If you’re interested in purchasing gold in jewelry or bullion, it’s important to understand how gold is measured so you can get exactly what you’re looking for. Gold is measured in different ways around the world and has various designations for both its purity and weight. In the U.S., gold is weighed in troy ounces and its purity is measured in karats. Let’s look deeper into these gold measurements and what they mean for purchasing bullion.
We all remember the riddle: what weighs more, a pound of feathers or a pound of gold? The answer seems obvious because they are both one pound, but gold is not weighed in the standard imperial or metric systems. Gold is measured in the troy system. If we convert one troy ounce to the U.S. system, it would 31.10348 grams. So, when you’re shopping for gold keep in mind, there are nuanced differences between troy ounces and troy pounds when being compared to the U.S. system, called avoirdupois.
Another important factor to consider when shopping for gold in bullion and jewelry is the purity of the gold item. The standardized measure for purity or fineness is called a karat. A karat is the ratio of gold found in the item. Twenty four karats is pure gold so the formula for finding the percentage of gold in an item is dividing the number of karats by 24. An example is if a gold ring is 23 karats it would be almost pure gold at 96.5% gold, the remaining being some sort of alloy.
If you’re buying gold in the U.S. or Britain, you will mainly encounter the troy system of gold measurement, but other global economies use various systems of measurement. It’s important to be aware of the differences when purchasing gold and jewelry globally. If you’re buying bullion in South East Asia, like India and Singapore, you will use tola to measure the weight of gold. One tola is 3/8 troy ounce or 11.6638 grams.
Another common measurement found in Asia is the tael. This is common in China and Hong Kong. The tael will also vary between different countries. For example, in China one tael is 50 grams, but in Hong Kong it’s 37.799364167 grams. In Thailand, gold is measured in bahts and one baht is 15.244 grams.
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