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January 19, 2021
Some time long ago, your elementary school teacher introduced you to “homophones,” those fun words — such as so, sew and sow — that sound alike, but have very different meanings.
Which brings us to today’s quiz: Can you identify all four words in the English language that are pronounced “keh·ruht”?
Here’s a hint: Each has a unique spelling and two are distinctively jewelry related.
If you’re having trouble naming all four, or would like to know more about all things “keh·ruht,” please check out the explanation below…
• car·rot. A favorite of Bugs Bunny and any chef worth his salt and pepper, a carrot is a long, tapered orange-colored root eaten as a vegetable. Carrots are know to be a good source of beta carotene, fiber, vitamin K1, potassium and antioxidants. The delicious, diet-friendly vegetable is also associated with good eye health and low cholesterol levels. Carrots cook up well in soups and can be eaten raw in salads or as a snack.
• car·et. Many people don’t know that the inverted V-shaped symbol sitting above the “6” on most keyboards is called a “caret.” The symbol is used in proofreading and typography to indicate that a punctuation mark, word or phrase needs to be inserted at a specific point in the text.
• car·at. A tiny unit of weight designed to measure gemstones or pearls, a “carat” is equivalent to 200 mg (or 0.2 grams). Each carat may be divided into 100 points. A one-quarter carat diamond could be referred to as a 25 pointer and gems larger than 1 carat will be described as a whole number and decimal. For example, “the ring featured a 1.25-carat center stone.” The Lucara-sourced rough diamond shown here weighs 341 carats, or 2.40 ounces.
The word “carat” stems from the Italian word, “carato,” which was borrowed from the Greek word for “carob seed” — an Ancient standard for measuring small quantities. The current standard for what a “carat” represents was adopted in 1907 at the Fourth General Conference on Weights and Measures. Before 1907, the value of a carat ranged widely, from 187 mg in Cyprus to 215 mg in Bucharest.
• kar·at. Used to describe the fineness of gold, a “karat” measures the parts per 24. For instance, 24-karat gold is absolutely pure — 100% gold with no alloy metals included. Pure gold, however, is not used for making jewelry because of its softness.
Instead, most gold jewelry seen in fine jewelry stores is represented as 14-karat or 18-karat. Fourteen-karat gold is the equivalent to 14/24ths, or 58.33%, pure gold. Eighteen-karat gold is 18/24ths, or 75%, pure gold. Jewelry manufacturers will commonly add metals, such as zinc, nickel, silver and copper, to make the alloy more durable. The other metals also can be used to change the metal’s color. A greater portion of copper, for instance, would produce rose gold.
Credits: 341-carat diamond courtesy of Lucara. Gold nugget from Kalgoorlie-Boulder in Australia by Marie-Lan Taÿ Pamart, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons. Carrots by Kander, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons. Caret symbol, Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.