One of the easiest terms to understand is a diamond’s carat. Simply put, carat is the weight of a gemstone or diamond on a gem scale.
Carat is often the first thing to come to mind when thinking about a diamond’s size. Size and carat weight are closely related but there are other factors in a diamond’s appearance. Cut and shape also play a role in whether the diamond appears visually larger or smaller than its actual carat weight.
ORIGIN OF CARAT
“Carat” comes from the word “carob”—a small tree in the Middle East with edible pods. Prior to the modern measurement system, gemstones and diamonds were weighed using the small, lightweight seeds from carob pods to counterbalance the scales. Since then, one carat has been standardized and is now equal to 200 mg.
CARAT OR KARAT?
Both are used to assess the value of jewelry. Carat is the weight of a diamond. Karat, on the other hand, measures the purity of gold.
A DIAMOND’S SIZE AND APPEARANCE
In general, a larger carat diamond will appear larger than a smaller carat one. But this is not always the case, especially when comparing two diamonds of similar weight.
Cut can heavily influence the appearance of a diamond’s size. A diamond with a deep cut has less surface area at the top and too much of its weight is hidden from the eye. Conversely, a diamond with a shallow cut appears substantially larger, but it also lacks the sparkle that gives it beauty. Both would receive a poor grade from the GIA, the premier diamond grading nonprofit. A well-cut, quality diamond will appear larger, while giving off maximum sparkle.
A properly cut diamond will not have too much weight in hidden areas. The added weight increases the cost without giving the diamond a larger appearance. At Kwiat, we refer to this as “the weight being in the right place.” A beautifully cut 2-carat stone will look larger than a poorly cut 2.5-carat diamond because the weight is maintained in the visible portions of the diamond. When comparing diamonds, pay close attention to the millimeter dimensions. Larger carat weight is only worth paying for when it adds to the beauty and visual size appearance of the stone.
Two diamonds with the same carat weight may appear different because of their shape. Longer shapes tend to appear visually larger than round and square shapes. For example, an oval shaped diamond may appear larger than a round brilliant. If a larger looking size is important, take shape into consideration when exploring a diamond’s carat weight.
CARAT WEIGHT TRADE-OFFS
Increasing a diamond’s carat weight can mean adjusting your color or clarity requirements. That said, we never compromise on the diamond’s cut.
As a diamond’s carat weight increases, so does the cost per carat. This is because higher carat diamonds are far rarer than stones with fewer carats. Since diamonds are typically priced according to tiers such as ½ carat, 1 carat, 2 carats, etc., it is worth searching for a stone that sits just under one of these tiers. For example, a diamond that is 1.99 carats would cost less per carat than a stone that is 2.01 carats.
When looking at a diamond, pay close attention to the millimeter dimensions. More weight does not correlate to a diamond that appears larger. Larger carat weight is only worth paying for when it adds to the beauty and visual size appearance of the stone.