white gold ring in a rose

What are the Differences between 10k vs 14k vs 18k White Gold?

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white gold ring in a rose

10k, 14k and 18k white gold are often compared side by side when shopping for wedding bands or other jewelry.

While they are all made of the same white alloy, they have differences starting from their gold percentages.

This post sheds light on the differences and similarities between them!

What is white gold?

Gold is the king of metals.

It is the prime precious metal with a distinct yellow shine.

This color symbolizes richness wherever you go.

Nevertheless, 100 percent pure gold is too soft for jewelry and everyday use.

Thus, we use harder and durable alloys.

White gold is one of these with a whitish-silvery color.

Gold is mixed with zinc, nickel, palladium or silver in order to obtain the white color.

Colorwise, it is comparable to sterling silver, palladium and platinum.

What is karat?

Gold fineness is measured in karat.

This is true for every variety, whether its yellow gold, rose gold or white gold.

1 karat piece has 1/24th of its weight in gold. In other terms, 4.17% of the alloy is made of gold.

24 karat is fine gold or 100% pure gold.

A 10 karat white gold engagement ring has 41.7% gold in its mix. It has 10 in 24 parts gold.

A 14 karat bracelet is 58.3% gold in its content. Less than 50% of its weight comes from non-gold metals.

A 18 karat white gold necklace has 75% gold content in its composition. That is 18 in 24 parts of its weight.

When you go shopping, you’ll see that nearly all white gold pieces are coated with rhodium.

Rhodium plated white gold jewelry will have a more uniform look.

Moreover, this thin layer of rhodium will protect the inner precious metal.

There is one con to this rhodium plating: it diminishes with daily wear and tear.

And after it disappears, the inner core will see daylight.

The good news is that this is not a big deal.

When this eventually happens, just make a visit to your local jewelry store for a re-plating session.

This quick and simple process will restore the shine and luster as its the first day.

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10K vs 14K vs 18K white gold: which one is better?

Karat Stamp Gold parts Percentage Hardness Color Price
 10 Karat  10K  10 / 24  41,7  +++  +++  +
 14 Karat  14K  14 / 24  58,3  ++  ++  ++
 18 Karat  18K  18 / 24  75  +  +  +++

The plus(+) signs in the table are used for illustrating the changes in hardness, color and price levels. They do not show a ratio relation in any terms.

A 10K piece of jewelry has a stronger white color than 14K one.

While gold has a natural yellow color, in white gold alloys we have a silvery color.

This change comes from the mixed white metals like zinc, nickel, palladium and silver.

The more we increase their percentage, the whiter it becomes.

In other words, as we decrease the gold ratio or karat, we’ll have a brighter white metal.

Thus, 10k white gold is closer to white than 14k gold, which in turn is whiter than 18k white gold.

One may ask if white gold does tarnish like sterling silver.

White gold jewelry does not tarnish or corrode.

However, it has a rhodium plating; this thin layer may wear off.

Happily, this can be easily put back in place by a re-plating session by your jeweler.

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10K white gold ring is harder than 14K, and 18K

We saw that pure gold is too soft for jewelry.

Hardening of gold is achieved thanks to added metals.

And, as we add more, the harder it will become.

So, 10k white gold is hardest between the three most used karats.

Likewise, 14k gold piece of jewelry is more durable and harder than 18k white gold.

A common question is “Does white gold scratch easily?” which is very valid when you think of gold’s natural softness.

Yet, white gold is durable and more resistant to scratches.

Of course, tungsten carbide would outperform in this regard, but, in the end, only gold is gold and tungsten is not.

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Prices go up with karat

Gold is the most expensive component of a white gold wedding ring, obviously.

So, naturally a white gold piece will have a higher price as it has more gold in its composition.

Thus, 18k type of gold, which has a 75% purity, will have a much higher price than 10k and 14k white gold.

This is true as long as karat is the only difference.

Gemstones like diamonds and sapphires may change prices significantly.

Another advantage of 18k rhodium plated white gold jewelry is its superior hypoallergenic properties.

Rhodium is highly hypoallergenic and safe for jewelry.

But even if the plating wears off, the underlying alloy is rich in gold.

Gold is one of the most hypoallergenic metals. It is even used as tooth replacement!

3/4 of a 18k piece comes from gold. This is much higher than 10k or 14k white gold.

Thus, 18k white gold is safer and offer better hypoallergenic properties.

In any case, for white gold or other kind of jewelry, avoid nickel alloys.

Nickel is the main culprit for metal allergies. Just prefer nickel-free jewelry to stay safe independent of the karat you choose.

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The Verdict: which one should you choose?

White gold is absolutely a great choice for jewelry.

It is the prime precious metal gold in white sheen.

It has a color similar to argentium silver, platinum and sterling silver.

It is durable and with rhodium plating becomes even more scratch resistant.

10k, 14k and 18k are the most common karat types we see in white gold.

18k white gold is the richest in gold purity with the highest price.

10k white gold is the hardest and most white one, between these three.

14k white gold finds its place in the middle when compared by color, durability and price.

Related Questions

1. Is 10k white gold good?

10k type of gold is a widely used gold alloy in jewelry.

This type of gold has 41.7% gold in its composition.

The remaining part comes from whitish metals like zinc, nickel and silver.

This latter group changes color as well as hardness.

10k white gold is a good and popular choice for rhodium plated white gold jewelry.

2. Does 10k white gold tarnish?

10k white gold does not tarnish like sterling silver.

3. Is 10k white gold better than 14k?

This is a matter of personal preference.

10k pieces are harder, whiter and cheaper.

On the other side, 14k type of gold has a higher gold purity.

It is a little softer and has a lighter white luster.

They are both widely used gold karats in jewelry.

4. Will 10k white gold turn my finger green?

No, it will not.

5. What is 10k white gold worth?

You can easily calculate the actual gold value of your white gold ring.

Assuming it is a plain piece with no gemstone like tourmaline, citrine or other, take its weight.

Multiply it with 0.417. This will give you the gold weight in your ring.

Now you can multiply this with the trading gold price to find what the gold used in the ring is worth.