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Karats and Carobs

Posted on 29th Aug 2011 @ 11:28 AM

A little carob seed was the beginning of one of the most recognizable measurements of authenticity and value in the world.

The word karat (in the U.S. and Canada, carat in the rest of the world) is derived from the Greek word keration, which means fruit of the carob. A carob seed was used by the Greeks for precision measurements because they thought all carob seeds weighed the same. A modern study found that not to be true, though, as carob seed weights vary just as much as other seeds.

So how much is a karat? It is roughly equivalent to 1/23 of a golden solidus of Constantine 1, or a Roman siliqua. Aren’t you glad you asked?

A karat is actually a measurement of purity. Pure gold is 24 karats.

These days the karat is often supplanted by millesimal fineness, a measure of the parts per thousand of pure metal in the alloy. A karat has 042 millesimal fineness.

Around the world there are variations on the karat measurement, but it all comes down to the higher the karat, the more valuable the piece of gold jewelry or other precious items.

For questions about determining karats and anything else about jewelry, consult with the professionals of Sarraf Jewelry.