Welcome to the second blog in our series all about choosing that perfect type of gold engagement ring. (If you missed the first blog about the different types of gold, no worries! You can find it here. We’ll wait for you to read it and come on back.)
Welcome back! Now that you’re armed with some new knowledge about the types of gold available to you, let’s get down to the karats. No, not “carrots.” Not a “carats,” either. (Common misconceptions. Happens all the time.) So what’s the difference between a carat and a karat? Keep on keepin’ on, my friend—we’ll tell you.
Carat vs. Karat
A carat is a unit of weight for diamonds and gemstones. A karat is a unit of purity for gold. In our last blog in the series, we talked about how pure gold (24k) is actually incredibly soft and in order to strengthen it, it’s mixed with other elements like silver or copper to create an alloy.
The karat system refers to the ratio of pure gold (24k) to other alloys in the mixture. Each karat indicates 1/24th of the whole. Put simply, the higher the karat, the purer the gold.
Gold engagement rings are typically available in 10k, 14k, and 18k in all three hues: Yellow, white, and rose gold. Since white and rose gold get their hues from other metals added in with the gold, there is no such thing as 24k white or rose gold—that only comes in traditional yellow gold. But before you go hunting for a perfectly pure 24k gold ring, hold up: The highest amount of gold in jewelry you’re going to find is 22k. 24k gold is incredibly soft—so soft, in fact, that molding it into a piece of jewelry doesn’t make sense as it would be too easily damaged.
Now that you understand what karat means, you might find yourself wondering what the best choice is when choosing the perfect gold engagement ring. Let’s explore the differences in karats below.
10k Gold: Pros & Cons
10k gold is the most “impure” gold you’ll find in most engagement rings while still being considered gold. (Recent FTC regulations have softened to allow something to be called “gold” as long as it has 1k worth of gold.) 10k gold consists of 41.7% gold and 58.3% alloy.
10k Gold Pros
Some advantages of choosing a 10k gold engagement ring include:
- Affordability: 10k is the most affordable gold you can pick for an engagement ring.
- Durability: Since 10k gold is more alloy than gold, it’s stronger and more durable than “purer” golds. This leads to less scratching and damage, and 10k gold prongs tend to be stronger and less prone to bending or breaking.
10k Gold Cons
Some disadvantages of choosing a 10k gold engagement ring include:
- Color: Because of the low gold ratio, 10k gold bands tend to be a less vibrant color than gold with higher karats.
- Allergies: If you are allergic to silver, nickel, copper, iron, or zinc, you have a slightly higher risk of a 10k gold ring causing you to break out due to the high volume of these alloys present in the ring.
14k Gold: Pros & Cons
14k gold consists of 58.3% gold and 41.7% alloy. 14k gold is the most popular type of gold chosen for engagement and wedding rings—plus other jewelry—in the United States. This is the one most people turn to when they aren’t sure which karat to choose. 14k gold has a gorgeous, rich color that’s a little less intense and vibrant than 18k gold.
14k Gold Pros
Some advantages of choosing a 14k gold engagement ring include:
- The Perfect Blend: 14k gold is, to many people, the perfect mixture of affordability, purity, and durability.
- Color: 14k gold has a gorgeous, rich color. It’s less intense and vibrant than 18k gold, which many people prefer in engagement and wedding rings.
14k Gold Cons
Some disadvantages of choosing a 14k gold engagement ring include:
- Price: 14k gold is more expensive than 10k gold, but only slightly so.
- Allergies: There are those allergies again! Because 14k gold still contains a fairly high alloy content, folks with allergies to the metals mentioned above may still find 14k gold too irritating for longtime wear on the skin.
18k Gold: Pros & Cons
18k gold consists of 75% gold (woo!) and 25% alloy. This type of gold is typically the most pure form of gold used in watches, rings, and most other wearable jewelry items. 18k gold’s appearance is rich and vibrant. In yellow gold, it’s the material with that “classic” yellow appearance most people love about gold jewelry.
18k Gold Pros
Some advantages of 18k gold include:
- Purity: As close to pure as possible while still being practical.
- Appearance: The “classic,” vibrant appearance most people associate with yellow gold.
18k Gold Cons
Some disadvantages of 18k gold include:
- Price: 18k gold is fairly expensive.
- Durability: 18k gold is easy to scratch thanks to its high gold content.
We previously mentioned that jewelry is not made in 24k as it would be impractical as it is 99.9% gold, making it too soft for everyday wear. As for 22k, it consists of 91.7% gold—also too soft for the jewelry we wear every day.
There is no “perfect” karat of gold—it all depends on your price point and preference. But no matter the shade or karat of gold you choose for your engagement ring, Zillion has you covered with outstanding protection. Our insurance policies cover engagement rings in the event of loss, theft, damage, disappearance, and natural disasters. Best of all: Our specialized jewelry insurance policies are portable, so no matter where in the world you are you can do more than just wear your jewelry—you can wear it with confidence!