14K vs. 24K Gold

14K vs. 24K Gold
••• gold coin image by Greg Pickens from Fotolia.com

In its pure form, gold is a bright, dense yellowish metal known for its attractiveness and durability. But it is also malleable, ductile and soft, which means it is easy to manipulate into thin sheets, wires and virtually any shape without breaking.

As a result of its nature, gold has had substantial perceived financial value throughout history until now. And many people, especially the wealthy, use it to preserve their wealth in the form of coins, jewelry and bullion, among others, since it acts as an excellent hedge against deflation and inflation.

For that reason, it would be best to understand how gold is measured and the differences in levels of purity. And then, you can determine what type of gold is suitable for your financial needs.

Gold Karats: The Basics

Gold karat (K) refers to the level of purity of a gold alloy, depending on how much gold it contains within the metal alloy. Typically, each karat is ​1/24th or 4.1667 percent​ of the whole. And usually, gold items are measured in this manner.

For example, a 10 karat gold bracelet is one with 10 parts of gold and 14 parts of other metals, such as silver or copper. So, in this case, the bracelet will consist of ​41.667 percent​ gold. On the other hand, a 14 karat necklace has 14 parts of gold and 10 parts of alloying metal. Therefore, such a necklace will consist of ​58.334 percent​ gold.

Also, any gold item with 18 karats has 18 parts of gold and 6 parts of other metals, which means gold accounts for ​75 percent​ of the whole. And anything with 24 karats represents the purest form of gold possible. It consists of ​99.999 percent​ of gold without other metals or something close to that.

24 K vs. 14 K Gold: What Are The Differences?

Below are some of the main differences between 14K and 24K gold items.

1. Public Perception

While 10 karat gold is the minimum acceptable purity for any item within the U.S. that is referred to as such, 14K gold is usually the most popular, which means you can trade such items more quickly.

However, 24K gold remains the gold standard everywhere. Trading in that kind of gold may be more challenging for you. That is because pure gold is more challenging to find and thus, more attractive to thieves.

2. Color

Typically, 14K gold is pale yellowish in color because it contains other metals, such as nickel, zinc, copper and silver. The other metals tend to dilute gold’s original color, hence the paleness.

On the other hand, 24K gold is very bright yellow in color as is typical of the element. It is distinct and oozes a feeling of warmth. And it’s really difficult to miss and makes it easier for you to determine the purity and value of your investment.

3. Hardness

Pure gold is much softer than most people realize. Therefore, a 24 karat gold item is much softer than a 14K one, and that quality makes it highly prone to scratches and dents. It is also more likely to bend. So, when purchasing gold, watch out for that.

However, 14K gold contains other metals within it that make it harder and thus, more resistant to wear and tear. And it is more likely to retain its shape since the harder metals make bending it more challenging.

4. Storage Form

24K gold tends to come in the form of coins and bullion, and these are usually stored in secure facilities or containers as a method of preserving one’s wealth. Since they are usually left alone, there is minimal chance of them getting damaged easily. That said, people usually include a bit of other metals within this kind of gold to make it harder and better able to withstand storage for long periods.

On the other hand, 14K is easier to manipulate while still retaining its shape due to the other metals within it. As a result, it tends to be available in the form of jewelry, such as pendants, rings and watches. If you run a jewelry business, you would do better if you used 14K as a raw material.

5. Price

It is safe to say that price is the biggest differentiator between the 24K and 14K gold. As you go up the purity ladder, gold tends to become very expensive. And if you want the purest gold, you should prepare to spend much more.

You can use whichever online gold price calculator you have at your disposal. But using current rates, you can determine that one gram of 14K gold costs about ​$35​, while a similar weight of 24K would cost you about ​$60​.

Considering that a standard gold bar weighs 12.4kg or 12,400 grams, you would have to spend about ​$434,000​ to obtain a 14K gold item of similar weight, but must dig deeper to spend ​$744,000​ for a 24K gold bar.

6. Reactivity

Theoretically, you could wear 24K gold in its purest form in the shower. Because gold is highly unreactive, it is unlikely to corrode. So, it will probably retain its shine and not tarnish. But it doesn’t make sense to carry gold in the form of coins or bars into the shower just to test it.

On the other hand, 14K gold, while harder and less likely to scratch, may rust, depending on the other metals within it. If those elements tend to react in water and corrode, your jewelry is likely to lose its shine, become tarnished and become darker.

Also, remember that chemicals found in soaps, detergents, perfume, soap, etc. tend to react more with gold, especially the impure version. As a result, your 14K jewelry will tarnish faster when you expose it to these things. So, you should keep it safe from these things to try and preserve its value.

Consider Your Needs

In the 24K vs. 14K gold battle, it’s all about what you need. If you want gold in its purest form to preserve your wealth, 24K gold is worth getting, despite its high cost.

However, for everyday gold items, such as jewelry, 14K gold is more affordable and withstands wear and tear much better. So, you could use it to create products for your business or pawn it when you need to raise capital.