The “K” in 10K, 14K, and 18K gold is short for “karats,” which is a measurement for the purity of gold. Pure, or 100% gold, is 24 karats. Gold is a very soft and malleable metal, however. In its purest form it is unsuitable for jewelry as it can easily lose its shape and/or cause gems to get lost. Therefore, it is often mixed with other metals to form an alloy. 10K, 14K, and 18K gold are standard alloys with varying amounts of gold, 10K having the least amount of gold and 18K having the most.
- 10K gold = 41.5% gold
- 14K gold = 58.5% gold
- 18K gold = 75% gold
It follows that 10K gold is the most affordable gold alloy while 18K is the most expensive. Based on our experience, even 10K gold can last many good years with proper care.
Karats vs Carats
Beginners often make the common mistake of confusing “karats” with “carats.” Sure enough, they sound the same! Remember that “karats” pertain to the amount of gold in a piece of jewelry, whereas “carats” are a unit to measure the weight of a gemstone.