If you’re interested in gold jewelry, you’ve probably come across a variety of types of gold of different purity levels, like 18K, 14K, 10K and even 9K.
Of these, 14K gold is one of the most popular metals, offering a perfect mix of durability with beauty and value. In fact, roughly 90% of wedding bands in the U.S are made of 14K gold.
Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about 14K gold including how it’s made, how to identify it and whether it’s the right choice for you!
Pros and Cons of 14K Gold
Before we get into the details of 14K gold, let’s have a quick look at the pros and cons of this popular metal.
14K gold pros:
- Affordable option to purer gold alloys
- Durable and more resistant to scratches and dents
- Has a soft warm color tone
14K gold cons:
- Only half its weight is pure gold
- Not as valuable as higher karat alloys
- Doesn’t have the deep yellow of 24K gold
What is the 14K Gold Alloy?
An alloy is a metal made by combining two or more metals to increase the strength and durability of the metal. Gold is too soft and malleable in its pure form to be used in the making of jewelry, so it needs to be alloyed and hardened first.
The purity of gold is measured in karats, with pure gold made up of 24 karats. A 24K piece of jewelry, like this rustic tanzanite and gold studs, is made of pure gold without any other metals added to it.
14K gold is made by alloying 58.3% of gold (or 14 karats) with 41.7% of other metals like zinc, nickel, copper and silver. The type of metals and their proportion can vary but the quantity of gold used should be 58% for it to be certified as 14K gold.
The Color of 14K Gold
14K gold comes in several colors including yellow, white, rose and yes, even black! The color of the gold depends on the metals that are used in the alloy as well as the proportion of each type of metal used.
14K gold wedding band. See it here.
This is the most traditional type of metal used in jewelry although nowadays more people tend to prefer white and rose gold instead. Silver and copper are the most common metals combined for 14K yellow gold. Although it’s not as shiny and bright as 24K gold, 14K gold does have a beautiful warmth to it and is considered to be a timeless, classic color.
This is a popular choice for wedding and engagement rings due to its modern, lustrous and contemporary look. 14K white gold is made by mixing silver-hued metals like nickel, manganese, silver and palladium with gold. 14K white gold isn’t really white but instead has a pale, yellow appearance. However, once the metal is plated with rhodium, it becomes extremely lustrous and reflective. Rhodium tends to wear off over time and when this happens, you can see that the ‘white’ gold under it actually has a yellowish tinge to it. The rhodium plating needs to be replaced at least every year to maintain its sleek look and the quality of the jewelry but how often you need to re-plate it depends on the body chemistry of the wearer and the conditions in which the jewelry is worn.
This is made by adding copper alloy to gold giving it a beautiful pinkish gold color which is currently very much in style. 14K rose gold contains 58% gold and the rest is made of copper or a mix of copper and silver. The strength of the color depends on the percentage of copper that is used; the more copper that’s used, the stronger the rose color. This color of gold is exquisitely beautiful and a popular option for gorgeous vintage jewelry.
14K black gold twisted ring by Braverman Oren. Check price here.
This is an unconventional jewelry metal that’s increasing fast in popularity due to its unique and edgy look. It’s made from yellow gold which goes through a process called electroplating through which the gold is plated with black rhodium to give it a black finish. Another way that black gold is created is by mixing gold with a much darker metal like cobalt which makes it appear black. The most modern (and more expensive) method used for making black gold is the femtosecond laser, a process which applies a pulse of high-volume energy and alters the surface of the metal, darkening it until it’s completely black.
How to Identify 14K Gold
It’s best to familiarize yourself with the certified stamps and hallmarks which denote the purity of the metal so that you know the gold you’re buying is real. In the U.S and in many other countries, it’s a legal obligation to disclose the karatage of gold jewelry with a small stamp on the jewelry itself.
The hallmarks for 14K gold are 14K, 587 or 583. The ‘14K’ is the karatage whereas the ‘587’ or ‘583’ denote the percentage of pure gold in the jewelry (i.e. 58.7%). The stamps can be different but they mean one thing: the 14K gold jewelry is real and meets standards.
Another quick and easy way of testing your gold that you can try at home is by drawing it across a ceramic plate while applying slight pressure (the plate should be an unglazed one). If you see a gold mark on the ceramic, your gold is real. If the mark is black, you can be sure that it’s fake.
How Valuable is 14K Gold?
To assess the value of the gold, we need to look at the content of pure gold used in the jewelry. As 14K gold contains only 58% of pure gold, its value is equal to that of a little more than half a 24K piece.
To check the value of 58% pure gold, you can research the current market price for gold. However, keep in mind that 14K gold is an alloy which needs to be refined and this means that although you’ll be able to sell it, it may be for a much lower price than the market price for gold.
Additionally, when it comes to jewelry, the gold alone doesn’t determine the value of the piece. You’ll also have to consider the quality of workmanship, other materials included and the brand of the product, all of which add to the final cost of the piece.
Should I Buy 14K Gold?
If you’re looking for a piece of jewelry for daily wear, 14K gold is the perfect option as it’s durable and won’t tarnish or damage easily unlike gold alloys with higher karatage. It’s also much more affordable and you’ll still be getting a piece of jewelry that’s worth over half its weight in gold.
Where Can I Buy 14K Gold Jewelry?
Before you go out shopping for 14K gold jewelry, take the time to do a little bit of research first. Always choose a licensed vendor as there are numerous untrustworthy vendors out there who try to pass off low-quality or fake items as 14K gold.
- James Allen has high quality 14K jewelry at reasonable prices and also offers videos as well as images so that you can see a 360 degree view of the jewelry before you make your purchase.
- Blue Nile is an excellent option for high-quality 14K gold chains and jewelry, at competitive prices and with excellent range.
- Amazon offers an exceptional range of 14K gold jewelry with great price ranges and stunning designs. You’ll find that many reputable retailers also offer their gold jewelry on Amazon which allows you to make the most of your Prime membership.
- Etsy is your one stop platform for all artisan and handmade jewelry. Their range of 14K gold jewelry covers everything you could think of, from authentic antiques to modern designs.
If you want to learn more about types of gold chains, check out our detailed article here.