When searching for jewelry you are sure to come across these two words—carat and karat. One measures weight and the other purity. Knowing the meanings behind both words may help inform your next jewelry purchase.
Carat vs. Karat
Carat is a measure of weight used to describe diamonds and gemstones. For example, when purchasing a diamond engagement ring you may come across rings that feature a 2-carat, 1-carat, or even a 1/2-carat diamond. What the carat really tells you is how much the diamond weighs. (One carat equals 200 milligrams, or the weight of the average raindrop.) When shopping for diamond jewelry, know that carat size not only determines weight but also price. The bigger the diamond, the higher the price.
Karat, on the other hand, refers to a metal’s purity – particularly gold’s purity. When looking for gold jewelry you’ll find pieces that might have a 24K stamp or a 12K stamp. This indicates how much gold is present in the jewelry. Gold is measured using the fraction 1/24. So if a piece of jewelry is 24K, that means it’s 24/24 gold, or pure gold. If a piece of jewelry is marked 14K then that jewelry is 14/24 gold, and contains only 58% of the yellow metal. Pure gold is very soft and often times needs other metals like silver or copper to harden its composition. That’s why you’ll see jewelry marked 10K, 14K, and 18K. Like the carat of a diamond, a higher gold composition will increase the value of jewelry.
The History Explained
In some countries, carat and karat are used interchangeably. These words are closely linked both in terms of both jewelry and their shared history.
According to Britannica, the word karat was used following the creation of a medieval coin called a mark. Marks weighed 24-carats and were made from gold. But because of gold’s malleability, the coin had to be mixed with other metals. A mark’s value was determined by the amount of gold within its 24-carats. The 1/24 fraction was then used to determine each coin’s purity. “Carat” was used to express both weight and purity. Somewhere along the way the spelling changed to differentiate between the two units of measure.
At Dallas Gold and Silver Exchange
At Dallas Gold and Silver Exchange we offer you quality services and information to help you make the most informed decisions when purchasing jewelry. Whether you’re looking for the perfect diamond or deciding between different purities of gold jewelry, our customer service associates are here to help.