Difference between 14k and 18k White Gold

Published on December 9, 2016

Buying jewelry is always a big thing. Considering the price, you want it to be money well spent. Let’s say you have your heart set on buying something in white gold. You have the option of 14k and 18k. They look alike but are just priced differently and placed separately. What makes them different from each other?

Definitions

14k vs 18k White Gold
A white gold diamond ring

14k white gold is a material some jewelry is made of. Since pure gold is too soft to be used by itself, especially for stone settings, other metals need to be added to make the alloy stronger. Pure gold has 24 karats. 14 karat gold means there are 14 parts gold and 10 parts other metals in the composition. This translates to 58.3% gold and 41.7% other metals. These other metals are zinc and nickel. Also, white gold needs to be treated in order to get to its white color.

A 14k diamond engagement ring is a popular choice among jewelers and this kind of ring has fairly accessible prices. People with nickel allergies must double–check the composition of the alloy, however.

18k white gold is a material some jewelry is made of. It is an alloy since other metals are needed to turn the gold from yellow to a white color. The percentage of gold in 18k white gold is 75%, leaving 25% for other metals. It is very resistant to oxidation and it requires less maintenance. This is a durable combination of metals, resulting in a high quality product. The price will reflect this.

14k vs 18k White Gold

So what is the difference between 14k and 18k white gold?

Both are gold alloys and both contain gold that needs to be treated to become stronger and to turn from yellow to white. 14k gold has about 58% gold in the alloy, while 18k gold has 75% gold in the alloy. This makes the 18k gold options better suited for people with metal allergies.

Jewelers seem to prefer 14k gold for engagement rings, mainly because the combination of metals and less gold makes the material better suited for stone settings. Pure gold is soft and does not have a firm grip on the stone setting, so typically the less of it in the metal the stronger it will be. Another argument for why jewelers prefer 14k white gold is that it is less expensive than 18k gold, yet the price difference between the completed jewelry is not that big so they may command a bigger profit.

As far as appearance goes, 18k gold is usually shinier and whiter, while 14k gold needs to be treated with rhodium to maintain its look.

Comparison Chart

14k White Gold18k White Gold
A gold alloy with 58% gold in the compositionA gold alloy with 75% gold in the composition
Needs to be treated with rhodium to be extra bright and whiteNaturally looks bright
Is more accessible for clientsIs more expensive for clients
As a material for jewelers, it is cheaperAs a material for jewelers, it is more expensive
Is harder and better for stone settingsIs hard and resistant; does better with oxidation over time and needs less maintenance
Not a good fit for people with metal allergiesBetter for people with metal allergies