The Evolution 24 Carat Gold Measurement System
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The Evolution of 24 Carat Gold Measurement System

How 24K gold is measured

Gold derives its name from the Old English word “Gelo”, the word for yellow.

Its chemical symbol AU is derived from “aurora” which means “shining dawn”.

The oldest golden artifacts recovered by archaeologist’s date back to 4600 BC.

Earlier gold was first discovered in riverbeds as nuggets and as alluvial gold, which is gold dust, that is found in soil sediments washed down from the mountains by rivers.

History of Gold, Uses & Mining 

The early use of gold was as an adornment. It was used only by the elite and rarely did a common man possess it. It slowly began to be used to project wealth and grandeur by the early Egyptian pharaohs. The earliest of whom was Hatshepsut, the daughter of Thutmose 1, the first pharaoh who was buried, about 1482 BC.

Hatshepsut was an impressive woman by any standards. She wanted to build two gold pillars each 100 feet tall, as a monument to Amon Re, chief god of Thebes. Her chancellor prevailed upon her to moderate her dreams. So as a compromise, the granite pillars built were covered with gold.

The Egyptians started to mine the gold in Nubia; nub is the Egyptian word for gold. As the mines went deeper, slavery was a must, slaves were used to work the mines. The Romans were the first to use “hydraulicking” a process by which powerful jets of water were used to expose the gold-bearing parts in the mountains. It may be of interest to note that even miners in the California gold rush in the nineteenth century used hydraulicking.

While gold had value, it still had to establish itself as a “Value Store” and become a medium for monetary exchange. Egyptians were casting gold bars as early as 4000 BC. These huge bars (estimated at 30 pounds each) did not lend themselves to convenient handling.

Evolutions of Gold Carat Measurement 

Gold has to be made and weighed in smaller quantities. Carat the word derived from the Greek word kerátion, carato  in Italian, and qirat in Arabic was originally a measure of weight, not purity.

Carats are the fruit of the leguminous carob tree. Each pod of this weighs exactly one-fifth of a gram. Thus, one could establish a standard for weight using the fruits of nature!

Grains of barley or wheat have a similar attribute. All grains in the middle of the ear weigh the same. In France where this was put to use, 480 grains as a Troy ounce, and 12 troy ounces is a pound.

In India, the Tola is a unit of weight with historical roots in Asia that was used before decimal units were introduced. It is equivalent to approximately 12 gms (11.6638038 grams) and is commonly used today to measure gold, especially in North India. Several gold manufacturers produce gold bars in Tola measurements. Whereas in South India, the pound sovereign, also known as pawan savaran, pavan or paun, is a unit of mass commonly used in the Indian gold industry. Although it is technically equivalent to 7.98805 grams, it is usually rounded off to 8 grams. 

Gold’s Ancient Journey

In ancient times, grains of barley or wheat were used as a form of currency. Interestingly, all grains in the middle of an ear weighed the same, making them ideal for trading. As the concept of currency evolved, so did the need for standardization in weight and purity. In France, for example, 480 grains were designated as a Troy ounce, and 12 troy ounces made up a pound. Over time, measuring purity became a daily necessity, and standardization helped to ensure consistent measurement across the board.

It may be of interest to note that the early kings solved their shortage of gold by mixing it with other base metals like copper, this was called “Debasing”.

It was not just kings who tried debasing, when coins were first manufactured the edges were smooth. This led to a process of pilfering called “clipping”. People took a file and ran it around the edge of the coin to collect gold dust. The collected dust was then melted and sold off commercially. To prevent this the coins were manufactured with serrated edges so that any filing off could easily be detected.

In Lydia, the place where coinage began, they found it necessary to have a practical method to ascertain the purity of gold. A local black stone was rubbed against various proportions of gold, silver, copper, and all three metals. They used 24 needles made of this stone rubbed against these proportions and compared it with those against lumps of gold received for commercial transactions. Thus began the 24-carat system for the measurement of gold purity.

Historians believe that Indians developed the world’s first coins, with Vima Kadphises introducing the first standardized gold coins around 100 AD. The Kushans’ coinage system laid the foundation for coinage during the Gupta Empire. While these gold coins were crucial for trade, debasement occurred over time as rulers mixed gold with other metals. In summary, India’s history includes instances of debasing currency, both through devaluation and the alloying of gold coins

Current Checklist For Gold Purity

Today we use “Hallmarking” to mark the purity of gold on jewelry. In 1327, by law, the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths in London, started marking jewelry to certify the purity of gold, the word ‘hallmark’ comes from here.

In India, we follow the BIS (Bureau of Indian Standards) system of hallmarking gold jewelry began in April 2000. Purity of Gold either one of these 24K 999 for 24 Caret, 22K 916 Corresponding to 22 Carat, 18K 750 Corresponding to 18 Carat, and 14K 585 Corresponding to 14 Carat. The 6-digit alphanumeric HUID-  is HALLMARK UNIQUE IDENTIFICATION.

So, with modern manufactured jewellery the purity of gold comes certified. It is always advised to carefully examine the gold purity hallmarks to avoid mistakes while purchasing a gold item.

Importance of Gold Carat & Purity Hallmarks

Understanding the significance of Gold Carat and Purity Hallmarks is crucial for anyone dealing with gold. These hallmarks ensure the authenticity and purity of gold, which is essential for buyers and sellers alike. In the gold market, they serve to prevent fraud and deception. 

Furthermore, these hallmarks enable the determination of the value of gold, which is useful for individuals who want to sell or buy gold or want to take a gold loan. These hallmarks also ensure the safety and well-being of the customers by preventing harmful chemicals and alloys from being present in gold without purity hallmarks. By adhering to these hallmarks, the gold market can maintain a high level of quality and consistency, ensuring that customers receive high-quality gold products.

If you own gold assets and are considering a loan, choosing doorstep services can provide you with a seamless and efficient borrowing experience.

Apply for a gold loan 24/7 on, or call at 18003098440

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Frequently Asked Questions

Hallmarking is a government system to certify gold purity among various carats to avoid this type of debasing. It’s important as it helps to authenticate the gold item, preventing fraud, and determining value accurately.

In India, the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) system of hallmarking certifies gold jewelry purity. It assigns codes like 24K 999, 22K 916, 18K 750, and 14K 585 to denote the purity level. Each piece receives a unique identification code (HUID) for authenticity.

Gold carat influences loan amount and interest rates, determining loan eligibility and valuation accuracy.

About the Author

The Evolution of 24 Carat Gold Measurement System
Balasubramaniam T IT Services Leader experienced in managing a $100 + million delivery portfolio. Balu.T Currently Senior Adviser to SahiBandhu.

He takes care of working out customer solutions in the area of gold loans. In his past roles he has done Anti Money Laundering and Enterprise Fraud Risk Management solutions to sell and service client in financial institutions. He had delivered entire IT application stack at banks both in India and abroad. He has built and delivered IT services over the past 43 years in multiple client engagements with P&L responsibility. His experience spans the entire spectrum of IT in multiple domains -Telecom, Manufacturing, Infrastructure, and Financial Services industries cutting across applications, BPO, networks, operating systems and hardware. He has been engaged in strategic planning, portfolio consolidation, solution development, bid management, and operations management. He has international experience – Asia Pacific and Americas - building strong client relationships and teams working in multiple locations including setting up offshore development centers in India. He is person with a varied interests in finance, technology, mathematics, history and astronomy.

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