In the market for a piece of jewelry and wondering whether or not 10k white gold is a good choice? We can help!
This quick guide will tell you everything you need to know about the pros and cons of 10k white gold, along with how it stacks up to other white metals.
We even provide you with a simple crash course on how "karats" work!
10k White Gold: Is It Any Good?
Many consumers are surprised when they walk into a jewelry store looking for 10k gold, as many jewelry only carry 14k gold and higher. This goes for all colors- white, yellow, rose, etc.
10 karat white gold is 10 parts yellow gold and 14 parts other white metals. This means that 10 karat white gold is 41.7 percent gold. That’s less than half gold!
It's not uncommon to hear 10 karat white gold referred to as "discount gold" or "discount white gold", since the percentage of gold in the alloy is less than half.
White gold is generally alloyed with silver and/or palladium. A common composition for 10 karat white gold is 41.7 percent gold, 47.4 percent silver, 10 percent palladium, and 0.9 percent zinc. Sometimes, the white gold alloy can also contain nickel, although using nickel in an alloy for white gold has been made illegal in some countries, such as Australia, because of the prevalence of nickel allergies.
Also, jewelry made out of white gold is oftentimes plated with rhodium, which keeps the jewelry white and shiny. However, the rhodium plating wears off after a few years. Thus, white gold jewelry will require occasional maintenance, because you should take the item to the jeweler to be re-plated with rhodium every few years. This will keep the jewelry shiny and lustrous and maintain the color.
If you have a nickel allergy but can only afford white gold, remember to get your ring plated and re-plated with rhodium, which is hypoallergenic. The rhodium will prevent any nickel from coming into contact with your skin.
However, plenty of white gold (whether 10 karat or not) jewelry is made entirely without nickel, so it's often not a problem to begin with.
If allergies are a big concern and you're set on 10k white gold, it's a good idea to try to buy from a jeweler who guarantees that the piece is nickel-free.
Pros and Cons of 10 Karat White Gold:
10k White Gold Pros:
- It is a white metal that is much more affordable than platinum and palladium.
- It is significantly more durable and scratch resistant than platinum and sterling silver, due to the lower gold content.
- It is an excellent choice for those who are in search of a bargain but who still want a beautiful piece of jewelry.
10k White Gold Cons:
- It sometimes contains nickel, a metal to which many people are allergic.
- It must be replated with rhodium every few years to maintain optimal appearance.
- It contains less gold and is thus considered less valuable than higher karat gold.
White Gold vs Platinum vs Silver
Gold is a very valuable and desirable metal, but not every piece or preference calls for the look of yellow gold. That's where white metals come into play.
As you likely already know, the most common and popular white metals are silver, platinum, and white gold.
Before we compare, it's worth hammering home that pure gold is always yellow in color. So there is no such thing as pure white gold or pure rose gold. White gold and rose gold is gold which has been alloyed with other metals to give it a white or rose colored appearance.
In the case of white gold, it is an alloy of yellow gold and a white metal such as palladium, silver, or nickel. Rose gold is an alloy of yellow gold and copper, which gives rose gold its pinkish hue.
18 karat rose gold is a metal that is 18 parts yellow gold and 6 parts copper (usually). And 14 karat white gold is an alloy of 14 parts yellow gold and 10 parts other white metals (like palladium, silver, and/or nickel).
White Gold vs Platinum
Platinum is a beautiful metal that is hypoallergenic and which maintains its shine very easily. All you need to do is wash it very occasionally with soap and water, and it will be as shiny and lustrous as it ever was.
In its pure form, platinum is also more durable and scratch resistant than pure gold. But platinum is very expensive, and it is also a denser metal. That means the same size ring will require more platinum to make, which means that a platinum ring can be nearly double the price of a comparable white gold ring.
Platinum is also difficult to work with, which increases the labor required and therefore the cost of the jewelry. The most common alloy of platinum used for jewelry is 95 percent platinum, 5 percent other metals.
White gold is certainly more affordable than platinum, and it is also generally more durable as well as scratch and dent resistant than platinum, depending on the gold alloy.
14 karat white gold, for instance, will be more durable than platinum. However, white gold requires a bit more maintenance than platinum if you wish to retain its original appearance.
White Gold vs Silver
Silver is the least expensive of these three and is thus the most affordable, making it a good choice for costume jewelry.
Sterling silver (also known as sterling silver 925 or SS925) is composed of 92.5 percent silver and 7.5 percent other metals.
But silver is softer, less durable, and more prone to scratching than white gold. It also requires more maintenance than platinum or white gold, due to the fact that it may tarnish if it is not regularly cleaned and polished.
This makes silver a slightly more impractical choice for a piece of jewelry such as an engagement ring.
Those looking to get a ring made out of an affordable, easily maintained white metal will find that white gold strikes the perfect balance between expensive platinum and cheap (but high maintenance) silver.
White gold will be durable, relatively affordable, and fairly easy to care for and keep shiny.
Karat vs. Carat: What’s the Difference?
This last section is just a quick crash course for everyone who has ever been confused about the difference between karat and carat when dealing with gold.
A karat is a measurement indicating the purity of gold (the proportion of gold in the alloy).
A carat is a unit used to measure the weight of a diamond or other such gemstone. One carat is equal to 200 mg. So a 1.08 carat diamond is a diamond that weighs 216 mg.
All other things being equal, the heavier the diamond (the higher the carat weight), the more valuable it is.
Since this article is about a type of gold, karats are our main concern.
Karats are measured in parts of 24. So 24 karat gold is pure gold, because “24 karat” (24kt) indicates that 24 out of 24 parts of the metal are gold.
An alloy is a metal made by combining two or more metals. Pure gold, 24 karat gold, is not an alloy because it is made of 100 percent gold. But anything lower than 24 karat gold is an alloy by definition.
18 karat gold means that the metal is 18 out of 24 parts gold, or 75 percent gold. In other words, 18 karat gold is an alloy that is 18 parts gold and 6 parts other metal. 18 divided by 24 is .75, so 18 karat gold contains 75 percent gold and 25 percent other metals.
When you enter a jewelry store or browse through an online jewelry marketplace looking for jewelry made out of gold, you will commonly see the following designations: 10 karat, 14 karat, 18 karat, and 22 karat gold. The unit “karat” is also sometimes written as “kt” or simply “k,” so you may see “18kt” or “18k,” for example.
Why will you most likely not see 24 karat gold jewelry sold at your local jewelry shop or online marketplace? Although it does exist, jewelry made out of pure gold is rare, because pure gold is an exceedingly soft and malleable metal.
So, jewelry made out of pure 24 karat gold will get scratched and dented rather easily and will quickly lose its shape. Thus, 24 karat gold is not practical for jewelry that is worn on a daily basis, such as a wedding ring.
24 karat gold jewelry might be suitable if you are a movie star looking to turn heads for one night on the red carpet, but it is otherwise highly impractical for most people.
Because pure gold is so soft, jewelers alloy the gold with other metals to harden it and make it more durable and practical for jewelry. Therefore, it is most common to see jewelry made out of 14 karat, 18 karat, or 22 karat gold.
The lower the karat, the harder, more durable, and more scratch resistant the jewelry will be. It comes at a cost though, as the lower the karat, the lower the proportion of gold and the less valuable the jewelry will be.
All in all, 10 karat white gold can be a good choice if you are looking for a bargain on jewelry. It is durable, scratch resistant, and highly affordable.
If you do go with white gold, just make sure (if you have allergies) to avoid alloys containing nickel, and be sure to get your jewelry plated with rhodium every once in a while!