Jewelry 101: Carat vs. Karat

If you've ever been shopping for fine jewelry, you've probably noticed the words "carat" and "karat" used in various ways. The jewelry experts at Design House Jewelry Studio are going to break down the differences between the two so that you're equipped to buy your next dazzling piece of fine jewelry! 

Carat vs Karat: What's the difference?

Carat and karat may sound the same, but they are entirely different from each other. Carat (ct) is the standard for the weight of a diamond or gemstone. Karat (kt) is the measure of gold purity.

diamond carat blog post

What you need to know about carat weight.

This term is commonly misunderstood and refers to weight not size. Carat is a unit of weight for diamonds, gemstones, and pearls. Price is determined by carat weight. As the carat weight increases, so does the price.

But let us peel back the onion a little more: not only is a diamond or gemstone valued by carat weight, but it also depends on the color, clarity, and cut. Otherwise known as the 4 C’s.

Now, let's tackle "ctw" better known as carat total weight. Here's an example: a ring has 10 diamonds. All together they add up to .50ctw, but each stone individually weighs a .05ct. So, the piece may be labeled 14kt (karat) yellow gold with .50 ctw diamonds (each .05 ct). 

custom diamond ring

What you need to know about karat gold.

The word karat indicates a piece of jewelry's purity. 24kt is pure gold, which is traditionally not used in jewelry because it's too soft and fragile to work with. That's why we use alloys mixed with gold to help with durability and make it more
suitable for everyday wear.

Here's a breakdown of the differences in karats: 

  • gold is mixed with other metals such as silver, copper and nickel
  • most jewelers prefer to work with 14kt or 18kt
  • 10kt is 41.7% pure gold: most durable, light yellow, affordable
  • 14kt is 58.3% pure gold: a great mix of purity, durability, and affordability
  • 18kt is 75% pure gold: commonly used
  • 24kt is 100% pure gold: is a very beautiful bright yellow, however, very soft and fragile, can easily be bent and scratched.

If you have any questions about carat vs. karat, reach out to our experienced and talented jewelers for more info. Want to see some dazzling karats in person? Come visit our Waco, TX studio!

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