Everything to Know About 18k Gold

by Haley Anhut
Posted July 28, 2020

Last updated on September 8, 2021

If you’ve begun your search for the perfect engagement ring, not only must you decide what type of setting and diamond shape you want, but you’ll notice that most settings are available in a range of different precious metals. And while platinum has seen some increased popularity in recent years, the most widely used metal in engagement and wedding rings is still gold. But even if all gold glitters, it’s not necessarily all the same. The purity of your gold ring can have an impact on its value and durability. Here, we discuss 18k gold, and what you should know before making any final decisions.

First Things First: What Is 18k Gold?

In measuring gold, jewelry makers use the ‘karat’ grading system to designate purity. 24 karat is 100% pure, with lower karats (such as 18k gold and 14k gold) incorporating other metals for improved durability. 

18k gold is about 75% pure gold, which makes it less durable than 14k gold because it contains more pure gold. The more pure gold present in a metal, the softer the metal will be. This is why 24k gold is the softest option and is prone to scratches and dents. 18k gold, unfortunately, is also susceptible to scratches and dents due in part to this higher purity level. If you plan on wearing your engagement ring or wedding band every day, 14k gold will be the best gold choice because it is stronger.

Gold Colors

18 karat gold comes in yellow, white, and rose. The only difference between these options (other than the obvious difference of color) is the mix of metals alloyed with pure gold. Other than that, 18k gold is a fantastic choice for any engagement ring and looks beautiful in all three colors.

18k Yellow Gold

Yellow gold is making a comeback today with its beautiful golden hue. 18k gold has more gold present than 14k or 10k gold, and therefore the yellow-gold color is brighter and richer in appearance. Yellow gold is typically a mixture of pure gold, copper, and nickel, to give it its warm look. Yellow gold is the truest color of gold, and is the purest out of white, yellow, and rose gold.

18k White Gold

The most popular metal color for engagement rings remains white gold, and there’s no question why! With a beautiful silvery appearance, this metal color is actually a mixture of metals such as silver, palladium, and nickel. It’s also common for white gold to have a rhodium coating. If you’re deciding between white or yellow gold, our guide will help you learn more about these two choices.

18k Rose Gold 

Rose gold is the new kid on the block, but we don’t see this trend dying down any time soon! A mixture of silver and copper alloys gives rose gold its beautiful pink color and looks beautiful in all settings, from classic to vintage. However, at Clean Origin, we only offer 14k rose gold. If you’re in the beginning stages of deciding between white, yellow, or rose gold, check out this guide to learn more about what color is right for you and the style you want!

Why 18k Gold?

18k gold is a popular choice for many brides and grooms. One advantage of choosing 18k gold is its purity, which gives 18k gold a richer, more vibrant color. The 18k gold percentage is also less likely to trigger any skin conditions or reactions one may have because the presence of other metals and alloys is minimal. If you are prone to metal allergies, 18k gold is a great option for you! However, although this higher gold percentage makes for a beautiful appearance and other benefits, it is also its biggest disadvantage.

Durability of 18k Gold

Gold comes in a variety of purity levels, like 14k, 18k, and 24k. This karat is not the same as a diamond carat, as carat refers to the weight of a diamond. As mentioned above, higher karat ratings include more pure gold when compared to the other metals that may be mixed in to create a gold alloy. And while it may seem obvious that a higher gold percentage would be more valuable, and therefore more desirable, one major drawback is that higher karats are also much less durable. For this reason, very few rings are made from 24k gold, and even 18k gold can be problematic for those who plan on wearing their rings on a daily basis or during physical activity. 

18k Gold Price

Since 18k gold has a higher percentage of pure gold when compared to 14k gold, the price is also higher. 18k gold price will also differ based on the style of setting you’re choosing. For example, our Petite Floating Gem Ring will cost you $1,573.00 in 18k gold, compared to $1,143.00 in 14k gold. Overall, choosing 14k gold is much more affordable than 18k and will save you a few hundred dollars. If you’re looking for a ring that has a beautiful silver color, choose 18k white gold vs. platinum, as platinum is significantly more expensive than white gold. Our Locke Solitaire Ring will cost $830.00 in 14k white gold, $1,045.00 in 18k white gold, and $1,620.00 in platinum. But remember, there are pros and cons to each metal choice, and the cheapest option doesn’t make it the best. Additionally, if you choose a lab-grown diamond, you’ll save an additional 20-40% on the diamond, allowing you to allocate that money toward a more elaborate setting, or a better quality diamond.

Disadvantages of 18K Gold

Every precious metal has its disadvantages. For 18k gold, the biggest disadvantages are that it will be more expensive and softer than 14k gold. No metal is invincible; even platinum needs some TLC every now and then. But the higher percentage of gold will make this metal slightly more prone to dents and scratches. This may mean that you need to clean or maintain your ring on a more frequent basis, as well as be more mindful when wearing your ring. Take your ring off when you’re participating in hands-on activities or high contact sports to avoid damaging your fine piece of 18k gold jewelry.