It can be a confusing time for those just starting to look into purchasing an engagement ring. Even for people who wear jewelry regularly, the terminology and different aspects of choosing an engagement ring can be a bit overwhelming at first. Between the 4Cs, the difference between shape and cut, when colour makes a ring more or less valuable, it isn’t very straightforward. And then there’s similarly spelled carat vs karat.
The good news is, while they are both critical in the world of jewelry and when choosing an engagement ring, they are disparate terms, so figuring out what they each mean is not as complicated as it sounds.
We want you to have the knowledge you need when shopping for custom jewelry in Toronto so you can find the exact ring you’re looking for. We’ve put together this guide to explain the differences between karat vs carat and to explain the individual relevance they each have to ring shopping.
Put simply, when talking about karat or carat, it comes down to whether the topic is about gold or diamonds and gemstones.
A karat is a measurement indicating gold purity, with 24-karat gold being pure, and therefore 12-karat gold is half gold and half base metals or impurities.
A carat, meanwhile, is the international standard for determining the weight of a diamond or other gemstone. Often, people think carat is used in reference to a diamond’s size, but that’s not the case.
One additional thing to note, especially when it comes to reading articles online, is that the spelling of each of these can vary depending on the region the information is coming from. In the U.S., the spellings are used as written above. But in the U.K. and Australia, carat is often used for both diamond weight and gold purity.
To make things more confusing, Canada tends to be more heavily influenced by American spellings, but you may find the British used occasionally. However, depending on the topic being discussed, it should be pretty easy to get a sense of which they are referring to. For the purposed of this blog, we’ll use the American spelling.
When talking about karat, we are talking about the purity of the gold. The purity of gold is measured by the proportion of gold on a scale that is made up of 24 parts. Pure gold is 24-karat and is bright yellow in colour. The karats of gold used in fine jewelry tend to range from 10-karat to 24-karat gold. Those who don’t know much about jewelry might think the purer, the better, but when discussing jewelry specifically, that is not usually the case.
Because pure gold tends to be softer, it’s not the best choice for daily wear. This is why it’s often mixed with other metals, creating an alloy, which gives the metal both strength and hue. As more metals are mixed in with the gold, the karat goes lower, and you’ll see more of a difference in hue. When it comes to yellow gold, rose gold and white gold, the different hues and colours come from mixing different metals (more silver or palladium for white gold, for example).
Lower karats are more common with rings, and it’s essential to consider your lifestyle, activity level and whether you intend to wear your ring during more active activities when selecting the karat of your ring.
When talking about engagement rings, karat comes in when talking about the band. And the purity that is chosen can have more of an effect on the appearance of the diamond (or another gemstone) than most people realize. If a diamond has a lower colour grade with a yellow tone, setting it in a yellow gold band can help to mask that effect, so it’s important to play these things off each other.
Another thing to note, if you’re planning to get jewelry engraving in Toronto, the karat can have an effect. While engraving on 24-karat gold is possible, it may not last a long time and can be more prone to distortion because it is so soft. Going with a lower karat will help make the band durable enough for a quality engraving.
As mentioned, a carat is a globally used unit of measurement used to determine the mass of the stone. While it is used for gemstones, it is most often used for diamonds and is one of the 4Cs (carat, colour, clarity and cut).
Carat is a big factor in determining the value of a diamond. As the carat increases, the price of the diamond or gemstone rises. But it’s important to remember that, as with most things, a bigger carat does not necessarily mean better.
Keep in mind that as the carat increases, the more you’ll have to pay attention to the other 4C’s when looking at engagement rings in Toronto. Clarity and colour will more significantly affect the appearance of the diamond as you increase the carat.
We hope that helps explain the difference between karat vs carat. Once the explanations are in front of you, it’s easier to determine what is karat or carat. Understanding what each means and other terminology helps empower you as you explore popular engagement ring trends and start to determine what you are looking for in a ring. If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch or pop by the Made You Look store. We’re always happy to chat about all things jewelry.