Posted under Diamond Guide

Wednesday, Feb 14 2024

Demystifying Carat Vs. Karat: Understanding the Difference

Written by Thomas Cooper

Demystifying Carat Vs. Karat: Understanding the Difference

The world of finding the right kind of diamond jewelry is playful but it is also demanding for many people. If it’s not the 4 C’s of the diamond that you will find confusing to understand, then it will definitely be the words “carat” and “karat” that will make you itch your head, and the perplexity can get expensive very quickly. Why is that so? 

“Karat” and “carat” are used in similar contexts in similar ways, both being the units of measurement for precious materials. Hence, sometimes, in some cases and places, they can overlap. To gain more clarity and understanding about the words that are so often interchangeably used, we will break down their meaning, their exact measures, and the different ways they are used.

Table of Content:

Carat vs. Karat – Which Spelling is Correct?

Both spellings are correct but they are used for different things in different places. Carat is typically always used as the unit of measure for gemstone weights like diamonds. For instance: Her lab diamond engagement ring features a diamond weighing three carats.

In the USA and many other countries, karat is used as a unit of measurement for the purity of gold, as in 24 karat gold or 18 karat yellow gold. However, in the UK and other countries, the spelling “carat” is used for the measure of gold as well as gemstones.

Carat vs. Karat – What Does Karat in Gold Mean?

Since pure gold is an extremely soft metal that can be bent without even being heated, making jewelry out of it gets extremely inconvenient. But to curb this problem, jewelers often make gold alloys, mixing gold with other types of metals. The amount of gold that goes into the alloy gets measured in karats, and the mix is divided into 24 karats, which can be likened to portions of the metal.

For better understanding, 14 karat gold consists of 14 parts gold out of a total of 24 parts, equivalent to about 58% gold. On the other hand, 24 karat gold is pure gold, making it expensive and malleable. Karat is often abbreviated as kt, with common values being 10kt, 14kt, 18kt, 22kt, and 24kt, as there is nothing beyond 24kt since it denotes pure gold.

In its purest form, 24 karat gold is bright yellow, but as mentioned, when gold is accompanied by other metals when used in jewelry, they not only lend their strength but also their hue to the jewelry. This is why different karats of gold jewelry have different appearances and colors.

Carat vs. Karat – What Does Carat Mean in Gems?

The word carat is derived from Ancient Greek and means “carob seed.” Carob beans were used to measure small weights and were also used to weigh pure gold coins. It was widely believed that carob seeds varied very little in weight compared to other species of seeds. However, after the advancement of technology, we realized that there is plenty of weight variation between carob seeds. 

When it comes to gemstones, specifically diamonds, a carat means the weight of a single stone and a common way to signify a carat is “ct.” One carat is equal to 0.20 grams, and in some systems, the weight of a diamond is divided into 100 points, with 100 points totaling one carat. Most of the time, the heavier the diamond, the larger its size; hence, the measurement of carat weight is mostly used, on a practical level, as a measure of how large a diamond is.

Loose Diamonds

SHOP Loose Diamonds

If there are several small diamonds, also called melee diamonds, in a piece of jewelry, they will often be represented by a total weight (“TCW” or “TDW”). This means Total Carat Weight, or Total Diamond Weight, and indicates the total weight of all the diamonds added to the piece.

With this, we hope you understand the differences between karat and carat and can also distinguish between them. 

Carat vs. Karat – Do You Now Know the Difference?

Now that you can tell each of them apart, you can also read product descriptions like a pro! But if you still face difficulties telling them apart, we want you to remember that gold karat will refer to the gold itself and diamond carat will refer to the diamond. Let’s see if you know the difference now!

What do you understand when you read these two sentences?

These two are descriptions of rings that are made from 14 and 18 carat white and rose gold. The diamonds in these two rings are 1 and 1.5 carats, respectively. Now, let’s try something else again!

Engagement Ring Settings

SHOP Engagement Ring Settings

  • A 14kt yellow gold tennis bracelet with 5 carat TDW

After reading the above sentence, you’ve understood that you are looking at a tennis bracelet that is set in 14kt yellow gold with diamonds that have a total weight of 5 carats.

Whether it's carats or karats, we've untangled the web of confusion surrounding these precious terms. Now you're armed with the knowledge to navigate the world of gemstones and gold like a pro.

Remember, carats dazzle in diamonds, while karats shine in gold. So, whether you're dreaming of a stunning diamond ring or a radiant gold bracelet, Friendly Diamonds has you covered. Plunge into the world of fine jewelry with confidence, and let your sparkle speak volumes! Cheers to a future filled with gleaming gemstones and gleaming smiles!