When it comes to buying an engagement ring, carat weight is often viewed as the most important criteria in selecting a diamond.
But, what does a 1 carat diamond really mean when you hear people saying it to describe a ring? Does a diamond with a bigger carat weight always appear larger?
Well, you find answers to these questions and more in this section of Beyond4cs.com.
Technically speaking, one carat is equal to 200 milligrams or 100 points. If you purchased a 1 carat stone, it means that you had bought yourself exactly 0.2 grams of diamond.
Also, many people have the misconception that a diamond with bigger carat weight will always appear larger. The truth is far from that. I’ll explain this by using real-life examples on a later page.
Before we continue, I want you to check out this short video to give you a quick overview of what carat weight is and how it is measured in the lab.
Now, if you are like many others, you might be wondering why a diamond’s weight is measured in terms of carats. Isn’t the use of SI units like the kilogram or its derivatives better suited to describe the weight of something so expensive?
Why not the use of ounces; which is a unit of measurement we are familiar with from everyday applications?
Well, the history behind this is pretty interesting. The word carat actually originates from carob; which refers to a locust tree that produces edible pods. Carob seeds, being even in weight, were used as weighing references by traders in the olden days.
Without electronic balances, seeds were used as measurements
Remember, this was a time when high tech weighing machines were non-existent. Back then, one carat was equal to the weight of one carob seed and trades were made based on this simple estimation.
As you could have imagined, carob seeds varied in sizes and everybody was using different references depending on which part of the world you are in. Back in the 1890s, if you bought a “one-carat” diamond, the weight could actually vary anywhere between 0.94 to 1.06 metric carats!
That’s a huge amount of uncertainty considering the big sums of money paid for a single stone.
Much has changed since ancient times. While highly sensitive electronic weighing equipment has replaced the carob seeds, the industry stuck with the terminology of using carats to describe the weight of a diamond.
How big is big enough? Where do we draw the line?
I’m sure you guys are familiar with this scenario. What’s the first reaction or question that comes to your mind when you hear about a new diamond jewelry purchase?
Without a doubt, questions associated with “What’s the carat size/weight of the diamond?” would instantly come to mind. The reason behind this is that the size of a diamond corresponds directly to the value and worth of the piece of jewelry.
And in many societies, it is an indication of a person’s status and wealth. On top of that, most of us have also been conditioned by the mass media and advertising campaigns into believing that bigger is always better.
Ads with catchy bylines like “Make your lady fall in love with a 1 carat diamond”, “Love is as big as it gets” etc… are all smart marketing tactics that jewelry companies employ to create a desire for bigger rings.
In fact, cliché movie lines like “If you loved me, you would have bought me a bigger diamond” had been so overused that the underlying meaning had been mentally etched in the minds of most people.
The truth is that jewelers know diamonds sell for more when they go pass certain sizes. It is no coincidence that the majority of diamonds in the market are cut to retain as much rough weight as possible at the expense of brilliance and beauty.
How often have you seen stones that weigh 0.48 or 0.98 carats? By design, such stones are rare oddities because they fall below the “magic sizes” that can fetch more money.
Instead, what you would observe is that the bulk of the stones would usually be cut to nice figures like 0.50 or 1.00 carats. Most of the time, this is done by compromising cut quality as the cutters strive to keep as much rough as possible.
With that said, don’t get carried away with choosing the biggest stone that you can find. This is one of the most common and yet, gravest mistakes that many first-time buyers make. What precedes a focus on the carat size of a diamond should be a consideration of other factors like cut, color and clarity as well.
We will be covering the different aspects with indepth details and examples over the next few pages.
Coming up, you can use the following carat size chart diagrams and tables to help visualize the physical size of a diamond. These charts are really helpful if you are new to diamond shopping and want to gauge the exact dimensions with respect to a corresponding weight.