White gold is today one of the most popular versions of gold, and a big percentage of the population looking for gold jewelry seems to be gravitating towards white gold, especially for engagement rings and even wedding rings.
But knowing that you’d like an engagement ring that is set on white gold is not enough. You have to decide on the type of white gold the ring or earrings come in because they all have different qualities. Essentially, there are three main types of white gold – 10k, 14k, and 18k. But out of these three, you’d have to choose between 14k and 18k white – these are the best of fine white gold jewelry, and they are also regarded as the best options for setting of diamonds and other gemstones, according to jewelers. How then do these two types of white gold compare? Which of the two should you buy?
Differences between 14k and 18k white gold
The Composition Difference Of 14k And 18k White Gold
Essentially, white gold is one of the diluted or watered-down versions of pure gold, and they are known as solid gold. White gold results from the blending or the alloying of pure gold with other harder, stronger, and more durable metals like copper, palladium, silver, zinc, or nickel. This is necessary because pure gold or 24k gold is quite soft and extremely malleable, meaning that jewelers cannot use it to create durable solid gold jewelry. The only way of creating more durable versions of gold is through the addition of stronger, more durable metal alloys like the ones mentioned above, leaving you with more durable versions of gold.
To create 14k or 18k white gold, the composition of the gold is what matters a great deal. For 14k white gold, there is 58.3% pure gold present in the white gold, and the remaining proportion – 41.7% is made of white metals like silver, palladium, zinc, or nickel. For 18k gold, on the other hand, there is 75% pure gold incorporated into the white metal alloys like silver, palladium, and/or zinc. So, in terms of composition, 18k white gold has more pure gold, and it’s softer than 14k gold, which contains a bigger percentage of the metal alloys. Note that the creation of 18k white gold will only feature 25% of the white metal alloys mixed with gold.
But that is not all – the mixing of pure gold and the white metals, in whatever proportions, will not leave you with that lustrous white sheen associated with white gold. And regardless of the gold present in the 14k or 18k mixture, the resultant gold alloy is dipped in a coat of rhodium which not only gives the gold that characteristic white sheen that white gold is known for it also enhances the durability and the scratch-resistance of the white gold.
The price difference between 14k and 18k white gold
Thanks to the high percentage of pure gold in 18k gold – 75% or 18 parts of pure gold out of the 24 parts, 18k white gold costs more than 14k gold, which contains only 58.3% of pure gold. The good news is that both versions of white gold have the same white, lustrous finish.
And if you are on a budget, then 14k gold would be a better choice. In addition to the lower price, 14k white gold is much more durable than 18k gold, making it an excellent option for you if you are looking for gold jewelry that boasts the best resilience against scratching or scuffing.
The pros and cons of 14K white gold
Pros of 14k white gold
- The higher content of metal alloys increases the durability and the strength of 14k white gold, which means that even with the rhodium plating, 14k white gold is a better jewelry choice if you are looking for a durable, everyday ring.
- It’s cheaper than 18k white gold.
- Boasts a nice, lustrous sheen/ finish thanks to the rhodium plating
- The rhodium plating enhances its durability
- Good variety of jewelry options to choose from
Cons of 14k white gold
- The rhodium-coated layer wears out after some months, and you’d have to take it to the jeweler for replating or re-dipping
- Some jewelers do not consider 14k white gold the best version of gold to set gemstones on
- Some people would still opt for 18k over 14k because of its elegance and higher value.
- Once the rhodium plating wears out, you’ll start to notice some irritation on your skin, especially if you are allergic to nickel because there is a higher likelihood of nickel being present in 14k gold because of the higher proportion of white metals needed to be alloyed with pure gold.
- Less durable compared to other desirable white metals like palladium or platinum
The pros and cons of 18K white gold
Pros of 18k white gold
- A lot more elegant and valuable than 14k gold because of the 75% pure gold that makes 18k white
- The rhodium plating enhances the durability of white gold
- Lustrous and the most desirable choice for jewelers as they prefer this version of gold for diamond setting
- A lower percentage of metal alloys needed to create 18k white gold means a lower risk of sensitivity reactions and nickel allergies when the rhodium coating starts to wear out
- Large variety of jewelry styles and designs
Cons of 18K white gold
- The jewelry would have to be re-dipped in rhodium months or years down the line to ensure that the white, lustrous sheen is never completely lost.
- The white gold is pricier than 14k gold.
- Not the most durable version of white gold, and it would be scratched or scuffed easily, meaning that you should not wear it when handling hard or odd jobs or just all kinds of jobs that involve your hands and contact of the jewelry with harder surfaces.
14K vs. 18k White Gold – Choosing Between The Two?
Trying to choose between 14k and 18k white gold? Well, you will agree with us that there is a lot that goes into being able to make the ‘right choice between these two, and at the end of the day, the best version of white gold between the 14k and the 18k white gold is a largely a matter of preferences.
Even though 18k white gold is naturally more valuable than 14k white gold because the latter has 58.3% pure gold against 75% pure gold in the former, both versions of white gold have to be coated in a layer of rhodium, and they both have the same lustrous finish.
So, what would really determine or guide your choices include the price, durability, value, and gemstone setting options and preferences? For durability and affordability, 14k white gold is a good choice, but if you don’t mind spending more on more pure gold, then 18k white gold would be a good option.
The main difference between 14k and 18k white gold is the difference in the percentage of gold that’s present in either version of gold, a factor that subsequently affects the value of the white gold jewelry, as well as the durability. To choose one over the other, you’d need to take into mind these factors.