Origin of "Carat"

"Better slip with foot than tongue." – Poor Richard’s Almanack, 1734

Mediterranean Roots

The word carat comes from the ancient Greek word "keration," which means "carob seed." Carob Mediterranean tree seeds were used as a measure of weight for centuries, especially in the trade of precious metals and gems.

Carob seeds were particularly useful in ancient times because they were small, uniform in size, and had a consistent weight. This made them an ideal standard for measuring precious objects such as gold and gems. In fact, carob seeds were so popular as a weight standard that they were used as currency in some places.


Over time, the word "keration" was transformed into "carat," and it became the standard unit of weight for diamonds and other precious gems. Today, one carat is equal to 0.2 grams, one-fifth of a gram, or about the weight of a single carob seed.

When we talk about the weight of a diamond or other gemstone, we use the term "carat weight." This refers to the number of carats the gemstone weighs. For example, a one-carat diamond weighs 0.2 grams, while a two-carat diamond weighs 0.4 grams.

It's important to note that carat weight doesn't necessarily determine a diamond's value. Other factors such as color, clarity, and cut can also play a significant role in a diamond's worth. However, larger diamonds are generally more valuable than smaller ones, all else being equal. When shopping for a diamond, it's important to pay attention to the carat weight, as well as the other factors that determine a diamond's value. A diamond's carat weight can have a big impact on its price, so it's important to choose a carat weight that fits your budget and preferences.


In addition to its use in measuring diamonds, the term "carat" is also used in the jewelry industry to describe the purity of gold. Pure gold is 24 karats, but most gold used in jewelry is mixed with other metals to make it more durable. For example, 18 karat gold is 75% gold and 25% other metals.


So next time you hear someone talking about a diamond's carat weight, or the purity of gold in a piece of jewelry, you'll know that they're referring to the ancient Greek word for carob seed. And while carob seeds may not be used as currency anymore, their legacy lives on in the world of precious metals and gems.