By Dirk Rendel
The carat is the unit that is used to determine how much a diamond weighs. Keep in mind, though, that this doesn’t necessarily correspond to size or appearance. A well cut stone may look smaller than it is, meaning it looks like it has less carats. And, conversely, a poorly cut stone will result in a diamond that might look larger than it weighs.
So it should come as no surprise, then, that when measuring diamonds, experts use the old Bugs Bunny Routine: The more carats, the better. That’s what’s up, Doc. A carat weighs out to a fifth of a gram, meaning that five carats will weigh a gram, of course. One carat, then, is two hundred milligrams of pure diamond perfection. If you’re like me and haven’t done any basic math since grade school, it amounts to 0.2 grams.
It makes sense that the more carats a diamond has, the more expensive it is. But it isn’t as simple as saying that a 1 carat stone costs exactly half as much as a two carat stone. That would be called “thinking rational” and nothing about diamonds is rational. A 1 carat stone, for instance, costs far more than twice that of a half carat stone. And so on and so forth. And the reason for that is because larger diamonds are more rare than smaller ones. When they’re being pulled out of the earth, smaller assorted diamonds are far more likely to be found than big, whopping ones. And that’s why the larger single stones are far more expensive the more that they weigh.
A good rule of thumb to remember is that the closer you get to each subsequent carat, the more expensive the diamond will be. Let’s suppose that you have a 0.8ct stone. Logically, you’d think that getting the full carat wouldn’t be much of a jump in price. But indeed it is. Even the difference between a 0.9 stone and a full carat is somewhat outrageous.
Weight a minute!
So now it gets a bit more complex. Now that we know the carat is the unit of weight for gems, we find that it is even more subdivided. Each carat is made up of one hundred “points” and the closer you get to the 100th point, the next carat you reach. An easy way to remember this is when you hear “point,” think “percentage point.” After all, that’s really what it is.
So when you’re buying your diamonds, whether it is the stone in the middle of your engagement band or a simple set of earrings, remember that the diamond’s price gets higher as it approaches another full carat. In other words, a 2.90 carat diamond isn’t much smaller than a 3 carat, but the price between the two will be far more than you would suppose, due to the carat threshold.
This can help you, though. Since it is virtually impossible for the average person to tell the difference between, say, a 0.90ct stone and a full carat, you can save quite a bit of money. If you were getting three different stones, for instance, you could get three 0.90 stones instead of three 1 carat stones and save even more.
It is important to distinguish between size and weight. Diamonds sell by carats but that doesn’t necessarily equate to “more carats equal a bigger size.” The cut of the diamonds can play a big part and the naked eye, along with the tricks light plays, can fill in the rest. A Round Brilliant, for instance, can be essentially the same size as a pear cut but look smaller just because of its shape and cut. A one carat princess cut, for instance, may be about five and a half millimeters in diameter from the top, while a heart shaped cut is closer to seven millimeters across the top. But, again, that doesn’t mean that one will look bigger than the other until we learn about the cut grade of each stone.
So when you’re buying diamonds, you’ll need to take size and weight equally into consideration. Remember that a bigger diamond won’t necessarily be more expensive because it might have more flaws. And a tiny, half carat diamond might be twice as expensive as a 2 carat gem because it veers closer to the flawless side of things.
What you’ll want to do is find the perfect harmony between the purity of the diamond and its size. To do this, it helps to know what type of diamond your mate is into. Does he or she like a big, gaudy gem? Or is it a small sparkle that sets their heart aflutter? Also keep in mind that, if you’re getting a diamond ring for a woman, you have to take the size of her fingers into consideration. If she’s got small, dainty hands and fingers, a diamond will look bigger on her. Also, if her fingers are very skinny, this rule will apply as well. So with that in mind, a smaller carat size (like 1ct) may look quite big compared to a similar ring on a woman with bigger hands. And anything bigger might be TOO gaudy for her. Either way, the end result is that women with small, slender fingers will definitely be cheaper to shop for.