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10k vs. 14k. vs. 18k vs. 24k Gold: Which is Best for Me?

Everyone loves a good piece of gold jewelry, but not everyone can tell the difference among different types of gold. People usually associate look with quality. However, certain differentiating factors can indicate the quality, strengths, and weaknesses when it comes to gold. Whether you plan on selling your gold, buying gold, or accessorizing with gold items, use the following guide to help you compare 10 karat (10k), 14 karat (14k), 18 karat (18k), and 24 karat (24k) gold.

What Is a Karat?

Picture of Gold Ring against Black Background
Image via Flickr by S.S.K.

To understand the qualities of gold, you must first understand the meaning of a karat. A karat is different than a carat. While a carat is the recognized standard for the weight of a diamond or gem, a karat is used to describe the purity of gold, according to Science Notes.

A karat is 1/24th of a portion of gold. While values exist in between, gold is often noted as 24 karat (24k), 18 karat (18k), 14 karat (14k), or 10 karat (10k).  

10k: Affordable and Durable

Gold that is rated as 10k is the least pure gold, although it is the most durable and affordable gold to purchase. Gold with a 10k designation would be appealing for someone who works in an environment where jewelry can potentially be damaged or scratched. For example, perhaps an auto mechanic wears a 10k gold wedding band so that he doesn’t scratch it during work. Perhaps the doctor who washes her hands many times during the day needs a durable wedding band.  Earrings, necklaces, and bracelets are often made up of 10k gold. 

Although purchasing 10k gold helps your wallet, this type of gold could hurt your skin. The gold in 10k pieces is mixed and combined with other metals, which can often be responsible for allergic reactions.  Allergic reactions can range from contact dermatitis to itchiness and blisters. Therefore, people with sensitive skin may want to avoid this type of gold.

14k: Valuable, Classy, and Timeless

According to everything-wedding-rings.com, many engagement and wedding rings are made up of 14k gold. One may see 14k bracelets, earrings, and necklaces as well. Gold jewelry that is rated as 14k gold gives off a softer look than that of 10k. This gold is a higher-quality blend of gold and other metals and alloys; but it is still affordable for purchasing. Similar to 10k, a 14k gold piece is durable and won’t easily tarnish. 

According to jewelry tradition, 14k gold is the choice for timeless elegance. The 14k white gold option never seems to go out of style thanks to the complementary features next to a white diamond. The only downside is that you as the owner of a 14k gold piece need to be diligent with polishing and maintaining your jewelry. 

18k: Pure and Practical

An 18k piece of gold jewelry is 75% gold and contains only 25% other alloy or metals. Gold that is 18k is a good option for people who may want a 100% gold piece of jewelry but are conscious of their budget. People with extremely sensitive skin may prefer 18k to 10k or 14k because 18k gold is more hypoallergenic due to less mixed metals and alloys.  One may find engagement rings, wedding bands, bracelets, earrings, or necklaces in 18k since 18k gold is efficient for daily use. For example, the chances that 18k prongs holding a diamond will loosen are extremely slim.

24k: Perfect (In Theory)

The most pure type of gold is 24k gold. This karat of gold is not used in jewelry as much as one may think due to the 24k gold’s ability to bend easily because of its softness.  This quality makes it less desirable in jewelry that you want to wear daily, such as an engagement ring or bracelet. In terms of jewelry, one may want to save 24k pieces for special occasions rather than wear jewelry containing 24k gold daily. You more typically see 24k gold being used for coins, bars, electronic devices, and medical devices. 

What Are the Differences Between Colors of Gold?

While we sometimes assume that gold is only yellow in color, we know that’s not the case. Gold comes in three colors: yellow gold, white gold, and rose gold. The only difference, aside from the look, among these colors of gold is the metal and alloys mixed with the gold.  

Yellow gold is said to look appealing on anyone, but especially those with olive or darker skin tones. Being the purest, yellow gold is easy for jewelers to manipulate. This type of gold can also be easily resized in the future.

White gold is less susceptible to scratching and denting, but it requires polishing and has the potential need to be dipped every few years to retain its luster and color. According to some sources such as the Diamond Pro, white gold best complements any diamonds near it. 

Rose gold has become more popular over the last few years due to its unique and romantic look. Rose gold is actually the most durable among the three colors, since this type of gold is mixed with copper. However, copper can sometimes cause an allergic reaction on the skin. Because it is mixed with copper, rose gold is not available in 24k. You’ll have better luck finding rose gold in 10k, 14k, or 18k.

A Summary of the Differences Among Gold Types

Let’s briefly summarize the difference between 10k and 14k gold, the difference between 14k and 18k gold, and the difference between 18k and 24k gold. 

Karat TypeAdvantages Disadvantages Types of Jewelry
Best For
10kAffordable; Durable May cause allergies; Least pureAny typeBudget-conscious; Active lifestyle
14k Timeless; High qualityMaintenance requiredAny type, mostly earrings, engagement rings, and wedding bands Budget-conscious; Sensitive skin
18kVery pure (75% gold); AffordableMay be dull in colorAny type, especially engagement rings and wedding bands Budget-conscious; Extremely sensitive skin
24k Purest gold (100% gold) Expensive; Easily bendable More so for coins, electronics, and medical devices Special occasion pieces; Electronic/medical professionals

What Type of Karat Is my Gold?

Each piece of jewelry is stamped with the karat designation somewhere on the piece. For jewelry pieces, you probably will need a magnifying glass to find a two-digit number with a k or kt after it. If you don’t see a two-digit number but a three-digit number instead, place a decimal point in front of the numbers and you’ll have the percentage. 

  • .999 = 24k
  • .750 = 18k
  • .585, .583, or .575 = 14k
  • .417 = 10k

If neither of these options is available to you, Bellatory recommends other tests that you can do to determine the purity of gold. 

Are You Thinking About Selling Your Gold?

People have many reasons for choosing to sell their gold pieces. Sometimes their gold pieces no longer hold any value to them or they may want to sell their gold for cash. Regardless, when it comes to selling, be informed about the best way to sell your gold.

When you compare the price of gold to that of other metals, gold is continually increasing in value. Selling gold has many benefits. Investors specifically like buying gold because gold can readily be converted to cash and does not carry the same level of investing risk as stocks or bonds.

When Should You Sell Your Gold Jewelry?

You want to make sure you’re selling your gold when it’s the highest in value. Ensuring the best deal is difficult since the price of gold constantly fluctuates based on the condition of the economy. You’re going to get the most money when the economy is in the best shape. Be mindful of this point before moving forward. Once you have determined the economy is in a good spot, track gold prices to determine its selling rate. 

You may be wondering which gold is more expensive. The higher the karats in the gold you’re selling, the more money you’re going to receive in return.

The Importance of Getting an Appraisal

Getting an appraisal on the gold you’re selling is as important as getting an appraisal on your home. An appraisal protects you from a scam and an undervalued estimate. A gold appraisal will provide a monetary value based on weight, karat size, or clarity.  The appraisal will give you an idea about what to expect when you’re working with a jeweler or when you’re ready to sell your gold.

Appraisals of gold are a little different than appraisals of gems or diamonds. With gold appraisals, weight and purity of the gold play an important role. An appraiser will evaluate your gold based on karats, metal composition, and weight.  If you have any documentation that accompanies your pieces of gold (for example, a receipt or certificate of authenticity), take this documentation with you to the appraisal to give your appraiser as much background information as possible.

Even if you are unsure whether you want to sell your gold pieces, you’ll still want to get an appraisal to protect your gold with insurance. The insurance puts a value on your piece of gold. If your piece of gold goes missing or gets stolen or lost, you at least have a record of the value. 

Where Should You Sell Your Gold?

Now that you have an insurance value for your gold and you’re ready to sell, where should you go to sell? Go to a trusted jeweler or specific gold buyer and request the best offer possible for your gold. Evaluate their honesty, their knowledge, and their calculations. Find a jeweler or a reputable gold-buying company that has an appraiser under the same roof. This arrangement will not only be convenient for you, but it will also allow any questions or comments to be discussed among all parties involved. 

Think Outside the Box

While jewelry seems to be the most obvious piece of gold to sell, gold comes in many forms, such as the following examples: 

  • Coins.
  • Bars.
  • Necklaces (white gold, yellow gold, or rose gold).
  • Rings (white gold, yellow gold, or rose gold).
  • Earrings (white gold, yellow gold, or rose gold).
  • Bracelets (white gold, yellow gold, or rose gold).
  • Historic artifacts (such as pendants, art, or statues).
  • Gold scraps.
  • Flatware.
  • Dental fillings.

As you can see, gold is present in many items other than jewelry. When you’re considering selling gold, don’t limit yourself to jewelry alone.

Why Should You Buy Gold?

Gold is considered to be one of the “safer” investments because it seems to withstand economic lows, recover quickly, and retain its value better than other assets. Buying gold and investing in gold purchases is different than investing in stocks and bonds since gold gives you something that you can physically own. However, you can purchase stocks and bonds in gold mining companies if you’d prefer to go a less traditional route.  

Additionally, gold has been a great defender against inflation. During years of high inflation, stock markets took a dive while the value of gold increased. During times of deflation, having gold was considered a positive for people who may not turn to banks, investments, and stocks. One way to protect your assets is to have your assets be in a tangible form, such as gold. You can also keep your gold assets private. Even though you must still report any gain on your yearly taxes, gold is one of the only assets that can be anonymous.

Further, buying and investing in gold is not something that you need significant amount of educational experience to be able to do. Professionals can provide you with a great deal of information and can help answer any questions that you may have. 

As you can see, you have much to think about when it comes to buying or selling gold. Although grasping all of the details associated with buying and selling gold may be overwhelming, don’t let the volume of information deter you from getting started. Las Vegas Jewelry and Coin Buyers is available to help for every step of the way. Las Vegas Jewelry and Coin Buyers remains knowledgeable about the price points for each type of gold and can help you when you’re ready to buy and sell gold.

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