A Guide to Comparing 10K, 14K, 18K and 24K Gold

Author: Susanna

Dec. 06, 2023

Timepieces, Jewelry, Eyewear

How to Choose the Right Gold: 10K, 14K, 18K and 24K Compared

In this article we will discuss the different types of gold used in jewelry and how to choose the right one for your occasion. Understanding the differences in purity, the characteristics of each alloy, and their relative costs will help you in selecting the right gold for your project, depending on the type of jewelry item you are shopping for. Engagement rings and wedding rings tend to have a different threshold of gold quality for most shoppers. Fully understanding your options and their various pros and cons is the key to making a great purchase.

18k White Gold Legato Sleek Line Pave Diamond Engagement Ring

14k White Gold Flower Cluster Diamond Pendant

Many shoppers for engagement rings and wedding bands prefer the higher purity of 18K gold. The sleek and ever popular Legato engagement ring is pictured above in white gold. The White Gold Flower Cluster is a bright and shining example of a 14K fashion piece.

Gold Price Calculator

Karat

% of Gold

Cost per Gram

 

24K

100%

 

$ 60.71

18k

75%

$ 45.54

14k

58%

$ 35.42

10k

42%

$ 25.30

The chart above is based on the spot gold per ounce being $1,800 and provides a quick glance at the base cost per gram of the alloy purities most commonly used in the jewelry industry. This is the raw cost of the gold in the alloy just for the sake of comparison. Bear in mind that the actual cost of a piece of jewelry includes labor, design, and retail markup.

In this article we will take you through the basics of understanding your precious metal choices. We will explain the terminology, calculations, and characteristics of each type of gold enabling you to make an informed choice. We will cover the following aspects:

To help with your selection if you are purchasing a diamond engagement ring, see selections below of very popular styles from some of the finest designer brands in the market.

How is Gold Purity Measured - Karat vs. Carat

The purity of gold is usually expressed in terms of “karat”, commonly confused with gem weight which is expressed in ‘carats’ (1/5 gram), abbreviated “ct”. Karat is a traditional expression of gold purity with 24 Karat (24K) being 100% pure gold. 18K gold is 18/24 th’s pure or 75%, 14K is 14/24th’s and so on. The higher the karat the more pure gold is in the piece. That portion which is not gold is usually a mixture of other metals such as copper, nickel, and silver. Gold mixed with other metals is referred to as an ‘ alloy ’ and each alloy has it’s own characteristics in terms of color, malleability, heft and brittleness.

Generally speaking the non-gold metals in a gold alloy are less expensive, harder, and lighter than gold. They also can change the color of the alloy. Pure gold is yellow , but alloys can be white, pink (rose gold), or other colors depending on the exact content of the mix.

Is All Jewelry Made of Pure Gold?

Some people are surprised to find out that engagement rings and most other types of gold jewelry are NOT made with pure gold. In fact, many contain only about half pure gold or less. The primary reason for this is that pure gold is very soft and is not suitable for everyday wear and tear. Pure gold is the most malleable and ductile of all elements. As such it is easily scratched, bent, and deformed. Pure gold is therefore particularly unsuited for setting diamonds and gemstones.

Secondly, pure gold is very heavy so larger pieces would be uncomfortable to wear and would add significantly to the price. 24K gold contains almost twice the amount of gold as 14K, making 14k a more affordable and popular choice.

18k Yellow Gold A. Jaffe ME1689 Classics Solitaire Engagement Ring

And lastly, the color of pure gold is a very rich yellow. Most people seem to like a more subtle golden color that is very bright. White gold (an alloy that contains nickel, silver or palladium) is particularly well suited to diamond jewelry enhancing the icy white brilliance of the gemstones.

Some Asian markets do sell items made of 22k - 24k gold, usually neck chains and bracelets, and have a thriving trade. Thailand for example is well known for its “baht” chain. Consumers both buy and sell these chains in the shops when the price of gold is high, or when they need cash, as the value is pinned closely to the daily ‘spot’ price of gold. Baht chain is normally about 23k or about 96% pure.

What’s the Difference between 10K, 14K, 18K AND 24K Gold?

As we have seen, gold purity is typically expressed by its karat designation and is based on the ratio of non gold metals making up the alloy. In addition to some 24K gold, the most common alloys used in jewelry are 22K, 18K, 14K, and 10K. You will sometimes see 12K and 9K gold. 9K was a popular alloy in the past representing an affordable price point for gold jewelry.

Gold content is also expressed in parts per thousand and is known as “fineness” or Millesimal Fineness. 18K gold which is 75% gold would therefore have a fineness of 750.

Gold Purity Chart

US / Karats

% of Gold

Fineness

 

24K

100%

 

1000

22k

90%

900

18k

75%

750

15k

62.5%

625

14k

58.33%

583

10k

41.67%

417

9k

37.50%

375

Gold jewelry comes in different purities. There is no ‘best’ gold type, only the one that is best for your purposes as a consumer. Some shoppers prefer the most pure alloy available that still gives them the durability they need for everyday wear. Often, that purity is 18K for high-end fine jewelry, which is 75% pure gold. A very popular jewelry standard is 14K gold at 58.3% pure and has the hardness to stand up well to daily wear and tear. 10K gold is 41.7 percent pure and was formerly a popular standard for its hardness and affordability.

Here are some pros and cons of different types of gold:

Advantages and Disadvantages of 18K Gold

Advantages: As pure as possible while still practical, looks great

Disadvantages: Expensive and less resistant to scratches

18 karat gold is your best all-around gold choice for engagement rings and other fine jewelry. With gold making up 18 of the 24 parts in the alloy, 18K has a gold purity of 75%, or a fineness of 750 (you will sometimes see a purity stamp of 750 instead of 18K).

It has the rich yellow coloration traditionally associated with gold, and is very malleable and easily worked. The 25% non-gold elements in 18K gold give it good hardness. And because pure gold is non-allergenic, the purity of 18k makes it unlikely to cause any skin irritation, even to sensitive wearers.

Overall, 18K is an excellent gold alloy that looks great, has a nice heft to it, and is suitable for everyday wear.

18k White Gold Verragio INS-7074R Braided 3 Stone Engagement Ring

Many high-end designers use only higher karat gold and platinum for their bridal lines. The outstanding Verragio engagement ring above is an example of superb design and craftsmanship in 18k white gold.

Disadvantages of 18K are few, but these should be kept in mind. Since it has a high content of pure gold which is very soft, those who are very active with their hands might be inclined to go for a harder alloy to avoid some wear and tear. For the same reason 18k is less scratch resistant than 14K. 18K has good overall strength but will probably need to be repolished more frequently than some other alloys. For styles that have a lot of smooth surfaces, scratches may be more noticeable than styles with a lot of fine detail. Many people actually like the patina that develops over time from micro-scratches and is one of the things that gives platinum its unique charm.

18K is also more expensive than less pure alloys so it may not be the best choice for those on a tight budget.

Overall, 18K is a great choice when it comes to fine gold jewelry. But there may be better choices for those who are very hard on their jewelry or are looking to economize their budget.

Advantages and Disadvantages of 14K Gold

Advantages: A great mix of purity, durability and value for money

Disadvantages: More expensive than 10K gold, but still fairly affordable

14 karat gold is made up of 58.3% gold and 41.7% alloy, or 14 out of 24 parts gold. 14K gold is the most popular gold for rings and other wearable jewelry in the United States, the UK and the other Western countries. The 41.7% of non-gold metals in the alloy give 14K gold excellent hardness and resistance to scratching.

14K gold is highly versatile; it has a nice yellow color in alloys made with copper and is almost white in alloys made with nickel, silver or palladium. This white alloy is usually plated with rhodium for a very bright “white gold” that is a mainstay of diamond jewelry. Note: because of the plating 14K and 18K white gold look identical.

14K gold predominates the jewelry market, a good sign that it’s a safe choice if you’re not sure which type of gold is best for you. In addition to its hardness giving it excellent scratch resistance, yellow 14K gold has an attractive yellow color that is slightly less intense and very compatible with most skin colors.

Because it contains significantly less pure gold, 14K gold has a slightly lighter heft and is less expensive than 18k gold.

Ritani 1RZ1321 French-Set Halo Diamond Engagement Ring

The very showy Ritani halo selection above is a great example of an impressive engagement ring that can also extend a budget. The halo creates a big look enabling the center diamond to be a bit smaller. In 14k gold it is also a less expensive metal choice than 18k or platinum.

The main disadvantage of 14K gold is that some alloys contain metals that might irritate the skin of some wearers. The main culprit is nickel, so if you are concerned about this issue the higher purity of 18K may be a better option. There are also 14k alloys that do not contain nickel and thereby minimize this potential problem.

Advantages and Disadvantages of 10K Gold

Advantages: Very affordable, harder than other types of gold

Disadvantages: Pale yellow color, more likely to trigger metal allergies

10K gold is 10 parts pure gold and 14 parts non-gold metals like copper and nickel. Thus it contains only 41.7% gold and 58.3% other metals and is the least expensive of the gold alloys commonly seen in the jewelry industry.

While 10K gold was more popular in the past, especially in Europe, it is mainly used today in mass produced, “price point” jewelry because of its affordability.

10K gold has excellent hardness and scratch resistance since it contains a relatively small amount of pure gold which is quite soft compared to the other metals that dominate the alloy.

18k White Gold Tacori FP643 Dantela Diamond Pendant

10K gold is not very yellow in color compared to higher karat alloys containing more pure gold. 10K tends to look pinkish because of the high copper content of many alloys, and is often used for that purpose to create “rose gold”.

10K gold is also lighter in heft than 14K or 18K gold. This could be helpful in items such as earrings where extra weight is not desirable, but also might have a cheap, lightweight feel in other forms of jewelry. For this reason, 10K is typically not used in fine jewelry and is not recommended for engagement rings or wedding bands.

The advantages of 10K gold are affordability, and hardness. It is the least expensive of the commonly used gold alloys and is hard enough to resist bending and scratching. It is also a good choice for someone looking for a lighter, slightly pinkish color.

The disadvantages of 10K gold include a higher propensity for skin irritation due to the higher percentage of non-gold metals in the mix. It also has a lighter heft and may feel ‘cheap’. 10K gold is highly associated today with inexpensive jewelry so it does not have the same luxury ‘cachet’ as 18K or even 14K gold. It is therefore not recommended for important jewelry purchases such as engagement rings.

What is the best Gold to use for an Engagement Rings?

One of the many decisions you face when shopping for an engagement ring is the type of gold to go with. This decision revolves around both the color of the gold and its purity level (karat). The first decision is color – yellow gold, white gold, or rose gold? This will be determined largely by the preference of the wearer. It needs to be compatible with skin tones and style.

Once color has been established, the purity or fineness of the gold should be addressed. 18K gold is the highest standard for most gold fine jewelry, as higher karat gold is too soft for most everyday wear. 14K is a legitimate option as well for engagement rings as it features good purity and even better hardness and scratch resistance than 18K gold.

18k Yellow Gold Simon G. MR1394 Fabled Diamond Engagement Ring

The Fabled engagement ring by Simon G above is a great example of the rich warm glow of 18k yellow gold. This design is also exceptional in its fluid lines and overlapping strands.

If you are shopping for rose gold you should target a lower karat in order to get a color that is not mistaken for yellow. Because higher karat gold contains so much pure gold with its rich color, a rose gold alloy will be very subtle. For a more definite pink color, 14K gold is more likely to achieve the goal.

18k Rose Gold Tacori HT2657 Royal T Simply Tacori Three Stone Diamond Engagement Ring

The Royal T selection from renowned design house Tacori is a top example of how uniquely beautiful a rose gold engagement ring can be.

As we have seen, there is no one type of gold used in all jewelry, nor is there one type of gold that is right for every purchase. The key is to know the pros and cons of each type along with the style and taste of the wearer. 100% pure gold is rarely an option in jewelry, so it comes down to which alloy and which color and purity level meets your needs.

Of the three most common gold purity levels, 18K gold is a top choice for engagement rings though some favor the greater hardness of 14K for everyday items, especially those who are very active with their hands. 10K gold is best for minimizing cost for those on tight budgets, or when extra hardness or a bit of pink coloration is needed.

What is 1KT Gold?

Lower karat gold items are sometimes promoted, and there is actually 1k gold being marketed today. This is largely a gimmick to add some perceived value to a line of fashion jewelry that is just a step above ‘costume jewelry’. Be wary of such offers unless it’s very inexpensive and you just like the look of it. It will have virtually no intrinsic value, and may tarnish or irritate the skin in sensitive wearers.

What Type of Gold Should You Choose?

The operative word here is “you” (or the person you are buying for). There is not a “best” type of gold for everyone. Things like budget, style and taste are the deciding factors in determining what is best for you.

Budget should be a consideration as you want to stay in your comfort zone in order to have a stress free buying experience. You can get more bang for the buck with 14K gold than with 18k and the look and durability is very comparable. 14k gold is the most popular choice and that is certainly a big reason.

14k White Gold Four-Prong Timeless Diamond Tennis Bracelet

10k gold is fine for fashion jewelry. It holds up well and has a nice look and is the most affordable type of gold that you will probably consider. Avoid choosing 10k for engagement rings or wedding rings unless you are buying it for yourself and have a specific reason to do so. It may not be the best for conveying quality and importance to the recipient. Also, while 10k is generally less expensive, the overall difference in price will not be so great as to outweigh other factors.

While 14k may be the best all-around type of gold for value, quality and durability, definitely consider 18K for its purity and rich look and feel. An engagement ring in 18k gold conveys quality and exclusivity. It is also durable enough for daily wear for most people. For a person with a very active lifestyle, especially if particularly active with their hands, 18k might have a tendency to bend out of shape or need more frequent polishing.

If you need any help choosing a diamond engagement ring, or determining what your best options are, we are just a quick call, email or chat away. Our friendly and knowledgeable diamond and jewelry consultants are expert at answering questions in a pressure free way, and in guiding our clients to the item that best meets their needs. We look forward to helping you!

SPECIAL NOTE: GOLD WEDDING RINGS AND ENGAGEMENT RINGS ARE OUR SPECIALTY, AND WORKING WITH US YOU'LL RECEIVE THE RING OF YOUR DREAMS — CREATED BY ARTISANS WITH DECADES OF EXPERIENCE, AND BACKED BY A LIFETIME GUARANTEE.

Looking to work with an awesome small artisan studio with excellent cred? Call our shop at 888-733-5238 or email info (at) reflectivejewelry.com for a FREE, no-pressure consultation.  —Marc Choyt, co-owner

 

Updated 5/23/22

 

If you’re soon getting married and don’t know much about wedding rings, you’ll probably agree with me that there is a lot of critical knowledge to consider.  

You might be wondering: 

Is 18K always better than 14K? (Hint: It isn't!)

How do you pair a wedding ring with an engagement ring? Should your wedding band match your partner’s? And, is recycled gold really “eco friendly” or just greenwashing?  

Gold content, alloys, allergies, durability, design, weight, cost, width, and especially ethics all matter when purchasing your gold wedding rings.

We’re custom jewelers based in Santa Fe, NM — and the only Fairtrade Gold jewelers in the entire US. 

 

Here’s the bottom line:

This article is the ultimate guide for purchasing wedding rings. It’s packed with fantastic information, from the basics to insider knowledge, which I guarantee you will not find anywhere else!  

 

Gold Wedding Rings 101

 

1. Karat or Carat?

Let’s start with the basics.

The word “karat” is a variation of the word “carat,” which originated in Greco-Roman cultures and is actually related to carob seeds, which are incredibly uniform in weight.

Carat is used in the measurement of precious stones.

Karat references the percentage of gold in wedding rings or jewelry. 

In case you are curious, this is what carob seeds look like! Photo credit.

 

Now, here’s the deal: the karat represents the percentage of gold. For example, 24K (aka 24 Karat) gold is 99.9% pure gold.  

If you want to know what 8K is, you divide 8K by 24K: 

8K is 33% gold.

10K is 41.6% gold.

14K is  58.3% gold

18K is 75% gold. 

In my 26 years of making jewelry, I’ve only made a ring out of 24K (pure) gold once — as a special request. Pure gold is about as soft as your fingernail.  

Here’s what that one-of-a-kind wedding ring project looked like.

 

To make gold suitable for a fifty-year marriage, gold is typically alloyed (mixed) with other metals.  

This video of our jeweler, Michelle, shows her alloying gold along with her dog, Delta — who comes to work with her on Saturdays and finds the whole process rather boring!

 

In addition to making gold harder, alloys are what change yellow gold into rose or white gold.  And, the metals used as alloys are almost always less expensive than gold. 

Therefore:

The lower the karat, the less expensive the ring.

 

2.  Choosing Karat: 18K Gold Wedding Rings vs. 14K Gold Wedding Rings

Most wedding rings sold in the US are either 14K or 18K — and the most common gold colors are yellow, white, and rose.

There’s a slightly more yellow tint to the higher karat golds.

 

Here’s something that you absolutely should know: 

If you want white or rose gold, go for 14K! You’ll see more of the white or rose color you want, because there’s more alloy. Plus, the ring will be both more durable and less expensive.

The other advantages of a 14K gold wedding ring over an 18K gold ring is that it will be 1) more hardwearing and 2) less costly.

 

3. Advantages of an 18K Yellow Gold Wedding Ring 

An 18K gold wedding ring’s most important feature is its higher gold content. With more gold, the ring is actually softer, richer, and has more caché.

We make this 7mm-wide flat topped Comfort Fit Wedding Ring in 18K Yellow Gold entirely by hand.

 

“Fine jewelry,” for example, translates to 18K gold. In contemporary parlance, gold means value, prestige, and achievement.

Some jewelers take advantage of this perception. They will offer 18K white gold wedding rings.

But here's the catch: 18K white gold isn't considered “white enough,” so they are often plated with rhodium, a natural white metal.

The problem is... rhodium plating doesn't last over years. Do you really want to wear a wedding ring that requires maintenence?

Don't fall for it! A 14K white gold ring is white enough, AND more durable, AND less expensive! 

 

4.  18K vs 14K Wedding RIngs?  What's The Bottom Line?  

Price, metal color, hardness, and personal preference all have to be factored in to your decision.

I never recommend 18K rose gold or white gold — if you want one of those colors, go with 14K.

Yet...18K yellow gold is my personal preference. If you can afford it, and you’re not doing rough activities with your hands, the 18K just has a more beautiful gold color.

Here's a 14K yellow gold ring for comparison to the above:

This is the same Comfort Fit Wedding Band shown above, but in 14K Yellow Gold.

If you can't decide, you can even do a two tone ring, mixing carats and metal choices to create a more designer element.

Take a look at these:

Our two-tone wedding rings can be made using combinations of white, yellow, or rose gold. Any of these gold colors can also be combined with silver. This type of work requires jewelers with many years of experience and skills.

 

 

[ If you have pressing questions, there's no need to wait! Consultation is always free. Call me at 888-733-5238 or email info (at) reflectivejewelry.com ]

 

5. What are Alloys & How Do They Make a Ring 14K or 18K Gold?

 

 

The gold alloy chart above from Wikipedia shows how metals such as copper and silver in various mixtures impact the color of the gold. But other alloys are used to emphasize certain properties of the metal for jewelry fabrication. 

  • 14K yellow gold is typically 58.3% gold, 31.2% copper, 6.3% zinc, and 4% silver.

  • 18K yellow gold is typically 75% gold, 16% silver, and 9% copper.

Certain gold supply houses have their own proprietary mixtures to create colors unique to their particular brands.

Other metals used for alloying white gold include nickel, palladium, and platinum.

 

6. Allergic Reactions to Gold Wedding Rings

People are not allergic to gold itself. In this regard, it is a relatively human-friendly metal. However, some people are allergic to some alloys used in gold wedding rings.

Very occasionally people do have allergic reactions to white gold wedding rings because of how white gold is alloyed.   I say very occasionally because in my 26 years of being a jewelers, nickle allergies in wedding rings I"ve sold occured less than five times. 

In the US, nickel is primarily used for whiteness. In the EU, nickel is not allowed. Instead, it’s palladium — a metal in the platinum family. 

Palladium is close to the cost of gold, so palladium white gold adds cost.   

However: you can still have skin irritation from wearing gold wedding bands — or any ring for that matter.

7. Rashes Due to Wedding Rings

Skin irritation can occur when wedding rings fit too tightly.

If the ring is tight, upsize it. 

Sometimes, Gold wedding bands with diamonds or any gemstones can also cause rashes due to bacteria that can multiply in the small holes drilled through the metal behind the gemstone.

Note the small holes behind the diamonds in our Garden Gate Wedding Band. Bacteria can accumulate in the holes, irritating the skin. However, I only get complaints about this once every few years — it’s a rare issue! 

 

In this case, the best option is to clean your ring.

Such skin irritations can usually be resolved by allowing time for your skin to breathe and heal.

 

Worth its Weight in Gold?

 

8. Heaviness of a Gold Wedding Ring

Heaviness has to do with the quantity and density of the metal in a ring. The denser the metal, the heavier the ring.

The actual weight of other metals compared to the weight of gold wedding rings are as follows:

  • Stainless Steel density: 7.5

  • Sterling Silver density: 10.2

  • 950 Palladium density: 12.0

  • 14K Yellow Gold density: 12.9 to 14.6

  • 18K Yellow Gold density: 15.2 to 15.9

  • 950 Platinum density: 19.1

The density of gold in wedding bands is going to vary slightly according to alloys used.

 

9. Metal Feel and Tone of Your Gold Wedding Ring

Why do people choose yellow and white gold rings over other metals? 

White gold is even chosen over the natural white metals palladium and platinum! Perhaps this has to do with humanity's ancient attraction to gold.

Fairtrade Gold is the most precious and ethically sourced gold in the world. Learn more here.

 

Gold is the foundation of modern capitalism, and the alchemist's dream.

Gold never tarnishes. It represents wisdom, radiance, and the warm rays of the sun.

 

[ Are you getting any ideas? Why wait?? Call me at 888-733-5238 or email info (at) reflectivejewelry.com ]

 

Caring For Your Gold Wedding Band

10. Basic Cleaning and Common Scratches

Gold wedding bands are very easy to clean, simply because gold does not tarnish.

For a basic cleaning: rub a jewelry polishing cloth vigorously on the surface of the ring.

To remove scratches: you’ll need to take the ring to a jeweler.

Taking a Trinity Twist two tone wedding ring to the polishing wheel in our shop.  We can make an old ring look new by doing this. 

 

Depending upon the design elements, after taking the ring to a polishing wheel, it can look as good as new.

 

11. Cleaning Accent Gemstones in Rings

It’s common that after a time your accent gemstones will start to lose their sparkle. This can happen so gradually that you may not even notice it.

Many jewelers have hydro-sonic cleaners that remove our body oils and dirt from gems to bring gold wedding bands with diamonds or gems back to their original state of shine.

 Clean your gold wedding ring regularly to keep it shining like new!

 

The Fabrication of Gold Wedding Bands

 

12. Machine-made Process

In most jewelry manufacturing these days, particularly for large companies, gold wedding rings start with computer-rendered CAD/CAM files — from which molds are then created by a modeling machine.  

Simple gold wedding bands are also die-struck, and basically punched out of metal the way pots and pans commonly are.

Outside of setting gemstones, if there’s little or no hard work then there’s not a lot of handwork. 

So, here’s our editorial comment: we think machine-made mass-produced wedding bands are not the best symbol to wear for your love and marriage, which is unique to you and you alone.

That being said…

Sometimes, pairing the latest technology with an artisan eye can help you achieve exactly what you want. Recently, a widow brought us her husband’s wedding ring. She asked us to combine the gold from his ring and her engagement ring, and reset her engagement diamond in the finished piece. This was the result:

As custom jewelers, one of our specialties is reusing old gold and gems in new designs — allowing you to carry with you the energy of loved ones or ancestors. I Learn more here.

 

Using CAD/CAM, we went through many iterations of this ring before we came up with exactly what our client wanted. This is a perfect illustration of a creative use of technology!    In this case, our client, a women, had lost her husband.  We took his wedding ring and her engagement ring and wedding ring and made one new ring (left) that she could wear.  

 

13. Hand Wax Carving

There are still jewelers who are highly skilled wax carvers, creating models by hand which are then cast out using the traditional lost wax casting. Here’s one recent custom gold wedding ring project we completed using wax carving:

 

14. Makers of Gold Wedding Rings

At our company, we pride ourselves as being artisans, part of the maker’s movement.  

We work with metal wire and sheet metal to hand fabricate our gold wedding rings. Our techniques are rooted in the American Southwest, where the metasmithing tradition has been passed down from Spanish, Native, and Anglo jewelers.

Explore more of our unique artisan toolset, including rare and handmade stamps and a cottonwood stump, in this short video.

 

You can see exactly how we create a gold wedding ring by hand, using skills few jewelers possess today, here.

 

[ Unsure if CAD/CAM, handwork, or wax carving is best for you? Let’s figure it out! Give me a call at 888-733-5238, or email info (at) reflectivejewelry.com ]

 

Gold Wedding Bands and Gender

 

15. Men’s Gold Wedding Bands vs. Women’s Gold Wedding Bands  

First, a disclaimer: All this is open to interpretation, and really depends on what you want from your ring!

That being said, here are some guidelines based on what we typically see:

Men’s wedding rings are generally wider than women’s wedding rings, for two reasons: 1) Men generally have larger hands, and thus want a more substantial ring. And 2) Women typically wear their engagement ring and wedding ring together on the same finger, and therefore need both to be thin.  

What we’ve found as jewelers over the past 26 years is that typically, mens wedding bands fall within 5mm to 8mm in width. Few men choose under 5mm, with the common exception of perhaps comfort fit wedding bands.

This Comfort Fit Wedding Band with a textured finish is 4mm wide.

 

Traditionally, men do not wear both a wedding ring and an engagement ring together. However, mens engagement rings are becoming more and more common.

 

16:  What’s Best for LGBTQ+ couples? 

For some people, tradition is really important.  

However, many LGBTQ+ couples make their own rules. 

Here’s the story of our Brand Catalyst Kyle and his husband — who both went with custom non-traditional wedding ring designs for men.

The image below show’s Kyle’s original drawings along with the finished rings, which we made with Fairtrade Gold.

Their Fairtrade Gold Wedding Rings feature Emerald and Purple Sapphire.

 

What’s the bottom line?

Do what feels right to you!

 

17. Wide vs Narrow Gold Wedding Bands?

Wearing one gold wedding ring instead of a two, like in bridal ring sets, gives certain beneficial options in context to design.

A wider gold wedding band allows more space on the surface of the rings, which translates to more of a canvas for the jeweler to create a detailed design.

With our Starry Night line of rings the design is more prominent when there is greater space between the borders of the ring. Take a look:

As with many of our rings, our Starry Night Wedding Ring is available in many variations.

 

If you choose one of the more simple gold wedding bands with no design, how much surface area the ring has for a design or motif is not so much of an issue.

 

18. How Wide are Women’s Gold Wedding Rings Generally?

Gold wedding bands for women tend to be between 2mm and 5mm wide.

Women generally have smaller hands than men, and they usually wear their engagements rings with their wedding rings as a bridal ring set:

A few examples of Bridal Ring Sets, made up of a gold engagement ring paired with a matching gold wedding ring.


Commonly, women prefer to have a combined width of two rings not beyond 8mm. So, more often than not womens wedding bands are no wider than 5mm.

Our Playa Bridal Ring Set, shown here with a gorgeous center stone Ruby, features two rings that are each 2mm wide.

 

19. Gold Wedding Ring Sets: How Will They Fit Together?  

When considering gold engagement rings, take into consideration how your wedding band will fit alongside it.

Some gold wedding bands are designed to fit smoothly with the engagement ring, as shown with our Garden Gate collection:

Our Garden Gate Bridal Set, shown in 14K Rose Gold.

 

However, having a design flip around on your finger can become a nuisance to some people.

Guarding against this are designs that interlock, such as these:

On the left, our two tone Flow Bridal Ring Set. This pair is wider than some of our other offerings, allowing more of a “canvas” for the design to take center stage. On the right is our Trinity Twist Bridal Set, which is a total of 8mm wide.

 

Ultimately: width, weight and design are all very subjective issues. It’s about what feels best to you.

 

20. To Match or Not to Match?

For some couples, matching some element like design or shape is important to them. Others decide to match metal type and color, while some couples don’t worry about matching at all.

Here’s one example:

This matching wedding band set features bordered and borderless versions of our two tone Rope Wedding Ring.

 

Again, this is all highly personal and dependent upon what you and your partner feel most comfortable with.

 

Thickness and Width of Gold Wedding Rings

 

21. How Thick Should Your Gold Wedding Band Be?

Over the years, we occasionally are asked, particularly from website customers, how thick is your ring? Wedding rings should have a certain heft to them. 

Behind that question is: am I going to purchase a ring online that feels light and cheap?

As you can see here, even our thinnest Comfort Fit Wedding Bands (in terms of width) have substantial thickness (or depth) to them, measuring inside to outside.

 

What you need to know is this:

Although there is no specific standard, a medium thickness is generally in the 1.6mm to 1.8mm range. Our Comfort Fit Wedding Rings are 2mm thick, guaranteeing maximum durability over the years.

 

[ If you’ve gotten this far into our article, why not contact us about your project? There’s no charge for consultation, and I’ll give you a price quote! Give me a call at 888-733-5238, or email info (at) reflectivejewelry.com ]

 

Resizing Gold Wedding Rings

 

22. Any Gold Wedding Ring Can Be Resized

Resizing often involves cutting the ring to either add more metal or remove it. For slight stretching and shrinking this can be done swiftly and mechanically without any cutting of the ring.

Here’s the thing:

Simple gold wedding bands without diamonds or gems are easier to resize than those with them. Nonetheless, rings with gemstones can be resized — it just might require a different process.

The small inset gemstones more often than not loosen during the resizing process — and in some cases, a new ring has to be made in order to obtain the desired size.

A preventative solution to complicated resizings, and in order to have more flexibility, jewelers sometimes put sizing bands on the palm side of the ring:

The sizing band in this gold wedding ring is carefully designed in so as to not interrupt the motif.

 

However, the disadvantage of the sizing band is that it interrupts the design pattern. If the ring turns on your finger, the sizing band shows instead of the desired motif, and this could become a nuisance.

 

23. What Accent Gems are Suitable with Gold Wedding Rings?

For wedding rings, diamonds are the best simply because they are the hardest, and most durable, of all gems. Sapphires and rubies also work well and hold up well.  

Any gem can be set. But softer gems — such as garnets — will lose their sparkle in a wedding ring over the years. 

Sometimes, certain small gems in the 1mm to 2mm cannot be sourced. The best thing is just to talk to your jeweler.  

In my studio, we can set just about any gem. We’ll also give you advice about alternative choices. 

 

24. Ethical Gold For Your Gold Wedding Band

I think you’ll agree with me when I say that you wouldn’t want to wear a wedding ring, which symbolizes you and your partner’s love, made with gold that has destroyed communities and ecosystems.

Yet, for the vast majority of people, this unfortunately is the norm.  

There are two main concerns for the consumer to consider in order to make an ethical choice in selecting their gold wedding ring:

First: can your jeweler trace the sourcing and production of the gold wedding ring from the mine all the way through the process of production to your finger?

Second: does the sourcing of your gold wedding band create benefit and prevent exploitation for the producer communities?

These days, particularly in North America, recycled gemstones and recycled gold are unfortunately considered the ethical choice.

Below is an illustration which shows how recycled gold is merely greenwashing. It’s dirty gold that is processed through a refinery and rebranded as “eco-friendly.”

Read this article to discover why “eco-friendly” recycled gold is BS.

 

Using recycled gold does not decrease the activities of profit-driven multinational gold mining corporations.

Nor does the use of recycled gold create any benefit for the small-scale miners in developing countries who are simply attempting to feed their families.

Our view is this: jewelers should use recycled materials only when there are no options to support supply chains that create strong economies in impoverished producer gold communities around the world.

We feel so strongly about this that since 2015, we have been the only Fairtrade Gold jewelers in the entire USA, even though there are over 300 in the UK alone. 

 

25. What about Ethical Gemstones?

People often choose to adorn their wedding rings with colored gemstones.

Upwards of 70% of colored gemstones are supplied by small-scale miners around the world. Unlike diamonds, conflict gemstones are not much of an issue. The reason is because the value of polished and cut diamonds are much more transactional and standardized on the international market than other gems.

Tanzanian miners using recycled water at a small-scale ruby mine. Learn about our ethical ruby sources here.

 

Ethical gemstone sourcing is based on the gems’ traceability and transparency back to the mine. We also need to consider the conditions at the mine, the cutting facility, and the business practices of the supplier.

Ideally, we would source our gems from a cooperative mining community that follows fair trade principles and standards, and is third-party certified. The polishing of a gem from that mine would be based in the actual mining community, adding to the downstream economy. Plus, there would be a premium generated from the sale of the gem, which would benefit the broader community development.

These days, only a few gemstone traders among the tens of thousands satisfy even a few aspects of the "ideal world" scenario. Still, there are some options out there — and as ethical jewelers, we have connections! 

You can learn more about our ethical gemstone sourcing here, but if you have any specific questions I encourage you to email me at info(at)reflectivejewelry.com.

 

26. Setting Diamonds in a Wedding Ring 

The truth is, there are no perfect solutions. The ideal, a fair trade diamond, does not exist.

Our diamonds are either Canadian mined, lab grown, or recycled. Each has its pros and cons.

Melee diamonds under 2.5mm are available from Canadian diamond mines are the most ethical natural choice, but also the most expensive.

Diamonds that have been recycled off old wedding rings are widely available, but the disadvantage is that you do not know where they came from.

These days, lab grown diamonds for wedding rings are becoming more popular. Lab diamonds are real diamonds, simply made by machines. They are definitely the least expensive option.  

If you want to dig more deeply into these issues, read this article here.

A selection of white gold diamond engagement rings and wedding rings.

 

27. Ethics of the Gold in Gold Wedding Rings

The most ethical gold to use in your wedding ring is Fairtrade Gold, which offers the best chance for small-scale miners to work their way out of exploitation and poverty.

Learn all about why you should choose Fairtrade Gold here.

 

The Fairtrade Gold certification is an independently-audited set of benchmarks created by Fairtrade International. The commercial platform with its standards and principles connects retailers to miners through a transparent and traceable supply chain.

Artisanal and small-scale miners are empowered to improve their livelihoods. Retailers and consumers are given assurances that the miners are fairly compensated for their efforts and that the environment around the mine is not contaminated with mercury or cyanide.

The families of miners at Macdesa also benefit from fair wages and community premiums.

 

Just as Fairtrade has changed how consumers view and buy coffee and chocolate, Fairtrade gold will one day alter how people view and buy jewelry. 

Learn more about Fairtrade Gold here.

By buying a Fairtrade Gold wedding ring, you will be part of the global Fairtrade movement that reduces poverty and mercury pollution while empowering small-scale miners throughout the world. 

 

Marc Choyt is president of Reflective Jewelry, a designer jewelry company founded in 1995. He pioneered the ethical sourcing movement in North America and is also the only certified Fairtrade Gold jeweler in the United States. He is a regular contributor to Canada’s top jewelry trade magazine, Jewelry Business, writing on ethical jewelry issues.  Choyt’s company was named Santa Fe New Mexico’s Green Business of the Year in 2019, and he has been honored with several awards for his efforts to support ethical jewelry. His ebook, Ethical Jewelry Exposé: Lies, Damn Lies and Conflict Free Diamonds, is available online. Choyt can be reached on Twitter at @Circlemanifesto or by email at marc(at)reflectivejewelry.com.



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Gold Wedding Rings: 27 Points You Must Know Before ...

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