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What is a carat, and how does it relate to a karat?

        Science | Geology Terms

A carat is a unit of weight for diamonds and other gemstones. One carat equals 200 milligrams (0.200 grams). There are 453 grams in a pound (1,000 grams to a kilogram). Therefore, if your fiancee weighs 170 pounds, you have a 385,050-carat fiancee!

A karat, when used with gold, is a unit of purity-- 24-karat gold is pure gold, but usually you mix gold with a metal like copper or silver to make jewelry (because pure gold is too soft). Each karat indicates 1/24th of the whole. So if a piece of jewelry is made of metal that is 18 parts gold and 6 parts copper, that is 18-karat gold.

Where did such a funny unit of purity come from? It turns out that a German gold coin called a mark was common about a thousand years ago. It weighed 24 carats (4.8 grams). The purity of the gold in the coin was expressed in the number of carats of gold present in this 24-carat coin.

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