Apr 28

14kt vs 18kt Gold For Your Wedding Ring

By Calla Gold

14kt vs 18kt

The Tiny Diamonds and Their Tiny Prongs Should be Made in 14kt Yellow Gold Rather Than 18kt for Strength

Choosing the Right Carat for Your Wedding Ring

“14kt vs 18kt gold? Which is better for me?” People ask jewelers including me that question all the time. There are compelling reasons why a difference in karat, 14kt vs 18kt gold, can have a big effect on the life of your wedding ring.


14kt Gold Metal DistributionWhat the Karats Mean and How it Effects the Cost of Your Ring

24 karat gold is 100% gold. It is such a soft and luscious metal that it is impractical to use in its pure form. By combining it with harder metals (alloying) and cutting its soft purity it can be worked for jewelry successfully. Also see my blog post: Carats, Karats and Carrots!

The most common ways a jewelry designer uses gold is alloyed with stronger metals and as 14kt gold which is 58% pure gold and 18kt gold which is 75% pure gold. The alloy metals that make up the remaining percentages are worth considerably less than the gold and normally aren’t considered when buying a piece of jewelry.

With the greater percentage of gold, 18kt jewelry will cost more than similar looking 14kt jewelry. Looking at gold trading at well over $1000 an ounce, this can be a significant difference in the cost of your wedding ring.

Gold bar on scale. 14kt vs 18kt gold in weights

Pure Gold Weighs More Than 18kt Gold Which Weighs More Than 14kt Gold

Different Karats, Different Gold Weight

Gold is a heavy metal. Since 18kt has a greater percentage of gold than does 14kt, of two rings with the exact same dimensions, the 18kt ring will be heavier.

Some people like the feel of the extra weight of 18kt gold. My husband’s hammered comfort fit style wedding band is made out of 18kt gold and he likes the weightiness of it.

14kt vs 18kt yellow gold color examples

On the Left is Yellower 18kt Gold. The Two Rings on The Right are 14kt Yellow Gold

Different Karats, Different Yellow Gold Color

The color of 18kt yellow gold typically looks richer and deeper than its 14kt counterpart. 14kt can look a little whiter of a yellow than 18kt. Personally, I prefer the rich color of 18kt. This subtle color difference only matters in ring designs that show a lot of the gold.

Many people don’t realize that there is a difference in color hue between the two different karats of yellow gold. When designing a ring which shows a lot of gold and has a nice strong gem setting element, I often suggest 18kt yellow gold due to its rich, warm coloration.

14kt vs 18kt white gold

This Halo Style Wedding Set Will Have Less Maintenance Issues if Made in 14kt White Gold Instead of the Softer 18kt Gold

14kt vs 18kt Gold, Different Strengths of Gold

14kt gold is usually stronger than 18kt gold because of the greater percentage of harder alloy metals in its makeup.

For this reason, it’s often better to use 14kt in intricately design jewelry, especially when setting lots of little diamonds in tiny prongs. The 14kt prongs will be stronger than 18kt ones.

This 18kt Yellow Gold Man's Band has Years of the Patina of Wear Worn on. He'll Never Let me Polish it. It Looks Pretty Cool.

This 18kt Yellow Gold Man’s Band has Years of the Patina of Wear Worn on. He’ll Never Let me Polish it. It Looks Pretty Cool.

Different Karats, Different Speed of Scratching Gold

18kt gold scratches more easily than 14kt gold, because it has more pure gold and gold is a relatively soft metal. For this reason, you might expect to have to polish an 18kt ring more often than one made in 14kt.

This would be for more modern setting designs. For rustic or antiquity inspired designs the scratches add to the beauty.

In White Gold, both 14kt and 18kt hold their shine quite well, especially when compared to how quickly platinum metal scratches. Generally white gold holds its shiny look longer than yellow gold. I believe it is due to the strong white metal alloys mixed in with the gold.

18kt opal ring

This 18kt Yellow Gold Ring  Looks Prettier Than When it Was New. It’s Patina of Wear is Beautiful

Different Karats, Different Patina of Wear

The soft look that 18kt yellow gold develops as a patina of wear could be quite pleasing to you. This is especially true for rustic designs and designs with elements of antiquity worked into them.

The gold or yellow-orange richness that deepens in color over time is specific to 18kt yellow gold vs the lighter yellow gold of 14kt.

Certain designs are actually more beautiful after a period of wear has passed. Once this time elapses, it allows the 18kt yellow gold color tone to deepen and enrich. When you add in the pleasing and visually soft patina that develops as well, you see a dimension in your ring that wasn’t apparent when you first started wearing it. This is unique to 18kt yellow gold. And higher karats like 2okt and 22kt.

Wedding Jewelry, Engagement ring With Ruby and Diamonds in White Gold

How Would One Ever Know if it was 14kt or 18kt white gold?

14kt vs 18kt Gold – White Gold

14kt white gold contains more of the alloys that give it its white color than does 18k white gold. For this reason, 14k white gold has a better chance at looking whiter.

On the other hand, since almost all white gold jewelry is rhodium plated, it doesn’t make that much difference.

However in all my years of jewelry making, I’ve observed that 14kt white gold with its higher percentage of hardening alloys holds up better in tiny and intricate details than 18kt white gold. When a client of mine wants a white gold ring I generally suggest 14kt white gold for its added strength.

Come Pick Up Your “Different Karats” Diploma

You now know what you need to know to choose the best karat for your yellow or white gold wedding ring!
Your Personal Jeweler,
Calla Gold

10 thoughts on “14kt vs 18kt Gold For Your Wedding Ring

  1. Can you make me a gold bezel Etruscan Byzantine ring with sapphire, ruby and emerald. I live in Australia. I have a photo of the ring.

    • Hi Maria,
      I don’t want to copy someone’s copyrighted design. However using a photo or photos as inspiration works fine. I love to work in the Etruscan style and ruby, sapphire and emerald would look beautiful.
      I just emailed you a number of Etruscan style rings I have made.
      I look forward to hearing back from you.
      Your Personal Jeweler,
      Calla

  2. Calla, I love the 18K gold and opal band which you’ve shown as an example of the patina which develops with age. Can you make another of these? What would be a ballpark price for such a ring?

    • Hello Sondra,
      I love that ring. Look for an email from me. I give bids in private emails, not on the blog.
      Your Personal Jeweler,
      Calla

  3. Dear Calla,

    Thank you for this wonderfully informative post. I love that you have provided details about the suitability of the different carats for different designs. You have helped me to be a much better customer and co-creator of my next piece of jewelry.

    I am still working my way through reading all of your blog posts and having a lovely and informative time while doing so.

    Have a lovely day.
    Jelena

    • Hello Jelena,
      I’m so pleased to hear that the blog posts are proving helpful in your education as a self designer. I believe there is a designer in every one of us. May your next jewelry creations be beloved.
      Your Personal Jeweler,
      Calla

  4. Hello
    I live in the Middle East and recently got engaged. My fiance bought me a white gold ring and had it dipped in yellow gold (I prefer yellow).

    I plan to wear my mom’s 14K yellow gold wedding band so we brought it in to be sized and polished.

    When we went to pick up the rings they were suddenly 18kt gold! Which I’m not really a fan of. The jewler claims it’s an 18kt gold polish and they can’t change it back to 14kt. Is this possible? What can I do to fix this?

    • Hi Colleen,
      You have seen the unfortunate problem with yellow gold plating. Gold plating is brighter and sometimes brassier than normal gold color. I do not know why plated gold is like that. We are unable to ‘control’ the color of gold plating. I use 14kt gold plating even on 18kt gold pieces because it is more orangy than normal gold. When I plate the 18kt color is a more pronounced difference.
      I would recommend that when you can you have your white gold ring re-made in yellow gold. Your yellow gold plated white gold will start out too bright, then calm down and then the white will start showing through. For daily wear yellow gold over white gold is not a satisfying color.
      If your ring is polished, with a high RPM rouge wheel, the gold plating will come off the shiny parts of your ring that the polisher can reach. If your ring is mostly shiny surface you can have this done and try gold plating again. Ask your jeweler if they have 14kt yellow gold plating solution. Some only plate 18kt or higher.
      Possibly if you have it re-plated in 14kt yellow gold instead of 18kt you’ll find the color less bright and brassy.
      Your Personal Jeweler,
      Calla

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