18K Gold, 14K Gold, or 10K Gold: How to Choose the Right Gold
“Could you tell me what the difference is between 18K and 14K gold? Does one wear better than another? Isn't one softer? I'm not sure which I should choose.”
We’re often asked questions like these and hope the following information will help you make the best choice for your wedding bands.
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, it is very soft and pliable in its pure 24K state and is generally considered to be 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 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. E-wedding bands offers many wedding band styles that are available in all three karat gold combinations so you can choose the style you want in the metal you want!
18K Gold Wedding Bands contain 75% gold and 25% alloy. 18K gold is the softest and purist of these three karat golds and is the most expensive because of its high gold content. It is typically used in higher-end jewelry such as fancy diamond rings or where a richer yellow color is desired. For instance, when 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 wedding bands will show wear marks sooner and wear out slightly faster than 14K and 10K gold bands, but 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 is generally considered to be the ideal karat gold for rings and wedding bands because it is strong yet will not easily tarnish. Probably 90% of all the gold engagement rings and wedding bands sold in the United States--whether yellow gold or white gold--are made with 14K gold. It still has a good yellow color for those wanting yellow bands instead of white, and when choosing the best karat gold for wedding bands based on all-around beauty and practicality, 14K gold can’t be beat.
10K Gold Wedding Bands contain 41.7% gold and 58.3% alloy. 10K gold is the only karat gold that contains more alloy than gold. 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 than 18K and 14K gold jewelry, and 10K yellow gold jewelry items are slightly more pale in color than 14K yellow gold jewelry items. 10K 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:
- 24K = .999
- 18K = .750
- 14K = .585
- 10K = .417
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
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 even 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.
(Some of our employees are single and don’t wear wedding bands, and we didn’t count the ones who chose platinum, titanium, or tungsten carbide!)
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!