10K, 14K, 18K or more: What’s the best gold to buy?

10K, 14K, 18K or more: What’s the best gold to buy?


Ask any jeweler in Massachusetts which is the best gold to buy and you’ll learn that it’s not an easy answer.  In addition to the different colors of gold, gold can come in multiple different karats. 24 Karat pure gold is “The Gold Standard”, but does that make it better?  Is 14 Karat gold better than 10 Karat, but not as good as 18 Karat? With the exception of “gold-filled or gold-plated” pieces, the answer is both “yes, and no”.

Let’s start with 24K or pure gold. This is what is traded on the commodities market and is featured in those gold bars you see in movies and pictures of Fort Knox. Stockpiling gold is also one way many countries store their wealth and often even pay their debts. Any jeweler in Massachusetts knows how unusual it is to find jewelry made out of 24K gold. This is because 24 Karat gold is a soft metal and tends to bend or scratch easily, making it impractical for the wear-and-tear jewelry can receive. Some countries such as Asia, Africa and South America do, in fact, make jewelry out of 24K pure gold, but it is rare. Pure 24K gold jewelry has a very distinct, deep yellow tone that makes it look different from other types of gold jewelry.

10K, 14K and 18K gold jewelry are most commonly used to manufacture gold jewelry and yet literally have less actual gold content. 10K gold may have the number “417” stamped on it. This indicates that the items are 41.7% gold with the remainder being other metals or alloys such as silver or nickel. While this lowers the cost of the piece, it actually makes the jewelry harder or stronger. If you’re shopping for a ring or bracelet and tend to work with your hands, 10K might be a better choice. As far as appearance, it would be difficult for even an expert to tell the difference between 10K and 14K gold by simply looking at it.

Likewise, 14K gold, may be stamped with “585” because the content of the metal is 58.5% gold. The majority of gold jewelry we see in our stores is 14K because it works perfectly for everything from rings and bracelets to chains and earrings. 18K Gold jewelry is very popular in Europe and South America. It has a deeper golden tone than 10K and 14K gold and may have a “750” stamp indicating it is 75% gold. While it is softer than 10K and 14K gold, it is often used for earrings, chains and pendants; pieces that aren’t likely to get the same rough treatment that jewelry worn on your hands might.

Elaborating on this topic in more detail, Empire Loan’s CEO Mike Goldstein answers some frequently asked questions about gold in the video below.

So the answer to the question, “is 14K gold better than 10K, and not as good as 18K” is both yes and no. Lower Karat jewelry may be more durable but higher Karat may be perfect for the right piece. It’s up to you!

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