Cut may rule the diamond parameters, but carat weight is just as important! But before we dig deeper, please note that carat refers to the weight and not the size of a diamond. Although, in general, the size of a diamond increases together with its weight.
Now, the word carat is actually derived from the word “Carob” which is a specific bean of the locust tree. Since Carob seeds were believed to be very even in their weight distribution, they were used to measure fine jewellery in the past. Diamonds are measured in carat and 1 carat is exactly 0.2 grams. This, however, is a factual inaccuracy, but it still goes to show that myths can survive for a very long time.
Given today’s standards, it seems like an unreliable method to measure the weight of a diamond. Still, the word carat lived on!
Gold fineness expressed in karats comes from carats and grains of gold in the ancient roman solidus coin. One solidus coin used to be 24 carats which was preserved up to this day.
Is carat weight the most important factor when buying a diamond?
No, and I hope you already know that!
Ultimately, a diamond is all about looks, brilliance, fire, and scintillation. All these characteristics are determined by the diamond cut. And only a diamond with Excellent cut proportions will provide you with the maximum brilliance that you should initially be looking for.
However, if you have a diamond with great cut, more carat weight will make the facets of the diamond appear larger which will also return more light and sparkle to the viewer’s eye.
But still, it should be your main priority to make sure that you get the best possible cut, so that you can then adjust the carat weight accordingly.
The reality is, far too many people are focused on the carat weight because this is the first question that you will likely be asked by relatives and friends. For them, it is a matter of prestige to be able to say that one’s diamond has at least 1 carat in weight. So, in order to make the diamond affordable, many people compromise on the cut. I would advise you not do that!
Why exactly is the cut more important than the carat weight?
Let me answer this question by showing you two outlines of two different diamonds. Both diamonds are exactly one carat in weight.
The diamond on the left side has a pavilion depth of 66.4 %. Thus, there's a lot of hidden weight in it and it only measures 6.2 mm in diameter. While the one on the right has a depth of 61.7 % giving it optimal depth according to super optimal diamond cut proportions!
This makes the diamond appear 6.5 mm in diameter, producing a very noticeable difference as with every mm more in diameter, the surface of the diamond increases exponentially (you might remember the formula π * r² back from school). In addition, a larger surface means more light being returned to the viewer’s eye and thus, a larger amount of sparkle and scintillation is produced!
So, by choosing a better cut, your diamond appears larger and seems to have more carat weight. You might wonder why there are people out there who pay more attention to carat weight than the cut grade! Sadly, these people are mostly misinformed or they don’t really care about the beauty of the diamond, but just want to be able to say that they bought a gem with such and such carat weight.
How does an increase in carat weight affect a diamond?
The carat weight impacts both the price and size. In fact, a diamond with two carat does not appear twice as large as a diamond with one carat.
If you want to have a general idea of what the diamond with your specific carat weight will look like mounted onto a ring setting, you can use the James Allen carat size simulator.
Furthermore, the price per carat increases exponentially because any finished diamond is yielded from only one piece of rough. To obtain a bigger diamond, the rough will also have to be bigger.
As large rough diamonds occur far rarely in nature than its smaller counterparts, the prices increase accordingly. This is why 1 carat diamond rings are surprisingly more expensive than, for instance, 0.9ct diamond rings.
Now, here's a table I've created with round cut diamonds from James Allen with the same cut, color, clarity except carat weight. As you can see, the price increases exponentially:
Here’s another example showing the price difference between a 2 carats and 3 carats:
Can you see how expensive the 1 carat diamond can get? The difference is almost $2,000!
Obviously, diamond prices escalate at certain weight points. And diamonds become more affordable if they're marked just slightly under the popular weight!
And honestly, even if you look closer, you’ll find it difficult to distinguish which one’s bigger. Since there’s not much difference in weight, a diamond at 0.9ct and a 1 carat may have the same diameter. Thus, both gems will appear as the same carat size especially when viewed from above.
However, more people are getting informed that the carat sizes below the 1 carat mark are way cheaper. In fact, I talked about how 0.9ct has become the average engagement ring size in 2016. For 2017, it will probably be the same since online buyers are given better tools for smarter shopping.
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What’s the Takeaway?
At the end of the day, your preference is all that matters. You could either be one of these kinds: People who are psychologically affected by the smooth carat size – 1. That even if what they have is a 0.99 carat diamond ring, they wouldn’t feel satisfied unless they’re wearing the magical number.
And those who find even the smallest of ways to get the maximum value for their money. Thus, opting for a 0.9 carat diamond.
My advice is to make sure you have the best cut first before deciding on the carat weight. You’ll be surprised how majestic a diamond will seem with an excellent cut compared to a bigger gem with a poor cut. But don’t just take my word for it. See for yourself!
Discover more about diamond color on the next page…
Even though two diamonds have the same carat weight and quality, you can save 25% with fancy shaped diamonds as round cuts’ popularity demands higher manufacturing costs.
To show you how different shapes affect the price, I’ve compiled James Allen fancy shaped diamonds with the same 4CS: 1 carat, G-VS2, Excellent Cut
Speaking of getting the biggest bang for your buck, have you heard of the magical carat mark?
The Carat Weight That Will Save You Money
Remember when I mentioned how some people are obsessed with a specific carat weight? When asked about the carat size (which is always!), they want to be able to announce that their diamond is 1 carat because it just sounds so good! But with the sought after number, comes a steeper price.
Being a favorite, cutters will try to produce more popular sizes even if that means bearing slightly lower 3Cs. If you try searching for diamonds with 0.99 carat, you won’t see as many as 1 carats.
Both diamonds bear the cheapest G color, VS2 clarity and Excellent Cut in their respective carat sizes – 0.9ct and 1ct:
This perfectly exhibits how the weight increase doesn’t really equate to exact price increase. In ideal terms, given the same 3Cs, if the 2 carat gem is worth $24,130, then a 4 carat gem would more or less be $50,000.
But as you can see in the example above, the price of 3 carats surpasses the estimated value. By the same token, this leads us to question diamonds in different shapes.
Is there a price difference among diamond shapes with the same carat weight?
Yes, there is! As a matter of fact, some might think that the price difference is dependent on shape popularity only, which is partially true, but a particular shape is more in demand because ultimately, it produces optimal brilliance.
This is because all the other shapes aside from the round cut conserve more weight which means less diamond rough is wasted during the cutting process. The round cut is the most expensive because cutters would have to remove the most amount of rough compared to other shapes.
This will give you a better visual: