You’ve begun your search for the perfect engagement ring, but you’ve probably noticed that there are many new terms to become familiar with, like carat and karat. Are these the same terms? No! Carat and karat represent two completely different elements of an engagement ring, carat referring to the diamond and karat referring to the precious metal, gold. While they sound similar, it’s important to learn about each as they will help you build the perfect engagement ring. 

Karat

Karat is a unit of measurement used to determine how much pure gold is found in a ring or jewelry piece. This term is only used for gold, as you will not find 14 or 18k platinum. The greater the amount of pure gold, the higher the karat rating for that jewelry piece. 14k gold has the lowest amount of pure gold present, while pieces made of 24k gold are made of 100% pure gold. Read more about the different karat levels below. 

14 Karat

14 karat gold is the most popular precious metal choice by future brides and grooms. From your engagement ring to wedding bands, 14k gold is durable and affordable, making it a top choice. 

14k gold has 58.3% pure gold, making it more durable than 18 or 24 karat gold. This is due to the mixture of other metals, which gives it its resistance to scratches or dents. The lower the karat, the more durable and less percentage of pure gold present. 14k gold comes in three colors as well. White gold, which has a similar appearance to platinum with its silvery color. Yellow gold, a mixture of copper, gold, and nickel, which gives it its warm yellow appearance. And rose gold, newer on the scene but becoming more and more popular with its beautiful pink color. 

18 Karat

18 karat gold is another popular choice and comes with its own set of advantages over 14k gold. Because 18k gold has more pure gold present (about 75%) jewelry pieces will appear to have a more vibrant, rich color. Also, due to the lack of mixed metals, 18k gold is less likely to trigger any skin irritation, if you’re prone to that. However, this higher percentage of pure metal also makes this metal option more expensive and less durable. 18k gold will cost you a few hundred dollars more when compared to 14k gold. For example, our James Solitaire Ring will cost $790.00 in 14k gold and $990.00 in 18k gold. 

24 Karat

24k gold is the only choice that is pure, non-alloyed gold. Rarest of all, 24k will give a beautiful rich yellow appearance because of the amount of gold present, about 99.9%. You will not find 24k white gold or 24k rose gold, only yellow gold. While beautiful, 24 karat gold is not recommended for engagement rings or wedding bands, as it is extremely soft and can easily scratch and dent. Additionally, 24k gold is much more expensive than 14 or 18k gold. Clean Origin only offers 14k and 18k gold for engagement rings and fine jewelry. 

Carat

Carat is one of the most well-known elements of a diamond and often thought of to represent the size of a diamond. However, carat size refers to a diamond’s weight. One (1) carat = 200 milligrams. Diamond weights are usually expressed digitally as 1 carat = 1.00 carat. This is why you see diamond weight referred to as 0.52 or 0.78 or 1.25 carat. This allows for exact weights to be compared. With all other qualities equal (cut, clarity, and color) the greater the carat weight, the more expensive the diamond will likely be. 

Diamond Sizes

The image below will show the approximate size of various weights. 

Diamond Shapes

Two diamonds with the same carat weight can look different in size depending on the shape of the diamond. Typically, fancy shapes like oval, pear, emerald, and marquise diamonds tend to look slightly larger than their carat weight. This is due to these shapes having elongated silhouettes and larger top surfaces. Round diamonds will look their carat size, however, when comparing a 1 carat pear-shaped diamond to a 1 carat round diamond, the pear will almost always appear larger. If you’re looking for a larger appearing diamond, fancy shapes are a great option and will allow you to save on the diamond

Price

The price of a diamond will greatly differ depending on its carat size. However, a diamond’s price is also dependent on its other 3 of the 4 C’s, cut, clarity, and color. Because weight isn’t the only factor in the price, a diamond can vary anywhere from $500 to over $10,000. Lab-grown diamonds, however, are 20-40% less expensive than mined diamonds, while still receiving the same quality diamond.