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What's the difference between 14ct gold and 18ct gold?

4 min read

What's the difference between 14ct gold and 18ct gold?

Pure gold is very soft and is rarely practical to use alone in fine jewellery. For this reason, it's combined with other metals for durability, which is particularly important in the instance of everyday jewellery like gold engagement rings and wedding bands. Caratage is the measurement of this purity, indicating the volume of pure gold in an alloy. So, does this mean that 18ct gold is better than 14ct gold?

Well, 18ct gold is 75% pure gold and 25% other metals, that mix of ‘extras’ dependent on the type of gold in question. For example, rose gold contains a heavy copper content, whilst the 25% remainder of white gold usually consists of white metals like palladium and zinc, which contribute to the silvery hue. 14ct gold, on the other hand, has a lower pure gold content of 58.5%. In other words, 18ct gold is 18 parts pure, whilst 14ct gold is only 14 parts pure.

We will now explore how this difference in pure gold content manifest in terms of appearance, resilience and value for money…



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

In simple terms, the higher the pure gold content, the more saturated the hue. This is particularly true of yellow gold and rose gold. In fact, carat weight is the only factor to influence the appearance of gold, with provenance (FairtradeFairminedrecycled or industry standard) making no difference.  

That said, it’s only when an 18ct gold jewel is side-by-side with a 14ct gold jewel for comparison that the difference in colour is truly noticeable, with 14ct gold only marginally less vivid than its purer counterpart. 14ct gold jewellery is lustrous, beautiful and undeniably ‘gold’, its lower pure gold content doing little to impact the overall aesthetic. This toss-up really boils down to personal preference.



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

You’d be forgiven for assuming that a higher pure gold content equates to greater resilience, but this isn’t always the case. As we know, metals like silver, copper, nickel and zinc are introduced to pure gold to fortify its strength, and the greater alloy content of 14ct gold means it often scores a little higher on the Mohs Scale of Hardness than 18ct gold.

Both 14ct and 18ct gold alloys are highly resistant to tarnishing and corrosion, due to the inertly resilient nature of gold. However, the greater presence of alloy metals in 14ct gold – particularly copper – can pose a slightly higher risk of tarnishing than 18ct gold, whose higher purity content lends it a lower level of reactivity to external elements.

Moreover, malleability can be advantageous from certain craft perspectives. 18ct gold’s slightly softer nature is preferable for artisans like our hand-engraver Darren, for example, who spends his days etching intricate designs into the surfaces of our gold wedding bands and engagement rings.

Ultimately, both 14ct and 18ct gold are prized for their durability, making either a wise choice for an everyday jewel like an engagement ring, wedding band or commitment ring. With the correct maintenance, a ring cast in either metal should withstand a lifetime of love. In the end, the choice depends on the specific craft requirements and preferences of the wearer.



His and hers - two flat-profile wedding bands in 18ct yellow Fairtrade Goldhand engraved with private messages inside

The greater the gold content, the higher the price per gram. Generally speaking, 14ct gold costs around two-thirds less than 18ct gold. For those shopping for an engagement ring or wedding band on a tight budget, this makes it a clever compromise between value and durability. Scaling back the overall cost in this way may allow more room in your budget for bespoke design features or a larger gemstone, which can in turn add to the intrinsic value of a finished jewel.

However, 14ct gold is far less common in the UK than in the US. Although the growth of international markets is slowly driving the popularity of 14ct gold in the UK, it remains much scarcer in local markets than its 9ct or 18ct gold counterparts. This scarcity value means it’s not always the most economical choice if 18ct gold is more readily available. For example, the process of seeking a casting house that supplies 14ct Fairtrade Gold incurs a small fee here at Lebrusan Studio, making the ultimate jewel the same price as an 18ct gold duplicate.

What’s more, purer gold alloys like 18ct have historically retained higher market value over time than lower purity alloys like 14ct, which tend to be favoured less highly by investors. If you're seeking jewellery as a long-term financial investment, this resale and market value is worth bearing in mind. 

Ultimately, the difference between 14ct gold and 18ct gold in terms of intrinsic value depends largely on your budget and personal priorities. Our qualified team of designers and customer service assistants have the knowledge and experience required to talk you through your options in nuanced terms, assisting you in making the right decision for you. We’d be delighted to meet you at our London Diamond Bourse headquarters sometime, or simply to answer your questions over a quick phone call.


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Love, Arabel & Team
Ruby McGonigle
Ruby McGonigle

Ruby McGonigle is a copywriter and digital marketing professional with over five years of jewellery industry experience. After graduating with a BA in Linguistics, she combined her passions for written word and all things sparkly by joining the Lebrusan Studio team as in-house wordsmith and content creator. Among bi-monthly blog posts, notable examples of Ruby's 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.