As far as anything in jewelry is concerned, the word ‘carat’ comes up fairly often. It’s a certain facet of jewelry that people generally understand to be a sign of quality, but even so few really know what it means or entails. While you could make all of your jewelry purchase decisions on that vague understanding of carats, knowing what they truly are and what they denote in the jewelry business is probably in your best interest.
A carat is a unit of weight measurement for gemstones of all types. Each carat is approximately two hundred milligrams (0.2 grams) or one fifth of a gram. The definition of Carat is only correct when referring to gemstones and should not be confused with the meaning of karat when referring to gold. As far as gold is concerned, karats denote its purity. Pure gold is twenty four karats, but the majority of jewelry is mixed with other metals because pure gold is much too soft. While pronounced the same, carat and karat are two very different things.
The term carat, technically the ‘metric carat’ was adopted as a unit of measurement for gemstones and pearls in 1907 at the Fourth General Conference on Weights and Measurements. It was soon adopted after that as the standard unit of measurement for gemstones and pearls in other countries after that. There are many subdivisions on carat measurement, but they are most commonly divided into one hundred points of two milligrams each. For example, as far as diamonds are concerned, a flawless stone of at least one hundred carats is referred to as a paragon.
Because the carat is such a precise unit of measurement, diamonds and other gemstones can be measured to very specific weights, which of course, has a great influence on their values. More of a gemstone is obviously more expensive than less, which is why you will be able to discern the weight of a gemstone down to the milligram, more often than not. The increase in cost is because larger diamonds are rarer and more difficult to procure, therefore making them more desirable. As always, the scarcity of luxury goods makes them exponentially more expensive.
However, even though the carat has a very large influence on how much a gemstone is worth, it is important to remember that it is not the only factor that has an effect on the price of a gemstone. There are other factors to consider when a gemstone’s worth is determined, though the carat weight is an important one.
There are particular formulas out there that can be used to determine the carat weight of a gemstone, based on what kind of gemstone it is and what shape the gemstone comes in. You can find these formulas online along with online calculators. Unless you have a gemstone physically with you and are in possession of exact measurements, the results will be approximate at best and likely off by some small percent.
Either way, knowing the meaning of a carat in jewelry is an important part of buying the perfect piece.
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