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10k Gold vs. 14k Gold – What’s the Difference?

10k gold vs. 14k gold

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14k is one of the most popular alloys on the market, especially when it comes to engagement and wedding rings. However, there are other gold alloys that are also gaining popularity. One such alloy is 10k gold. Let’s break down the differences between these two types of gold and consider which is the better option.

What Is 14K Gold?

halo setting engagement ring

14k gold solitaire diamond ring. See it here.

Pure gold has a total karat weight of 24, and when counting the karat weight in a gold alloy, we simply count how much of the piece is gold and how much is made up of other metals.

14k gold has a higher percentage of pure gold, with more than half of the metal being gold. 14k gold is made of 14 parts pure gold and 10 parts other metals. You can find 14k gold in the popular white, rose and yellow varieties, although you’ll also find other colors like black and green golds. 14k gold jewelry is typically stamped with 14k, 14kt, or .585, even though it contains 58.3% pure gold to be exact.

What Is 10K Gold?

10k gold ring

10k gold ring by Masterpearl. See it here.

You will not find 10k gold in most retail stores, because this type of gold isn’t considered highly valuable. 10k gold is sometimes called “discount gold,” since it only contains 10 parts pure gold and 14 parts other metals. This means that less than half the metal is actual gold.

10K gold comes in all the popular gold tones, but the yellow gold variety is typically alloyed with silver and copper. The typical hallmark or stamp used for 10k gold jewelry is 10k, 10kt, or .417 since it contains 41.7% pure gold in percentage.

10K Gold vs. 14K Gold – Durability

Pure gold is too soft for jewelry, so the less gold in the metal, the more durable it is. Generally, 14k is used in jewelry because it scratches less and lasts longer compared with higher-karat gold.

However, compared to 14k gold, 10k gold is harder and will wear down more slowly. If durability is your utmost concern, then 10k gold is much harder than 14k gold. However, you’ll be sacrificing some other aspects, like value and color, if you choose 10k gold.  

10K Gold vs. 14K Gold – Color

10k gold wedding bands

10k gold wedding bands by Brightsmith. See them here.

When it comes to gold color, the exact hue will depend on gold concentration and the other metals in the alloy. If you’ve looked at a piece of 24k gold, you’ll know that the first thing that jumps out at you is the intense yellow of the piece.

14k gold jewelry generally has a more saturated yellow color due to the higher percentage of gold, while 10k gold is visibly paler. It may even appear dull, washed out and lacking in vibrancy.

10K Gold vs. 14K Gold – Price

14k gold ring

14k gold men’s wedding band. See it here.

Although 14k gold has many benefits, when it comes to price, 10k gold trumps 14k gold. In fact, its affordable price is the biggest selling point of a 10k gold whether it’s a pair of earrings, necklace or ring. This makes 10k gold a great option if you want to look glamorous while saving money on jewelry.

Just keep in mind that this is because of the lower purity of precious and expensive metal in the alloy. 10k gold might be the more affordable option, but it might not give the best value for your money. It’s not considered valuable and if you ever have to sell your 10k gold, it won’t have the same value that 14k gold will have.

10K Gold vs. 14K Gold – Hypoallergenic Nature

Allergies to pure gold are rare, so if you do have reactions to gold, it’s the other metals in the alloy that cause issues. These include metals commonly alloyed with gold, such as zinc and nickel. The lower the karat is the higher the percentage of other metals. Because different jewelry pieces are made up of different alloys, it’s hard to know the exact amount of different metals in jewelry.

In this light, 10k gold is less hypoallergenic than 14k gold, and has a higher likelihood of causing allergic reactions. If you’re sensitive to certain metals, opt for higher purity gold.

Other Things to Consider When Deciding Between 10K and 14K Gold

The pros and cons of 10k and 14k gold appear to cancel each other out, making it difficult to choose between the two. Here are some considerations to help you decide.

  • Gold purity is linked to its value.

The higher the karat, the higher its value, so you might want to consider 14k gold jewelry that can also serve as an investment in the long run. This is especially true in times of uncertainty where gold outperforms other types of investments. While 10k gold will be valued on the amount of gold it has, 14k has a higher amount of gold which means a higher value.

  • Gold jewelry can be an heirloom to be passed down for generations.

A 10k gold necklace might be more durable than the 14k option, but the latter retains its value over time. You might want to consider which type of gold you really want to serve as an heirloom of your family— a lower quality or a higher quality one?

Pros and Cons of 10K and 14K Gold

As we have seen, both have their own advantages and disadvantages, so we’ve listed the pros and cons to help you decide on the best type of gold jewelry for you.

Advantages of 10K Gold

  1. More durable than higher karat gold
  2. More resistant to dents and scratches
  3. Ideal for individuals with very active lifestyles
  4. Less expensive than 14k gold
  5. More subdued color

Disadvantages of 10K Gold

  1. Low purity of gold
  2. Won’t give you the best value for money
  3. May appear dull and washed out
  4. Limited jewelry design options
  5. Likely triggers metal allergies

Advantages of 14K Gold

  1. A great combination of purity and durability
  2. Has a richer, more saturated gold color
  3. Endless jewelry design options
  4. Less likely to trigger metal allergies

Disadvantages of 14K Gold

  1. Not the purest form of gold available in jewelry
  2. Less durable than 10k gold
  3. More expensive than 10k gold

Which Should I Choose?

14k gold jewelry is believed to be the “sweet spot,” because it balances value with quality. If you’re looking for a bargain on jewelry, a 10k gold can be a good choice. However, if you’re looking for a sentimental piece, engagement ring, or wedding ring, it’s best to opt for 14k gold option as this has higher value and can be passed on as a heirloom.

If you’re looking for a harder, more durable piece, 10k gold is better, but it can be less valuable since it has lower proportions of gold. Also, there are limited options in 10k gold since most reputable jewelers opt for 14k and higher karat pieces.

At the end of the day, it comes down to your budget and preferences. If durability and a lower price are important to you, go for 10k gold. If you want value, quality and more options, choose 14k gold or higher.