Breaking Down the Karat vs. Carat Distinction

The karat-carat distinction should get more attention, as getting mixed can cost you a few hundred dollars when selling gold online. The two are unique, although some countries do prefer one over the other. We won’t compare them to synonyms because only one of these two terms is non-exclusive, as you’ll soon find out.

Since we only take precious metals and not stones, you’re likely looking to sell gold jewelry online. You’re at the right place, but be sure to understand the karat vs. carat distinction, so you can take our offer with your eyes wide open.

So, let’s get into it!

Karat vs. Carat: At a Glance

Karat is the purity of your precious metals, whereas carat is the weight of precious metals and gemstones. While they are both units of measurement with spellings boasting the same phonological and morphological structure, they couldn’t be more different.

Carat Defined

Carat defines the weight of metals and gemstones. Each carat is worth 200 milligrams of pure content in the stone or metal; we don’t count the non-precious parts in carats. Two differently-shaped objects can have the same weight in carats because they contain the same precious content.   

Karat Defined

Karat is the measure of a gold item's purity instead of weight. The highest point of karat is 24, with 24k gold being the purest iteration of the metal at 99%. When the soft metal is mixed with other alloys for hardening, the karat measure goes down a notch or several notches, reading at 22k–10k.

The Singular History of Karat and Carat

Karat and carat look and sound familiar because they come from the same root. Only recently have some countries started using one to measure gold purity and the other as one of the 4Cs of a diamond (more on that later).

In any case, carat or karat wasn’t always used to measure gold jewelry. At a time, it was considered a unit of weight for smaller items and quantities. It was derived from the word “carob,” from the same-name beans, whose trees grew in the Mediterranean and Middle East

Unlike other seeds, carob retains its weight throughout. The Ancient Greeks utilized its consistency as a unit to measure smaller items like coins, vegetables, and, of course, gems and gold ore. This unit of measurement has since been debunked, as it turns out carob seeds weigh differently across the board. However, they are derived into more concrete measurement units.

What is Carat to a Diamond?

The following 4Cs determine a diamond’s value:





Some refer to the last criterion as “carat weight,” which is as redundant as “chai tea.”

These four factors influence each other, but nothing single-handedly influences the value of a diamond, or any other precious or semi-precious gemstone, as a carat. It measures the mass of a diamond, converting the 200 milligrams, as mentioned earlier, into 100 points.

For instance, a diamond weighing 200 milligrams will measure 1ct on the carat scale. Similarly, if the stone weighs 100 milligrams, it will measure 0.50ct on the carat scale. The more the diamond. On the other hand, if a necklace has multiple small diamonds collectively weighing 300 milligrams, it will have a total diamond weight (TDW) of 1.50ct.

While that sounds simple, more carats seldom translate to a more expensive stone. Some of the costliest diamonds worldwide were cut and shaved for clarity and brilliance.

That said, uncut diamonds don’t always cost less than cut diamonds, nor is carat directly proportional to the value of a gemstone. Cut and clarity will always have the last word on a diamond’s market value, whereas carat will always have the last word on its resale value.

What is Karat to Gold Coins and Jewelry?

We already mentioned that karat is a precious metal’s purity, not mass, measurement. We also said that one of these terms could be applied to gems and precious metals; we were not talking about karat.

While you can measure the weight (carat) and purity (karat) of precious metal, you cannot measure the purity of gemstones. Therefore, these stones only have carats, whereas a gold coin or the underlying precious metal in gold jewelry can have a karat (purity) and carat (weight) measurement.

Why is 24k Gold 99.9% Pure?

24k gold is the softest and purest iteration of the metal. However, it is still 99.9% pure due to technical limits. Realistically speaking, you can never remove all the tiny particles of other materials when you melt and extract gold. Therefore, pure gold shall always remain 99.9% pure: It will have 24 out of 24 parts gold inherently interspersed with minor impurities.

On the other hand, gold jewelry can never have 24k gold, as that would make it too soft to mold into jewelry. Even if someone manages to design a piece made of pure gold, it may only last for a while before succumbing to its malleable tendencies.

Therefore, alloys like silver, copper, zinc, and nickel are added in small to large amounts for longevity, strength, and color. A jeweler may add more silver or copper to turn yellow gold into white or rose gold. However, it will most definitely drive down the value of your gold jewelry.

Sell Your Gold Jewelry Online Easily With Gold to Cash

Online gold buyers have a standard for evaluating your gold jewelry, even if there is no standard for determining the resale value of your preloved commodities. Take Gold to Cash; we measure your gold jewelry based on the following criteria:

The spot price of gold

Gold content

Gold purity (karats)

Gold weight (carats)

Condition of your jewelry

The total weight of the precious metals in your gold jewelry

By following this standard to a T for the past ten years, our gold buyers can offer up to 95% of the market price of the underlying metals in your gold jewelry. It all starts with an application for your free appraisal kit.

Contact us for more information and general inquiries.

Get enlightened about the differences between karat and carat. Does it mean more value?