Diamonds and Carbons

Hello Reversians,

“Words are important”, those who know me well have often heard me say this phrase. Today I want to tell you the story of one of the words I use most in my work.

The word "carat" is one of those that tells a fascinating story that is intertwined with nature, culture and economics. This word, with its roots that date back through the centuries, takes us on a journey through time, from ancient civilizations to modern international precious metals markets.

To fully understand the meaning of "carat", we must begin our journey in the ancient world, in the warm lands of the Mediterranean, where carob trees grew. These trees were particularly widespread in regions such as the Middle East, North Africa and Southern Europe.

The carob tree is a slightly twisted, evergreen, robust, high-branched tree that can reach a height of 9–10 meters. It has a very slow growth, although it is very long-lived and can become multi-centenary.

The fruits, popularly called carobs, are large pods about 10–20 cm long, thick and leathery, dark brown in color and contain rounded and flattened seeds, which are very hard and homogeneous in weight.

It was precisely from here that the concept of "carat" emerged as a unit of measurement of weight. The term derives from the Arabic word "qīrāṭ", which in turn has roots in the ancient Greek "keration", meaning "small horn", in reference to the shape of carob seeds. Initially, the carat was not a standardized unit, but varied from place to place. However, over time, it became a uniform unit of weight and in the Roman Empire it was standardized as a measurement of weight equivalent to 200 milligrams or 0.2 grams, the weight of a single seed. This meant that the term "carat" became a universal measurement for the weight of precious stones and metals.

As the centuries passed, the carat took on a new meaning in the world of trading precious metal, such as gold and diamonds. Here, the carat is no longer a generic unit of weight, but a precise indication of the purity and value of the metal.

In fact, in goldsmithing, a carat is defined as one twenty-fourth of the total mass of a precious metal object, therefore a 100% pure metal would be called "24 carats". However, because pure gold is generally too soft to be used in jewelry making, it is often mixed with other metals to give it greater strength. As a result, gold is sold in various grades of purity, indicated in karats. For example, 18k gold is made up of 75% pure gold and 25% other metals.

Likewise, in the world of diamonds, the carat is a measurement of the weight of the diamond itself, where one carat equals approximately 0.2 grams. However, it should be noted that the value of a diamond is not only determined by its carat weight, but also by its quality, color, clarity and cut.

It is important to remember that the value of a gemstone does not increase linearly with its carat weight. While a larger diamond may seem more desirable, its price is simply not proportional to its weight. Larger, rarer diamonds can increase exponentially in value, as they are less common and highly sought after.

The history of the word "carat" is a testimony to the profound connection between past and present. It reminds us of the ancient roots of our language and business practices, while at the same time adapting to the needs and innovations of the modern world.

From a simple fruit like carob, we have developed a complex and precious concept that permeates different sectors of our daily lives. Through the carat, we continue to pass down stories of trade, currency and quality, providing a sense of continuity and connection between past and future generations.

“There are three times: present of the past, present of the present, present of the future. These three times are in my soul and I don't see them anywhere else. The present of the past, which is history; the present of the present, which is the vision; the present of the future, which is waiting.”- St. Augustine

From the Navigli that’s all,

shine bright #reversians,

I await you here!