14K or 18K?

Posted by Richard Accurso on

What's the difference between 14K and 18K gold?

When ordering a custom-made ring, you have many choices. One of them is the purity of the metal  from which the ring is made.  In the United States, 14K is a standard purity but in Europe, 18K is more popular.  In many Asian countries, 22K is often demanded.  Each type has its partisans.  So what are some of the differences between them?  

The first step is to understand what is meant by the "K."  Pure gold is 24K, or 100 percent gold.  18K is 75 percent gold and 25 percent some other metal , such as copper, silver, nickel or palladium.  To get the percentage of pure gold, divide the number by 24, so 18 divided by 24 is 3 over 4 or 75 percent.  Thus, 14K is 14 divided by 24 or 58.5 percent.  The difference between 75 and 58.5 is 16.5 so 18K gold has 16.5 percent more pure gold than 14K, ounce for ounce.  That's why it's more expensive.  

What do you get for the extra expense?  There are subtle differences in the color of the metal, but mostly it is a choice of how much value you want to put into your purchase.  When you consider all the other factors that go into the cost of a commissioned piece, the difference in price between 14K and 18K is usually quite small. In addition, when you consider that your gold jewelry is something you will wear for the rest of your life, the difference is insignificant.   Ricco prefers to use 18K gold and suggests that you choose it over 14K for your commissions.