The Four C’s of Diamonds – What is Carat Weight?

The Four C's of Diamonds – Carat Weight

Mastering the four c’s of diamond buying will help ensure you pick the perfect diamond for your budget. Each of the characteristics is important in your diamond’s overall appearance and value. In the four c’s of diamonds, carat weight refers to the actual weight of the stone.

What is Carat Weight of the 4 C’s?

Diamonds are measured in carat weight, a standard of measure used only in jewelry today. One carat weighs 0.2 grams. The carat weight of a diamond is often the most discussed aspect, though it is not the most important.

A diamond’s carat weight can be larger, but the diamond actually appears smaller than another diamond of a smaller weight. It is the surface area of the diamond that determines how big a diamond looks, not the carat weight.

This happens because of how the diamond is cut. The cut of a diamond is what determines its brilliance and sparkle. An ideally cut diamond will reflect light out of its top, causing it to look its best.

A diamond that is too deeply cut will lose light out of its sides, reducing its brilliance. However, because this diamond is so deeply cut, it will weigh more. So, when it comes to buying a diamond, bigger (or heavier) is not always better.

What Carat Weight Should I Choose?

Many people aim for a diamond of at least 1 carat, as this is seen as a symbol of status. However, when shopping, it’s a good idea to look at diamonds without asking the carat weight. Choose based on the surface area and brilliance of the diamond, rather than how much it weighs, since so much of that weight may be in parts of the diamond you never see.

Cut is far more important than carat weight, in terms of fire and brilliance.  Carat weight greatly affects the price of a diamond. In fact, diamond cutters often cut diamonds in a way that increases weight, simply because they know that consumers value carat weight.

Choosing a diamond with a good cut, and by how it appears in size, will save you money and give you a more beautiful diamond than choosing based on weight.

Carat Weight is Not as Important as Shape

Another feature often overlooked in favor of carat weight is the shape. Choosing a smaller diamond in a shape that makes the most of the surface area gives you a larger looking diamond without the extra cost. The following shapes appear particularly large:

  • OvalOval diamonds are elongated, making them look larger and have more surface area.
  • EmeraldEmerald shaped diamonds are rectangular, so these look quite large.
  • MarquisMarquis diamonds are similar to oval, but with a point at the top and bottom.

Many couples choose an engagement ring by first looking at carat weight. But, as you can see, if you evaluate the four c’s of diamonds, carat weight is not the most important aspect in choosing a beautiful diamond.

Here is a great video explanation of Carat Weight.

Carl A. Jones, GIA GG

Carl A. Jones is a GIA Graduate Gemologist with over 20 years of experience in the diamond industry. He is an independent jewelry appraiser. He specializes in determining the value of diamonds and advising consumers on how to buy quality diamond jewelry.

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