If you are looking for the best of gold jewelry, but also something different, rose gold might easily be your new perfect gold standard. It boasts an exquisite hue that gives off an angelic feel against your skin, and the best part is that the rose gold hue works for most skin tones and complexions.
But despite its magnificence and the yearning to own the best quality rose gold jewelry, you have to make some tough decisions regarding rose gold; specifically 14k and 18k rose gold.
You’d expect them to be the same, but there is a color difference between them. So, you cannot make decisions regarding these two on a whim. There also are other differences between these two forms of rose gold. And in this article, we’ll help you make the right choice between them. So, let’s get started!
What is 14k rose gold made of?
To establish which is better than the other, we’ll first look at the basics of 14k and 18k rose gold.
Bear in mind that the creation of rose gold resulted from the need to make a stronger, more durable metal from the soft and malleable pure gold. For wearability and design enhancement with diamonds or gemstones, the metal holding the gems must be strong, and even in the absence of embellishments, the band that makes the rings, for example, must stand wear and tear, and last for years without easily bending. With that in mind, 14k and 18k rose gold variations were born.
14K Rose Gold
The first thing that comes to mind when you think about rose gold is a pinkish-colored variety of gold, and because the rosy hues are often regarded as symbols of romance, rose gold jewelry is associated with love and romance.
What you may not know is that out of the different versions of rose gold, 14k rose gold takes the top spot in terms of desirability. This gold alloy results from the blending of pure gold with copper, among other metals like silver. By blending these metals, the resultant solid gold takes on a pink color.
14K rose gold is made of 58.5% pure gold, and the rest of the metals blended in makeup 41.5% of the rose gold. In this alloy, copper makes up 33.5% of the metal mixed, and the remainder is 8.20% of silver. Thanks to the significantly high composition of copper, the 14k rose gold takes on a more reddish color, it has a more matted surface, and it’s harder and more durable. These features also make 14k rose gold the most popular version of rose gold used in jewelry. Note that the lower concentration of pure gold means that this rose gold doesn’t take on much of the yellow hues but that of copper, hence the resultant pink hue for rose gold.
Pros and the cons of 14K rose gold
- 14k rose gold has a distinct and a deeper pink hue
- It’s quite strong
- Doesn’t require constant care
- Cheaper than 18k
- Tarnish resistant
- The pink might be too dark for some people
- More copper and other metals mean a higher risk of metals/ materials that would cause irritation to the skin.
What is 18k rose gold made of?
18K rose gold, on the other hand, bears a lighter hue of pink, and you will notice that it tends to carry some of the gold yellow more distinctly. It also costs more than 14K rose gold.
The reasons for these features have to do with how 18k rose gold is created. For that soft champagne rose color and the gold undertones, 18k rose gold is a gold alloy made of 75% pure/ 24k yellow gold, 22.2% copper, and only 2.8% silver. The composition of these metals leaves you with the best version of soft pink gold, which is alluring.
Unfortunately, the high percentage of pure gold means that the 18k gold is not the hardest version of rose gold, and an 18k rose gold ring, for example, would demand more attention and care than the 14k piece.
Pros and the cons of 18K rose gold
- Delicate, pink color with yellow gold undertones
- Perfect for engagement rings
- Doesn’t tarnish
- Less durable than 14k rose gold
The differences between 14K and 18k rose gold
- Color difference
The first noticeable difference between 14k and 18k rose gold is the color. This difference results from the composition of the metals used to make the alloys; more specifically, the different compositions for copper, yellow gold, silver, and zinc.
14K rose gold is made of 58.5% gold and 41.5% copper & silver. This composition leaves you with a rose gold variety that has a deeper hue of pink because of the high composition of copper added to the gold.
18K rose gold, on the other hand, has 75% pure gold, which means that 25% of this rose gold is made of other metals. In other words, the metals that make this alloy make up 6 parts out of the 24 parts of the rose gold, unlike the 10 parts of ‘impurities’ in 14K rose gold. Thanks to the high level of pure gold in the 18K rose gold, this gold alloy features a lighter pink color – more of that soft, champagne pink, with yellow undertones from the yellow gold.
What this means is that the apparent color of rose gold jewelry will range from that reddish hue to the lighter champagne hue, depending on the mixture of metals like copper, silver, and zinc.
- Price difference
18K rose gold is more expensive than 14k rose gold because the former has a higher level of gold purity. Thanks to the high value of pure gold, the 18K rose gold is more expensive.
Just keep in mind that other factors such as the style of the jewelry, the precious stones or diamonds used, and the jewelry designer all play a role and affect the cost of the rose gold jewelry.
- Durability difference
Since gold is one of the softer metals used in jewelry making, its efficacy is only maximized when used in combination with other metals to create alloys and the fancy jewelry we adore. 24K or pure gold is, therefore, quite soft and extremely malleable, and it will not stand the test of time because it bends and scratches easily.
To harden the gold, copper is often used – primarily because copper is a very durable metal and among the strongest metals. When added to gold (along with silver), rose gold is formed. Now, where more copper is used, the resultant metal is more durable. To increase the durability of the gold alloy, silver, and zinc, also strong metals are added to the gold and copper, hence an enhanced level of durability.
With this in mind, and with the high copper/silver content in 14K rose gold than in 18K rose gold, it makes sense that the 14K rose gold is durable than 18K rose gold.
Choosing between the two?
Choosing between these two, say for your engagement ring, isn’t a straightforward decision. Your choice will depend on your preferred style or color, the durability, and the budget you are working with. If you are willing to maintain the less durable 18K rose gold which you can afford because you prefer the champagne pink hue and the gold, yellow undertones. However, most people consider the durability of the jewelry they are buying, even as they look for options to get more out of their money – they also prefer the deeper pink hues of rose gold, which is why the 14K rose gold is a popular choice for many lovers of rose gold jewelry.
Does 14k rose gold tarnish?
14K rose gold will develop a patina over time, which means that although pure gold is non-reactive and never gets oxidized, the 14K will be oxidized because of the presence of copper, which reacts with oxygen, hence a change in the sheen and the color of rose gold. The patina development is, luckily, a very slow and long process that leaves you with an antique-looking piece.
Does 18k rose gold tarnish?
Like 14K rose gold, 18K rose gold will develop a patina that gives it a vintage/ antique look over the years. This process is slower in 18K because there is less copper to react with oxygen and moisture.
That said, you should know that jewelry plated with rose gold will tarnish, albeit unevenly, and you’d have to re-plate them after some months.
14K rose gold jewelry and 18K rose gold jewelry are beautiful gold alloys that are now commonly used in engagement rings.
The 14K rose gold has a deeper reddish hue, and it’s affordable and also durable, while 18K rose gold features more of a soft champagne color, is expensive, and less durable.
So, if you were to pick one over the other, we’d recommend the 14K rose gold.