If you are trying to decide between 14-karat and 18-karat gold, and if you are also undecided as to whether you should choose white or yellow gold, this article will help you. Let’s see how these two gold alloys differ, as well as how variations in their karats affect the characteristics of the jewelry made with them.
The Difference Between 14 Karats and 18 Karats
14 karats is a level of purity that corresponds to 58.3% gold content. 18 karats, which is a value indicating higher purity, translates to 75% gold content.
The Difference Between White Gold and Yellow Gold
Both the white and yellow gold used in jewelry are alloys created by mixing pure gold with other metals, which are added for extra hardness.
White gold, however, is deliberately mixed with metals that make the alloy look whiter.
On the other hand, the goal when creating a yellow gold alloy is to preserve the natural color of gold as much as possible.
It is also worth noting that white gold is plated with rhodium, which gives this type of jewelry its luster and makes the alloy look truly white, as opposed to the yellowish tone of the original mixture.
14K vs. 18K Yellow and White Gold: Similarities and Differences
Since 18-karat gold is purer, it is also softer and less durable than 14-karat gold.
This difference in durability is more easily noticeable in yellow gold – 18K pieces made of this material are easier to scratch, and they wear down more quickly than those made of 14K yellow gold.
The difference in durability between 14K and 18K white gold jewelry is less significant mainly because of their rhodium plating – this surface layer protects the gold alloy below from scratching.
However, 18K white gold is still slightly softer and easier to bend than 14K white gold.
If you are comparing white and yellow gold of the same karat, take into account the protective role that the rhodium plating plays in white gold.
At the same time, be aware that this coating wears out with time, and you will need to have your jewelry replated when that happens.
Price: Which Is Cheaper?
Regardless of whether a piece of jewelry is made with white or yellow gold, the higher its karat, the more expensive it will be.
Since 18K pieces contain more gold, in terms of percentage, they are usually more expensive than 14K items, all else being equal.
A piece made of white gold can have a slightly higher price than an analogous piece made of yellow gold, but this is not always the case.
Other factors also come into play – e.g., whether the jewelry is handmade or mass-produced, how complex it is to make, what brand it is, what other metals are used in the alloy, etc.
You can often see the same model ring being sold for the same price regardless of whether it is made with white or yellow gold.
There is no visible difference between 14K and 18K white gold pieces of jewelry in terms of color – both items will look white because they are plated with rhodium.
This is not necessarily the case with yellow gold, however. Since 18K gold contains less other metals, its color is usually richer than that of 14K gold, which is less pure.
You might not always notice such a difference, though, so if you are paying more for 18K yellow gold, make sure that it really looks noticeably better to you.
In general, if you have an allergy to the nickel that some gold jewelry contains, you are less likely to get a skin rash if you wear 18-karat rather than 14-karat gold.
This is more likely to be true of yellow gold jewelry, though. Since white gold pieces are coated with rhodium, the actual gold alloy in them does not come into direct contact with your skin.
However, after some time, the rhodium plating will wear out, and if your skin is sensitive, it may become irritated if there is nickel in the gold.
In the end, regardless of whether the gold you are buying is white or yellow, if you are allergic to nickel, go for a higher karat or for pieces that do not contain nickel at all.