Is 18K Gold Softer than 14K? 

Is 18K Gold Softer than 14K? The shorter answer is yes. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t safely purchase and wear a durable and strong piece of 18k gold jewelry. Keep reading to learn when 18k gold is and isn’t durable enough to wear as fine jewelry.

Is 18K Gold Softer than 14K?

Gold, as precious metal, is soft by nature. The brief scientific answer has to do with the fact that gold has a weak metallic bond at the atomic level, whereas a diamond, for example, has a covalent type bond, making it very, very strong and durable as a material.

However, the softness of gold is what makes the yellow precious metal malleable enough to shape into beautiful jewelry pieces, and there is no real reason why 18k gold should be less desirable than 14k when it comes to higher-end and fine quality jewelry.

This will largely, depend, on the piece you are buying. Is it a quality, thick, heavier piece with substance? If so, 18k gold will be perfect suitable and strong for jewelry wear! Is it a thinner, cheaper, flimsy piece? Then, you may want to consider 14k in that case. It really does come down to how thick and substantial and well-made the piece is.

When it comes to 14k vs. 18k or even 22k gold, such as a 22k gold cross, generally speaking, 14k will naturally be stronger or more durable than 18k or 22k gold overall. This does not mean, however, that you should shy away from that beautiful and unique 18k or 22k gold jewelry piece.

For example, in Europe 18k gold is the norm. In India it’s 22k, especially for those beautiful, dark, deep 22k gold bangle bracelets that the Indian culture has made famous for jewelry.

Is 14K or 18K Gold More Durable?

Since solid gold at its pure 24k level is soft as a metal, balancing metals or alloy, like copper, silver or nickel are mixed in parts with gold to make it hard enough to retain its form when shaped into jewelry. For example, 14k gold is 14 of 24 parts gold, whereas 18k is 18 of 24 parts gold.

But when shopping for that engagement rings, wedding band or gold pendant or necklace, should you be considered about wearing a softer metal like 18k or 22k gold?

The answer is: it depends. But you will be pleasantly surprised to learn that in most cases, 18k gold and even 22k gold is just fine and strong enough to wear as jewelry!

While 14k or even 10k for that matter is the stronger of the choices presented, there are many reasons why 18k or even 22k gold can also hold up without any issues over time with just a little tender, love and care and some basic jewelry knowledge. In fact, when a jewelry piece is made in a higher karat, it is specifically designed to withstand the test of time. A jeweler knows they are working with a softer gold like 18k, and so will cast pieces that can withstand the normal stresses of jewelry wear.

When to Choose 14K over 18K Gold

There are times when 14k may be more suitable than 18k or 22k gold. For example, if you work a lot with your hands or like to garden or you’re someone who never takes off their jewelry, you may want to consider 14k instead of one of the higher metals.

However, that can also largely depend on the jewelry piece you are purchasing.

If you are buying a thin, lightweight gold pendant, for example, then 14k would be the way to go. However, when considering heavier, thicker, more substantial pieces, such as our 18k solid gold cross pendant for men, as just one example … you never need worry about it being too soft or not durable enough, simply because of its more substantial depth and thickness. These crosses, for example, are almost 3mm thick and have real depth, substance and weight to them, being that they are fully solid.

You would never need to worry and wwe would never advise against an 18k gold cross of that nature, since it is a quality piece. In fact, we even offer the same cross in 22k solid gold and have never had any issues with them.

We would consider lower karat metals for items like thinner pendants, thin chains or wedding bands if you lead an active lifestyle where wearing your rings all day every day could wear down a little over time or be more susceptible to scratching. But even when it comes to most wedding bands, 18k rarely poses a problem.

Just be sure your wedding band is a quality piece with more depth and thickness to it, such as we carry at Apples of Gold. Some jewelers will create thin, flimsy, lightweight cheap rings to save on cost. We keep our wedding bands thick and substantial enough to be made in both 14k and 18k without any longterm negative effects or issues.

Scratching and Maintenance

Yes, it is true that 18k and 22k gold will scratch slightly more easily over time compared to 14k. This only effects the surface of your jewelry, however, as we are talking about small micro-scratches which can be polished easily either at home using a microfiber jewelry cleaning cloth or whether professionally cleaned and polished at a jeweler.

Overall, we do recommend jewelry in all metals, from 14k, 18k and 22k solid gold.

There is no reason why you should not be able to opt for a higher karat piece of jewelry, if the item is a quality piece and especially if it is substantially made with quality. If you are concerned because you have a very active lifestyle or profession and you want to wear your gold jewelry without ceasing and the jewelry item is perhaps lighter or thinner, then perhaps 14k is better suited for you.

Otherwise, enjoy that beautiful and unique 18k and 22k solid gold jewelry and add to your growing collection!

Category: Gold Jewelry, Jewelry Education, Jewelry Guide

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