When buying or selling jewelry, you may hear the terms carat and karats regarding the size and purity of diamonds and gold. While these two terms sound similar, they have different meanings. Carat refers to the weight of diamonds, while karat refers to the purity of gold.
Knowing the difference between carats and karats can help you understand the value of gold and diamonds if you plan to invest in precious metals or an old piece of jewelry.
What is a Carat?
The origins of carat can be traced to ancient times. The term “carat” originated from the carob seed, which was used as a unit of weight for precious stones in the Middle East and Mediterranean region. The carob seed was a popular choice because it was consistent in weight and size, which made it easy to use as a reference for measuring the weight of gemstones.
A carat is a unit used to measure precious stones like diamonds in modern jewelry. The weight of a diamond is expressed in metric carats (ct), with one carat equal to 200 milligrams. To determine the carat measurement of precious stones, a jewel is weighed on a highly sensitive digital scale that can measure the weight within a fraction of a carat.
For reference, the average-size engagement ring has a one-carat diamond. Many jewelry pieces include smaller stones weighing one-quarter to one-half carat in total.
What is a Karat?
The word “karat” comes from the Arabic word “qirat” and is used to describe the purity of gold. The practice of measuring the purity of gold using the karat system was first developed in the Middle East and then spread to Europe and other parts of the world. Over time, the karat system became the standard method for measuring the purity of gold in many countries, including the United States.
The purity of gold is expressed in karats, a measure of the gold’s fineness out of parts per 24 karats. Pure gold is considered to be 24 karats (24K), meaning it is 99.9% gold. However, most jewelry is made with alloys to increase durability, which lowers the gold content.
18K gold contains 75% gold and is considered high-quality jewelry, while 14K gold contains 58.5% gold and is more durable but slightly less pure.
How Measurements Affect the Worth of Jewelry and Gold
These modern carat and karat measurement systems have made it easier and more accurate for dealers and investors to determine the weight and purity of diamonds and gold. The measurements are also a significant factor in determining the value of stones and gold pieces.
Carats are one of the Four C’s that determine the quality of a diamond and its market value. The Four Cs consist of Carat weight, Cut, Clarity, and Color, all of which help a dealer assess the worth of a particular stone.
Typically a diamond that weighs more carats is more valuable than a smaller diamond of the same quality. According to the International Gem Society, the diamond value jumps based on carat weight. A diamond weighing .01 to .90 cts may cost the same per carat, while a diamond above .90 cts pushes it into a new price range.
Similarly, karats are a critical factor in determining the value of gold jewelry. The higher the karat of gold, the purer it is and the more valuable it is. For example, 24-karat gold is pure gold, considered the most valuable form of gold, while 10-karat gold is 10/24 or 41.7% pure and less valuable.
Gold is typically measured using an X-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectrometer. This instrument shoots an X-ray at the gold and measures reflected light energy, which determines the purity of the gold.
At AU Precious Metals, we use XRF technology to evaluate gold for our clients. If you are buying or selling, our staff will test your gold to ensure its quality and value for a fair price.
Invest in Precious Metals and Diamonds to Grow Your Wealth
AU Precious Metals is a reliable local precious metals dealer in Novi and Rochester, Michigan. We buy and sell precious metals, including gold, platinum, silver, diamonds, and scrap jewelry.
We understand the confusion around terms like carat and karat. Our staff is happy to offer transparent appraisal services that help you understand the value of gold or diamonds, whether you are considering investing or selling your collection.
Contact us today using our online form, or stop by our storefront to discuss precious metal investment opportunities or get a quote for your coins, bars, or jewelry.