Carats and Karats – What’s the Difference?

Here’s how to know your carrots from your karats and carats…

We know, it’s confusing. Carats and karats are both terms used in the jewellery world, and it can seem like they’re just alternative spellings of the same word. But karats and carats measure two completely different things!

A ‘carat’ is the unit used to measure the weight of diamonds and other gemstones. A ‘karat’, on the other hand, measures the purity of precious metal (usually gold).


Karats range on scale from a minimum of 1 to a maximum of 24. 24 karat gold is pure gold, while 1 karat gold is, well, barely gold at all. The most common points on the scale are 12, 18 and 24. Gold is one of the softer metals of the world, which is why it’s used in jewellery; it can be moulded or hammered into any shape. For that reason however, it’s not very durable and can be easily damaged. Adding other metals to gold (and thus reducing its karat number) makes it a little more tough and, as a result of these metals being added, a little less yellow. NIckel, zinc and copper are the most common metals used for this – the more copper added, the more ‘rose gold’ the appearance. Anything less than 10 karats is technically not considered to be gold.   


Carats are based on the metric system. 1 carat = 0.2 grams (or 200 milligrams). So a 5 carat diamond, which would look pretty big on the average finger, actually only weighs 1 gram. Any and all precious gemstones are measured in carats. The word ‘carat’ comes from the carob bean, which was originally used to measure gemstones because of their ever consistent weight. Gemstones can come in any carat number, and generally speaking, the higher the carat weight the bigger the price tag. Carats are just one aspect of determining a gem’s quality and value however. The colour, cut and clarity of the gem are also important, and together all four elements make up the much talked about ‘4Cs’. If you’ve ever bought an engagement ring, you’ll already know what we mean!  


Tasty orange coloured vegetables, grown in the ground, that can be used in side dishes, main courses, or as a healthy snack. Great with hummus. Nothing to do with jewellery.

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