Carat vs Karat. The carat weight of a diamond is expressed in carats. The percentage of gold content in a piece of jewelry is expressed in karats. Thus when we talk about diamonds and jewelry, you will continually be presented by the challenge of discussing Diamond Carat vs Karat Gold. This can be a bit confusing when you first start shopping for a diamond engagement ring. Knowing the difference between Diamond Carat vs Karat Gold ensures that the clerk at your local jewelry store takes you seriously.
Diamond Carats are abbreviated as ct or cts. Karat Gold is abbreviated based upon the gold content, such as 10k, 14k, 18k, 22k, or 24k pure gold. Diamond Carats are expressed in parts per hundred. Karat Gold is expressed in parts per 1000, but it can be easier to think of it in terms of 24 parts.
The carat weight of a diamond represents the weight of the diamond. Diamond carat weight is expressed in points. A one carat diamond weighs 100 points, just like there are 100 pennies in a dollar. We use special scales developed for the diamond industry to weigh diamonds, they express the carat weight of the diamond in points out to the third digit. For example, this 1.000 carat, H-color, VS-1 clarity, Brian Gavin Signature round diamond with medium blue fluorescence weighs 1.000 carats. We could say it is a 100 point diamond, but the fact of the matter is that we would never say that. We would simply say that it is a one carat diamond. Diamonds weighing less than one carat are usually described in points. For instance, this 0.928 carat, I-color, VS-2 clarity, Brian Gavin Signature round hearts and arrows diamond, would be described as a ninety-two pointer. Some people in the diamond industry would round the carat weight up to ninety three points. You could also just say a ninety pointer.
If you are shopping for a one carat diamond, you would simply say that you are shopping for a one carat diamond. But if you were shopping for a diamond weighing between 0.90 – 0.99 carats, you could simply say that you are shopping for a ninety pointer. Or you could say that you are shopping for a diamond weighing between 0.90 – 0.99 carats. Whereas if you are shopping for a diamond weighing a bit more than a carat, such as this 1.10 carat, I-color, VS-1 clarity, Brian Gavin Signature round hearts and arrows diamond, you would simply say that you’re looking for a carat-ten diamond.
No article on diamond carat weight or karat gold would be complete without a bunch of carrots. You had to know that I was going here. Right? Carrots are sold individually or in bunches. Carats of Diamonds are sold in Parcels. If you’re buying a large parcel of diamonds, it is referred to as buying a business. If we’re talking about diamonds in a crowded restaurant, we’ll refer to them as puppies. Because I don’t want to be followed home and killed in my sleep. For example, I might say something like “I recommend you buy this puppy from Brian Gavin, it’s a 1.132 G, VS-1” and leave you to fill in the blanks. “Puppy” is not a term used by the diamond industry, it’s just something that we started using to describe diamonds while talking about them out in public, discussing work over lunch, that sort of thing. So don’t walk into a jewelry store and ask to see some puppies.
They’ll just stare at you all confused. Give you that blank look. Oh wait, they’re going to do that anyway. If you think I’m kidding, read about my experience Secret Shopping Tiffany & Co. But I digress… We were talking about the differences between Diamond Carat vs Karat Gold.
Diamond Carat weight is expressed in points, or in terms of the “magic marks” of quarter carat, third of a carat, half carat, three-quarter carat, one carat, one-point-two-five carats (1.25) a carat and a half, two carats, three carats, etc., or might be expressed as 0.25 / 0.33 / 0.50 / 0.75 / eighty points, ninety points, zero point ninety to ninety nine points, and so on. The Price Per Carat (PPC) of a diamond changes at those magic marks.
The price per carat (PPC) of this “zero-nine-two-eight carat” 0.928 carat, I-color, VS-2 clarity, Brian Gavin Signature round diamond, is less than the PPC for this “one-oh-two-three carat” 1.023 carat, I-color, VS-2 clarity, Brian Gavin Signature round diamond. There is a substantial increase that occurs between the 0.99 – 1.00 carat marks. There are price increases that occur at different ranges of carat weight, such as between 0.49 – 0.50 carats, 0.69 – 0.70 carats, 0.89 – 0.99 carats, 1.49 – 1.50 carats, and so on.
There are also price differences in the PPC caused by diminishing discounts offered at the wholesale level for volume dealers. The discount off the Price Per Carat for this 1.342 carat, I-color, VS-2 clarity, Brian Gavin Signature round diamond ($7,421.00 per carat) will be less than that offered for this 1.082 carat, I-color, VS-2 clarity, Brian Gavin Signature round diamond ($6,943.00 per carat) because the larger diamond is further from the 0.99 – 1.00 carat marks, and closer to the 1.49 – 1.50 carat marks. Thus the PPC of diamonds tends to be higher for diamonds that weigh more within a specific range of carat weight, such as 1.00 – 1.49 carats, even though the list price stated on wholesale price guides appears to be the same for that range of carat weight, color, and clarity.
The degree of diamond cut quality also affects the price of a diamond by as much as sixty percent. Let’s say that the wholesale list price of a diamond is 10,000 per carat. If the proportions and overall cut quality of the diamond are poor, then the actual price of the diamond might only be 4,000 per carat. While if the proportions and overall cut quality of the diamond are very good, what is considered to be normal production quality, then it might be 10,000 per carat.
The price per carat of super ideal cut diamonds, which have proportions right in the middle of the spectrum designated for the zero ideal cut rating, and which exhibit the exceptional degree of optical precision necessary to create a crisp and complete pattern of hearts and arrows is frequently higher than the list price indicated. This is because diamonds of this cut quality are produced to degrees of quality that exceed normal standards.
24k Pure Gold is comprised of 24 parts pure gold. The gold has not been mixed with any other alloys. The gold content of jewelry will usually be in the form of 10k, 14k, 18k or 22k gold, which has been mixed with other alloys to make it more durable and to change the color. Gold is commonly mixed with other alloys to change it from yellow to white, pink, or green. Yellow gold, white gold, and rose gold are the most common types of gold used for jewelry.
Units of Karat Gold are expressed differently in Europe. Gold is expressed in terms of purity as parts per thousand. Thus jewelry that is manufactured in Europe is likely to feature a gold content stamp in a numerical format:
If you happen to run across a piece of white metal jewelry that is stamped 925 that would be silver jewelry with a silver content of 92.5% which is considered to be sterling silver. Platinum jewelry is also expressed in parts per thousand, it PT, PLAT, PT900, or PT950.
Jewelry manufacturers are not required to stamp the alloy content of a piece on the item. However if they do stamp the alloy on the jewelry item, then they are required to stamp the item with their hallmark. A hallmark is the registered mark or identification of the manufacturer. The idea behind this practice is to prevent “under-karating” which is the practice of stamping a ring or jewelry item with a karat stamp indicating a higher gold content than what was actually used to make the piece. There was an instance of under-karating investigated in 2002 by a joint task force comprised of Nassau County District Attorney’s office and the Jewelers Vigilance Committee.
Six businesses failed the karat test. They were each issued two violations. One for deceptive practices, and one for unconscionable trade practices per sale. Businesses face fines of up to $2,500 for a first violation. $4,000 for a second violation. And up to $5,000 for each additional violation. This means that for a store where investigators purchased eight items that all failed a karat test, fines could be as high as $76,500.00
This photograph of the Classic Truth Solitaire by Brian Gavin shows their hallmark stamped next to the alloy stamp of PT 950. Thus when you look on the inside of the ring shank, you know that the ring was manufactured by Brian Gavin and is made out of Platinum that is 950 parts per thousand or 95% pure. Legitimate jewelry manufactures such as Brian Gavin purchase casting shot produced by companies that specialize in formulating specific alloy mixtures for jewelry production. This ensures that the alloy content of each piece of jewelry produced will be exactly as it is supposed to be.
I hope that this explanation that focuses on the differences between Diamond Carat vs Karat Gold was helpful and that you enjoyed reading it. Feel free to take advantage of my free Diamond Concierge Service if you would like help finding a diamond, or if you have any questions pertaining to jewelry.
Todd Gray is a professional diamond buyer with 30+ years of trade experience. He loves to teach people how to buy diamonds that exhibit incredible light performance! In addition to writing for Nice Ice, Todd "ghost writes" blogs and educational content for other diamond sites. When Todd isn't chained to a desk, or consulting for the trade, he enjoys Freediving! (that's like scuba diving, but without air tanks)
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