18 Karat gold is an alloy made up of 75% gold and 25% other metals, usually copper or silver. This makes it more durable than pure gold (24K), but also more affordable.
Keep reading and I’ll explain about 18K gold, including its benefits and drawbacks compared to other types of gold jewelry. Find out the reasons why you might choose 18K gold over another type of gold jewelry.
How Much Gold is Really in 18-Karat Jewelry?
Gold karat refers to the purity of gold. Karat is a unit used to measure how much gold content there is in any given piece of jewelry. This term has been carried over from ancient times when people first started working with pure gold nuggets as currency or decoration (think: Egyptian pharaohs).
18 karats means that out of 24 parts, there are 18 pure gold parts and 6 other metals mixed in.
So, 18K gold contains 75% pure gold. The rest of the metal is usually a mix of silver and copper, which gives 18K gold its iconic yellowish color (more on that in a second).
The main benefit of 18K gold is that it’s more durable than pure gold. Pure gold is 24 karats, and while it’s beautiful and valuable, it’s also soft. So, if you wear 24K gold every day, it will show wear and tear more quickly.
18K gold is a happy medium: it’s strong enough to stand up to everyday wear, but still has that beautiful, yellowish color that we associate with gold.
18K vs. 10K or 14K Gold: What’s the Difference?
18K jewelry has some advantages over lower karat golds like 10K or 14K.
Second, because it’s more pure, it’s also more hypoallergenic, so if you have sensitive skin, 18K gold may be a good choice for you. 10K or 14K can contain more nickel, which is a common allergen and can give you a rash if you’re allergic to it.
Third, 18K gold has a richer color than 10K or 14K gold because it contains more pure gold. So if you’re looking for a piece of jewelry with a really rich color, 18K is a good option.
Lastly, what’s the point in buying 10-karat jewelry, which only contains 41.7% gold? It’s not really “gold” jewelry anymore, is it?
However, there are also some disadvantages to 18K gold.
Because it’s more pure, it’s also more expensive.
And, because it’s more pure, it’s also more likely to scratch or bend than 10K or 14K gold. So if you’re looking for a piece of jewelry that you can wear every day without worrying about damaging it, 10K or 14K gold may be a better choice.
18K vs. 22K Gold: Which is better?
Gold with more karats than 18K is purer. It will have a more intense yellow color because it contains more gold.
22 karat gold is 20 parts gold and 2 parts other metals, making it 91.7% gold.
The extra purity comes with a few disadvantages, however.
First, because it’s more pure, it’s also more expensive than 18K gold. But it’s also more valuable.
Second, because it’s more pure, it’s also more likely to scratch or bend than 18K gold. 22 Karat gold will scratch easier then other lower numbers because it’s so soft; plus you’re paying about 3 times as much!
Third, 22K gold is not as widely available as 18K gold. So if you’re looking for a specific piece of jewelry, you may have more luck finding it in 18K gold.
If you are going to wear your jewelry often, think twice before getting a higher karat. I would recommend 18K for everyday use.
How to Tell if you have 18K Gold Jewelry
The easiest way to tell if you have 18K gold jewelry is to look for a stamp on the piece.
In the United States, the stamp will say “18K”, “18Kt”, “18ct”, “18k”, or “750.” In Europe, the stamp will usually just say “750.” 750 or 0.75 indicates that it contains 75% pure gold or 750 parts per 1000.
READ MORE >> Stamps on Gold Jewelry: What do they mean?
If there’s no stamp, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not 18K gold.
You can also take it to a jeweler and ask them to test it. They will use a special tool to measure the gold content.
READ MORE >> Is your Gold Real? 3 Different Ways to Test
Why Choose 18K Gold?
18K gold is a good choice for everyday wear because it’s more durable than pure gold. It’s also a good choice if you’re looking for a piece of jewelry with a rich color. And, because it’s more pure than lower karat golds, it’s also more valuable. If you’re looking for a piece of jewelry that you can wear often without worrying about damaging it, 18K gold is a good choice.
14K gold is much more durable and harder than 18 karat, but if you’re sensitive to nickel it could cause an allergic reaction.
The common misconception is that 18k gold is a better choice for everyday wear. However, this may not always be true as it can scratch and bend easily causing damage or breakage in your jewelry which could result from daily use – especially rings or bracelets.
14 karat (or 10) will scratch less often because they’re more durable and harder, making them a better choice for everyday wear – if you don’t have an allergy to nickel.
If you are looking for something more durable to wear often, 14K gold is a better choice. If you’re wanting a richer color in your jewelry or are looking for something more valuable, then 18K gold is the way to go.
Personally, I would choose 18K gold for jewelry that you will not wear every day or are not prone to getting dinged or bumped. For example, a pair of gold hoop earrings or a gold necklace would be perfect in 18K gold.
I would choose 14K gold for rings and bracelets that I planned on wearing every day. The extra hardness will help prevent scratching and the wear and tear that can come from daily use.
Where to Buy Gold Jewelry
We also recommend online retailer, James Allen, which lets you take a 360-degree look at a diamond, sapphire, or any other stone before it is set in gold.