White gold has emerged as a popular option for jewelry and other applications owing to its stunning looks and other properties. If you’re looking for an engagement ring, new earrings, or whatever else, white gold is certainly worth considering.
High-quality white gold jewelry can rival the looks of premium platinum jewelry while also offering a more affordable price. A high-quality white gold alloy is also quite durable. Further, gold (including white gold) does not tarnish or rust, so your jewelry will continue to shine for decades and even centuries to come.
That said, buying jewelry can be intimidating. You’ll come across complex terms, such as “karat” that can lead to confusion. And given how much fine jewelry costs, you’ll want to do your homework before making a purchase.
That’s why we’re going to break down 10K Vs. 14K white gold while also covering some other vital topics.
10 Karat White Gold vs. 14 Karat White Gold Explained
We’re going to take an in-depth look at 10-karat white gold versus 14-karat white gold.
First, let’s take a quick look at why gold is so special in the first place. Then we’ll compare white gold to regular “yellow” gold. After that, we’ll review what “karat” means before jumping into 10-karat gold versus 14-karat gold.
What Makes Gold Special?
Wars have been fought and empires have been built over the quest to obtain gold. Besides stunning good looks, gold also has certain physical properties that make it useful for preserving wealth and value. Gold doesn’t tarnish or rust, and chemically, it’s extremely stable.
Combine these great properties with relative scarcity, and you have a very valuable metal.
Silver, iron, and many other metals, on the other hand, can oxidize or rust. Your beautiful silver silverware may shine today but some years down the road it may become tarnished. Likewise, iron can literally rust away.
If you have some gold coins in your safe, however, they’ll likely look the same in a hundred years or even a thousand years from now. Stability, scarcity, and attractive looks all combine to make gold valuable.
But what about white gold? As we’re going to learn, this metal alloy is quite scarce and precious as well.
How is White Gold Different From Regular Gold?
Pure gold offers a bright, reddish yellow appearance. Indeed, “gold” is a common color, and you may hear people talking about golden blonde hair, golden crop fields, and the like. You’ll sometimes hear regular gold referred to as “yellow” gold.
Gold is an attractive and bright metal and can be used to craft beautiful jewelry. That said, some people simply don’t like the reddish-yellow color of gold.
Some may prefer silver or something with a silvery color. Yet silver itself is a rather common, cheap metal that tarnishes rather easily. When it comes to expensive jewelry and especially heirlooms that can last for generations, silver simply isn’t up to snuff.
In recent years, platinum and palladium have become quite popular for jewelry. These metals offer a great silvery look, but like gold, they are also resistant to corrosion. However, platinum and palladium jewelry can be extremely expensive.
White gold, on the other hand, offers similar excellent looks, is chemically stable, and is resistant to tarnishing. White gold contains a mix of gold and other metals, including rhodium, which when combined into an alloy, give white gold its silvery appearance.
White gold alloys are also durable but also malleable enough to craft jewelry with.
When it comes to jewelry, each type of metal has advantages and drawbacks. That said, white gold is among the more popular metals because it offers a great mix of stunning good looks, durability, and relative affordability, especially when compared to platinum and palladium.
So which type of white gold should you get? We’re going to take a look at the difference between 10 karats and 14-karat gold. In order to understand the difference, it’s helpful to understand how karats work.
What Does “Karat” Mean, and Why Should You Care?
Not all gold is created equal. If you’ve been shopping for gold jewelry, you may have come across the term “karat.” This term refers to the amount of gold in a given alloy. The higher the karat, the more gold you’ll find in the alloy.
When we say “karat,” we’re referring to the parts made out of gold. For example, 10-karat gold (white or yellow) consists of 10 parts gold and 14 parts other metals. The karats always add up to 24. So likewise, 14-karat gold is 14 parts gold, 10 parts other metal.
You’ve probably heard of “24 karat” gold before. 24-karat gold is essentially pure gold. Unfortunately, however, gold is a soft metal, and 24 karat jewelry can be rather fragile. For this reason, many people opt for 10, 14, or 18-karat gold as it’s typically more sturdy.
White gold is mixed with various metals to give it a silvery, platinum look. Pure 24-karat gold can’t be white as it’ll always retain its yellow luster. The highest karat white gold you can typically find is 20-karat white gold, which contains 83.3% percent gold.
Generally speaking, the higher the karat, the more expensive the jewelry (all other things being equal, of course). So is higher karat gold better than lower karat gold? Not necessarily. When selecting gold, you need to consider your use case.
For example, if you’re buying a piece of jewelry that you intend to wear day in and day out, say a wedding band, you may be better off with 10 or 14-karat white gold, rather than 20-karat white gold. Why? 20-karat white gold is somewhat fragile, especially compared to 10 or 14-karat gold. It’s also quite expensive.
If you’re wearing your wedding ring every day, you may appreciate the extra durability afforded by 10 or 14-karat gold.
10 Karat White Gold Versus 14 Karat White Gold
So which type of white gold is best for you? Let’s dig in.
10-karat gold is slightly more durable than 14-karat white gold. 10-karat gold is typically more resistant to scratches, dents, scuffs, and more. If you lead a busy lifestyle and want a ring, earrings, or other pieces of jewelry that can keep up with you, 10-karat white gold is a good choice.
Typically, 10-karat white gold is also cheaper than 14-karat white gold. The cost savings can be significant. However, some white gold alloys use expensive metals, such as rhodium, which can impact prices.
Some people don’t like 10-karat gold (white or yellow) because less than half of the alloy consists of gold. In the United States, 10-karat gold is actually considered the least pure form of “gold” you can sell. If an alloy uses less than 10 karats of gold, it can’t be called “gold.”
White gold is often plated with rhodium, which gives the gold a silvery shine. If your ring or earrings are plated with rhodium, you may notice little difference between 10K and 14K gold since the gold will be underneath the rhodium.
Still, you’ll know that the gold is rather impure. If you’re buying a piece of jewelry to celebrate a momentous occasion, you may prefer something more valuable. Likewise, if you’re looking at jewelry as an investment or to establish heirlooms, higher-quality gold can go a long way.
With both 10K and 14K white gold, you won’t have to worry about the alloy tarnishing, like sterling silver.
In some cases, white gold, and especially 10K white gold, can leave green marks. This occurs if the alloy uses copper. However, copper is not always used in white gold. (Copper is commonly used in “rose” gold, however, which often leaves green marks.)
10K White Gold Often Appears Whiter
Yet a 10K white gold piece of jewelry may actually look whiter than a 14K piece. Why? By adding more metals to the alloy, you can make it whiter. That said, a good rhodium coating can result in higher karat jewelry offering a pure white color as well.
Both 10K and 14K White Gold May Need to be Replated
Over time, the rhodium coating often found on white gold will wear down. This can occur with both 10K and 14K jewelry. If you wear a white gold ring every day, you may have to replate it every two years or so. Some experts even recommend annual replating.
If you’d like white metal jewelry and do not want to deal with recoating white gold, you may want to consider a palladium or platinum ring. However, keep in mind that these metals are typically more expensive than white gold.
Conclusion: 10 Karat White Gold Versus 14 Karat White Gold
Many people will find that 10-karat white gold offers a better overall value. It may have a whiter color, should be more durable, and will most likely be more affordable. That said, if you put a premium on luxury, you may prefer 14-karat white gold, or perhaps even 18K or 20K white gold.
Remember, the higher the karat, the more valuable the gold alloy. At the same time, however, more valuable gold may not be as functional and durable. Ultimately, you need to closely consider your needs when deciding between 10K and 14K white gold.
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