search
  • Sign In
    Sign Up
  • English speaking customer support only

    Toll Free - USA & Canada only:
    1-800-464-1640

    International:
    +66-39303404

  • Change Language
  • USD

Carats and Karats

The term carat is used as both a unit of mass - especially for gemstones - and as a measure of purity for gold. In the United States and Canada these terms are spelled differently - as carat and karat respectively - to avoid confusion. But many people get them confused anyway.

Fruit of the CarobThe term carat originates from the Greek word kerateeon, meaning "fruit of the carob". Carob seeds were used for precision weighing of gold and gemstones, since it was thought that carob seeds had a uniform weight. The modern carat, known as the metric carat, was adopted in 1907 and defined as a weight of 200 mg. This is actually very close to the mass of larger carob seeds. One carat can be divided into 100 points, a measurement often used in the diamond trade.

Interestingly, the term karat was also derived from the name for the carob seed. So how did the weight of the carob seed relate to the purity of gold, and why is pure gold defined as "24 karat"? A precise answer is not easy to find, but the connection appears to have originated from the Roman Emperor Constantine, who introduced a gold coin that was equal to 24 carob seeds in weight.

Gold BarUnder the karat system of classifying gold, pure gold is 24 karat, 24 kt or 24K, 18K is 75% pure and 12K gold is 50% pure. This system is gradually giving way to the millesimal finess system, which expresses purity in terms of parts per thousand of the alloy. Thus 22K gold is marked as "916" under this system, or 91.6% gold. It is certainly a simpler and less confusing method.

Here in Thailand, like in most Asian countries, gold is very important as a medium of exchange and a store of wealth. The Thais still use a traditional measurement of weight for gold, the "baht." This term can be a bit confusing for foreigners, since the Thai currency is also called the baht. One baht of gold is equal to 15.2 grams, slightly less than half of a troy ounce (16.2 grams).

Fortunately for the gemstone industry, nearly the entire world is standardized, with the carat being the accepted measurement of weight for gemstones. We do occasionally get requests for gemstones measured in rattis, an Indian measurement where 1 standard ratti is 182 mg. But the main confusion any gem dealer encounters with carats is the inexperienced buyer who thinks of the carat as a size measurement. Varieties of gemstones differ considerably in their density or specific gravity, and the cut also affects how large a gemstone appears when viewed face up. Always check the dimensions in millimeters when you're buying a gemstone and don't rely on the carat weight alone.

  • First Published: April-25-2008
  • Last Updated: January-22-2019
  • © 2005-2019 GemSelect.com all rights reserved.
    Reproduction (text or graphics) without the express written consent of GemSelect.com (SETT Company Ltd.) is strictly prohibited.
Pinterest Board Names
More Shapes
Popular Gemstones
  • Sapphire
  • Emerald
  • Ruby
  • Aquamarine
  • Zircon
  • Opal
  • Topaz
  • Tourmaline
  • Garnet
  • Amethyst
  • Citrine
  • Tanzanite
All Gemstones (144)
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T V Z
  • Actinolite Cat's Eye
  • Agate
  • Agate Geode
  • Almandine Garnet
  • Amazonite
  • Amethyst
  • Ametrine
  • Ammolite
  • Andalusite
  • Andesine Labradorite
  • Apatite
  • Aquamarine
  • Aventurine
  • Beryl
  • Black Opal
  • Bloodstone
  • Boulder Opal
  • Calcite
  • Carnelian
  • Cat's Eye Apatite
  • Cat's Eye Aquamarine
  • Cat's Eye Augite
  • Cat's Eye Gemstones
  • Cat's Eye Moonstone
  • Cat's Eye Opal
  • Cat's Eye Scapolite
  • Chalcedony
  • Charoite
  • Chocolate Opal
  • Chrome Diopside
  • Chrome Tourmaline
  • Chrysoberyl
  • Chrysocolla
  • Chrysoprase
  • Citrine
  • Color-Change Diaspore
  • Color-Change Fluorite
  • Color-Change Garnet
  • Color-Change Sapphire
  • Coral
  • Demantoid Garnet
  • Dendritic Agate
  • Diamond
  • Druzy Amethyst
  • Druzy Azurite
  • Druzy Citrine
  • Emerald
  • Enstatite
  • Fire Agate
  • Fire Opal
  • Fluorite
  • Fossil Coral
  • Garnet
  • Golden Beryl
  • Grandidierite
  • Grossularite Garnet
  • Hawk's Eye
  • Hematite
  • Hemimorphite Druzy
  • Hessonite Garnet
  • Hiddenite
  • Howlite
  • Idocrase
  • Imperial Topaz
  • Iolite
  • Jade Gemstones
  • Jadeite
  • Jasper
  • Kornerupine
  • Kunzite
  • Kyanite
  • Labradorite
  • Lapis Lazuli
  • Larimar
  • Malachite
  • Malaya Garnet
  • Mali Garnet
  • Maw-Sit-Sit
  • Moonstone
  • Morganite
  • Moss Opal
  • Mother of Pearl
  • Mystic Quartz
  • Mystic Topaz
  • Nuummite
  • Obsidian
  • Opal
  • Opal Doublet
  • Opal in Matrix
  • Pearl
  • Peridot
  • Pietersite
  • Prehnite
  • Pyrite
  • Pyrope Garnet
  • Quartz
  • Quartz Cat's Eye
  • Quartz With Marcasite
  • Rainbow Moonstone
  • Rainbow Pyrite
  • Rhodochrosite
  • Rhodolite Garnet
  • Rhodonite
  • Rose Quartz
  • Ruby
  • Ruby in Fuchsite
  • Ruby-Zoisite
  • Rutile Quartz
  • Sapphire
  • Scolecite
  • Seraphinite
  • Serpentine
  • Sillimanite
  • Sillimanite Cat's Eye
  • Smithsonite
  • Smoky Quartz
  • Snowflake Obsidian
  • Sodalite
  • Spectrolite
  • Spessartite Garnet
  • Sphalerite
  • Sphene
  • Spinel
  • Star Diopside
  • Star Garnet
  • Star Gemstones
  • Star Lemon Quartz
  • Star Moonstone
  • Star Rose Quartz
  • Star Ruby
  • Star Sapphire
  • Star Sunstone
  • Strawberry Quartz
  • Sugilite
  • Sunstone
  • Tanzanite
  • Tiger's Eye
  • Tiger's Eye Matrix
  • Topaz
  • Tourmaline
  • Tsavorite Garnet
  • Turquoise
  • Variscite
  • Zircon
Main Categories
  • New Arrivals
  • Gemstone Lots
  • Calibrated Gemstones
  • Gemstones By Piece
  • Top Grade Gems
  • Matching Pairs
  • Cabochon Gemstones
  • Drilled Gems, Briolettes and Beads
  • Birthstones
  • Gemstone Carvings
  • Fancy Gemstones
  • Star Gemstones
  • Unheated Sapphire
English speaking customer support only

Toll Free - USA & Canada only:
1-800-464-1640

International:
+66-39303404

Save Money
No shipping Fees for Additional Items!
$8.90 Worldwide Shipping

Update Translation
 
Current Value
New Value
GemSelect Gemstones
X Close Window
Colored Gemstones
X Close Window
Colored Gemstones
X Close Window
Colored Gemstones
Size and Weight

Gems are always measured in Millimeter (mm)

Dimensions are given as;
length x width x depth,
except for round stones which are;
diameter x depth

Select gems by size, not by weight!
Gem varieties vary in density, so carat weight is not a good indication of size

Note: 1ct = 0.2g

Size Comparison Chart