Saturday, November 5, 2011

What Exactly Does 14K Mean?

Have you ever wondered what the K stands for in the 14K mark inside a ring?

It stands for Karat, which is different from Carrot the vegetable, and Carat which measures the weight of a gemstone.

Karat is derived from the Arabic word Kirat, which is a dried seed from the carob tree. These seeds were found to be almost identical in size and weight no matter which of the trees they came from or where the tree was grown. Traders from ancient times found that 24 of these Kirat seeds equaled the weight of one Mark ( a gold coin used in trading at that time). So, 24 Kirats would equal a pure gold coin. Later as gold began to be alloyed with other metals, the amount of the gold part of the piece would be marked with a K for Kirats, which was later read and pronounced as karats. So the purity ranking now looks like this:

100% Pure gold = 24K

91.6% pure =22 parts gold (out of 24 parts metal) = 22k

75% pure =18 parts gold = 18K

58.5% pure = 14 parts gold = 14k

41.6% pure = 10 parts gold = 10k

So, when you buy a ring that is 14k gold you are buying 58.5% pure gold alloyed with 41.5% other metal to give it strength and a certain color.