What's the Different Between Carat and Karat, Anyway?

carat vs karat woman comparing rings

When you're shopping for engagement rings, you'll need to know your carats from your karats. (Unless you go with platinum for your setting, that is.) What does each mean? What's the difference between 18-karat and 24-karat gold? Carat and karat many sound the same, but they're totally disparate terms, and it's vital to know the difference.

Carat vs Karat: What's the Difference?

Diamond carat (ct) is the globally recognized standard for the weight of a diamond or gemstone. One carat weights 0.20 grams. Karat is a measure of gold purity. 24-karat gold — in addition to being the name of a pretty great Stevie Nicks album — is pure gold. By comparison, 12-karat gold is 50 percent gold and 50 percent base metals or impurities.

What you Need to Know About Diamond Carat

First, and most importantly: A higher carat size means a higher price. And that price rises significantly — and not by a linear scale — as carat increases. Contrary to popular belief, the carat is not the size of the diamond. It's the weight. A diamond's size is measured in millimeters, length by width — in other words, the diameter of the stone.

carat size comparison

Carat will influence the other of the 4Cs (cut, clarity and color) you'll need to prioritize when shopping for a diamond to fit your budget. For example: If you'd like a larger carat size, you'll need to choose a diamond with a higher color grade, as that color will be more apparent. You'll also need to go with a higher clarity grade if you want a very clear, bright stone.

The most popular engagement ring size is 1 carat. Visually, it's hard to tell the difference between diamonds that vary 5 to 10 percent in carat weight. For example, a 0.95ct and 1ct diamond will be nearly indistinguishable.

What you Need to Know About Gold Karat

In its purest form — 24 karat — gold is bright yellow in color. When used in rings and jewelry, gold is typically mixed with other metals to create an alloy, which lends the metal both strength and hue. The more metals are mixed with gold, the lower the karat becomes. With Clarity crafts jewelry using 14-karat and 18-karat gold. You can see the differences in hue, even within the same gold colors, in the images below:

yellow gold comparison

The difference in gold karat can drastically change the look of your ring, even within the same color. For example, 18-karat yellow gold looks very different from 14-karat yellow gold — it's less yellow in tone. That distinction between the two might come into play if you choose a diamond with a lower color grade that's slightly yellow in tone; setting it in yellow gold can mask that effect, and might make a difference in which karat you choose.

rose gold comparison

The karat can have some effect on the durability of your ring. Pure gold is relatively soft — not ideal for something you wear every day on your hands, which most people use a lot — which is why lower karats are more common. Likewise, a 14-karat gold ring will be a bit more durable than 18-karat gold, so if you have a particularly active job or lifestyle, that's something you might want to consider.

white gold comparison

The karat you choose will affect the price of your setting, but far less than a change in carat.

It may sound like a lot to consider, and it kind of is! The good news is that With Clarity has expert on-staff gemologists who are here to help. They're highly experienced at working within any kind of budget to help couples find the perfect engagement ring. Reach out to one below.

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