14k or 18k gold (Which One Should You Choose?)

14k or 18k gold

In the world of jewelry, one of the big questions is which karat gold you should use for the setting. 14 karat and 18 karat are the two most popular choices, but which one of those choices is right for you?

The difference between 14 karat and 18 karat gold is the percentage of pure gold in the alloy. The difference between the two percentages can also produce differences in value and color.

Keep reading to learn more about the differences between the alloys, and how they can influence your decision.

14 Karat or 18 Karat Gold:

The designations of 14k and 18k gold are indicators of how much pure gold is in the alloy, in terms of parts per 24.

14k is 14 parts per 24, which is approximately 58% pure gold in the alloy.

18k is 18 parts per 24, which is about 75% pure gold in the alloy.

What Does The Difference in Percentage Change?

The difference in the percentage of pure gold present changes a number of factors, including:

– Inherent value

– Durability

– Color

– Affordability

– Popularity

– Possibility of Allergic Reactions

But how does the difference affect each of these factors?

Read also >> 14k vs 24k Gold (Which One Should You Choose?)

Read also >> 14k Vs. 18k Rose Gold: Engagement Ring (Which Is Better?)

Inherent Value of 14k VS 18k Gold:

The price of gold per gram is approximately $53.

With a greater percentage of pure gold in the alloy, 18 karat gold has a greater inherent value per gram.

If two rings are the exact same size and weight, then the 18k ring will have a higher appraisal value.

Durability of 14k VS 18k Gold:

The alloy used in different karats of gold is used to give it greater strength and hardness. Gold is a naturally soft metal, prone to being easily damaged.

Amounts of silver, copper, zinc, nickel, and palladium are added to the pure gold for increased durability.

With 42 percent alloy versus 25 percent alloy means that 14 karat gold has a greater durability than 18 karat gold.

Color of 14k VS 18k Gold:

In a basic visual comparison, it isn’t always easy to tell 14 karat gold from 18 karat. However, a close side-by-side comparison or expert examination generally reveals slight differences.

Historically, 14 karat gold is considered the alloy that produces a warmer color, or in case of rose gold, a ‘pinker’ shade.

Historically, 18 karat gold is considered the alloy that produces a brighter color, including a whiter shade for white gold and a peach tint to rose gold.

Affordability of 14k VS 18k Gold:

The inherent value of 18 karat gold is higher than 14 karat gold.

However, that makes 18 karat gold less affordable than 14 karat gold.

Popularity of 14k VS 18k Gold:

The popularity of each type of gold relies somewhat on location, and somewhat on design preferences.

18 karat gold takes the patina of antique gold better than 14 karat gold does.

14 karat is shown to have a higher popularity in the United States.

18 karat gold is shown to have a higher popularity in Europe and Asia.

Possibility of Allergic Reactions:

Because of the higher percentage of alloy in 14 karat gold, there is a slightly higher possibility of allergic reactions.

The alloy sometimes contains nickel, which certain individuals can have an allergic reaction to.

Which Type of Gold Should I Choose – 14k or 18k?

Each type of gold has its advantages and disadvantages. In the end, which gold you choose is up to your own personal preferences, but there are certain considerations to take into account when making your decision.

Value and Affordability:

The higher value of the 18 karat gold makes it more expensive and less affordable.

If you have a budget to contend with, the 14 karat gold is probably a better option.

18 karat gold may hold its value over a longer time, with the greater amount of pure gold in the alloy.


Due to the greater percentage of alloy in 14 karat gold, it’s more durable than 18 karat gold.

If you have an active lifestyle, then 14 karat gold will withstand the impacts better, and is less likely to be scratched or bent

If you choose 18 karat gold, you’ll need to remove it for major physical hands-on activities or risk it taking damage.

14 karat gold has a greater amount of strengthening alloy than 18 karat gold.

Color of Various Types of Gold:

14 karat gold will give you a warmer tone. Fashion-wise, 14 karat gold can enhance and be enhanced by paler skin tones.

14 karat will also give you a more silvery white gold, or a more ‘pink’ color to your jewelry, if these are colors you like.

18 karat gold offers a brighter color and a richer shade of yellow gold.Fashion-wise, 18 karat gold can enhance and be enhanced by darker and warmer skin tones.

18 karat gold offers a brighter gold,  a cooler white color, and a peach tinted rose gold.

18 karat gold also takes scratches and alterations necessary to produce an antique gold finish or color tone.

Allergic Reactions:

If you have any kind of nickel sensitivity, then 18 karat gold is a better choice.

14 karat gold has more of the alloy in it, which means a potential for higher nickel content. There’s more potential to have an allergic reaction.

What Are Some Other Common Considerations For 14k VS 18k Gold?

When considering 14 karat or 18 karat gold, there are some other common questions people ask. Here’s a few things to think of:

Can I Wear 18k or 14k Gold Every Day?

Both 18 and 14 karat gold can be worn for general, everyday activities. And for jewelry like necklaces or earrings, even more athletic activities shouldn’t pose a problem.

For bracelets, rings, or ankle bracelets, it’s unwise to wear 18 karat gold for athletic or highly intensive activities. There’s a chance that the softer gold can be dented, scratched, or otherwise damaged.

14 karat gold is able to withstand more physical activity, even the more vigorous athletic activity, but you still may want to remove it, just in case.

Does 14 or 18 Karat Gold Tarnish?

18 karat gold is pure enough that it does not tarnish under any normal circumstances.

14 karat gold has a higher alloy, and some of the metals used in the alloy are capable of tarnishing. Oxygen and Sulfur can interact with the metals of the alloy and result in tarnishing.

How Long Does 14 or 18 Karat Gold Last?

Both 14 and 18 karat gold are intended to last forever and will last a lifetime with proper treatment and care.

Proper care includes regular polishing, cleaning, and upkeep, to keep the gold from being damaged by environmental factors.

Can I Wear My Gold in The Shower?

You can actually wear both 14 karat and 18 karat gold in the shower, but it’s best not to do so too frequently.

Will My Gold Jewelry Turn Green?

18 karat gold has too high a purity to turn green.

14 karat gold doesn’t usually turn green, but exposure to chemicals and environmental factors without occasional cleaning and polishing may result in corrosion of the alloy and turning the skin green.

Even with 14 karat gold, turning green is unlikely as long your jewelry is properly maintained.


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Final Thoughts

The choice of 14k versus 18k gold is ultimately a personal one based on your preferences.

If you’re looking for something affordable and durable, something that will withstand an active lifestyle, then 14 karat gold is probably a better choice.

If you’re looking for something high value and long lasting, or if you have nickel sensitivities that you need to watch out for, then you may want to go with the 18 karat gold.

Either way, you’ll have jewelry that’s beautiful and has the potential to last a lifetime.




Lindsey graduated with an MBA in 2009. Since then, Lindsey has worked in the retail and consumer service industry as a manager, advisor, and marketer. Lindsey is also the head writer and Co-founder of Rvandplaya.com. Lindsey is based in Morgantown, West Virginia.

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