Diamond Carat Weight- The 4th C of Diamond

Diamond carat weight is commonly confused with the shape of the diamond. But diamond carat is used to measure a diamond’s weight. It is also commonly confused with “karat" which is the measure of purity of gold. A carat equals 0.2 grams or 0.007 ounce. A diamond’s price is determined by its carat weight and the price per carat.

Total Price = Weight x Price per Carat.

Since a carat is a unit of measure and not size, two diamonds of the same carat weight may appear to be different sizes depending on how the diamond is cut. Some diamonds will have extra weight on the bottom part — or pavilion — of the stone, and therefore appear smaller. A premium cut Canadian diamond is perfectly cut, and will appear larger than many diamonds of a heavier carat weight.
What is Ideal or Recommended Carat Weight?
To choose ideal carat weight, there are a few things to remember. Consider doing the following to optimize your carat weight while balancing the other 3 Cs to get the best diamond value for the money:
  • The recipient's personal style, finger size, and the size and style of the setting
  • Keep in mind that the smaller the finger, the larger the diamond will appear. A 1½-carat diamond solitaire looks much larger on a size 4 finger than a size 8.
  • If you have already chosen a setting, make sure you choose a diamond that looks appropriate in the ring
  • Be careful about shopping for the largest diamond without consideration of the other value factors You will likely end up with a stone of such inferior quality that it will simply look glasslike when your partner compares it to her best friend's diamond. Side by side a diamonds' cut is what gives the diamond FIRE is crucial brilliance. The difference between a very good cut to a poor cut diamond can be astonishing.
  • If size or carat weight is your most important attribute, (for many people it is very important) that is perfectly acceptable, but do consider the other 3 Cs especially - cut to make sure you understand your tradeoffs.
The History of the Term - Carat Weight
The term carat originated in ancient times when gemstones were weighted against the carob bean. Each bean weighed about one carat. In 1913, carat weight was standardized internationally and adapted to the metric system. One carat equals 0.2 grams (200 milligrams) - a little more than 0.007 ounce. In other words, it takes 142 carats to equal 1 ounce.

According to the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) the history of how using the carat for weighing diamonds and small items came out is as follows. Weighing commodities as small and precious as gems demands a very small, uniform unit of weight. To meet this need, early gem traders turned to plant seeds that were reasonably uniform in size and weight. Two of the oldest were wheat grains and carob seeds. Both were common in the gem-producing and trading areas of the ancient world. Wheat was a dietary staple, and individual wheat grains provided a plentiful and relatively uniform weight standard.

Our modern Pearl grain, troy grain, and avoirdupois and apothecaries' grains all derived from the wheat grain. (Diamond weights are sometimes approximated in grains) The carob, or locust tree, produces edible seed pods that are still important as feed for livestock and as a flavoring. Traders used the inedible seeds as a standard weight from which our modern metric carat evolved.

All other things being equal, the greater the carat weight, the rarer the diamond and the more expensive it is. Although bigger is assumed to be better, diamonds of all carat weight have equal charm.

Carat weight was standardized in the early twentieth century. If you had purchased a 'one-carat' diamond in 1895, it might have weighed anywhere from 0.95 to 1.07 metric carats, depending on where you bought it. But between 1908 and 1930, the standard metric carat was adopted throughout most of Europe and in Japan, Mexico, South Africa, Thailand, the USA, and the USSR. Consumers sometimes confuse the terms carat and karat. Although in some countries the two are synonymous, in the US, karat refers to the fineness of gold alloys (pure gold is 24 karat; 14 karat is 14 parts gold and 10 parts other metal or metals) and carat refers to gem weights.

World's Largest Diamonds
There have been famous and largest diamonds discovered throughout the history and each has a fascinating story through its long history.
One of the largest diamonds in the world was The Excelsior. The Excelsior *which means higher* is not only one of the worlds largest diamonds it is the second largest diamond ever found. It originally weighed 995.2 carats. The diamond was cut into ten pieces, the three largest weighing 158, 147 and 130 carats. These pieces were then cut into 21 gems ranging from 70 carats to less than 1 carat. An African mine worker found the diamond as he was loading his truck, he kept the find secret until he could safely turn it over to the mine manager who rewarded him with some money, a horse and a saddle.

Cullinan I
- also known as The Star of Africa was named after Sir Thomas Cullinan, owner of the mining company, and currently claims the title of largest cut diamond in the world. Of all the worlds largest diamonds Cullinan I is the largest. It was cut by Asscher in Amsterdam, weighs 530.20 carats, and has 74 facets. The Cullinan now resides in the Tower of London and is set in the sceptre of King Edward VII.
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