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10K vs. 14K Gold: Which is Better?

Learn how to balance quality and value to find the best gold for your jewelry

By Mike Fried,

If you’re shopping for an engagement ring, earrings, necklace or other gold jewelry, you’ve no doubt noticed that there are several different types of gold to choose from including 14K and 18K gold. 

Because pure gold is an extremely soft and malleable metal, it is mixed with other metal alloys used to strengthen the gold .

10 karat gold is made up of 41.7% gold and 58.3% alloy. 10K gold is very durable, and given its relatively low percentage of pure gold, it is the lowest cost gold sold. The combination of durability and low cost makes 10K gold the ideal choice for cost-effective jewelry pieces like bracelets, pendants, or earrings.

14K gold consists of 58.3% gold and 41.7% alloy metals, making it purer and slightly more malleable than 10K gold. Because of its balance between price and durability, 14K gold is the gold of choice for approximately 90% of engagement rings sold in the US.

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

What’s the difference between 10K and 14K gold?
Pros and cons of 10K and 14K gold
10K gold vs. 14K gold: Which is the best buy?
FAQs about 10K vs. 14K gold

Are you looking to sell your gold? This article is geared towards helping people looking to purchase jewelry. If you are looking to sell your gold, feel free to hop on over to our Selling Your Jewelry page. If you are looking to sell your diamond engagement ring, we have a specific article for Selling Your Diamond Ring

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What’s the Difference Between 10K and 14K Gold?

The gold used for jewelry isn’t actually pure gold — instead, it’s almost always a mix of gold and other metals. 

In its pure form, gold is extremely soft and malleable. This means that when pure gold is used to make an engagement ring, necklace or watch, the finished product is very easy to scratch, dent, warp or damage in other ways. 

To help you with the diamond buying process we lean on our expertise and experience. The author of this article, our CEO, Mike Fried has over 20 years of experience in the diamond industry. Mike started from the bottom, sorting and evaluating hundreds of thousands of diamonds to learn every facet (pun intended) of diamond quality and value. Mike followed that up by spending years buying and selling diamonds on the wholesale market as well as selling tens of millions of dollars worth of diamonds to diamond retailers.
14K White Gold Channel Engagement Ring Setting
14K White Gold Channel Engagement Ring Setting – True Elegance.

Pure gold is also extremely bright, with a color closer to bright orange than the rich, warm gold color that most people associate with fine jewelry.

To improve durability, gold is mixed with other metals before it’s crafted into jewelry. The gold’s purity is measured using the karat system, which measures the ratio of pure gold to secondary metals used in the alloying process.

According to Hobart M. King, PHD in geology, the overwhelming majority of gold is used for jewelry. Roughly 10% is used by governments for coinage and reserves. 12% is used for consumer electronics.

Pure gold is 24K, meaning that all 24 parts out of 24 are pure gold. This type of gold is not used often in jewelry, although 24k gold jewelry is occasionally used as an investment or heirloom in certain parts of the world. 

14K gold is 14 parts gold mixed with 10 parts other metals. The specific metals used in this type of gold vary depending on the gold’s color. When you buy a 14K engagement ring, 58.3% of the ring is made of pure gold. 

10K gold is 10 parts pure gold mixed with 14 parts other metals. When you buy an engagement ring that’s made of 10K gold, approximately 41.7% of the ring is made of pure gold. 

10K gold vs 14K gold
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Pros and Cons of 10K and 14K Gold

14K and 10K gold each have their own advantages and disadvantages, ranging from durability and cost to purity and appearance. To help you decide which type of gold is best for you, we’ve listed the pros and cons of each type of gold below.

    Here is some 14K gold jewelry from our favorite jewelry retailers:

Advantages of 10K Gold

The biggest advantage of 10K gold is its price. Because 10K gold is less pure than 14K gold, it usually costs significantly less to buy an engagement ring or other jewelry that’s made from this type of gold. 

In addition to its lower price, 10K gold is slightly more durable than 14K gold. Because it’s made from a smaller amount of pure gold and a larger amount of more durable alloy metals, this type of gold is more resistant to scratches, scuffs, dents, and other common damage. 

Disadvantages of 10K Gold

The biggest disadvantage of 10K gold is its low purity level. 10K gold only contains 41.7% pure gold, meaning that pure gold actually accounts for less than half of the materials used to create this metal. 

In the United States, 10K gold is actually the least pure form of gold that can legally be sold as gold jewelry. 

This low purity level means that 10K gold has something of a dull appearance compared to 14K gold. Instead of the warm, rich color that most people associate with gold, 10K gold can appear washed out and lacking in vibrancy. 

10K gold’s low purity level also means that it’s more likely to trigger metal allergies than jewelry made from 14K gold. 

For example, many people are allergic to nickel, which is commonly added as an alloy metal to the gold used for jewelry. Because 10K gold contains more of these alloy metals than 14K gold, it’s more likely to trigger skin allergies in people sensitive to nickel. 

This can be a problem if your fiancé-to-be is sensitive or allergic to nickel or another alloy metal used in gold. 

Finally, 10K gold’s low price means that it’s often used in low-quality jewelry. As such, it can be hard to find 10K as an option if you’re buying a quality diamond. For example, James Allen and Blue Nile, two of the largest online engagement ring vendors, do not offer 10K gold rings. 

This means that if you’re looking specifically for a 10K ring, you may need to limit your selection to discount jewelers that don’t offer very high-quality diamonds or other gemstones. 

Advantages of 14K Gold

14K Yellow Gold Diamond Stud Earrings
14K Yellow Gold Diamond Stud Earrings – Perfect For Any Occasion.

14K gold has several unique advantages. The first of these is that it offers a great combination of purity and durability.

14K gold is made from 58.3% pure gold. This percentage is high enough to give 14K the warm, rich appearance of gold, without the dull color or lack of warmth that many people dislike about 10K gold. 

Because 14K gold is also more than 40% alloy metals, it’s durable enough for the vast majority of people. If your fiancé-to-be has an active lifestyle, a 14K gold ring will be resistant enough to scratches, dents, warping and other damage for her to wear every day. 

14K gold’s higher purity level also means that it’s less likely to trigger metal allergies and cause skin reactions than 10K gold. If your fiancé-to-be has sensitive skin, either 14K or 18K gold are safer metal choices than 10K gold. 

While 14K gold is slightly more expensive than 10K gold, it’s still a very affordable metal for an engagement ring or other jewelry. For example, this classic six-prong solitaire engagement ring from Blue Nile costs $450 in 18K gold, but only costs $250 in 14K gold. 

Finally, if you’re looking for a high-quality engagement ring or other jewelry, you’ll find it easier to buy 14K gold than 10K gold. 14K gold is widely available from online jewelry vendors like James Allen and Blue Nile, as well as from most reputable brick-and-mortar jewelry stores. 

These advantages have all made 14K gold the most popular type of gold for engagement rings, with around 90% of all engagement rings sold in the US, UK and other Western countries made using 14K gold. 

Disadvantages of 14K Gold

Despite its advantages and popularity, 14K gold does have a few minor weak points that should be considered. 

First, it isn’t the purest form of gold available for engagement rings. While 14K gold is more than pure enough to provide a rich, warm appearance, it has a slightly less rich appearance than 18K gold. With this said, it’s also cheaper and much more durable than other, purer forms of gold. 

Second, 14K gold jewelry is slightly less durable than jewelry made from 10K gold. However, it’s more than durable enough for the majority of people, meaning this isn’t something you’ll need to consider unless you expect your fiancé-to-be’s ring to be subject to some serious abuse. 

10K Gold vs. 14K Gold: Which is the Best Buy?

In general, we don’t recommend buying a 10K gold engagement ring or other jewelry. Not only do none of our recommended vendors offer 10K gold as an option, but it generally isn’t a good choice due to its low purity level, dull appearance and risk of triggering skin allergies. 

There’s also the value-for-money factor. Yes, 10K gold is the cheapest type of gold. However, it isn’t that much more affordable than 14K gold, meaning you’re only paying a small amount less for much lower quality metal. 

Finally, since most reputable jewelers don’t offer 10K gold, you’re seriously limiting your options by buying it, meaning you might not get the best deal on an engagement ring anyway.

14K gold is popular for a reason: it offers the best combination of looks, durability and value for money. Even celebrities still opt for gold engagement rings quite often. As such, we recommend it over 10K gold if you’re looking for a high-quality engagement ring, bracelet, pendant, pair of earrings or other fine gold jewelry. 

If you need more help choosing the right type of gold, we’re here to help. Feel free to contact us for free, personalized advice on the best engagement rings and other jewelry for your tastes and budget. 

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FAQs About 10K vs 14K Gold

Which is better, 14K or 10K white gold?

If you’re looking for an engagement ring, 14K white gold is the better purchase. 14K gold is purer than 10K gold, with a richer appearance, and is not a huge amount more expensive.

Is 14K gold shinier than 10K?

14K gold is shinier, and more aesthetically beautiful than 10K gold. It should have both a deeper and brighter appearance, due to the higher gold content.

Which karat gold is best for daily use?

10K or 14K gold is the best for daily use. These types of gold are more durable and more scratch-resistant, making them better for practical use. However, as we explained above, choose 14K over 10K gold if you have the chance.

Here are more specific metal topics to browse:

James Allen James Allen is the leader in online diamond sales. Their imaging technology is the same as inspecting a diamond with a jeweler's loupe. They have the largest exclusive loose diamond inventory online and fantastic prices. They also have the nicest collection of lab-created diamonds online.
What we love about them:
  • No questions asked returns within 30 days of shipment. James Allen will send you a paid shipping label to return the ring.
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • Free International Shipping
  • Free prong tightening, repolishing, rhodium plating and cleaning every 6 months
  • Provide insurance appraisals
  • One free resizing within 60 days of purchase
  • Free ring inscriptions
  • Best-in-class high quality imagery of all diamonds in stock
  • 24/7 Customer Service
  • Best-in-class packaging
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Blue Nile Blue Nile is the largest and most well-known internet jewelry seller. They have a very large exclusive online inventory. Their high-quality images are catching up to James Allens' and their prices are amazing. 
What we love about them:
  • No questions asked returns within 30 days of shipment. Blue Nile will send you a paid shipping label to return the ring.
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • Free Shipping
  • Free prong tightening, repolishing, rhodium plating and cleaning every 6 months
  • Provide insurance appraisal
  • One free resizing within the first year of purchase
  • High quality images of about half of their diamonds
  • 24/7 Customer Service
  • 100% credit towards future upgrades (must be at least double in value)
  • Best in class fulfillment
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About the author

Mike Fried Mike Fried Mike Fried has over 25 years experience in the diamond industry working with Leo Schachter Diamonds, Moshe Namdar Diamonds, and joining The Diamond Pro in 2007. He is recognized as an industry expert and has been quoted in publications such as Us, People, Page Six, The Next Web and more.

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