Karats or carats – Know your carrots

Hopefully everyone who has at least a basic understanding of English is well aware what carrots are. But what about karats or carats?

Although pronounced the same, these three words have very different meanings.

Read this article to find out the difference and never be confused again.

Carats (ct)

Karats or carats
A one carat diamond ring.

The word carat originates from carob which is a tree that produces small seeds (locust beans).  The carob tree has a fruit which looks like a dark brown pea pod. The pods contain seeds which are a sweet and healthy alternative to chocolate.

These seeds were assumed to be equal in size and weight and were once used on scales to measure the weight of gemstones. 1 carat is equivalent to 200mg and 1 gram is equal to 5 of these seeds or 5 carats.

You will often see the term “carat” when buying a gemstone or diamond ring in reference to the weight of the stone.

Karats (K or kt)

Karats or carats
18 karat gold ring

Additionally, you will see the term Karat when buying gold rings or any kind of gold jewelry. This has a completely different meaning and is often confused with Carat which is incorrectly used by many jewelry suppliers in the UK to denote the actual gold content of a piece of jewelry.

This unit of purity originates in Germany when a gold coin called a “mark” weighing 4.8 grams (24 carats) was split into 24 equal amounts or 24 karats. As pure gold is too soft it was unsuitable for the production of coins. Other metals were then added to form an alloy, making it much more hard wearing. Purity of gold in the coin was then expressed by the amount of gold units present in the alloy.

Pure gold is considered 99.99% pure and fineness is measured in 24 units, called Karats. Consequently, 24K gold is the purest kind and 18K consists of 18 parts gold and 6 parts other metal (75% gold). This forms an alloy which is more durable than the purest gold. From this you can determine that 9K gold is 9 parts gold and 15 parts of other metals such as copper and nickel or 37.5%.

All gold jewelry should be hallmarked accordingly with the purity rating in “karats”, “carats (UK only)” or as a number such as 750 which denotes parts/thousand (75%). International standard for gold is normally quoted with the karat rating as K or kt.

Carrots, Karats or Carats

Carrots for sale

In contrast to the above the Carrot, (Daucus carota), is an edible taproot of a herbaceous plant. There are many varieties of root shapes available from globular to long. Carrots also come in several colours including orange, white, yellow and even purple.

After reading this article, you should now have an understanding of the term karats or carats. Don’t expect to find any karats or carats in your dinner but if you’re lucky you might find a few carrots.

Incidentally, words like this which have the same pronunciation but have a different meaning are called homophones. Please share this article by using the buttons below.

I have been working in the fashion and jewellery industry since the mid 1970s when I started work in a seaside gift shop selling costume jewellery and fashion accessories. I started my own business in 1995 as the owner of Ringmania. I am currently working as a website designer at talanda.com and updating a number of my current websites including ringmania.com, ringmania.co.uk and ringmania.ie
Please contact me if you have any questions about Ringmania or our products/services.

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[…] using basic parameters collectively known as “The four Cs”. (cut, color, clarity and carat weight). Most are found with small imperfections called inclusions. However this is expected and […]

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[…] fineness of gold is measured in Karats. Pure gold is divided into 24 parts so 1 Karat= 1/24th or […]