Most people eventually are faced with the need to buy or sell jewelry. However, many do not understand how the quality of their jewelry is assessed or what the terms karat and carat actually mean. Contrary to popular belief, the two words actually refer to different measurements altogether. While many people use them interchangeably, the industry has very specific meanings for them.
First and foremost, in the karat vs carat debate is the simple fact that the karat is a measurement of the purity of gold. When discussing gold rings, pendants or other jewelry, 1 karat is equal to 1/24 pure gold. Thus a 12 karat gold ring is 50% pure gold, and 50% miscellaneous materials and impurities. 18 karat gold is 75% pure; 24 karat gold is pure gold, or at least 99.9999% pure. Since gold itself is a relatively soft metal, many jewelers choose to use 18K gold instead of 24K in their designs for the purposes of durability.
By contrast, the carat is a measure of the mass of diamonds or other precious gemstones. It does not refer to the quality of the stone, but rather the size. A single carat is equal to a stone of 200 milligrams, or 1/5 of a gram. In the world of diamonds and gemstones, letter and number combinations are used to indicate the quality of the stones instead. In addition, a letter scale is used to indicate the color of diamonds from pure white to yellow. These are both separate ratings from the carat weight of the stone. In many cases you can purchase loose stones and choose the carat and quality yourself. The cut of the stone will have a large impact on the visual size of the stone, as well as the setting.
Why It Matters
Depending on where you are located, the two terms may be interchanged, especially in foreign markets. It is important to remember that while the Karat is a measurement of purity and quality, but the term Carat is only a measurement of mass and is not an indication of gemstone quality at all. Knowing the difference between the two will ensure that you purchase a high quality ring or pendant.
If you are selling jewelry, you will likely need an appraisal. Knowing the difference between karat vs carat is also helpful in this instance. The appraiser will measure the quality of the gold and assess the value of the precious metal separately from the gemstones. Then they will appraise both the quality and mass of the stones, giving you a carat measurement, as well as a letter grade indicating the quality of the stone. All of this information will be needed to accurately value and price the piece.
Looking for more information? Contact us at Pinto Gold today!