9ct vs. 18ct Gold: What's the difference and does it matter?

3 min read

9ct vs. 18ct Gold: What's the difference and does it matter?

Pure gold is very soft and isn't always practical to use alone in fine jewellery. For this reason, it's combined with other metals for durability. This durability is particularly important in the instance of gold wedding engagement rings and wedding bands, which are exposed to the elements every single day. Caratage is the measurement of gold's purity; it indicates the volume of pure gold in an alloy.

But what do carat gradings mean, exactly? What are the fundamental differences between 18ct and 9ct gold? Is one better than the other? Here's all you need to know...

18ct gold is 75% pure gold and 25% other metals (usually a combination of silver and copper). In the case of white gold, that 25% consists purely of white metals, present to contribute a silvery hue. 

9ct gold, on the other hand, has a content of 37.5% pure gold and 62.5% other metals. 

In short, 18ct gold is 18 parts pure gold; whilst 9ct gold is only 9 parts pure.


Does gold carat weight affect the colour?

A recycled yellow gold and old cut diamond solitaire Athena engagement ring paired with a scroll-engraved Wishbone wedding band. Alongside it, a vintage-inspired Daisy cluster engagement ring with a slender marquise diamond-set Amare wedding band
Our Athena solitaire engagement ring paired with our scroll-engraved Wishbone wedding band, alongside our Daisy cluster engagement ring paired with our Amare Marquise wedding band

Carat weight is in fact the only factor to influence the appearance of gold. Whilst provenance makes no difference (Fairtrade, Fairmined, recycled or industry standard - 18ct gold looks like 18ct gold), the lower the gold content the more diluted the metal in hue. You'll notice that 9ct gold is lighter, less yellow and less lustrous than its 18ct counterpart. 


Is there a difference in durability between 9ct and 18ct gold? 

Our D-shaped Diamond Star wedding band stacked with our D-shaped Beloved Diamond wedding band

All in all, 9ct gold is tough enough to survive a lifetime of wear - but 18ct gold is better suited to heirloom pieces chosen with future generations in mind. 

Whilst 9ct gold is technically 'harder' than 18ct gold, scoring higher on the Mohs Scale of Hardness, this doesn't mean it's more resilient in the long-term. 9ct gold is in fact more brittle, which means it's less resistant to knocks and scratches on a microscopic scale. When compared over a longer period of time, 18ct gold has got what it takes to hold its own.

If you're dreaming of an intricately hand-engraved design like our Athena Grande engagement ring or our Lilac wedding band there's no question about it: 18ct gold is the only option for you. On the other hand, if you're open to something rustic and weathered like our matte hammered bands, whose surfaces cleverly absorb day-to-day knocks and scrapes, you could just get away with a lower-carat alloy.


What are the differences in cost?

His and hers - two wide, flat-profile wedding bands in yellow Fairtrade Gold, finished with a matte texture and hand engraved with private messages on their inner bandsHis and hers - two flat-profile wedding bands in 18ct yellow Fairtrade Gold, hand engraved with private messages inside

The more gold in the mix, the higher the carat weight and the higher the cost. Generally speaking, 18ct gold costs around twice as much as its 9ct gold.


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Love, Arabel & Team
Ruby McGonigle
Ruby McGonigle

Ruby McGonigle is a copywriter and digital marketing guru with two years of jewellery industry experience now behind her. After recently having attained a degree in Linguistics, she now hones her passion for writing and adoration of jewellery into creating engaging copy for Lebrusan Studio. Among bi-monthly blog posts exploring a broad range of topics, notable examples of her previous work include a think piece on the ‘natural diamonds vs. lab-grown diamonds’ debate, a probe into why traceable and third party certified ASM gold is so important, and an investigation of why platinum is no longer more expensive than gold.