Diamonds Explained: What is a Carat?

When you plan to buy diamond jewelry, the first things to consider are the four C’s. These major factors include diamond cuts, clarity, color, and carat weight. The hottest topic of all is diamond carat weight. Gemstones are not sized by pounds or grams; it is always carats.

Why Is the Measure Called a Carat?

The term ‘karat’ comes from the word ‘carob.’ In ancient times, carob seeds were used for weighing purposes. Since each seed was of equal weight, carob was the perfect measuring tool when used on a balance scale.

1 Carat vs. 1 Carat Total Weight

The carat total weight refers to the combined weight of a specific number of accent diamonds. For example, a center diamond may weigh one carat with side stones weighing .75 carat total weight.

Therefore, if an engagement ring is listed as 1.5 ct./.75 ct. TW, this states that the center diamond weighs 1.5 carats and the accents weigh .75 carat. Total weight (TW) indicates the sum of several gems; TW never refers to a single stone.

Buying Diamond Jewelry Based on Carats

A medium quality engagement ring with a single, one ct. Round brilliant cut diamond in a traditional four-prong setting could potentially cost you $5,000. However, a one ct. TW ring with five diamonds may cost less than one with a single center diamond. A one carat, round brilliant cut stone with multiple side stones may be priced at about $3,000. The smaller accent diamonds are priced lower per carat.

The Price of a Full Carat

Diamond cutters and jewelers charge a premium price for a one ct. diamond. With all other features being equal, you will end up paying far more for a 1.05 diamond than you will for a ring with a .89ct. stone.

A price hike occurs at one karat, and it continues to jump at two karats, and up. A full three-carat diamond costs a lot more money than a 2.90 ct. engagement ring.