Choosing your karat. Everything you need to know about 10k, 14k, & 18k gold
Byheather riazionJanuary 27, 2023
When shopping for gold jewelry, you will notice you have a choice of 10 karat, 14 karat, and 18 karat gold. Visually you can barely tell them apart, sometimes, a lower karat will appear less vibrant, but most of the time, you cannot tell. We’ll talk about differences in the esthetic a little later. First, let’s talk discuss the makeup of the metals for each karat.
The purity of gold is measured using the 'karat' system, which provides information on what percentage of any type of gold is made up of pure gold. Gold 'karatage' is expressed in parts out of 24.
Pure gold is 24K, as all 24 out of 24 parts consist of pure gold.
18K gold consists of 18 parts pure gold mixed with 6 parts other metals. Expressed as a percentage, 18K gold is 75% pure gold. That's why you'll see a tiny '18K' or 'Au750' engraved on the inside of your band.
14K gold, on the other hand, consists of 14 parts pure gold mixed with 10 parts other metal. As a percentage, the pure gold in a 14K Gold band accounts for 58.3% of the total metal.
10K gold, as you can imagine, consists of 10 parts pure gold mixed with 14 parts alloy. This calculates to 41.7% of pure gold.
Alright, let’s now talk about things you will see and feel across karats.
White Gold karat options are basically impossible to differentiate. For yellow and rose the color is slightly different but hardly noticeable. Here are the minor variation you may see for yellow and rose.
10K Gold color: Pale-ish yellow/rose. Because it's got the lowest % of actual gold, you'll find a slightly lighter shade. Figure 5 out of 10, with 10 being a saturated, rich, almost mustard yellow.
14K Gold color: Warm and well-balanced yellow/rose. Side-by-side with 10K gold, 14K will look slightly more rich and warm since it's got a higher % of pure gold. Figure 7 out of 10.
18K Gold color: Lustrous yellow/rose. Think of 18K as the richest of the options with intense warmth and saturation. 8.5 out of 10.
10K will be less expensive than 14K, which will be less expensive than 18K. The reason is, pure gold is more valuable than the alloys it's mixed with. The more real gold, the higher the cost.
This works the opposite of how you might think. Because pure gold is softer than the alloys it's mixed with, an 18K gold ring is more prone to scratches, nicks, scuffs, and other daily wear & tear than a 14K or 10K ring.
Again - gold is a soft, malleable metal that scratches, bends, and warps easily. This means that the purer a gold ring is, the easier it becomes to scratch it on door frames, desks, tables, the ground, and other surfaces.
All that being said, 14K gold is more than durable enough for the average person. It’s also significantly more durable than 18K gold, making it the better choice if you and your partner have an active lifestyle.
If you’re not concerned about durability and want the purest form of gold that’s still practical for a wedding band, 18K gold can be a better choice. Just be aware that you'll need to be a little more careful.
Your Marke wedding band will not tarnish or rust, and it is the most corrosion-proof and oxidation-resistant metal. What that means is, it'll last forever - regardless of which gold option you choose.