I haven't been following this thread, so please forgive me if my
post is redundant:
For a long time, 14K was the gold of choice mainly in the US only.
Asians and Europeans traditionally prefer higher karat gold, and, to
the best of my recollection, you would be very hard pressed to find
anything less than 18K anywhere outside the US. International travel
and tourism had its impact. Visiting customers ignored 14K "Here", as
American travelers brought home the more glamorous examples they
would find "There". Eventually, the US market began to trend along
the same lines, offering more and more 18K - and above - as the
demand for higher end jewelry in general began to heat up in the mid
80's - early 90's ( if memory serves as to time period...) Fairly or
unfairly, 14K became more or less synonymous with manufactured,
production lines for the "mass market", i.e., the K-marts, Walmarts,
and low-to-mid level department store chains.