Comparing Karats: 14k vs. 18k gold

One of the decisions you’ll make when choosing an engagement ring — or any piece of jewelry  — is if you want to wear 14k or 18k gold. What’s the difference? So glad you asked. We don’t believe in overcomplicating things, so here’s the summary.

All gold is mixed with other alloys — a mixture of metals — since pure gold is too soft to wear daily. 18k is about 75% pure gold and 14k comes in at around 58%. White, yellow, and rose gold all get their colors based on the alloys with which the gold is mixed.

Quick vocab lesson! A karat refers to the proportion of gold in an alloy out of 24 parts, so 18K gold is 18/24 parts gold. Not to be confused with carats, which is the unit used to measure the weight of colored gems and diamonds.

White, yellow, and rose gold all get their colors based on the alloys with which the gold is mixed. Rose gold contains a copper alloy, whereas white gold is alloyed with nickel. A quick note – if you have a nickel allergy, white gold should be avoided!

So which gold should I choose? There’s no right answer to this question! Choosing between 14k and 18k gold will come down to lifestyle, style preference, and budget.

A quick note: all gold will scratch, regardless of karat quality. We consider this a sign of well loved pieces. Any deep scratches can always be buffed out if need be!

14K GOLD

  • Durability: Less prone to scratches, scuffs, and bending overtime compared to 18k. If you’re super active, we say go with 14k.
  • Color: 14k often looks a bit more “softer” compared to its 18k counterpart. It won’t be dull by any means, but it doesn’t have as saturated of a color
  • Budget: 14k gold is less expensive than 18k

18K GOLD

  • Durability: A bit more prone to wear-and-tear. You’ll likely notice 18k scratches a bit easier as it is a softer metal
  • Aesthetic: Warmer white and yellow gold, and peachier rose gold
  • Budget: A bit higher cost due to higher gold content

All photos courtesy of Corey Egan