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The term carat is often misunderstood. It refers to a diamond's weight, not its size. Another misperception is that a larger carat weight is always better than a smaller carat weight. While it’s true that a big rock can be a status symbol (here’s looking at you, Hollywood), carat weight is not related to sparkle. Beautiful sparkle is the result of a well-crafted cut. In fact, a high carat weight diamond with a poor cut may look smaller than a diamond with a smaller carat weight and a very good cut.
Diamonds with higher carat weights are cut from larger rough crystals that are harder to source than small crystals. So, the relationship between carat weight and price depends on the rarity or availability of a rough crystal. Carat price is also a function of finding rough crystals with desirable color, and internal and external characteristics that will positively influence clarity when the diamond is cut. To learn more about all of the factors to consider when choosing the best diamond carat weight for you, read these tips from our diamond experts.
The term carat comes from the ancient method of weighing precious metal and stones against the seeds of the carob tree—which were considered to be even in weight. It wasn’t until 1907, at the Fourth General Conference on Weights and Measures, when it was agreed upon that one diamond carat would be equal to 200 mg, or .2 grams, of a diamond. Carats can also be measured in points; 100 points equals a full carat.
You can thank movies, mass media, and advertising for the emphasis that people put on carat in relation to diamond quality. Carat weight has become an indication of a person’s status and wealth, but when it comes to diamonds, bigger is definitely not always better. Instead, focus on a balance of the 4Cs: cut, clarity, color, and carat to make a smart purchase.
This chart illustrates how diamonds of different carat weights and shapes will appear when viewed from the top down. Your diamond measurements may differ from the chart in length/width ratio, table, and depth.