When designing a piece of jewellery, there is a lot more to consider than just what it will look like once complete. Each available metal has its own set of pro’s and con’s and these fit in with each individuals needs in their own way. When communicating with couples in the early stages of engagement ring design, one of the most common questions we get asked is “What is the difference between 9k and 18k Gold?
The primary difference between the 2 is the purity of the gold. As pure gold is a very soft metal on it’s own, it’s not the best option for jewellery as it can very easily be bent or scratched without much effort. This is why pure gold is alloyed to different degrees to create different gold compounds which are more suitable for jewellery.
9k Gold is the “least pure” form of gold as it contains 37.5% pure gold and a higher amount of base metals such as silver, zinc, palladium etc. 18k Gold contains 75% pure gold and a lower amount of alloyed base metals.
The other differences that stem from the purity are the price, colour and durability.
Price & Affordability
The bulk of the cost is driven by the amount of gold as opposed to the base metals. This is why in some case 18k can be as much as double the price of 9k gold.
Strength & Affordability
As mentioned above, gold on its own is a very soft metal, and therefore any compound with a lower amount of gold will be stronger. This means that 9k gold jewellery tends to be more durable than it’s 18k counterpart. While still not invincible by any means, 9k gold is more resistant to scratching and bending.
Colour and Longevity
When brand new, it is very hard to tell the difference between 9k and 18k gold, differences are usually only picked up over time. Once again, colour is affected by the purity of the gold. With yellow being the natural colour of gold, this always tends to want to shine through in 18k gold shades. Over time White or Rose gold pieces may seem to be fading into a yellowish colour as the exterior layer begins to fade, but this can be easily fixed with a good re-polishing and rhodium plating.
9k gold tends to last longer when it comes to the colour and durability factors supported by its lower amount of pure gold, whereas 18k gold is the opposite due to it’s higher amount of pure gold.
At the end of the day, it is really a matter of lifestyle and preference. Do you work with your hands where a lot of heavy lifting may be involved and your ring could potentially get damaged? Do you work in an office type setting with no heavy lifting? Does your budget allow for the extra cost associated with an 18k gold ring?
These are the type of questions we ask in order to advise our customers on which may be the better option for their individual needs.
Give us a shout if you have any more questions regarding the differences between 9k and 18k Gold.
T: (011) 334-0824