So, you’re trying to decide between a 14-karat gold chain and an 18-karat one? Let’s see what these chains are made of and how they are different.
What Is the Meaning of Gold Karat?
Karat is a measure of gold purity. If an alloy has 1 karat gold content, this means that 1/24th of it is pure gold.
To figure out what fraction of the material in a gold chain is pure gold, divide its karat by 24.
For example, a 10-karat chain contains 41.7% gold (10 karats divided by 24 times 100).
What Are 14K Gold Chains Made Of?
14-karat gold chains are made of 14 parts gold and 10 parts other metals. In terms of percentage, a 14K gold chain contains 58.3% pure gold.
The metals usually mixed with gold in 14-karat alloys are copper, zinc, silver, palladium, and nickel.
What Is the Composition of 18K Gold Chains?
18-karat gold chains contain 6 parts nongold metals and 18 parts gold. Therefore, such a chain contains 75% gold.
The metals used in an 18K gold alloy are more or less the same as those used in 14K gold.
14K vs. 18K Gold Chains: What Are the Differences?
14-karat and 18-karat gold chains differ mainly in durability, price, color, and the likelihood to cause an allergic reaction to nickel.
Gold is soft, and gold alloys with lower gold content tend to be harder than alloys containing a higher percentage of pure gold.
So, you can expect a 14K gold chain to be harder than an 18K chain, which will be likely to bend more easily.
Because they are not as soft as 18K gold chains, 14K chains wear out more slowly and are a better choice for jewelry that you will wear every day.
18-karat gold chains, on the other hand, will show signs of wear more quickly and are a better choice if you need jewelry that you will wear less often.
Price per Gram
Because of its lower gold content, a 14K chain will usually be cheaper than an 18K one. Here we are not discussing absolute prices but rather prices per gram or ounce.
On such a relative basis, 18-karat chains are more expensive, and for the same money, you will likely be able to buy a bigger 14K chain.
Nickel Content and Allergies
Since a higher percentage of 14-karat gold contains other metals (compared with 18-karat gold), 14K chains that contain nickel are more likely to cause an allergic reaction in people with such an allergy.
18K gold chains are less likely to cause a rash due to the presence of nickel, but people differ in their sensitivity to this metal, and some may need jewelry that is 20K or even 22K to feel comfortable.
So, if you are sensitive to nickel, avoid low-karat jewelry that contains this metal, or look specifically for gold that is nickel free.
18-karat gold alloys contain more gold, and this is why their color tends to be yellower. Lower-karat gold alloys, on the other hand, look less like pure gold.
So, an 18K gold chain is likely to have a better color, which will look more “gold-like.” In comparison, you might assume that a 14K gold chain will have a less intense gold color.
In reality, you might not be able to spot any visible difference between an 18K and a 14K gold chain, and you might have to look really hard to tell one from the other.
This is why you should see the chains you are considering for yourself and decide whether there is really a noticeable difference in color.
In the end, our advice is to take into account all four factors we outlined above and weight each one according to how important it is to you.