Ounce, Troy Ounce, Gram, Dinar, Dirham and Tael?

Unit of MassWhen investing in Precious Metals, you will notice that unlike shares, it is measured in weight. Common terms are ounces and grams but do you know the different between ounce and troy ounce? If you happened to be in Kelantan, you will see gold or silver measured in dinar and dirham.

So, what are they?

Ounce (oz) – British and US standard

Not many would have know that when someone speaks of something weighing an ounce, they are referring to an Avoirdupois Ounce. “Avoirdupois” is an Old French word which means “goods of weight”. Avoirdupois is a system of weights based on 1 pound : 16 ounces system.

Bathroom scales, kitchen scales and other “ordinary” scales which are calibrated in ounces, are using these ordinary “Avoirdupois” ounces. Ounce is widely used in UK, US and Canada.

Type “what is ounce” in google search and you will get 1 ounce = 28.3495231 grams.

Troy Ounce (ozt) – Standard since the Middle Age

^ Troyes is located 150 km southeast from Paris.

Originated from Troyes, France, it is used globally to measure precious metals by default. When we say, 10 oz of silver, it is refering to 10 troy ounces of silver.

A troy ounce is 9.7% heavier than avoirdupois ounce or 1.09714 avoirdupois ounces to be exact.

Google says, 1 troy ounce = 31.1034768 grams.

Gram (g) – The metric standard

Metric standard came into picture in 1960. Developed by a group of France scientist in 1799, the main objective is to establish an international standard across nations.

Metric system is calculated in multiple of 10s or 100s or 1000s. 1 kilo gram = 1,000 grams for instance. It is being adopted worldwide, except for the United States. Malaysia adopted this.

Google says gram is a metric unit of mass equal to one thousandth of a kilogram.

Islamic DinarDinar – Islamic standard for Gold

If you are in Kelantan, chances are you will see Dinar or Dirham. It was launched by the Kelantan government on the 12th Aug 2010.

It was said that the Muslim initially uses gold dinars minted by the Persians for tradings. It was from there Umar Ibn al-Khattab the second Muslim Caliph standardized it for Islamic uses.

Dinar refers to gold while dirham refers to Silver. The weight of the dinar is 1 mithqal (4.25 grams). World Islamic Mint defines Dinar as 22k gold (917.) equivalent to 4.25 grams.

Islamic DirhamsDirham – Islamic standard for Silver

Umar Ibn al-Khattab established the known standard relationship between dinar and dirham based on their weights: 7 dinars must be equivalent to 10 dirhams. This works out to be 2.975 grams worth of pure silver for each dirham.

Tael – The Chinese non-standard

Chinese measurement: Tael

Tael is measurement used by the Chinese. Before adopting to the metric system, China standardized one tael to 31.25g. To make it compatible with the metric system, it was revised to 50g per tael in 1959. China has later abandon the ancient measurement system. It is still widely used in Chinese medicine shops. Silver is traded in Shanghai using taels.

Hong Kong and Singapore refers tael to 37.8 gram. Taiwan adopted the Japanese system of 37.5 gram. My mum refers 1 tael in Malaysia to 60 grams.

Google says,
1. A weight used in China and the Far East, about 38 grams (11/3 oz.).
2. A former Chinese monetary unit based on the value of this weight of standard silver.

Which to use?

Of all, Chinese tael would be the least important to know. It is non-standard and obsolete.

Troy ounce is the official international standard for trading gold and silver. Walk into any goldsmith in Malaysia and you will be quoted in grams. Dinars and dirhams would be useful if you are in Kelantan or any Islamic countries.

Below is a handy conversion sheet for your Silver references.

Troy Ounce handy sheet

ozt g kg dirham
1 31.10 0.031 10.45
5 155.51 0.156 52.27
10 311.01 0.311 104.54
20 622.02 0.622 209.08
100 3,110.10 3.110 1,045.41
500 15,550.50 15.551 5,227.06
1,000 31,101.00 31.101 10,454.12

Gram handy sheet

g kg ozt dirham
1 0.001 0.03 0.34
5 0.005 0.16 1.68
10 0.001 0.32 3.36
20 0.002 0.64 6.72
100 0.100 3.22 33.61
500 0.500 16.08 168.07
1,000 1.000 32.15 336.13

Dirham handy sheet

dirham g kg ozt
1 2.975 0.003 0.10
5 14.875 0.015 0.48
10 29.750 0.030 0.96
20 59.500 0.060 1.91
100 297.500 0.298 9.57
500 1,487.500 1.488 47.83
1,000 2,975.000 2.975 95.66


Reference #1: http://www.troy-ounce.com/
Reference #2: http://www.investopedia.com/terms/t/troyounce.asp
Reference #3: http://www.islamicmint.com/dinar_dirham/
Reference #4: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tael

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There's 1 Comment So Far

  • Passionate Investor
    December 18th, 2013 at 11:00 pm

    Beautifully-designed silver and gold dirhams!
    I’ve been looking everywhere to find out more information and a dealer, couldn’t find any. I’m sorry…
    I’d love to see the 1 oz and 10 oz versions, if they exist…