18k vs 14k Gold: Which Karat is Best for Everyday Use?

POSTED ON December 2, 2023
18k vs 14k Gold: Which Karat is Best for Everyday Use?

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Everyone loves the sound of 24K gold. Pure gold is associated with being very valuable, the “best of the best” when it comes to owning gold or giving a gift. And while it’s true that it is the most valuable, it actually isn’t the best choice when it comes to owning gold jewelry. As romantic as it may sound saying your partner got you a 24-karat gold necklace, that gift actually isn’t very practical.

That’s because gold by itself isn’t very durable. When mixed with other alloys, however, gold becomes stronger and better for long-time, everyday use. For this reason, choosing a less pure karat is a better choice when it comes to purchasing gold jewelry. However, there are other reasons people may opt for higher karat jewelry. Below, we’ll examine a few different reasons why people make these choices.

But first, what exactly is a karat, and why does it matter? To learn more about gold purity, how it’s measured, and the value implications, check out our article: What is Gold Purity and How is it Measured? Comparing 24k, 22k, 18k, 14k, 12k, and 10k Gold.

Gold that is used purely for investment (like bars or coins), is generally 24k gold. Of course, those aren’t “for everyday use” in the 21st century. No one is really chipping off pieces of gold to buy their groceries these days. By everyday use, I mean things like rings (including wedding bands), necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and other jewelry.

18 Karat Gold for Everyday Use

18K gold is often considered an excellent choice for jewelry, but whether it’s the best depends on your specific needs and preferences.

  1. Gold Purity: 18K gold is 75% pure gold, making it more valuable and prestigious than lower-karat options. It has a rich, vibrant color that many people find attractive.
  2. Durability: While 18K gold is not as durable as lower-karat options like 14K or 10K, it is still relatively durable for everyday wear. It’s less prone to tarnishing or corrosion compared to lower-karat gold or gold-plated jewelry.
  3. Hypoallergenic: 18K gold is less likely to cause allergic reactions because of its higher gold content. It is a good option for those with sensitive skin or allergies to certain metals. Some people like to say tongue-in-cheek that they’re “allergic to low-class gold”. While that seems a little harsh on alloys, there is some truth to it.
  4. Style and Elegance: The color and shine of 18K gold are often associated with luxury and elegance. It is a popular choice for high-end and fine jewelry. A keen eye will be able to tell the difference between 18k and 10k gold (but most people won’t really be able to).
  5. Investment Value: While jewelry is primarily purchased for its aesthetic value, 18K gold has a higher gold content, making it a better investment than lower-karat gold or gold-plated jewelry. If you’re looking to sell your gold to us, you’ll get a lot more if you have 18k jewelry!

If you have an active lifestyle or are on a tighter budget, you might prefer the increased durability and affordability of 14K or 10K gold. Similarly, if your skin is sensitive to other metals, it could discolor or otherwise react poorly to lower karat jewelry.

If you’re not very hard on your jewelry, then 18k can be a good choice. So for those that prefer fine dining and golf to scuba diving and hand-to-hand combat, 18k gold is a perfectly fine choice.

When it comes to giving a gift of gold, if you want the gift to be a combined expression of value and practicality, then 18k gold is your best bet. It’s quite a bit more valuable than 10k and 14k gold (80% more valuable than 10k gold, to be exact), is less likely to react negatively with skin, and is still durable enough for basic everyday use.

For what I’d call “special occasion jewelry,” 18k gold is definitely a great choice. It’s brighter color and higher value have an air of opulence, and for such occasions you’re really not worried about wear and tear.

stamps on gold rings

14 Karat Gold for Everyday Use

When it comes to everyday gold use, I’m a 14k gold guy. I like to stay active, so any jewelry I wear needs to be prepared for a bit of action. Here are some reasons why 14K gold can be considered a good choice for jewelry:

  1. Durability: 14K gold is more durable than higher-karat gold options, such as 18K or 24K gold. Its alloy composition (58.3% pure gold) includes a higher percentage of other metals like copper and silver, which makes it stronger and less prone to scratching or bending. This makes it a good choice for everyday wear, particularly for rings and bracelets that may experience more wear and tear.
  2. Affordability: 14K gold is often more affordable than higher-karat options like 18K or 24K gold. It offers a balance between the appearance of gold and its cost, making it a popular choice for those on a budget.
  3. Color: 14K gold has a warm and appealing color, making it suitable for a wide range of jewelry designs. It strikes a good balance between the bright yellow of higher-karat gold and the strength and durability of lower-karat gold.
  4. Hypoallergenic: While 14K gold contains some alloy metals, it is still considered hypoallergenic for most people and less likely to cause allergic reactions compared to base metals or gold-plated jewelry. When people complain about jewelry having a reaction with their skin, it’s usually completely “fake” gold jewelry.
  5. Versatility: 14K gold is versatile and can be used for various types of jewelry, including engagement rings, wedding bands, necklaces, earrings, and more. Wondering what your gold wedding band is worth? Here’s our article on pricing wedding rings!

gold chain with heart

While it may not be a great idea to challenge your partner on their allergy if they say they’re allergic to “fake” gold, generally speaking 14k gold is hypoallergenic. My mom’s skin would react to costume jewelry, but not 14k gold, for example. My ex-girlfriend claimed 10k was no good, while 14k was acceptable, so take from that what you will. I didn’t test her on it, but consider me skeptical.

All in all, if you value durability and affordability, 14K gold can be a strong choice. However, if ever there comes a time to sell it, you’ll be getting significantly less for it than if you had invested in a higher karat count.

Selling Your Gold

If you’re thinking of selling your gold, at Cash for Gold Mailer we’ll give you a great price for your gold. Whether you’ve got 14k or 18k gold – or if you aren’t sure – we’ll evaluate your jewelry and send an offer to buy your gold from you within 24 hours.

Ready to get started? Request a free gold mailer now!

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