14K vs 18K Gold: Which One Is Better?

This article may contain links that help us earn a commission when you make a purchase. This comes at no additional cost to you.

When shopping for engagement rings, you’ll come across 14k and 18k gold options as you select engagement ring settings. But what does that even mean? Which one is better? Will it affect how your ring looks in the future? In this guide, we’ll cover all the main differences between 14k and 18k gold. We’ll dive deep into their composition (materials), pricing, durability, and overall pros and cons – to help you make your ring shopping a lil’ easier!

Features14K Gold18K Gold
PricingCheaperMore expensive
DurabilityMore durableMore susceptible to scratches and bends
VisualRich colorSlightly richer color
TouchSmoothSlightly smoother
Short Answer: We recommend 14k gold. Click here to skip ahead and find out why

Here’s what we’ll cover in this guide:

Table of Contents
Main difference between 14k vs 18k gold
Pricing comparison
Durability comparison
Visual comparison
Touch comparison
Our recommendation
Frequently Asked Questions

Main Difference Between 14K and 18K Gold

The main difference between 14k gold and 18k gold comes down to how much gold is in each.

Note: K stands for karat. This can be sometimes confused with ‘Carat’ but they mean the exact same thing. Carat refers to diamond weight/purity whereas karat only refers to gold purity.

The purest form of gold is known as 24K. This means the gold jewelry is not mixed with other metals. All gold jewelry needs to add up to 24 parts (or karats).

24k pure gold

In 14k gold, there are 14 parts of pure gold (hence the number 14 in ’14k’) and the remaining 10 is made up of alloyed metals mixed in (copper, silver, zinc, and nickel for white gold). This means 14k gold is 58% pure gold (14 gold karats divided by 24 total karats).

two 14k gold rings

Whereas for 18k gold, there are 18 parts of pure gold and the remaining 6 parts are alloyed metals. This means 18k gold is 75% pure gold (18 gold karats divided by 24 total karats).

two gold rings on table

Pricing Comparison

Since 18k gold has a higher percentage of gold content, this makes it more valuable compared to 14k gold.

As a result, you can expect 18k gold jewelry and rings to have a higher price tag than 14k gold.

14k gold ring with diamond

One thing to keep in mind is that the price of 14k and 18k gold fluctuate quite frequently due to a variety of factors. Some of these factors include market conditions, production costs, and supply & demand.

In other words, if you’re shopping for an 18k gold engagement ring during normal market conditions and/or when gold is in high supply with lower demand, you can expect some amazing deals and large savings on that 18k gold engagement ring.

gold ring with diamond

But these price fluctuations typically happen at the supplier level. That’s why we always recommend shopping at a retailer that has low prices year-round like James Allen or Clean Origin.

Related: James Allen vs Clean Origin: Head-to-Head Comparison

Durability Comparison

Now that we know that a higher gold percentage means a higher price tag, how does that affect the durability between 14k vs 18k gold?

Despite having less pure gold content, 14k gold is actually more durable than 18k gold!

That’s because gold is actually a very soft and bendable metal. So if 14k gold has less gold content, the remainder is made up of rigid and strong metals like copper, zinc, silver, and nickel.

two gold rings

And yes, we all know what you’re thinking right now…

‘Shouldn’t gold be cheaper if it’s more soft and pliable than other metals?’

In fact, the soft and pliable properties of gold actually make it more valuable to many people since you can do more with it! And gold is also a lot more rare than metals like copper, zinc, and nickel. That’s really what makes gold more expensive.

So with 14k gold engagement rings, you can expect fewer scratches, bending, and other damages.

gold ring on sand

On the other hand, with 18k gold, you’ll be more prone to those scratches and bending.

So why bother with 18k gold if it’s more expensive but lower quality?

That brings us to our next section…

Visual Comparison

Why do people prefer 18k gold if it’s more expensive and lower quality?

It ultimately comes down to the intended use of the 18k gold. In this case, the gold is being used for engagement rings and gold jewelry.

rectangle cut diamond on gold ring

On jewelry, 18k gold tends to have a richer color compared to 14k gold. At least that’s what you’ll hear from most jewellers.

The matter of fact is, they look identical to the naked eye!

The visual difference is too minimal for an average person to be able to tell them apart. While there is some truth in the fact that 18k gold will have a richer color as opposed to 14k gold, you would typically need some sort of magnification tool to know that for sure.

Touch Comparison

So now we know the visual, price, and durability differences of 14k vs 18k gold. But do they feel different to the touch?

man wearing ring

Similar to the visual differences between 14k and 18k gold, there is no significant difference in the way these two types of gold feel.

In the absolute rare case you have extreme skin sensitivity where you can feel everything in detail, then you’ll notice that 18k gold has a slightly smoother surface due to its contents of more pure gold.

gold ring

But as we mentioned in the durability comparison section, more gold means less durability and a higher likelihood of damage because gold is naturally a very soft and pliable metal.

Our Recommendation

14k vs 18k gold… What do we recommend?

To get to the point, we’ll summarize the previous sections:

  • Pricing: 14k is more affordable than 18k gold

  • Durability: 14k is stronger and less susceptible to damage

  • Visual: 14k and 18k gold look identical to the naked eye

  • Touch: 18k gold is ever so slightly smoother than 14k gold

With these points in mind, we recommend 14k gold.

Since people can’t normally tell the difference between 14k and 18k gold visually and physically, and 14k is more durable for someone with an active lifestyle, and 14k is more affordable… 14k gold is our winner here.

14k gold ring

And since you can save a good portion of your engagement ring budget going for 14k gold over 18k gold, you can instead spend more of your budget on where it matters, like a larger and cleaner diamond!

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s better for your skin tone and sensitivity? 14k or 18k gold?

Choosing between 14k vs 18k gold engagement rings or wedding bands is entirely personal preference and should have no affect on your skin tone or skin sensitivity. If you do have any skin irritation from gold, go with 14k gold since it has a lower gold content. Or you can skip gold altogether and go with platinum instead.

Can you wear 14k/18k gold everyday?

Both 14k and 18k gold are durable enough for everyday wear. Just like for any other type of jewelry, we always recommend insurance and regular maintenance to ensure the longevity of your fine jewelry.

Can you shower or swim with 14k/18k gold?

Yes you can absolutely shower and swim with 14k and 18k gold. But it’s important to keep in mind that chemicals in water such as chlorine can cause discoloration and damage to your gold overtime. So to be safe, we recommend taking all your gold jewelry off before coming in contact with water.

Photo of author
John Anderson
With over two decades of wedding experience, John Anderson is the Co-Founder and Executive Editor at Life Line Wedding. He writes a variety of articles spanning over multiple areas of expertise including engagement rings, diamonds, wedding jewelry, and wedding planning. John's mission is to help soon-to-be-married couples make educated and well-informed decisions. He now spends his time writing articles to help couples on Lifelinewedding.com. John is based in Brooklyn, NY.