Diamond Carats, Learning One C at a Time
In case you haven’t heard of the four “C’s”, guys, they are: Carat weight; Color; Clarity; and Cut. These are the four major points that need you need to be aware of when choosing an engagement diamond for your sweetheart. Your Santa Barbara Jeweler is going to talk about the weightiest of them of these: Carat weight. Diamonds and other gemstones are always weighed in “carats.” Not grams, not pounds, not metric tons…carats.
Why is it Called a Carat Anyway?
Carat stems from the word “carob.” Imagine an ancient balance scale with a gemstone on one side and carob seeds on the other. Since each carab seed weighed the same, they were excellent for weighing purposes.
Hey What’s the Difference Between 1 Carat and 1 Carat Total Weight?
Total weight (TW.) refers to the combined weight of a number of smaller diamonds on a ring. So you could have a 1 carat (ct.) center diamond and .75cts. Total Weight (TW.) of side diamonds.
How to Read the Ring’s Price Tag
So if the price tag on the engagement ring says; 1.12ct./.75cts.TW, it’s saying the center diamond weighs 1.12cts. and the side diamonds weigh .75cts when weighed and added together. Whenever you see TW (total weight) know that this is an added up figure of multiple gems. TW never stands for a single gemstone.
A price tag that says 1.12ct/RB/.75cts TW RB/.35cts TW Bag would translate to 1.12ct Round Brilliant, your center gemstone, .75cts TW of Round Brilliant cut gemstones and .35cts. of Baguette cut gemstones.
Different jewelers use different abbreviations for different cut shapes. Ask how their abbreviation system works and the price tags will tell you a lot about each ring under consideration and will make it easier for you to compare each one realistically.
More Jeweler Talk, What Are Points?
Each carat is divided into 100 points. Thus, 1/2ct equals 50 points. 3/4ths of a carat equals 75pts. So a Jeweler could write this about a half carat diamond: .50cts., meaning it is 50/100ths of a carat, but in conversation he’d say, “it’s a 50 pointer,” or “that’s a half carat.” It’s just something to know to talk the talk and better communicate with your jeweler.
Two One Carat Rings Can Cost Totally Different Prices. 1ct. vs. 1ct. TW.
A one carat (1ct.) round brilliant cut diamond set in a simple four prong setting of medium quality, could cost you $5,000.00 to $6,000.00. That’s a ring with one diamond.
A one carat (1ct. TW.) round brilliant cut multi-diamond band ring might cost you $2500.00 to $3500.00. The smaller diamonds do not cost as much per carat as the larger single stone price.
Isn’t the Total Weigh in my Girl’s Ring the Most Important Thing?
Nope! Just know that the center or largest diamond in the engagement ring is the most important diamond in the ring. Don’t get romanced by a multi-diamond 3ct. TW. mish mosh of little diamonds with the largest gemstone weighing in at .30cts.
That may sound impressive, but a 1 ct. diamond at the center always trumps a bunch of little diamonds.
This doesn’t mean that she doesn’t want some of those nice side diamonds, just that you need to start with a large central diamond as the priority, then go for your accent diamonds.
That Magic One Carat Size
Whole numbers are magic numbers. What do I mean? I mean that many girls want the diamond in their engagement ring to be at least 1ct in weight. They want to know—and be able to tell their friends—that the diamond in their engagement ring weighs at least one carat.
Not “just under a carat.” Not 95pts. But one full on carat—or more! Got it? Don’t ask me why. That’s just the way it is.
This “Perfect Size” Diamond Demand Results in Some Pricing Shenanigans
A sizable price jump occurs at 1ct. Other big price jumps occur at 2cts, 3cts, 4cts, etc. A full 2ct diamond will set you back a lot more money than a 1.90ct diamond will.
The thing is, Jewelers and diamond cutters know all about this desire for full carats by women, too. They know Julie wants the one carat diamond. She doesn’t want the 95 pointer. She wants the full carat.
That’s why diamond cutters who cut too many diamonds in weights like .95, .98 and .99 change professions. That’s also why there are far fewer barely-under-1 ct. diamonds than there are over-1 ct. diamonds.
The Price You Pay for That Full Carat
It means that diamond cutters and then Jewelers, charge a premium for a one carat diamond. All other aspects being equal, you will pay considerably more for 1.02ct diamond than you will for a .92ct one.
So You Still Have Choices
This means that a 1ct. diamond with crappy color and OK clarity and with little sparkle and pizzazz might cost considerably more than a sparkly diamond with perfectly good cut, nice color, and excellent clarity that weighs 90cts.
And here’s the kicker, I bet you can’t tell which is bigger! OK, I exaggerate, but you get my point.
What’s a Guy to Do?
So…what do you do? First of all, don’t settle for a crappy looking diamond—whatever the weight. Spend a few more dollars for something with great color, and cut that will still sparkle and shine and look good fifty years from now.
Can We Talk?
Secondly, if at all possible, talk to your sweetie. (Free advice: Communication is the key to a good marriage!) She may be fine with the 92 pointer. Not all women have to have the full carat—especially if it means bankrupting the family.
Nobody can tell the difference between five or ten points of diamond weight, anyway—especially once set in a ring.
It Can’t Hurt to Ask
Third, armed with this information, talk to your Jeweler. Maybe he will bring out the fabulous .92ct diamond that he was reluctant to show you because it was just under a carat.
You Can Always Trade Up in the Future
Finally, lots of couples don’t have a lot of money when they’re first starting out and can’t afford a larger stone. Don’t worry. It’s all about the love…not the rock. Get something nice, but that you can afford.
Ten years down the line when you’re more established financially, you can always exchange the smaller diamond for a bigger one. Couples do this all the time.
Now you know a little about the weightiest “C”, diamond carats. You’re that much closer to being able to comfortably shop for an engagement diamond. Way to go!
Diamond Seller and Educator
Also see my posts on:
Choosing diamonds by color:
Choosing diamonds by cut:
Choosing diamonds by clarity: