Gold & Chocolate - or Carats & Carob!
When we see beautiful gold and diamond rings or jewellery these days we're familiar with the term "carat" or "karat" as a measurement, but do you know what a simple little carob seed has to do with measuring solid gold or precious diamonds?
Many years ago on a trip to Croatia Chief Giddy Aunt found the interesting piece of jewellery pictured below. If you look closely you can see that it is actually a real little carob seed (yes, carob, the stuff that isn't chocolate) suspended in a block of perspex.
What makes this pendant particularly interesting is the story that comes with it:
"The carob fruit is a dark brown pod that can reach 20cm and in each pod there are 12-15 seeds. The seeds are small, shiny, hard, come in different shapes but always the same weight... Carob seeds were the first units of measurement. As it were, since the ancient times, carob seeds were used to measure/weigh diamonds, pearls and gold.
The term carat refers to 0.18 grams of gold and the carob seed, because of its exceptional consistency, has a constant mass of 0.18 grams, regardless of the size of the pod or weather conditions of fruit ripening.
In the modern world the carat has become a measure equal to 1/5 of a gram and it is used to determine the purity of gold. Maybe the most interesting thing is that we often do not realize how many stories can be told by things that surround us." (Katibo)
What a fabulous story!
Of course today's carat measurements are much more complicated and precise but it is always fascinating to hear about the history of words and their meaning... especially if there is a great story!
29 January 2020
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03 August 2020