14K vs. 18K Rose Gold: A Side by Side Comparison
To the uninitiated eye, gold is gold right? But not everything that’s gilded is great. Customers often ask us “What is the difference between 14k and 18k gold?” “What does those numbers even mean?”
Since rose gold rings are our bestsellers, let’s compare 14k vs. 18k rose gold.
You’ve probably heard the term karat thrown around. Karat is the unit used to measure the purity of gold. “Pure gold” is 24 karat (of Bruno Mars song fame). It’s not 100% pure—just 99.99%, but that’s the best that can be created. There is no higher form than 24K, so don’t believe any jeweler that would try to sell you otherwise. One karat contains 1/24 pure gold (about 4.17% pure gold).
The higher karat amount, the more pure gold content it contains. Pure 24 karat gold has a bright yellow color and is relatively soft, so it is often used in coins or bars. While it’s pureness is desirable, its softness doesn’t make it ideal for jewelry. To make it durable enough for wear it’s alloyed with other metals—creating lower karat golds like 14k or 18k.
The image below you can see the color difference between a 99.99% pure gold coin and a solid 14k rose gold band.
14k gold contains about 58% pure gold; the remaining 42% is an alloy of metals such as silver and copper.
18k gold contains about 75% pure gold; the remaining 25% is the alloy.
Now, knowing what they are comprised of, here’s how 14k and 18k rose gold stack up:
Purity & Appearance
As we mentioned, a 14k gold ring contains about 58% pure gold, giving it that distinct yellow hue. To create the rose gold tone, copper is used as the alloy.
Mathematically, 14k rose gold contains about 58% pure gold and 42% copper alloys while a 18k rose gold contains about 75% pure gold and 25% copper alloys. That means the 14k rose gold ring will have a more pinkish tone, while a similar 18k rose gold ring will have more of a yellow cast.
Here is the photo of a side by side comparison of our vintage floral aquamarine rings (colored gemstone) in both 14k and 18k rose gold:
And here are the photo and video of a side by side comparison of our pear cut moissanite rings (colorless gemstone) in both 14k and 18k rose gold setting:
Now you've seen both colored and colorless stones set in 14k and 18k rose gold setting. It really comes down to choice: scientifically there’s no objectively better option, it’s just what you prefer. If you prefer a more blush-colored engagement ring, 14k rose gold may be right for you. If you prefer a warmer look, you might like the 18k rose gold.
Since gold is one of the most malleable and ductile of all known metals, it has long been popular for jewelry making. But, the purer the gold, the more likely it is to damage or warp. In order to stand up to everyday wear, it’s got to be blended with something more durable (the metal alloy).
So, the higher pure gold content a piece of jewelry contains, the softer the jewelry will be. That's why an 18k rose gold ring requires greater care than a 14k rose gold ring since it’s more prone to scratching and bending.
Of note: white gold will be slightly different from rose gold or yellow gold. White gold jewelry will be rhodium-plated, which provides an extra layer of protection. An 18k white gold ring will not wear out as easily as 18k rose gold or yellow gold. We will talk about white gold in a different post.
Price & Popularity
As years of movies and TV might have taught you—pure gold is a pretty very valuable material. The higher pure gold content, the higher price tag. At La More Design, any of our engagement rings or wedding bands can be made in 14k or 18k gold (your choice of white, yellow or rose gold). On average, an 18k rose gold ring is around $200 to $400 more than a 14k rose gold ring (depending on the thickness and weight of the band).
Generally, 14k rose gold rings are more popular, as they are more scratch-resistant and durable and less expensive.
But it really comes down to what you want—as with picking a partner, you should follow your heart to the ring that’s right for you.
Q: Does your rose gold ring have to be re-dipped?
A: All our rose gold rings (14k and 18k) are made in solid rose gold – NOT rose gold plated, so they will NOT need to be re-dipped or re-plated in the future. Just like most things in life, a solid rose gold ring will also need some TLC (Tender Loving Care) to stay pristine. Over time your rose gold ring may show the signs of wear and tear, all it needs is a good re-polishing and cleaning service, and it will look like a brand new ring again!