Differences Between 10K, 14K, and 18K Yellow Gold

 

When we say something is gold, it usually depicts the absolute, the glorious, and the essential. Gold is gold, and from the naked eye, we see it as a symbol of success and luxury. But some golds are only half gold and pure gold doesn’t really exist. This is where 10k, 14k, and 18k yellow gold come in!


10k, 14k, 18k Yellow Gold


With differing gold purity and price points, you should be able to know what you’re paying for. You don’t want to flaunt a 10k gold thinking it’s 24k because a sly jeweler said so.

Another misconception is confusing karat (the purity measurement for gold) and carat (the weight measurement for diamonds). In this post, we’re going to talk about the “k”; it’s different variations, i.e., 10k, 14k, and 18k, and the pros and cons that can potentially save you money!


So, What’s the Difference in Their Gold Purity?


Karat Gold Purity Relationship Table

 

Pure gold has 24 karats. Logically, it consists of 100% gold. You might find the inscription “750”somewhere on an 18k gold ring. This means 18 karat gold only consists of 75% gold. The remaining 25% are different metal alloys that give more hardness to the gold.

Now, the chart on the right is what the relationship of gold and metal alloys looks like for different karat grades. While you can find gold jewelry with any amount of karat, the most common amounts are 10K, 14K, and 18K gold.

 


Why Don't Pure Gold Rings Exist?


Usually, you won't be able to find 24-karat gold rings. This is simply because pure gold is a soft metal that tends to bend and scratch very easily. This makes pure gold quite impractical for daily wear.

In fact, you would be able to notice scratches and deformations in a 24K gold ring within days of wearing it! This is why several metal alloys are added to gold to make it harder and more durable.


10k, 14k, 18k Yellow Gold and Metal Alloys


Yellow gold will usually be mixed with metals such as silver, palladium, platinum, and nickel to make it sturdier. Pure gold rings do exist, but they are usually used for ceremonial purposes. They are worn very seldom so that they don't get used up quickly.

While 24K gold is very rare in rings, it can be encountered more often in earrings as they get subjected to a smaller amount of wear and tear. 24K gold has the advantage of an intense yellow color tone, whereas it is tough to distinguish between 10K, 14K, and 18K gold with your bare eyes. 


14K 18K and 24K yellow gold visual comparison

 

You can imagine the differences in appearance as something like the image on the right.

Now, let's have a closer look at 10K, 14K, and 18K yellow gold, and find out the advantages and disadvantages for every yellow gold metal type.

 


Pros and Cons of 10K Yellow Gold


The first striking thing about 10K gold is it contains more alloy than gold. It has 41.7% gold and 58.3% alloy. 10K is considered cheaper than 14K gold, and it’s actually dubbed as discount gold! In fact, top online diamond ring vendors like James Allen don’t even offer 10K gold.

 

If you notice, most major premium-quality vendors will only sell the following ring metals:

Ring Metals offered by James Allen


10K looks slightly paler than 14K, but you won't be able to see the difference with your bare eyes. It will also tarnish more quickly than 14K or 18K, but with regular care, this shouldn’t be an issue.

Does that mean you shouldn’t buy a 10K gold? Of course not! 10K undoubtedly offers excellent value for money. Although the difference in durability is not as big as 18K vs. 14K, 10k is noticeably cheaper and more durable than 14K. All in all, 10K gold is a good choice for people looking for the best price!


Pros and Cons of 14K Yellow Gold


      • 14K gold solitaire diamond ring setting
      • 14K gold diamond tension ring setting

Being the most popular choice, nearly 90% of all wedding rings and engagements rings sold in the United States consist of 14K gold. Why is it so popular? 14K contains 58.5% gold and is the perfect compromise as it’s still quite durable and will not easily tarnish.

It also has a beautiful yellow gold color that you’ll have a hard time telling apart from an 18k. Aside from being a premium gold, it is still comparably cheap.

There’s a huge gap in durability between 14k and 18k as the former will usually take much longer to show visible marks of wear and tear. This is why 14k gold is the best choice for anyone looking for the perfect balance in durability, price, and look.


Pros and Cons of 18K Yellow Gold


      • 18K yellow gold etched profile solitaire ring
      • 18K yellow gold channel set ring setting

18K gold consists of 75% gold, and among commonly sold gold metals, it has the highest amount of gold. You won’t usually find gold rings beyond 18K because they tend to get scratches and deformations way too easily.

18K is typically used for high-end jewelry like diamond engagement rings. Obviously, 18K gold is the most expensive, but it’s also the one that’s least likely to tarnish. It is, however, more prone to being affected by every-day use as it is softer.


That said, 18K gold rings require more care than 14K yellow gold rings. It will be a challenge telling 14k and 18k apart. And if they look the same, would you pay extra for a feature you cannot see?


18K gold rings are the best choice for anyone who wants to have the most amount of gold in the ring while still possessing enough durability. Needless to say, preferring18K over 14K is mostly a matter of knowing that the 18K gold ring contains more gold and is, therefore, more exquisite.


Where to Buy Gold Wedding Rings or Diamond Rings


Thinking man 


With no prior knowledge of gold or diamonds, one would initially opt for a jeweler with the most experience as it’s seemingly the safest. Timeless ancient stones blend just right with brick and mortar stores. Because let’s face it, traditional jewelry shops’ classic approach suggests the impression that they’re the true keepers of the most valuable gems in the world.

This is why most people find it hard to believe that you can buy precious stones and metals from the internet! But believe it or not, this is what the future of shopping is all about.

You can buy gold wedding rings or diamond rings in both physical and digital shops. However, what sets online shopping to a whole new level is you’ll have a wider selection at a cheaper cost as online stores don’t have to pay for inventory and fancy showrooms.


Gold Wedding Rings from James Allen


The best place to buy gold wedding rings and diamond rings is James Allen. They offer nearly 500 different ring settings in 14K yellow gold, 18K yellow gold, 14K white gold, 18K white gold, platinum, and rose gold. You can conveniently see each ring from every angle!


Browsing through diamonds at James Allen


As far as diamonds for engagement rings are concerned, James Allen is the only place that will let you view all their diamonds in high definition 360° videos at up to 40x magnification! This feature is particularly useful for inspecting inclusions in diamonds and thus, can save you a lot of money if you are buying SI1 or SI2 clarity diamonds. Go and check out James Allen for yourself!


The Bottomline


10k, 14k, 18k Yellow Gold Rings

Choosing the right engagement ring doesn’t end in settling with yellow gold. There are different kinds of gold that are designed for every budget and function.

Now that you know which yellow gold will get you the biggest bang for your buck, you can then make room for the first ring type you set eyes on – before finding out you can go for the gold without spending a fortune.


Should you have any question about ring metals, I will be more than happy to help you out! Just leave a comment down below or better yet, email me! 🙂

 

Differences Between 10K, 14K, and 18K Yellow Gold
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About 

Sebastian Naturski loves to write about diamonds and share his knowledge with his readers.
When he is not working on his website he is studying law at Humboldt University of Berlin.
He has taken part in several international law competitions and likes to broaden his horizons.
His other big passion are languages. He is fluent in German, English, Polish and Japanese and got basic skills in French and Spanish as well.

43 Comments

  1. I have a set of earrings which say 14k on the back side of one side of the post the other says capital S on the other side . What does the S mean.

    • Hello Eli, thank you for your inquiry. Typically, S or SS stand for silver or sterling silver. Perhaps the earring post was replaced at some point with silver instead of gold? You can go to a local jeweler to have them take a look for you. Or if these are new earrings, you can ask the retailer where you purchased them.

  2. Does a seller have to tell you if a ring is 14K gold plate or filled? Or can they just advertise it as 14K if that’s what’s on the outside?

    • Hi Emily,

      Thank you for your inquiry. A seller should definitely inform the buyer on the correct metal content of a piece of jewelry, otherwise they are being deceptive. If it is gold plated or gold filled, it should be stamped with “GP” or “GF”. If you want proof of the metal content beyond what is or is not stamped on the jewelry, a few different tests can be done. If the jeweler has a hand held metal analyzer he/ she can zap the metal to get it’s metal content. You can also use a magnet to see whether or not the jewelry reacts. If the jewelry is attracted to the magnet, then it is not solid gold.
      I hope this helps! Thanks again!

  3. I bought a ring on Internet. The stamps says it is 14 KT and it looks in another way than my wedding ring, which is 14K . It is in a way a bit darker and more glossing.
    Is it a fake?

  4. Hi
    I got a 14K ring but it after three weeks it seems ( maybe the polish is wearing off) a bit rose like not so yellow could it be it copper as an alloy it is still gold or do I have a reason to worry. tried soaking it in vinegar but no reaction , with make up it turned the surface black…..

    • Hi Lucy,
      Thank you for your inquiry. Your body chemistry may be reacting to the alloys. I would suggest going to a trusted local jeweler and having them professional polish and clean the ring. As well as verify the metal content.

  5. What would you recommend for a weeding band?
    14k or 18k?
    In terms of durability and good looks.

    Price is not an issue.

    • Hello Adrian! Thank you for your question. 14K is harder than 18K. If you are looking at yellow gold, 18K will be yellower than 14K. If you are considering white gold, 14K and 18K will look the same, since it is the rhodium plating that makes the ring white.

  6. i am looking at an 18k italian gold ring. it appears to be very yellow. is that normal? it kind of makes it look cheap or not real gold.

    • Hello Pam, thank you for your inquiry. I am happy to help. 18K yellow gold, should look very yellow. The gold content is 75% gold. If you do not prefer how yellow it is, then perhaps you should consider 14K. Have you had the ring tested for it’s gold content? Is the ring stamped with the gold content?

  7. I have a severe nickle allergy and gold is basically the only metal I can wear for more than a few hours but your article states nickle is an alloy used to harden gold. Is nickle not used often? Why can I wear gold and most silver when gold can contain nickle?
    Thanks

    • Hi Katie,

      The lower the gold karat, the bigger part of it is made up of non-gold metals, including nickel. That’s why low-karat gold jewelry is more likely to cause allergic reactions. Maybe you use higher gold karats and the nickel in those aren’t enough to cause allergy? Platinum, sterling silver, hypoallergenic gold, and titanium are good options.

  8. Hello, thanks for an informative page! I just have a question, if I have one piece K14Pink gold and want to solder a piece of K10Pink gold chain to it, which solder should one chose? In regards to melting points I´m thinking. Would appreciate any input here. Kindest regards, Gordana

  9. Hello, I have found a man’s bracelet that appears to be yellow gold with a silver plating over it. It is non-magnetic, has a 14K stamp on it, and has the weight of a heavier metal such as gold. What else might it be if not yellow gold?
    Thank you for any info that you can provide.

    • Hi Samuel,

      The 14k stamp is a clear indication that it is indeed a 14k yellow gold. 🙂

  10. thank you for this, very informative. At least i have an idea on how i will choose the right engagement ring for my fiance. But some says that if my engagement ring is white gold, my wedding ring should be white gold also, or if yellow gold engagement ring, my wedding ring should be yellow gold or gold, can you help me about this? thanks.

    • Hi Jessoespi,

      You’re welcome! You may pair your diamond or gemstone to a white or yellow gold. It doesn’t always have to be white on white. Some also prefer rose gold. It actually depends on your personal preference. Please read my post on Engagement Ring Metals to know more.

  11. Hello,
    I have a ring that has 14KA7 stampled inside band. Can you tell me if this indicates 14K gold, and perhaps the maker’s ID?
    Thank you.

  12. Would you recommend 10K or 14K for a college ring? Obviously 10K is less expensive and since it isn’t a wedding ring I am thinking it would be fine. Also not sure this wouldn’t get lost since it for my son!

    • Hi Renee, you’re right, 10k is a good choice for a college student.

  13. Hello, there is a Ring i want to buy, but it has a Stamp with: WH 10K
    what does this mean?? not Gold? only plated with 10K Gold??

    Greetings

    • Hi Orkan,

      The WH is the maker’s mark. And 10K means your ring is 10 Karats Gold.

  14. I am looking at purchasing a number of bracelets that are stamped 14kt ht. Can you tell me what this means?

    • Hi Kay, 14kt means 14 karat gold and ht could be the maker’s mark.

  15. Will I be more prone to develop allergic reaction wearing 10K gold compared to wearing 14K or 18K? Also, I have seen 10K yellow gold that are much more yellow compared to 14K and 18K, close to the hue of 22-24K. What type of metal alloys used in 10K yellow gold that makes the color to be very yellow?

    • Hi Marc,

      Yes, 10k is more likely to cause an allergic reaction because it has lower gold purity and more alloys. I haven’t seen a rich 10k gold, but maybe what you’ve seen had more copper in it to counterbalance the lack of yellow, so the end result would be a golder/richer tone. It’s still 10k (41.67% pure gold) though.

  16. very informative site, i’m having a family diamond reset for my daughter’s wedding anniversary but it seems like there are very few settings for a 2.2 karat diamond. i’m hoping you’ll have the perfect halo setting, i’m thinking yellow diamonds for the pave part..

    • Hi Patricia,

      There’s a wide selection of ring settings (even for bigger carats) in James Allen. Have a look at their halo settings here.

  17. So buying an engagement ring for my fiance i found one I absolutely love it is 10k solid white gold, i do not want it to show wear and tear very easily since she will be wearing it daily for years till i get something better, will the 10k be ok to use everyday all day for years or should i see if i can get the same seller to have the ring made in 14k or whatever i just want it to last a long time. Are you able to polish 10k back to original finish per a professional jewelry cleaner? Is this a good choice being 10k solid white gold for my situation?

    • Hi James,

      As I mentioned in the article, 10K gold will tarnish more quickly than 14K or 18K gold, but with regular care, it wouldn’t be a problem. 10K diamonds are cheaper and more durable than 14K gold. So, it’s considered the right choice if you’re looking for the best price.

      Although if you want to re-shape your ring into a 14k or 18k, most refineries will melt all the gold, remove the purities, and wind up with pure gold, which is then custom mixed to make whatever karat you want.

  18. Hi. I have a ring that has 14kh in it. Can I please get a better explanation of what that means?

    • Hi Tania,

      As mentioned in the article above, 14k is a stamp denoting that the purity of the gold in your ring is 14 out of 24 (pure gold). The “H” beside it is the mark of the manufacturer. Please refer to this forum for more info. Cheers!

  19. if 24k gold has the purest gold. does that makes it the softest karat ? because it has less alloys ? just asking sir.

    • Hello Robby,

      You’re right! Although 24k doesn’t contain alloys as it is pure gold, but that’s what make it the softest and is rarely used in jewelry.

  20. I have a ring stamped 14k* could you please tell me what the * means on this stamp thanks

  21. I found what I think is a diamond earring and on the post is the markings “7P 14k”. I understand the “14k” part, but what is the “7P” about? Is 7P in reference to the stone?

  22. I thank you so much for the help. I was searching for gold chains and saw the different numbers next to the letter K(Meaning Karats I believe). And you have helped me to know what number and Karat of gold I want.

    • Hi Christopher,
      So glad to be of help! If you want to know more, just keep skimming through my posts and if you have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Have a great day ahead!

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