Apples of Gold offers both 14k gold wedding bands and 18k gold wedding bands. The majority of our 14k gold wedding bands are sold to our American customers while most of our 18k gold wedding bands are sold to international customers, especially in the United Kingdom and other parts of Europe. But now and then there is a crossover which takes place and our U.S. based customers ask the question: “Which should I buy? 14k gold wedding bands or 18k gold wedding bands?”
There is no right or wrong answer, but understanding some of the key differences will help you determine which is the best fit for you. While this is not an article about the specific metal properties (for that, see our post: 14k gold vs. 18k gold), we will consider some of the reasons why you may opt to purchase a 14k gold band vs an 18k gold band:
Visual Appearance of 14K vs. 18K Gold
Visually, 18k gold appears slightly darker than 14k gold. The reason for this is due to the higher gold content in 18k gold vs. 14k gold. Since a 14k gold band is 14/24 parts gold and 18k gold is 18/28 parts gold, there are 4 more parts per 24 of gold in 18k. Gold is a dark yellow metal in its pure state. It is the other alloys mixed with jewelry that make it appear lighter, such as copper, silver, and other precious metal alloys. Therefore, the higher the karat, the darker the color. You will notice in some types of jewelry, such as 22k jewelry (often found in Indian jewelry, for example), the gold metal is much darker than both 14k or 18k gold.
With that being said, the difference is slight. Most people cannot visually tell the difference between 14k and 18k, until they put the same ring side by side. And in white gold, the difference is not noticeable, especially if the white gold ring is rhodium plated.
Durability of 14K vs. 18K Gold
Gold, by itself, is a fairly soft metal as far as precious metals go. It is a pliable metal, which makes it useful for jewelry, since it can be shaped and re-shaped into various forms and designs. That is one of the reasons that gold is so popular as jewelry metal.
As such, 14k gold will be slightly stronger and more durable than 18k gold. Wedding bands made of 18k gold will be slightly softer. However, do not let this deter you if you really prefer 18k gold. The difference, much like the color, is negligible. Quality wedding bands are thick enough to where it really makes very little difference in terms of durability between the two karats. But consider the type of work you do. If you are an avid gardener or lead a very active lifestyle or work frequently with your hands, for example, then opt for the slightly harder 14k gold. On the other hand, if you are an officer worker, a computer geek, or lead a somewhat sedentary lifestyle, then 18k gold will not be any less durable than 14k gold.
The only other point of consideration is the type of band it is. If your ring has a lot of finishes that may be damaged by wear and tear more readily, then perhaps 14k is the better choice.
Value of 14K vs. 18K Gold
One of the most overlooked consideration, but perhaps the most important, is how wearing 14k or 18k will make you feel. When customers call us with this question, we often ask them whether simply knowing that their ring is 14k or 18k makes a difference to them. Does simply knowing that there is more gold in your ring make the ring more valuable to you? Certainly there is monetary value in gold wedding bands and 18k is worth more than 14k gold. But you are not planning to sell your wedding band, so the “value” is more a question of personal perspective. How does knowing that you have a more valuable ring with more gold content make you feel? How important is this to you? As we mentioned earlier, many of our European customers prefer 18k because that is the norm in Europe, whereas most of our U.S. based customers opt for 14k because that is the norm in America. Choosing a 14k or an 18k gold wedding band is not only a question of monetary value, but social and personal value.
The final consideration comes down to cost and budgeting for your wedding. Obviously a 14k gold wedding ring costs less than an 18k gold wedding ring. On average an 18k gold band costs approximately 35% higher. This is a general estimate though and can vary significantly not only from jeweler to jeweler but also can vary based on the wedding ring’s design.
On average, an 18k gold band weighs approx. 15% more than a 14k gold band. But you have to also consider that not only is there more gold in an 18k gold band making the ring heavier, but 18k gold costs more than 14k gold. In addition, there are often additional labor costs in making 18k gold (at least in the U.S.), since most manufacturers don’t produce 18k as often as they do 14k. Here is an example of one of our best selling wedding bands in both 14k and 18k gold. See our: 14k white gold hammered wedding vs. our 18k white gold hammered wedding band (shown left) for a price comparison between the two. This is one of our most basic, but best selling wedding rings and can be a good indicator of variance in cost between most rings.
To learn more, be sure to visit our jewelry education guide for more jewelry articles and tips!