14K Gold vs 18K Gold Plated: Which Is Better?
When deciding between 14K vs 18K gold-plated jewellery, it is important to understand their pros, cons and differences. Our blog post goes into detail about these two popular forms of gold used in jewellery making. We cover the pros, cons and differences of each type of gold jewellery. In the end, we offer you suggestions based on different factors that you need to consider.
What is 14k gold?
14K gold refers to a specific type of gold alloy that is used when making jewellery. 14K gold contains 58.3% pure gold, with the remaining 41.7% being made up of other metals. Because of this, 14K gold jewellery pieces tend to have a lesser yellow colour to them.
14K gold has a greater percentage of alloys, making it harder and more durable than higher karats of gold.
14K gold can also come in different colour variations. These include yellow gold, white gold and rose gold.
This karat of gold is seen as ideal for engagement rings, wedding bands and bracelets. This is because it strikes a good balance between purity, durability and affordability.
- Durability - 14K gold is much more durable than higher karats of gold. This is because it has a greater percentage of alloys.
- Longevity - solid gold often retains its look and quality better over long periods of time.
- Less prone to tarnishing - 14K gold is less likely to tarnish compared to lower karats of gold.
- Suitable for sensitive skin - solid gold jewellery is often hypoallergenic. However, this will depend on the nickel content within the alloy.
- Value retention - solid gold jewellery maintains it's value over time much better. This allows it to have a greater resale value
- Price - solid gold jewellery pieces have a greater content of gold. This leads to higher prices.
- Appearance - Has a less yellow appearance as 14K gold is only 58.3% solid gold.
- Allergies - 14K gold jewellery pieces can cause allergies if they have a high nickel content.
What is 18k gold plated?
18K gold plated jewellery is any jewellery that features a thin layer of 18K gold. This layer is then applied to a base metal through a process called electroplating. The jewellery is dipped in a solution of gold and then exposed to an electrical current. This deposits the gold onto the base metal surface.
The composition of the 18k gold plating is 75% pure gold and 25% alloyed metals.
This 18k gold is usually plated over a base metal. This base metal can be brass, copper, nickel, stainless steel or sterling silver.
- Affordable - gold plated jewellery has a lower gold content making it more affordable.
- Appearance - 18k gold plated jewellery offers the look of pure gold, at a fraction of the cost.
- Flexibility for trends- gold-plated jewellery is ideal for experimenting with trendy jewellery pieces without investing a ton of money.
- Durability - the thin gold layer of 18K gold can wear off over time, revealing the base metal.
- Maintenance and care requirements - gold plated pieces require more care and maintenance. This is to prevent the gold layer from wearing off.
- Allergy risk - the base metal of gold-plated jewellery may cause an allergic reaction. This is true if it contains nickel.
- No investment value - the thin layer of gold on a gold-plated jewellery piece is insignificant. This means that gold-plated jewellery doesn’t retain its value over time.
- More likely to tarnish - once the gold layer fades, the base metal will be exposed. This may cause the underlying metal to tarnish when exposed to water or harsh chemicals.
Comparing 14k Solid Gold and 18k Gold Plated Jewellery
18K gold consists of 75% gold and 25% alloyed metals. While 14K gold pieces consist of 58% of gold, and the rest are alloyed metals. In gold-plated pieces, the amount of gold is incalculable as it is an extremely thin layer of gold. In this case, a 14K gold piece would have a greater gold percentage than an 18K gold plated jewellery piece. despite its composition.
An 18K gold plated jewellery piece is harder and more durable than a 14K solid gold jewellery piece. However, this is dependent on the base metal.
Whilst 18K gold plated jewellery pieces may be more durable from the standpoint of denting, 1$ solid gold is more resistant to daily wear and tear. It will also provide overall greater longevity.
14K solid gold jewellery pieces have a great thickness of gold. This means that solid gold jewellery pieces won't fade over time. At the same time, 14K solid gold jewellery pieces are consistent throughout. If they do get scratched, the exposed part will still be the same gold alloy.
Allergies and skin sensitivity
The majority of allergies to jewellery relate to the presence of nickel. Nickel is often used in gold alloys and as a base metal in gold-plated jewellery. The severity of these reactions depends on the composition of the 14K gold alloy or the base metal of the 18K gold-plated jewellery piece.
To reduce the risk of allergies, go for 14K gold jewellery that has a lower percentage of nickel. For 18K gold plated pieces, you'll want to choose pieces that are made using a 316L stainless steel base. Stainless steel is a hypoallergenic material that doesn't cause nickel allergies.
14K solid gold jewellery is more expensive than 18K gold plated jewellery. Firstly 14K solid gold jewellery has a higher content of gold. Secondly, it requires greater craftsmanship than gold-plated pieces.
Maintenance and care
A 14K solid gold jewellery piece will be much easier to care for than an 18K gold plated jewellery piece.
To clean solid gold jewellery, all you need is warm water and a mild detergent solution. Or you can opt for a solid gold cleaning liquid. Then all you have to to is use a soft-bristled brush to clean.
For gold-plated jewellery, more care is needed when cleaning. It should only be cleaned with a soft, dry cloth. You must also avoid using harsh chemical cleaners, as they strip the gold plating off.
Find out more about maintenance and care of gold plated jewellery by reading our ultimate guide on cleaning gold plated jewellery.
Suitability for different uses
14K solid gold is better for daily use jewellery pieces. For jewellery that is worn on more exposed areas, this type of gold of jewellery is more durable. Often 14K solid gold is used for wedding rings and bracelets.
18K gold plated jewellery is better for less exposed areas, that are not exposed to abrasions. Some great jewellery to get gold plated includes necklaces, pendants and earrings.
14K solid gold jewellery pieces have a greater value than 18K gold plated pieces. This is because 14K solid gold contains greater amounts of gold. Because of this 14K solid gold jewellery pieces tend to maintain their value over time. This means 14K solid gold jewellery can even be seen as an investment.
14K Gold vs 18K Gold Plated: Which Is Better?
Determining whether 14K gold or 18K gold plated is "better" depends on several factors. These include personal preferences, budget, intended use and considerations around durability and maintenance.
14K solid gold jewellery is great for someone looking for the best of both durability and longevity. It is also the better option for someone looking for jewellery that retains its value.
18K gold-plated jewellery pieces are better for someone looking for affordable gold jewellery, that looks like solid gold pieces. With a higher karat of gold, this type of jewellery also has a much more yellow look to it.
After comparing 14K gold vs 18K gold plated jewellery, you should be aware of the pros, cons and differences of each.
The choice between 14K solid gold and 18K gold plated jewellery depends on factors including gold content, durability, allergy considerations, price, maintenance requirements, suitability for different uses and value retention.
14K gold features a 58.3% gold composition and offers a great blend of durability, and longevity and is hypoallergenic. This makes it a popular choice for rings and bracelets. At the same time, 14K gold jewellery retains its value over time.
On the other hand, 18K gold plated jewellery is more affordable and offers the same look as solid gold jewellery. However, lacks the aspects of durability and value as the solid gold layer is very thin.
Ultimately the choice between the two types of gold jewellery will depend on personal preference, budget and purpose.
Want to learn more about gold plated jewellery? Check out our blog which goes over what is gold plated jewellery.
Is 18K gold plated worth buying?
Yes, 18K gold-plated jewellery is worth buying. Plated jewellery is less durable, however, it can last a long time with proper care. It is also much more affordable and allows you to accessories with gold pieces without breaking the bank.
Can I wear 14K gold in the shower?
Yes, you can wear 14K gold in the shower. This is because it is made of pure gold and will not be affected by water.
Can I shower with 18K gold plated?
Yes, you can shower with 18K gold-plated jewellery pieces. However, to maximise its longevity, it is recommended that you don’t shower with 18K gold-plated jewellery pieces.