What is the Best Karat of Gold for a Wedding Ring?

What is the Best Karat of Gold for a Wedding Ring?

Choosing the perfect wedding ring can be a daunting task, and when you narrow it down to a solid gold ring one of the most important factors to consider is the karat of gold. With several options to choose from, it can be challenging to determine the best karat of gold for your wedding ring. 

In this article, we'll explain what gold karats are, explore the different karat options, and help you make an informed decision.

What are Karats of Gold?

Before we dive into the best karat for a wedding ring, it's essential to understand what karats of gold mean. A karat (not to be mistaken with a diamond carat), is a unit of measurement used to determine the purity of gold. 

The karat as a measure of gold purity originated in the middle ages and is based on the weight of a pure gold coin called a mark, which weighed 24 karats (a karat was theoretically based on the weight of a single seed from the coral tree). When coins were made from alloyed gold, largely to make them harder than a pure gold coin, they were defined by the portion of the coin karat weight that was made up of gold. 

This system of measurement is used today to define the purity of gold. A gold object that is pure gold would be 24-karat, whereas an object that is half gold and half alloying metal would be 12-karat gold.

So, why do we need this karat thing anyway? 

It turns out, pure 24-karat gold is rather soft, which is not ideal for wedding bands (or jewelry in general) because it can easily deform, dent, and scratch, substantially shortening the life of the ring. To make it more durable, gold is combined with a mixture of other metals, including silver, copper, nickel, iron, tin, titanium, and zinc, among a few others, to add strength and durability.

The most common types of alloyed gold found in jewelry range from 42% pure (10-karat) to 92% (22-karat).

The Karat Options for Wedding Rings

When it comes to solid white gold and yellow gold wedding rings and jewelry, there are four common types of gold karats to choose from: 10k, 14k, 18k, and 22k. The difference between karats is a little more nuanced than the gold purity itself, with each karat option having its advantages and disadvantages. Let’s explore these differences.

10k Gold

10k gold is the most durable and affordable option for a wedding ring. Made of 41.7% gold, these rings are alloyed with other metals such as copper, silver, and zinc. This makes a 10-karat gold ring ideal for active lifestyles where the ring can be exposed to rough surfaces. Aside from being less valuable, the main downside of 10k gold is it may cause skin irritation in some people with metal allergies. 


  • Most affordable gold option
  • High durability


  • Lower inherent value
  • Yellow gold color is not as lustrous
  • Alloys can cause skin irritation in some people
  • Higher alloy content is more prone to corrosion over time when exposed to chemicals, salt water, etc.

14k Gold

14k gold is the most popular choice for wedding rings, due to its ideal balance between affordability, durability, and appearance. Comprised of 58.5% gold, 14-karat yellow gold is more lustrous than 10k gold but with a more subdued yellow compared to 18-karat yellow gold and higher.


  • Affordable
  • Yellow gold has an attractive, bright gold appearance
  • Little to no tarnishing compared to 18-karat and 22-karat
  • Easy to match as it is often used in other types of fine jewelry


  • Alloys can cause skin irritation in some people
  • Yellow gold is not as rich in color as higher karats

18k Gold

18k gold is a luxurious option for a wedding ring, and it contains 75% gold. It's more lustrous than 14k gold and has a warmer, more yellow tone. However, its durability is similar to 14-karat gold, so most of the benefits over lower karats are in appearance and inherent value.


  • Yellow gold has an attractive, rich gold appearance similar to pure gold
  • Easy to match as it is often used in other types of fine jewelry
  • Generally considered hypoallergenic


  • More Expensive
  • Less durable - more likely to scratch and scuff with normal daily wear
  • Tarnishes more readily than lower-karat gold

22k Gold

22k gold is the purest form of gold used for making jewelry, containing 91.67% pure gold. It's the most lustrous and has a rich, warm tone distinct from lesser karats. However, it's generally too soft for everyday wear and may scratch or bend more easily. It's also the most expensive option for gold jewelry. Due to its softness, 22-karat gold is rarely used for rings worn on a daily basis. 


  • Yellow gold has a rich, bright yellow appearance very close to pure gold
  • Highly valuable
  • Hypoallergenic


  • Expensive
  • Less durable - more likely to scratch and scuff with normal daily wear
  • Tarnishes more readily than lower-karat gold

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Karat

When choosing the best karat for your wedding ring, there are several factors to consider. While some factors are independent of others, some go hand in hand (skin sensitivity, for example). When deciding, we suggest starting with the factor most important to you and weighing it against the other factors. 

You will notice, 22-karat gold is not recommended below. While 22K and 24K jewelry can be stunning, it is not ideal for wedding rings that are usually intended to be worn on a daily basis.

White Gold, Rose Gold, or Yellow Gold Rings

While white gold, rose gold, and yellow gold all use the same karat measurements and have the same inherent value, they do not entirely share the same characteristics. 

Solid white gold jewelry is often plated with rhodium, which adds a hypoallergenic layer but also requires re-plating as the rhodium layer wears off. Additionally, the appearance of the rhodium-plated white gold will be the same regardless of karats (except when the plating wears out over time). White gold rings generally need to be re-plated every 12 - 18 months for the life of the ring.

Rose gold, on the other hand, is high in copper which can cause skin irritation in some people, and the copper does tend to darken in appearance over time.


If you're looking for a durable option, 10k or 14k gold may be the best choice. These options are more resistant to scratches and wear and tear. Unless price or appearance is a factor, 14-karat gold is generally the preferred choice if durability is a priority, largely because it also offers the benefit of better inherent value and appearance.

Generally speaking, an 18-karat gold ring will generally hold up well with daily wear, provided it does not have any ornate styling and features which can wear out over time and degrade the ring's appearance.


14K is generally the best overall value for a gold wedding band, having a perfect balance of durability, value, and appearance. However, if you're on a tight budget and insist on a gold wedding band, 10k gold may be the best option.

If you prefer the rich yellow of pure gold, have metal allergies, or prefer owning a gold ring for its inherent value, 18-karat gold may be worth the additional investment. 

Skin Sensitivity

If you have sensitive skin, you may want to choose an 18-karat gold or rhodium-plated white gold ring. These options are less likely to cause skin irritation, although a white gold ring can cause irritation as the rhodium plating wears off. Lesser karat white gold rings will have a more pronounced irritation effect as the plating wears.

Rose gold should be avoided entirely if you have any metal allergies.


The karat of gold you choose will also affect the look of your wedding ring, specifically for yellow gold and rose gold rings. 

For yellow gold rings, an 18-karat ring will have a warmer, deeper gold tone, while a 14-karat ring will have a softer, less yellow hue. A 10-karat ring will have a subdued, pale yellow color. 

Rose gold rings are created by adding higher levels of copper to the gold alloy. This rose color will differ based on the gold-to-copper ratio, with a strong pink color in 10-karat rose gold to a golden champaign-rose gold color in 18-karat rose gold. Each of these will darken over time, based on the percentage of copper. 10-karat rose gold will tend to have a higher degree of color darkening due to the high percentage of copper in the alloy. 

What about white gold that is not rhodium-plated? Un-plated white gold has a softer, more warm hue than its bright rhodium-plated alternative, and the color will vary slightly between karats, with a light, subtle yellow hue becoming more pronounced as the gold percentage increases. 

Overall, gold is an exceptional and time-tested option for a wedding ring and one choice of gold karat is not independently better than another. 

Choosing the best option for your wedding ring depends on your personal preferences, budget, lifestyle, and needs. The best gold karat choice is going to be the one that satisfies your most important criteria, whether that is the investment, appearance, durability, or any combination of requirements.

Still not sure? The most popular type of gold for wedding rings in the United States is 14-karat, and it is a fantastic choice for most people. It’s relatively affordable, durable for everyday wear, attractive, and inherently valuable - and one of our favorites too.