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If you’re on a limited budget and looking for a durable material for your engagement or wedding ring, 10k gold might be an appealing option for you. In the jewelry world, this type of gold is the most affordable and is often referred to as discount gold.
Its affordable price is due to its low pure gold content, which is less than 50%. Even though 10-karat gold makes for exceptionally durable jewelry pieces, it’s not as aesthetically pleasing as its 14k or 18k gold counterparts.
You also shouldn’t be surprised if you walk into a jewelry store and find that they don’t offer 10k gold, as the most common gold types for jewelry are 14k and 18k.
However, there are certain positives, as well as negatives, to 10k gold jewelry. In this article, we’ll dive deeper into those when it comes to all three types of gold, yellow, white, and rose gold.
But first, let’s find out more about 10k gold and its general properties.
What Is 10k Gold?
10k gold ring by Mybart Design. See it here.
As you probably already know, gold jewelry comes in various purity levels expressed in karats. The purest gold is a non-alloyed 24k gold or 100% gold. In other words, all 24 parts of the metal are gold in its purest form.
However, pure gold is an exceptionally soft metal and isn’t suitable for crafting jewelry, as it can scratch, warp, and dent easily. Additionally, the color of pure gold leans more toward orange undertones, which is not such an attractive fine jewelry option.
For this reason, pure gold is mixed with other metals to get that perfect gold alloy that’s more durable and stronger, and unique in color, ideal for various jewelry items.
The Karat system is there to help the customers get a better picture of the gold purity of their jewelry. And so we have different gold types on the market, including 9k, 10k, 12k, 14k, 18k, 20k, and others.
As you can see, 10k gold belongs to the lower end of the spectrum. If 24k gold refers to 24 parts of pure gold, then it’s easy to imagine that 10k gold means 10 parts of pure gold, and 14 parts of alloyed metals.
Expressed in percentages, 10k gold is 41.7% of pure gold, and the rest 58.3% of the alloy, is made of other metals, such as silver, palladium, nickel, copper, or zinc.
10k Gold Purity
In the US, 10-karat gold is the minimum amount of pure gold required for the piece to be legally labeled as gold jewelry. In other countries, this limit is a bit lower, and 9k pieces, containing about 37.5% of pure gold, are also accepted and sold as gold jewelry.
Due to the low purity of 10k gold, 41.7% to be exact, it lacks that luster and shine you would expect from gold jewelry. For this reason, it’s relatively uncommon to find luxurious high-end rings and other fine jewelry of this purity level. It’s mostly used for crafting lower-priced jewelry items, including earrings, bracelets, and others.
Since more than 50% of 10k gold is made of other alloyed metals, it can potentially trigger various skin reactions, rashes, and allergies. Nickel is the most common allergen found in lower karat gold. This is another major reason for the lesser popularity of 10k gold.
10k Gold Durability
The lower the purity of the gold alloy, the higher its toughness and durability. Subsequently, 10k gold jewelry pieces are exceptionally strong and durably excellent for all of those with more active lifestyles.
Since more than 50% of 10k gold alloy is made of other metals that are much harder than pure gold, these jewelry items are less likely to warp and dent, and they are far more scratch-resistant than their purer alternatives.
10k Gold Price
Due to the lower quantity of pure gold, 10k gold makes for relatively affordable pieces of jewelry. Therefore, a 10k gold ring will be cheaper than what you would pay for the identical ring made of a higher-karat alloy.
Having this in mind, you also need to consider the quality issue. Even though 10k gold will make a jewelry item durable and affordable, these pieces are usually pre-made and contain lower quality diamonds or other gemstones. Because of this, 10k gold isn’t always the best value for money.
Besides, the price difference between a 10k and a 14k piece is often negligible, but the differences in appearance and quality are obvious even to the naked eye.
10k Gold Color
10k gold pendant by Gold Luxe. See it here.
If you compared 10k gold shoulder-to-shoulder with the other more popular options, such as 14k and 18k gold, for example, you would easily spot the difference in their colors. You would notice that 10k gold is less attractive, as its color is significantly paler. Gold pieces of higher purity levels have more intense and impressive colors.
However, as with other gold types, 10k gold also comes in the three popular color options: yellow, white, and rose gold. To get a specific color of the final gold products, different metals need to be mixed into an alloy. And so, each of these three gold types has different physical properties and distinct pros and cons.
10k Yellow Gold – Pros and Cons
Yellow gold generally contains gold alloys made of silver and copper. The majority of 10k yellow gold on the market has 41.7% of pure gold, 52% of silver, and around 6% of copper. Interestingly, this means that 10k yellow gold has more silver than actual gold.
Pros of 10k Yellow Gold
- Unique color: 10k yellow gold will have cooler yellow tones than its purer alternatives. This makes 10k yellow gold pieces suitable for various skin tones, from deeper olive to fair.
- Design: Generally, yellow gold will give a piece a classic and traditional look, and 10k yellow gold earrings, necklaces, and other jewelry would be an excellent choice for those who love vintage styles and designs. Besides, its color and patina can help balance out the yellow and brown tones found in lower-grade diamonds and other precious gems.
- Durability: 10k yellow gold is more durable and stronger than its higher karat equivalents. These pieces are less likely to get dents and scratches if hit against other jewelry items or any hard surface.
- Cost: Since it contains more silver than gold, this gold type is one of the most affordable options on the market in terms of other yellow gold alternatives.
Cons of 10k Yellow Gold
- Limited popularity: When it comes to yellow gold engagement and wedding rings, most vendors will offer 14k gold as the minimum purity level. Therefore, you might have to be prepared for a bit longer search if you want your rings to be made of 10k yellow gold.
- Shine: Due to the lower levels of pure gold, 10k yellow gold has a slightly muted color, and it isn’t as shiny and reflective as the purer alternatives, such as 14k or 18k gold.
- Metal allergies: Because of the high content of different metals other than gold, this type of gold can cause allergic reactions, contact dermatitis, and other skin issues. If you have either copper or silver allergies, you should avoid 10k yellow gold jewelry.
10k White Gold – Pros and Cons
10k white gold pendant by Wedding Bands R Us. See it here.
In 10k white gold, 58.3% of the alloy is made from silver, palladium, and zinc. To be more precise, the silver content amounts to 47.4%, palladium to 10%, and zinc to approximately 0.9%.
However, there are other traditional alloys used to make white gold. And so, instead of palladium alloy, the metal mixture is made from 41.7% of pure gold, and the rest includes nickel, copper, and zinc. The alloy type and metal ratio will differ from company to company, depending on what alloy they consider to be a superior combination.
Nickel is the most controversial metal since it’s known as the most common allergy trigger. For this reason, many counties in the EU have a law that helps regulate the use of this metal in jewelry. This is known as the Nickel Directive.
In the US, however, there’s no such law, and you need to be careful when purchasing white gold jewelry, no matter the karat level. White gold is usually plated with rhodium, preventing the gold alloy from getting into direct contact with the skin. But this plating doesn’t last forever, and it needs to be regularly reapplied.
Pros of 10k White Gold
- Modern appeal: White gold, in general, is an extremely popular material for engagement and wedding rings, especially with younger generations. Compared to the traditional yellow gold, white gold, including 10k white gold, has a more contemporary appeal with a cool and sleek gleam and light color.
- Durability: Metal alloys used in white gold are exceptionally durable, especially palladium. In 10k white gold, these metals make up more than 50% of the alloy, making any 10k gold jewelry piece strong and scratch resistant.
- Color: White gold’s bright and neutral color will suit almost any skin type, but it’s especially complementary to fair skin tones with rosy undertones. Additionally, its silvery-white shade will bring out the beauty and shine of different colored gemstones without making them appear yellowish, which is a common concern with yellow and rose gold.
- Cost: White gold is perhaps one of the most affordable white metals. Compared to platinum, for example, which is its most popular high-end alternative, white gold is far more budget-friendly, particularly 10k white gold.
Cons of 10k White Gold
- Limited popularity: Similar to 10k yellow gold, 10k white gold is hard to find, especially in fine jewelry such as engagement and wedding rings. The most common, and still fairly affordable, gold type is that of 14k.
- Maintenance: In the jewelry industry, all white gold is rhodium plated to give the metal a stronger platinum-like bond, better shine, and increased corrosion and oxidation resistance. It also acts as a barrier between the potential allergies triggering gold alloy and the skin. However, bear in mind that this plating gets thinner over time, due to the natural skin oils, and occasional buffing and polishing of the jewelry piece. For this reason, you might have to repeat the rhodium plate application every year or less, depending on the frequency of wear. If you notice yellow gold glimmers shining through the coating, you’ll know it’s time to re-plate your ring or any other white gold jewelry item.
- Metal allergies: White gold can be made of palladium alloy or nickel alloy. While palladium is mostly safe and hypoallergenic, nickel is known to cause various skin conditions, including skin allergies, contact dermatitis, rashes, itchiness, and others. Since 10k white gold contains a higher amount of these alloyed metals than, say, 14k or 18k white gold, it’s more likely to cause these health issues. If you’re sensitive to any of the metals found in white gold jewelry, you should definitely avoid it or specifically target those labeled as nickel-free.
10k Rose Gold – Pros and Cons
10k rose gold ring by Jewelry Galleria. See it here.
Generally, rose gold is a beautiful gold alloy comprised of pure gold, silver, and copper, lending a warm and charming pinkish shade to the metal. In 10k rose gold, the alloy is made of 41.7% of pure gold, 38.3% of copper, and 20% of silver.
This god type is also known as pink gold or red gold. The popularity of rose gold arose in Russia at the beginning of the 19th century. Thus, rose gold was also referred to as Russian gold, but this term is seldomly heard nowadays.
Pros of 10k Rose Gold
- Appearance and popularity: Rose gold engagement rings are gaining more and more popularity as the gold’s warm tones offer a unique and romantic appeal to the ring. It works well with many different jewelry designs, but it looks particularly attractive in vintage-inspired wedding bands and engagement rings.
- Styling options: Rose gold can also look stunning when combined with yellow or white gold, creating a distinctive multi-colored effect. This gold type is also versatile when it comes to matching with various skin tones, as it complements any skin tone, from fair and pale to olive and dark.
- Color: The warm and romantic pinkish-red tones of rose gold makes for stylish pieces of jewelry. While the color of 10k rose gold is still very attractive, it’s not as rich and intense as the color of 14k or 18k rose gold, simply due to the lower content of pure gold.
- Durability: When compared to white and yellow gold, 10k rose gold is by far the strongest and most durable option of the three since copper is an exceptionally sturdy material. Therefore, it can be a very alluring choice for rings, as rose gold is difficult to scratch, bend, or warp.
- Cost: Since 10k rose gold comprises of almost 40% of copper, it’s a fairly inexpensive metal. Sometimes, it’s even more affordable than 10k white and yellow gold.
Cons of 10k Rose Gold
- Stability: You need to be mindful of your rose gold jewelry piece coming into contact with various chemicals. The higher copper content of the rose gold alloy makes the metal exceptionally sturdy, but it also makes it sensitive to chemicals, and it can be susceptible to color damage. For this reason, if you own a piece of 10k rose gold jewelry, treat it with some extra TLC.
- Maintenance: Additionally, the copper content makes the rose gold hard to manipulate technically. Therefore, if your 10k rose gold jewelry needs some repair, make sure to take it to the experienced jeweler who knows how to work with this type of gold.
- Metal allergies: 10k rose gold has a much more considerable amount of copper than its yellow gold counterpart. The amount of copper in 10k rose gold is almost equal to that of pure gold. Similar to nickel, copper is a known allergen and can trigger various skin reactions.
When Should You Choose 10k Gold Jewelry?
If you value affordability and durability over gold purity, 10k gold can be an ideal option for a pair of earrings, necklaces, pendants, bracelets, and other jewelry items. But with engagement and wedding rings, we would highly recommend going one step higher and get a 14k gold ring instead.
There are several reasons for this.
First of all, for a slightly, almost insignificant price difference, 14k gold will offer a much better-quality ring with richer colors and more intense shine.
Secondly, due to the low purity level of 10k gold, most engagement and wedding rings vendors that are widely trusted don’t offer 10k gold settings. As we already mentioned, vendors with outstanding reputations will only offer rings starting from 14 karats and higher.
Nevertheless, if you still think that aesthetics is worth trading, you can certainly go for a cheaper but durable 10k gold engagement or wedding ring. However, do your research before purchasing it, and find out what type of alloy is in the ring, as some metals can cause severe allergic reactions.
To Wrap Up
At the end of the day, whether you pick 10k yellow, white or rose gold, the choice is entirely yours. You might want to consider their various advantages as well as downsides and inspect which color best suits your skin tone before making the final decision.
If you want something classic and traditional, go for yellow gold. If you want something more modern, white gold would be an ideal choice for you. And finally, rose gold is quite aesthetically versatile and looks stunning on any skin type and when combined with other gold colors.
Since yellow, white, and rose gold of equal karat level have more or less the same dollar value, it will ultimately all depend on your personal preference and taste.