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.” Prior to the modern measurement system, gemstones and diamonds were weighed using carobs to counterbalance the scales. Carobs were small, light and of uniform size, making them an ideal weight instrument. 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
A larger carat diamond will generally appear larger than a smaller carat stone. 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. On the end of the spectrum, 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 on the GIA cut scale, 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 when the weight is distributed to the portions of the diamond that the eye does not see.
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 increases, so does the cost per carat. The reasoning is larger carat diamonds are far more rare than stones with less carats. Since diamonds are typically priced by popular 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.