Understanding Carat Weight
A Straight-forward Guide to Understand Diamond Weight
Carat weight might be the most commonly misunderstood of all the “4 C’s” of diamond grading. Many people mistakenly believe that the term ‘carat’ refers to a diamond’s visual size, when it in fact refers to the weight of a diamond. The system of carat weight measurement for diamonds and gemstones originated with carob seeds being used by early gem traders as counterweights in their balance scales. Carob seeds were used in this manner because of their uniform weight, and the term ‘carat’ is taken from the word ‘carob’. The modern metric carat is equal to 0.2 grams, and is the standard unit of weight for diamonds and other gemstones all around the world.
A carat is divided into 100 points, just like a dollar is divided into 100 cents. If a diamond is 25 points, it weighs 0.25 carats. If a diamond’s weight is greater than one carat, it is described in carats and decimals because diamond weight is measured to the hundred thousandth of a carat and then rounded to a hundredth of a carat. You might see for example a diamond that is 1.17 ct, which would be described as ‘one point seventeen’ carats, or ‘one seventeen’. This kind of precision is necessary in the diamond industry because even the smallest variation in carat weight can greatly impact the price of a diamond.
When it comes to the value or price of a diamond, carat weight is only one factor in the equation.The other 4C’s come into play too (Cut, Clarity & Color) but interestingly, a diamond’s cut will impact how large the carat weight appears. A higher cut grade will cause a smaller weight carat diamond to appear larger. A diamond that has been cut well, with a grade Very Good or higher, will have more light reflected out the top of the stone, which will make it look larger. A larger carat weight diamond could also be made to appear smaller with a lower quality cut (Good, Fair and Poor). If you have your heart set on a larger carat weight, but still want to work within a particular budget, consider a diamond with an I or J color grade, and SI1-SI2 clarity.
Perhaps you’ve always dreamed of wearing a 2.0 or 3.0 carat diamond engagement ring. Did you know that diamond prices jump at the full and half carat weights, and that diamonds just below these weights cost significantly less? Small size differences are almost impossible to detect, so you could potentially maximize your budget by looking for a diamond that is 1.9 carats or 2.9 carats rather than 2.0 or 3.0 carats. In the industry, these are known as ‘under-sizes’ and may be more difficult to find as a consumer.
Another factor to consider when thinking about which diamond carat weight will suit your needs, is the size of the actual diamond ‘wearer’ in relation to the size of the particular diamond. When looking at diamond engagement rings for example, it is worth noting that a 1.0 carat weight diamond will appear larger on a size 5 finger than it would on a size 8 finger. You may want to consider a larger or smaller carat weight diamond depending on the size of the person who will be wearing it.
A skillfully cut diamond in the carat weight of your choice is sure to be treasured and enjoyed by the lucky person who wears it for many years to come, a beautiful and enduring symbol of love.
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