What Is A Carat?
In English, we have three homonyms (words that sound the same but have different meanings and spellings) for carat. There is the carrot (vegetable), karat (weight of gold, i.e...10K, 14K, 18K, 24K) and carat (gemstone weight). One carat = ⅕ of a gram or (.200 grams) which is divided into 100 points. In other words, a 1.00 carat diamond equals 100 points. You may have heard a jeweler say, “your diamond is a 25 pointer” (quarter of a carat), rather than describing it as weighing .50 grams.
Don’t Confuse Carat Weight With Size.
The size of a diamond is measured in millimeters. For example, the average 1.0 carat round diamond measures approximately 6.4mm across the top (crown). But not every 1.0 carat diamond is 6.4mm across the top. The cut determines how the carat weight is distributed. Think of this. I am 6’ tall and weigh 190 lbs. I have a brother who is 5’9” and weighs 190 lbs. We look very different even though we weigh the same.
Not All Diamonds Are Cut Equally.
When a piece of diamond rough is presented to a diamond cutter, he must evaluate how to get the most light return (brilliance) from the stone while minimizing waste and maximizing profits. Sam thought he hit a home run by purchasing a 1.0 carat diamond for the same price as his buddy Ted who bought a .90 carat diamond. When the two hooked up to compare diamonds Sam was shocked. Ted’s diamond had more “pop” and appeared to be about the same size as Sam’s larger stone. Sam succeeded in breaching the 1.0 carat barrier without breaking the bank. However, Ted experienced the maximum “look” for the same price as his buddy by sacrificing some carat weight.
You now understand a diamond's carat weight in relation to size, cut and price. I believe many of you reading this article are preparing to purchase an engagement ring. Some of you will select the diamond and have it set into a semi-mount and others will buy a ready made piece. Even if you are not currently in the market for a diamond, here are some practical recommendations syncing carat weight and beauty with your budget.
Take the Experts With a Grain of Salt When It Comes To Budget!
Searching the topic of how much to spend on a diamond engagement ring can be confusing! Some “experts” suggest spending about three months' salary. Others give you numbers on what the “average” couple spends in a particular demographic. Their suggestions are not the gospel, just guidelines. Don’t saddle yourself with unnecessary debt for the sake of your ego!
Balancing Education And Emotion.
Choosing a marriage partner relates to matters of the heart. It is a very emotional decision. Are they the “one”? Will I still be passionate about them five years from now? Considering what weight diamond to buy should be more intellectually driven. It requires understanding basic diamond characteristics and qualities, and how that fits your budget and taste. Choosing a diamond or any kind of jewelry can be intimidating. Jewelry jargon is a language unto itself. Professionals like myself can cause the consuming public's head to spin when we speak! The good news is that the online resources are extensive when it comes to diamond education. Continue to take advantage of them. Boom Shakala!
FYI! The carat weight of a diamond should never be equated with the level of commitment to the relationship. When I became engaged to my first wife in 1973 (gosh I’m old!) I was earning $4.00 an hour. I bought her a solitaire diamond engagement ring with a .50 carat round brilliant diamond for $100.00. That marriage lasted forty years until she passed away in 2013.
Ignore The Pressure.
Deciding on carat weight requires perspective. The reality is a diamond is just a faceted chunk of carbon! The cost of mining, rarity, cutting, and marketing set the retail price. Remember, a diamond is a symbol of your love and commitment. It should never define it! You don’t have to cave to the jewelry industry’s pressure of bigger is always better!
What Are You Trying To Accomplish?
Do you get the idea that choosing the best carat weight is based on your budget and objectives? If money is no object, you can maximize carat weight without having to sacrifice on cut. If maximum light performance is your goal, carat weight will take a back seat to cut. No matter what the carat weight of your diamond, the number one goal is to be able to look at it and love it!
My objective in this article was a bit more practical and philosophical than scientific. I hope you found it helpful and entertaining. Please take advantage of the many great articles in the Rare Carat library (https://www.rarecarat.com/education) for more information on this subject. Carpe diem!