Manhattan Gold & Silver Logo

Three Precious Metal Terms You Need to Know

If you are new to the business of metal refining, or to precious metals in general, you will quickly find that there can be a lot of jargon in typical transactions. Here are three important terms you should know when dealing in precious metals:

Karat and Carat – A karat (kt) is a measure of the purity of gold alloys. In the U.S. and Canada, the spelling is karat, but it is referred to as “carat” elsewhere in the world. This can be easily confused with another jeweler’s term – which is a unit of mass used to measure the weight of gemstones – also spelled as “carat,” as in “two carat diamond.” Karats are determined by dividing the mass of the metal by the amount of gold within the metal and multiplying by 24. Twenty-four karats is equal to pure gold, 18kt is equal to 75%, 12kt is 50%, and so on.

Pennyweight – The pennyweight, abbreviated as dwt, is a unit of weight measurement commonly used by jewelers and refiners to calculate the cost of a precious metal. Pennyweights are the measurement of choice at Manhattan Gold & Silver. However, many people don’t know how to measure in pennyweights. That’s why we provide a pennyweight conversion chart and calculator on our website.

Millesimal fineness – This is another system of measuring gold purity that many people find to be easier than the karat measurement. It simply denotes the gold in an alloy by parts per thousand. Millesimal fineness measurements are commonly stamped on precious metal products such as jewelry, dining sets, and bullion coins. For example, a gold coin stamped 750 would mean it is 75% pure gold. The term “nines fine” also refers to millesimal fineness. Gold stamped 900, or 90% is referred to as one nine fine. Gold that is 99.9% pure, or 999, is three nines fine.

Skip to content