Gold Jewelry Info – What is the Difference Between Carat and Karat?

Carat vs. Karat, what’s the difference? This is a question asked by many when it comes to jewelry and at first glance may seem confusing… but it doesn’t have to be.

The short answer is that carat (with a “c”) is a measurement of weight and is usually associated with precious gemstones while karat (with a “k”) is a measure of the purity of gold, usually associated with gold jewelry. So now that you know, here’s a more in-depth answer…

As mentioned above, Carat is a measurement of weight (and not a measurement of size, as one might have assumed). Although the size of an object contributes to it’s weight, carats refer only to the weight of something regardless of size.
Carats are used in conjunction with precious gemstones (like sapphires, rubies, etc) and are most commonly associated with diamonds. If you’re curious, 1 carat is equal to 0.2 grams… which means that saying you have a 5 carat ruby is the same as saying you have a 1 gram ruby. So the next time you see a 1 carat diamond, remember that’s referring to the weight of the diamond, not the size.

Karat describes the purity of gold and is most commonly used when describing gold jewelry. Because pure gold is very soft and not very durable (not to mention expensive!), jewelry made of pure gold isn’t very practical. Instead, pure gold is mixed with other metals like copper, silver, and/or zinc to form a gold alloy that makes for a stronger, more durable piece of jewelry (and it is more affordable as well). So “karats” simply tells you how much pure gold was mixed with other metals to form the specific piece of jewelry in question.

Karats are defined on a number scale from 8 to 24 with 24 karat meaning pure gold and anything less meaning less than pure gold. In the United States, 10 karat is the lowest purity gold that jewelers can make and still call their jewelry “solid” gold. In Europe and other parts of the world, it’s possible to find 8 or 9 karat gold.

To find out how much gold is in a piece of jewelry, simply take the number of karats and divide it by 24. This means that 12 karat gold contains 50% pure gold (it is ½ gold… 12 divided by 24). And 18 karat gold contains 75% pure gold (18 divided by 24) while 10 karat gold contains 41.67% pure gold (10 divided by 24). Remember… the higher the number of karats, the more pure gold is contained in the jewelry.

So there you have it… the differences between carats and karats. Carats means weight and karats means gold purity. Thanks for reading, I hope you found this article informative.