14K Gold Education
Because pure 24 karat gold is much too soft and malleable to be practical for use in jewelry, all of the gold in rings, necklaces, earrings, and other items you might buy has been mixed with other metals to strengthen it and give the gold a distinctive color. A mixture of different pure metals that results in a hybrid metal with the desirable properties of all its ingredients is called an alloy, and the term “karat” is the unit of measure referring to how much pure gold the alloy contains. This means that 14 kt gold is 14 parts gold and 10 parts other metals, or approximately 60% gold. To be legally sold as gold jewelry in the United States, the gold purity of a piece cannot be below 10 karats (10 parts gold to 14 parts other metals), and because the gold content of 10kt gold is so far outweighed by other materials, it is still considered a lower grade and no longer widely used by serious fine jewelers. Here at Mens Wedding Rings and Bands, we carry nothing below 14kt gold wedding rings. Most gold jewelry sold in the U.S. and Canada must be stamped with the purity in karats, as in “14k gold”, or at least the letter “K”, but older pieces may not be as uniformly marked and need to be appraised by a jeweler to determine their quality and value.
The different metals alloyed with gold to make this 14k gold that is more durable and less likely to bend or ding are also what give the different types of gold their color. Jewelry made with 14kt gold makes exceptionally good use of this longstanding method of custom coloring because 14k gold strikes such an auspicious balance between the premium quality pure gold and the other elements for very interesting results. The most popular and traditional color for 14 kt gold, and the shade of gold most people immediately associate with the word “gold” is yellow gold. Yellow 14kt gold contains copper to enhance the gold’s familiar buttery hue and silver to tone down red and orange highlights. To make white 14k gold, an alloy with nickel and silver is the most common but is being replaced more and more by alloys made with palladium. White 14k gold is also generally plated with rhodium to minimize wear. Rose gold is mixed with more copper and less silver for the pink and red tones seen in some of our 14k gold handcrafted bands. The key differences between rings of 14kt gold and 18kt gold are in cost and weight; a 14k gold ring is slightly lower in price than one of similar size and design in 18k, and the 14kt gold ring may be a bit heavier or lighter depending on the alloy metals, but is also less fragile.