additional questions please feel free to call and speak to one of our knowledgeable sales staff—we’ll help you choose the perfect ring!