If you’ve ever shopped for fine jewelry, you’ve probably come across the words “carat” and “karat” at some point during your shopping experience. While they both sound similar, they are entirely different terms. It’s crucial to understand the difference so that you know exactly what jewelry piece you’re buying and the value of it. This is especially important if you’re buying an engagement ring or other piece of fine jewelry. What is the difference between carat and karat? Read on to find out!
What Is the Difference Between Carat and Karat?
Carat and karat differ by more than just one letter. Carat (ct) is the globally recognized standard for gemstone weight. For example, one carat weighs 0.20 grams, so five carats weighs 1 gram. On the other hand, karat (kt) is the measure of gold purity. It is measured on a scale made up of 24 parts. For instance, 24-karat gold is pure gold while 12-karat gold is 50% gold and 50% impurities/base metals.
Some countries — such as Australia and the U.K. — use the term carat to refer to gold purity while the U.S. uses the word karat. In this case, the terms may be interchangeable. However, it’s important to note that the term karat is never used to describe gemstone weight.
What is the difference between carat and karat? When describing diamonds, carat refers to how heavy the gemstones weigh. Diamonds are weighed on specially calibrated scales. Moreover, the larger the carat, the higher the price. It’s important to distinguish that carat refers to diamond weight and not size. In fact, diamond size is measured in millimeters. For instance, a one carat brilliant-cut diamond is 6.5 millimeters in diameter.
Additionally, carat is part of the four C’s when it comes to diamond quality. This includes carat, cut, clarity, and color. These are the globally accepted standards for assessing the quality of a diamond.
The term carat derived from the ancient Greek word keration, which means “carob seeds.” Carob beans were used to measure the weight of diamonds and gold because they were similar in size and weight. They were also used to weigh pure gold coins.
Karat is used for measuring gold purity, not the mass of gold. Since pure gold (24 kt) is too soft to be used for jewelry, it’s often blended with other metals, or alloys. This helps enhance the piece’s strength and durability. Moreover, mixing gold with various alloys can change its color. This is how rose gold and white gold are differentiated.
What to Consider When Shopping for Gold or Diamonds
When shopping for diamonds, it’s important to consider the four C’s: carat, cut, clarity, and color. However, carat is usually the biggest driver of price. One carat is ideal for a diamond, although carat weight usually comes down to personal preference. Keep in mind that, all other characteristics equal, the larger the carat, the higher the price. The most common diamond carat weights are between 1.0 and 1.2 carats.
When shopping for gold in terms of karat value, it comes down to personal preference and budget. Common mixtures of gold include 14K, 18K, and 22K.
When shopping for fine jewelry, it’s essential to understand carat and karat so that you know the exact value of the diamond. This can help you choose engagement rings and other fine jewelry pieces, especially if you have a set budget. If you’re looking to add beautiful fine jewelry to your collection, The Vault Nantucket can help. We carry a wide range of products from well-known designers such as ARK, Graziela, ONDYN, Octavia Elizabeth, and more.
Browse KJ’s picks or other products today!