When you are doing your research online or trying to get more information about buying diamonds, you probably noticed a few common caveats that constantly re-surface. Stuff like always asking for a grading report and making sure that you aren’t buying a blood diamond are examples of good advice that everybody is dishing out.
When it comes to making clear distinctions between the terms “carat weight” and “carat total weight”, I noticed that this topic is rarely covered and seldom talked about.
I know the differences between these two terms are obvious to professionals and trade members. However, not every consumer may fully understand what these terms mean. In the hands of an unethical jeweler, this can actually represent major issues as amateur buyers can be easily misled.
Carat weight, denoted as “CT” or “CW” represents the weight of a single diamond. As you had learnt earlier, one carat simply equals to two hundred milligrams and there is nothing fancy to it. Also, the value you see in a lab report is reliable and very accurate since measurements are taken electronically.
When you are dealing with solitaire diamond rings or any piece of jewelry featuring a single gemstone, carat weight is straightforward. It represents the weight of the diamond on that piece of jewelry. On the other hand, things start to get slightly more complicated with jewelry that are set with more than one diamond.
The abbreviations “CTW”, “CWT”, “TW” and “TDW” all mean the same thing. Carat total weight or total diamond weight represents the weight summation of all the diamonds on that piece of jewelry. When you come across jewelry using CTW in their description, be sure that you check the sizes of diamonds used. I will explain why in a moment.
In the trade, the reason behind using total weight nomenclature is for convenience and to make a piece of jewelry sound impressive. Now, let’s do a quick test. Which description would sound better if you were reading a classified ad?
1) Get more for less! A whopping 3 carats (TW) engagement ring that costs only $8,000 for a limited time…
2) Get more for less! A stunning engagement ring showcasing 5 diamonds weighing 0.60 carats each. Only $8,000….
Due to the pricing mechanisms, a single large diamond would cost a lot more than the equivalent weight made up of a few smaller diamonds. As you can see, five 0.60 carat diamonds bought individually would only cost a total of $2,320 * 5 = $11,600. In contrast, the huge 3 carat stone costs almost 5 times more with a price tag of $58,030.
For this reason, jewelry stores often advertise a ring with total carat weight because it sounds very impressive while catering to a client’s budget. Under intense pressure selling by unethical salespeople, consumers who aren’t familiar with terminologies can be mislead into thinking that they are getting a cheap deal when they are actually not.
To make sure you understand this concept completely, here is another example to illustrate how jewelry can be represented. The carat total weight of a hundred small diamonds (melees) each weighing two points (0.02 carats) is the same as the weight of a single two carats diamond.
Here’s the equation that shows this: 100 * 0.02 carats = 1 * 2.00 carats
Even though the idea of owning a hundred diamonds might seem attractive at first, the latter offer is more valuable due to rarity factors. In fact, a parcel of a 100 two-pointer melees would only cost about $1,200. This pales in comparison to the cost of a single 2 carat diamond.
With that said, I know the majority of jewelers do not want to mislead you intentionally. Most simply want to offer consumers the choice of buying something that sounds grandiose without having to break the bank. However, you still need to pay attention to details when reading a product description. You don’t want to make the wrong assumptions and inadvertently “mislead” yourself.
To wrap things up, you shouldn’t be afraid of the term “carat total weight” because it can actually be useful information once you know what it represents. Remember, a package of diamonds with a total weight of a hundred carats do not even come close to the value of the legendary Koh-I-Noor.