Gold prices are at a record high since 2013, so many people are considering selling their 18K gold jewelry. The value of 18K gold jewelry can differ based on the type of jewelry, but there are many factors that can help you determine the value.
But why is knowing the value of your gold jewelry important in the first place?
Knowing what your pieces are worth can provide confidence and assurance for your future self. With valuable items like 18K gold jewelry in particular, knowing the value is crucial for insurance and legal purposes if (god forbid) it’s ever stolen or lost.
Beyond the worst case scenario, valuing your gold jewelry helps you keep track of your investments — 18K gold jewelry definitely being one — for yourself and anyone you’ll pass it down to.
Of course, knowing the value of 18K gold jewelry before you start shopping can help ensure that you get the best deal without getting swindled by any disreputable sellers.
In this guide, we’ll break down what exactly 18K gold jewelry is, along with the types of 18K gold jewelry and their value.
First, let’s cover some basic knowledge.
When we’re talking about types of gold jewelry, be it 10K to 24K, the “K” (sometimes written as “Kt”) stands for karats. “Karats” is a measurement of the percentage of pure gold in the jewelry.
(Quick note: The weight measurement called “carats” is specific to gemstones, while karats is a separate purity measurement exclusive to gold.)
The amount of karats in gold isn’t the same as the pure gold percentage. Rather, each karat counts as one “part” pure gold as a ratio.
Pure gold is called 24K (24-karat), while the cheapest type of gold usually available is 10K, which is 41.7 percent gold. The other “parts” beyond the karats are other metal alloys — for example, 22K gold is 22 parts pure gold and 2 parts other metals.
Pure gold makes up 75 percent of 18K gold. In other words, 18K gold is 18 parts pure gold and 6 parts other metals.
You can tell your 18K gold jewelry is real if it’s stamped with 18K, 18Kt, 750, 70 or 0.75.
In the US, 14K gold (58.3 percent pure gold) is the most popular type among buyers for its accessibility and durability.
That said, 18K gold jewelry takes it up a notch in terms of elegance, value, and of course, the amount of gold!
So, how does that 18K karatage affect the price of different types of gold jewelry? It may depend on the way gold is incorporated into the jewelry.
Besides the karatage, the technique used for your 18K gold jewelry also affects its value. The main types are solid gold, gold-filled, gold-plated, and gold vermeil.
The best 18K gold jewelry value-wise is solid gold, meaning the piece is gold through-and-through — no layers of metal hiding underneath (outside any alloys mixed into the gold already).
Solid 18K gold jewelry won’t fade in color or tarnish like other types, allowing its high value to stay more consistent over time.
The next most valuable option is gold-filled jewelry, though it only holds 5 percent of solid gold’s value.
Gold-filled jewelry has a thick gold sheet permanently attached to a base metal. The gold must make up 5 percent or more (often labeled 1/20 18K) of the total weight.
Gold-filled jewelry will usually last 10 to 30 years. It can tarnish, but it’s rare.
Gold-plated jewelry has a base metal coated with a layer of gold, usually composed of under 0.05 percent gold overall. Thicker layers mean higher value and less (or slower) tarnishing over time, though gold-plated jewelry won’t last as long as solid gold or gold-filled jewelry.
The main con to gold-plated jewelry is the risk of tarnishing, especially with thinner gold layers. This type of gold jewelry will eventually fade, but replating can restore it.
Gold vermeil is a type of gold-plated technique where a high-quality silver base is covered in a layer of gold that must be 2.5 microns or thicker.
Gold vermeil jewelry is usually more durable and longer-lasting than gold-plated jewelry. The gold layer can fade, but regular cleaning can prevent this.
First off, is 18K gold worth anything? Absolutely!
One of the benefits of 18K gold jewelry is that it’s still a refined, valuable option without the durability issues of higher-karat gold. It’s also more common, from top-designer to mass-produced jewelry.
Plus, fine jewelry usually increases in value over time if it’s maintained well.
The main difference between 18K vs. higher-karat gold jewelry is that 18K gold is a lighter yellow, though still deeper and more attractive in color than lower-karat gold. However, there are a few types of 18K gold to consider.
The additional metals in 18K gold can differ, creating three main types.
Yellow gold, the most valuable type, is pure gold usually mixed with metals like silver, zinc, and copper. 18K yellow gold can be medium-colored with equal parts copper and silver. Darker 18K yellow gold is typically 15 percent copper and 10 percent silver.
White gold, the second most valuable, has more variable additional alloys, usually some combination of metals like nickel, zinc, palladium, and silver. Some are covered in rhodium plating to achieve that signature luster.
Rose gold is pure gold and copper, increasing its durability. Most 18K mixtures are 25 percent copper.
The value of gold changes over time, based on lots of political and economic factors.
As of September 2022, the price-per-gram of 18K gold is about $36 to $40 per gram.
Keep in mind, gold’s general price-per-gram is the “melt price” — the metal’s value alone. The price doesn’t reflect additional labor or retail additions.
With that in mind, let’s see how each 18k gold jewelry type differs in value.
Comparing 14K vs. 18K gold ring value, 18K gold rings will usually be 50-150 percent more expensive than 14K gold rings.
Many couples opt for 18K gold wedding bands for a warmer look. Depending on the size, 18K wedding bands generally range from $400 to $1,000.
At wholesale, you can find 18K gold rings (with no additional gems) ranging from $150 to $1,000 each, with an average price-per-gram (for the entire piece) of $80-$100 per gram.
The value of 18K gold bracelets varies slightly more — sizes range from thick bangles to thin chains, and the levels of intricacy also vary.
Retail prices for 18K gold bracelets often range from around $200 to upwards of $17,000. At wholesale, you’ll find 18K gold bracelets worth roughly $1,200 to $5,000 with price-per-gram ranges of $79 to $95 per gram.
Next, how much is an 18K gold necklace worth?
If gold bracelets are more variable than rings, 18k gold necklaces are even moreso. This category includes varying chain lengths, thicknesses, and styles of necklaces.
At wholesale, you’ll find 18K gold chains worth $650 to upwards of $8,700 at rates of $77 to $82 per gram. Solid 18K gold pendants range from $425 to $1,350 each and $73 to $93 per gram at wholesale.
Unlike bracelets or necklaces, 18K gold earrings are a bit more straightforward in price. Stil, size and design intricacy affect value.
Wholesale 18K gold earrings prices are around $140 to $1,500 each with rates of $75 to $96 per gram.
One important note is that none of the wholesale prices discussed above are for gold-plated or gold vermeil jewelry. Almost all the products used for reference are solid gold.
Whether you’re considering buying or selling 18K gold jewelry, the value of a piece comes from an amalgamation of factors.
Besides the melt price of 18K gold, other factors to consider are:
Is it made or sold by a well-known designer? (Designer pieces are more valuable)
Is the piece unique or mass-produced? (Unique pieces are more valuable)
Is it handmade or machine-made? (Handmade is more valuable)
Is it an antique or vintage? (This will increase value)
Are you buying/selling in-person or online? (Online options are up to 30 percent less expensive)
Buyers should typically expect a mark-up price that’s at least double the value of the piece.
For sellers, how do you sell your 18K gold jewelry?
Selling your 18K gold jewelry for the most money starts with knowing its value, which we’ve discussed so far.
Depending on when and where you’re planning to sell, you’ll want to research the current market price-per-gram of 18K gold where you live.
Now, you can get started with step one.
You can calculate the price of gold jewelry at home to create your own estimate, but an official appraisal will confirm what you should expect to charge when selling your pieces. An appraisal will cost some money upfront but will likely save you from losing money in the long-run.
In addition to an official appraisal, researching what similar gold jewelry items sell for online will give you a reasonable indication of what to expect to get for your jewelry.
Are your items tarnished, scratched, or damaged beyond reasonable repair? If so, you’ll probably want to sell it as scrap. Additionally, the value of gold scraps (a.k.a. the “melt value” or “spot value”) is roughly the same around the world.
If the items are in excellent shape, first consider the value factors listed in the Other Value Factors section above. In addition, consider the value of any additional embellishments on the jewelry like gemstones.
If your pieces contain gemstones, you may want to take the stones out and sell them separately to get the most money for your gold jewelry.
Consider whether you want to sell your gold jewelry for cash or trade-in credit. If you’re strictly in it for the Benjamins, you’ll want to call ahead of time to ensure the jeweler pays cash for gold.
Alternatively, if you’re looking to trade in your items for new jewelry, you’ll generally get a better deal and value by trading in.
As with any financial transaction, you want to collect offers before choosing one. Unless you’re in a pinch and need cash fast, it’s smart to take your time, get different offers, then go with the highest bid.
Where is the best place to sell gold jewelry for cash?
There are several options, but in general you’ll have the best success selling gold to a local jeweler. That said, any time you sell to a jeweler, they have to factor in their costs and how much they need to knock off their offer in order to make a profit. Always research the jeweler to ensure they are reputable and give fair offers.
Alternatively, you can sell your 18K gold jewelry online.
The melt price of 18K gold on its own will always be lower than the price of 18K gold jewelry, because the jewelry takes into account labor and other costs.
For jewelry makers and sellers, selling your 18K gold jewelry online can get you a higher profit back. Looking at the wholesale price-per-gram ranges for each type of 18K gold jewelry listed before, you’ll see most are around double the melt price of 18K gold.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that resold 18K gold jewelry items will almost always sell for less than you bought them for — typically around 70 percent of the original value — unless they’re antiques.
Let’s do a brief summary of the key takeaways for selling your 18K gold jewelry:
Know what you have regarding karats, quality and history
Do your research on the market price for gold
Decide if you want cash for your gold jewelry, or if you’d rather trade-in
Get an official appraisal to ensure a fair value
Shop your pieces around to get the best offer
Do research on the company to ensure they are reputable
You’re all set!
With gold prices at record highs, there’s no better time to start making some dough by selling some of your 18K gold jewelry. With rising value comes rising demand, so you’re sure to find the right buyer in no time.
For those buying 18K gold jewelry, reputable auction sites like Jewelry Auctioned are a great way to explore a broad range of options and potentially get a stellar deal!
Ready to shop? Browse our collection of high-quality, unique and stunning 18K gold jewelry!
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