What is carat? – Carat is the term used for the weight of diamonds and other precious stones. Although it is a measurement of weight, it invariably relates to the size also, as a 2 carat diamond is obviously larger in appearance than a diamond weighing 1 carat. The term should not be confused with the word, ‘karat’, which refers to the purity of gold and gold alloys.
The word itself has a long yet simplistic history, dating back to the ancient world. Merchants and traders of the ancient Mediterranean and Middle East needed a consistent unit of measurement for the precious gems they traded. It was discovered at the time that seeds from the carob tree were uniform in size and in weight and this proved a convenient way to measure the weight of gemstones. As a result, this method became an accepted and widespread unit of measurement.
Today, this system is still the accepted method of measuring the weight of gemstones, but it has been further refined. One carat is divided into 100 decimal points, making a half carat diamond 0.50 points. We can also relate to 1 carat as 0.2 gram, or inversely 1 gram = 5 carats.
Diamonds are priced according to their carat (weight) as the bigger the stone, the rarer it is and as such the price per carat increases exponentially with its weight, thus making a 2 carat diamond more expensive than 2 separate stones of 1 carat each added together.
Which diamond carat size is right for you?
- Ideally you would probably choose the largest diamond sizes possible, but unfortunately most of us have a budget to consider. As mentioned previously, diamonds are priced according to their carat (weight) thus making bigger diamonds more expensive. The general rule of thumb when buying a diamond is that you should budget to spend one month’s salary, however this is only a guideline and you should not feel uncomfortable if you are unable to spend this amount.
- Consider buying a diamond which is not an exact carat weight. The price per carat of any diamond is set in category increments which increase exponentially the larger the carat size. For instance, a diamond weighing 0.95 points which is just slightly less than 1 carat will be considerably cheaper than the full 1 carat. Most women aspire to own a 1 carat diamond, therefore the demand for a diamond of this exact size is very high. The benefit of choosing a slightly smaller stone means that you can acquire a smaller top quality diamond whereby the appearance in size will be indistinguishable to the eye. The same applies to larger stones whereby a 1.85 carat diamond will look almost the same as a 2 carat gem, but again, the price will be considerably lower.
- Consider the finger size of the wearer. Slender fingers will tend to make any diamond appear larger, while the very same diamond on broader fingers will make it appear smaller. A smaller solitaire on a slim finger can look stunning, whereas a diamond cluster may suit a larger finger better.
- Consider the type of setting which will hold the diamond. Claw settings always reveal more of the diamond thus making it appear larger. Delicate settings can be very pretty, but are not robust enough for continual wear.
- Although size does matter when selecting a diamond or when you are considering diamond sizes it should not, however, be considered a measure of your love.