Tips and Tricks

What Does Carat Measure In Diamonds?


A rabbit eating a carrot

Just to set the record straight, no, I did not misspell the word carat. Furthermore, let us take a step back and start with a question that is a bit more basic. What is a carat and what does carat mean when we are discussing diamonds? A carat is a unit of measure specifically used to measure diamond weight. Sorry bugs bunny, this carat ain’t for you.

As far as diamond lingo is concerned the term “carat” is a pretty important one to understand. The concept is fairly straightforward and significantly important information when purchasing or researching a particular stone or piece of jewelry.


A carat is a unit of mass used to measure gemstones. This universal use of measure was adopted by the International Committee of Weights and Measures over 100 years ago. Before then, different countries were using various systems to weigh and measure stones, allowing for inconsistencies. The story of how the word “carat” even came to be in the first place highlights this exact point. The word carat is actually derived from Italian, Arabic and Greek, for the word for carob. Historically it was believed that each carob seed’s mass was about the same amount as the next carob seed’s mass so it was used for weighing gold and eventually stones. This carob seed myth was actually just that, a myth, it was proven incorrect and each seed’s mass varies the same as any other seed’s mass.

The carob seed pod and seeds showing uniformity in size

A universal carat measure brings consistency and uniformity to this integral area of the diamond and gemstone industry.

Anywho, I love me a little history. But regardless of the origin of the word, the carat measure indicates how much beautiful bling, I mean, diamond there is.

How is the carat used today, though? Well, it is crucial that every stone that comes through the diamond industry and the gemstone world at large be weighed and that it be a consistent unit of measure anywhere in the world. Certainly, diamond weight has an effect on pricing and no one wants to pay for something they are not getting.


Let’s talk lingo for a minute here. A carat is a unit of measure equal to 200 milligrams, the carat can be further divided into what the industry refers to as points. A full carat is one hundred points and even I can do the math on that. 1 point is 2 milligrams. You follow? Ok, so for our purposes the milligrams part is less important but the reason I want you to know what a “point” or a “pointer” is is because when a stone weighs less than a carat, this term is commonly employed. For example, if you are looking to buy or design an eternity band the salesperson might show you stones or a completed ring and tell you that the stones are 20 pointers. This means that each stone set in that ring is or will be about ⅕ of a carat.

The more terms and language you grasp the better off you are as an informed consumer. Carat weight is just one of various diamond industry terms that you will have an opportunity to read about on Happy learning and even happier shopping!