Karat vs Carat – What is the Difference?

A Karat and a Carat Differ by More Than Just a Letter

It’s pretty interesting how switching a single letter can entirely alter the meaning of a word! Some people think that these two homonyms are just different ways of spelling the same thing. Carat or karat, which is correct? They actually don’t even refer to the same measurement! There’s a major difference between carat and karat that goes beyond the spelling. In order to compare carat vs. karat, we must understand the application of each word and their relationship with their respective raw materials.


What is a Carat?

The term “carat” applies to diamonds and is considered one of the 4 C’s used to measure diamond quality (carat, color, clarity and cut). It is a unit of measurement when weighting precious stones that was established a hundred years ago. Early in the 20th century, diamond distributors agreed upon a set weight to measure the size of a standard diamond. A one carat diamond was settled to be equivalent to 200 milligrams, or 0.2 grams of finished weight. Following this logic, the more carats, the bigger the diamonds or precious stones.



What is a Karat?

Karatage, on the other hand, refers to gold purity. The purity of gold jewelry is measured by the proportion of gold, on a scale made up of 24 parts. 24 karats of gold indicate that 24 of 24 parts of the metal mixture are gold, or in other words, 100% pure gold. Most standard karatages of gold used in fine jewelry range from 10k gold to 24k gold, with high quality jewelry usually using 20-karat gold.

Karats are used to describe any types of gold alloy, such as yellow gold, white gold and rose gold. The gold color comes from changing the proportions of pure gold and other metals: in the case of white gold, it is mixed with silver and/or palladium. 


What Is The Difference Between Carat and Karat?

Carat is a measure of weight for diamonds. A one carat diamond was settled to be equivalent to 200 milligrams, or 0.2 grams of finished weight. Karat, on the other hand, refers to the purity of gold and is measured on a scale made up of 24 parts.

In simple terms, carats refer to diamond weight, whereas karats refer to the purity of gold. Being aware of these differences is helpful in understanding what you’re buying in the jewelry realm. This knowledge is especially important when looking to buy gold jewelry online without the direct advice of an expert jeweler.


The Perfect Blend of Gold Isn’t Necessarily the Highest Karat Gold

Without much understanding of metal alloys, it would be simple to assume that the best jewelry available would be whichever one has the highest concentration of gold. Things aren’t always as simple as they seem, though.


Why is 24k gold rarely used?

Despite 24-Karat gold being completely pure, it’s very rarely used in its natural form. This is because gold is a naturally soft metal, which easily falls apart with the slightest amount of friction. If you were to wear 24K gold on a daily basis, the gold particles would slowly flake off until there’s next to nothing left. For this reason, a high-end piece of gold jewelry is usually crafted from a maximum of 20K gold. This mixture is 83.3% gold, plus other metals such as copper, zinc, silver, and nickel (depending on whether the final product is yellow, rose or white in coloration).


What are the most commonly found Karats?

Vintage jewelry used to be made of 21K gold, which is slightly higher in gold, but has since fallen out of fashion. In addition to being responsible for color, the other metal alloys create durability and a higher resistance to scratches or dents. 18-Karat gold is a very popular blend since it’s very resistant to damage while still retaining natural gold’s deep, warm yellow hue. 14K gold and 10t gold are more budget-friendly options, since less gold is used to create these mixtures. These lesser karatages are great choices for your everyday casual wear, especially if you live an active lifestyle, as they are both cost-effective and the most resistant to damages that may result from normal use.

For all the reasons listed above, the ideal karatage of gold for your specific piece of jewelry should be chosen based on budget, lifestyle and desired coloration. 24-Karat gold isn’t simply the best fit for every accessory.


Carats With A “C”

Why are diamonds so expensive?

They don’t call diamonds precious stones without reason. A diamond takes millions of years to form. They also take several years to mine and are very rare amid the tons of rock that surrounds them. A diamond’s price doesn’t necessarily increase with a diamond’s size on a linear scale. Larger diamonds are actually exponentially more expensive! That’s because it’s even more extraordinary to find diamonds that weigh more than a carat.


Why are high-carat diamonds so rare?

Conditions have to be just right for a very long time to allow the pressure deep within the Earth’s surface to form layer upon layer of perfect, clear minerals. Furthermore, it’s very unlikely that these big diamonds end up being flawless. All these nuances of diamond formations result in incredibly high sales prices for really big, really high quality stones. The stones used as centerpieces of engagement rings have historically averaged slightly more than a carat and that average is decreasing over time. The advantage of a smaller diamond is that the flaws are less visible, so you can afford to buy a lower clarity while still maintaining a flawless appearance.



The benefit of creating a working relationship with a jeweller that you trust is that you have all of this information at your disposal. Still, we understand the changes in the current market and how it may convenience you to make certain purchases through online retailers. Be vigilant, especially if you choose to shop for diamond rings online. Do your best to use this information to make sure you’re getting a fair price for the value of your precious stones. 

Familiarizing yourself with each of the C’s of diamond quality, not just the carats, can help you identify fair pricing from reliable companies. When it comes to gold, remember to look for the official karats stamp on the accessory, which should denote the type of gold that piece is made with. This is an unmistakable mark of authentic gold jewelry. Don’t hesitate to stop by Donj Jewellery if you want to see how various grades of diamonds or gold mixtures compare for yourself.


Learn more about jewelry terminology

What are the 4 C’s of diamond quality?

The Cut

The “Cut” of a diamond will directly impact its beauty. It refers to its angles, proportions, symmetrical facets, brilliance, fire, scintillation and finishing details. These factors directly impact a diamond’s ability to sparkle and its overall aesthetic appeal. You can learn more about diamonds here!

The Color

A measure of purity, the color of a diamond is graded according to how white or colorless it is. Impurities found in some imperfect diamonds can give them a brown or yellow color, or tint. The closer it is to colorless, the higher the price.


The Clarity

Diamonds have a grading system that takes into account the precious stone’s inclusions as well as blemishes. In its purest form, a diamond will be completely clear.


The Carat

As mentioned before, the carat is a measure of a diamond weight. A carat weight is equivalent to 200 milligrams, or 0.2 grams of finished weight.

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