Understanding Diamond Carat Weight
What is a diamond carat and how can you choose the perfect diamond size for you? Jewelry.com’s guide to understand the 4Cs will help you buy the perfect piece of diamond jewelry at the perfect price.
The term “Carat” refers to the weight of a diamond. This measurement is one of The Four “C”s used to determine diamond quality. It is derived from the carob seeds that were used to balance scales in ancient times because of their uniformity of weight and shape.
Some common Carat weights, and their corresponding “points,” include:
- One Carat = 100 points (search for 1.0 carat jewelry)
- Three-quarters Carat (3/4 Carat, 0.75 Carat) = 75 points (search for 0.75 carat jewelry)
- Half-Carat (1/2 Carat, 0.50 Carat) = 50 points (search for 1/2-carat jewelry)
- Quarter Carat (1/4 Carat, 0.25 Carat) = 25 points (search for 1/4-carat jewelry)
- Melee – tiny stones used in pave or channel settings. Usually weigh 0.15 carats (15 points) or less and are either grouped together or used to augment a larger stone. (search for jewelry under 1/4 carat)
Carat weight, combined with girdle diameter (the girdle is the outermost edge of a cut diamond), expresses the exact size of a diamond. Here are some notable Carat weights and the corresponding girdle diameters for round, ideally proportioned, brilliant cut diamonds:
- 10 carats = 14 millimeters
- 5 carats = 11.1 millimeters
- 2.5 carats = 8.8 millimeters
- 1 Carat = 6.5 millimeters
- 0.75 Carat (3/4 Carat) = 5.9 millimeters
- 0.50 Carat (1/2 Carat) = 5.15 millimeters
- 0.375 Carat (3/8 Carat) = 4.68 millimeters
- 0.25 Carat (1/4 Carat) = 4.1 millimeters
- 0.125 Carat (1/8 Carat) = 3.25 millimeters
- 0.0625 Carat (1/16 Carat) = 2.58 millimeters
All properties being equal, larger diamonds are rarer than smaller ones and are therefore more expensive. For instance, a one-Carat stone will generally cost much more than a 95 pointer.
But other factors such as cut, color and clarity come into play as well in determining a stone’s value. It’s entirely possible for a smaller stone of exceptional cut, color and clarity to be worth more than a larger stone of only average quality in these other areas.
It is this balance of preserving the greatest possible weight from the original rough diamond vs. producing a stone with the best possible quality in terms of cut, color and clarity that presents the most difficult challenge to the diamond cutter. Therefore, it is the cutter’s experience and skill that is the determining factor in preserving the beauty of a diamond while maintaining its size and value – and it is the cutter’s job to give you, the consumer, the finest quality stone, and largest Carat weight, for your money.