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What are the Differences between 10k vs 14k vs 18k Gold? [2021 Updated]

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10k gold has 41.67 % purity; that is 10 parts in 24. Pure yellow gold is 24K or 24karat. Similarly, 14k gold is 58.33 % rich in gold.

Likewise, 18k gold has 18 in 24 parts of gold; that is a gold percentage of 75.

Each of these types of gold are popular and real!

Everyone loves gold jewelry.

Everyone loves shopping.

And shopping for gold jewelry is the best!

Millions of different designs are awaiting for their buyers.

This abundance of choices may be puzzling at times.

  • Is 10k gold better than 14k?
  • Is 10k gold good for sensitive ears?
  • Does 10k gold tarnish?

These are only 3 of the common questions asked.

The good news is, we’re here to help you make the best buying decision!

Just follow on!

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What is gold?

Gold is that beautiful yellow color precious metal everyone loves.

Gold is rare.

You just don’t find a gold mine every now and then.

Gold shines a bright yellow color.

Its color is cherished all around the world and made into all sorts of jewelry.

There are also other gold alloys like white gold and rose gold.

These have different colors thanks to the added metals in the mix.

Gold does not tarnish.

It is not like sterling silver. You don’t need to show extra care for tarnishing.

But if there are other metals in the alloy, they may!

Gold is a soft metal.

There is a reason why we don’t see pure gold in every day items that are used frequently.

Gold is expensive.

A yellow gold jewelry is not a random piece you pick up when shopping.

Luckily, there are many price tags for every budget.

Different pieces of gold are priced according to their gold purity.

But how do we measure gold?


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What is karat?

Gold purity is measured by karat.

As distance is measured in miles and weight in ounces, the karat amount show how many parts of gold there is.

The karat number of a piece of jewelry indicates the ratio of gold in its composition.

A fine gold item is 24 karat or 24k.

It is the purest form of gold.

In other words, that piece is 24 parts gold in 24.

This is 100% gold.

Thus, of a 1 karat gold, 1/24th of the piece is gold.

14k gold engagement rings have 58,3% of content of gold in weight.

18k gold wedding rings have 75% of gold.

This means about 4.17% of the weight is gold content, and the remaining 95.83% comes from other metals.

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Karat vs Carat

Karat is the unit for gold fineness.

Is karat the same as carat?

The answer is no.

Carat is the unit for weight used to measure for diamond and other gems.

1 carat piece of gold equals 200 milligrams.

Weight units in carat
Milligram Carat
 1 ounce  28,349.5  141.75
 1 pound  453,592  2,267.96
 1 gram  1,000  5
 1 kilogram  1,000,000  5,000

24k pure gold is not the best option for jewelry

“Pure gold is 24k. It is the best! Let’s choose our jewelry from 24k gold!”

Well, there is problem right there – a big problem.

24k fine gold is too soft to be made into jewelry.

It is not very durable.

It will quickly lose its form.

Thus it is not suitable for everyday wear.

24k gold is used for bar form of gold stored in vaults and some smaller gold pieces like coins and rounds of 1-oz and alike.

Nevertheless, we have good solutions: gold alloys.

Gold is made into alloys with other metals such as copper.

Thanks to this addition, it becomes a suitable material for jewelry.

You can find a vast amount of jewelry for 10k, 14k and 18k gold.

These karats of gold show differences in color, hardness, price and hypoallergenic properties.

Karat Table
Karat Stamp Gold parts Gold % Other %
 1 karat  1K  1 part  4.17  95.83
 8 karat  8K  8 parts  33.33  66.67
 10 karat  10K  10 parts  41.67  58.33
 14 karat  14K  14 parts  58.33  41.67
 18 karat  18K  18 parts  75.00  25.00
 20 karat  20K  20 parts  83.33  16.67
 22 karat  22K  22 parts  91.67  8.33
 24 karat  24K  24 parts  100  0

14k gold rings have brighter yellow color than 10k.

Gold is yellow but the added metals have their own different colors.

Their addition changes the color of gold alloys they form.

As the gold purity decreases, the bright yellow color weakens.

This translates to: 24k gold will have a more blazing yellow color than 18k gold.

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10k gold is harder than 14k gold.

Gold becomes harder as the added metal part increases.

For example, 10k type of gold has 41.7% gold where as 14k gold has a purity of 58.3%.

This means that a higher percentage of 10k gold consists of other metals like copper.

This increased part makes gold stronger and more durable for use as jewelry.

gold rings on table

14k gold ring is more expensive than 10k ring.

Almost always, gold is the the most expensive metal in the alloy.

Thus, the price of gold alloys will decrease as the fineness decreases.

For example, 18-karat gold bar will have a higher price than a 8-karat gold bar.

If you are into investing in gold, you may check this post on gold bullion.

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Higher karat type of gold jewelry might be a better choice for sensitive skins.

Sometimes jewelry may cause skin irritation and allergies.

This might not happen to everyone, but some people have more sensitive skin than others.

Their skin may react by changing color or in other ways, such as giving discomfort after long use.

Generally, the culprits of these undesired effects are metal allergies.

Who would want to have itches and discoloring on their wrists or ears?

So, choosing jewelry from non allergenic metals is a smart move.

These are hypoallergenic metals.

Although, no one can guarantee zero allergies, it is highly unlikely that a person will face any undesired results.

There are many hypoallergenic metals, like sterling silver, argentium silver, stainless steel and gold.

Even if gold is not an allergenic, a jewelry piece made of gold may contain different metals, as pure gold is not used for jewelry.

Our skin may be allergic to these metals, but more so to a small trace amount of other metals in the alloy.

The usual suspect is nickel.

Today, most jewelry is nickel free but there may be some very small amount in the piece.

To give a general opinion, choosing a higher purity of gold, will decrease the probability of metal allergies.

This does not mean that there are zero chances of allergy, if you choose 18-karat gold ring over a 10-karat gold ring.

It just gives a general direction.

After all, we are all alike but all different at the same time.

And our skin may be less or more sensitive than the average.

If you have experienced  discomfort after you wore a 10k gold bracelet, you may want to try a 18k gold bracelet instead.

In any case, it is always a good idea to consult a medical doctor for allergies.

This may prevent possible negative outcomes, and you can be informed by a professional after personal inspection.

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The Bottom Line

Most common gold purity levels are 10k, 14k and 18k.

These are all real, quality types of gold.

These popular gold karats differ in color, hardness and durability, price with gold percentage in metal alloys.

18k will have a richer gold color.

As it has the highest percentage, its color will be the closest to fine yellow gold.

Probably a more important difference is seen in durability.

Higher karat type of gold is less durable.

Thus, 10k gold is the most durable and hard alloy in this comparison.

It will resist the most to daily wear and tear.

This makes it a good choice for rings and other frequently used pieces.

Not to anyone’s surprise, there is a price difference between these popular types of gold.

And as expected, higher gold percentages command higher price tags.

Price will decrease from 18k to 14k to 10k, everything else being the same.

Despite it has the lowest gold content, a 10k gold wedding band is a popular type especially for those with a tight budget.

In a limited budget, there is no necessity to choose 18k engagement rings over 10k.

Related Questions

1. Is 22k gold too soft for jewelry?

Fine gold is 24 karat. This type of gold 24 out of 24 parts made of gold.

100% pure gold is too soft for jewelry.

Thus, alloys are used to make jewelry.

22k has 91.7%  composition of gold, while the remaining small part comes from other cheaper base metals like copper.

The most popular karats used in jewelry are 10k, 14k and 18k.

These have 41.7%, 58.3% and 75% purity, respectively.

These have smaller gold percentages compared to 22k, but they are all harder and more durable jewelry materials.