Everything You Need To Know About Loose Diamonds: Carat Weight
Carat weight is the most obvious factor that goes into choosing a loose diamond. When you set your diamond into a ring or another piece of jewelry, one of the first questions many people ask is, “How many carats?” Whether you are buying a diamond loose or a finished piece of jewelry, it is easy to get carried away by the lure of high carat weight numbers and lose sight of the fact that carat weight is only one factor among many that contribute to its overall appearance. The color, clarity, and espcially diamond cut quality, all contribute to the size appearance and that all-important “wow” factor.
This is a 0.704 carat princess cut diamond
It’s important to remember that carat refers to the weight of a loose diamond, not its size. While these two factors are obviously related, the appearance of size is also greatly affected by the cut; specifically, by the proportions of the stone. A carat, technically known as a metric carat, equals 200 milligrams, or .2 of a gram. Each carat is subdivided into 100 units called “points”; you may hear a .6 carat diamond referred to as a 60-point stone. The word “carat” comes from the ancient Greek practice of using the uniformly-sized seeds of the carob tree as a standard unit of measurement.
The diameter of the table, the top part of the diamond that shows the most when a loose diamond is set in jewelry, is one important factor in its size appearance. But that doesn’t mean that you should maximize the diamond’s diameter by opting for a shallow pavilion, because this will allow light to leak through the bottom of the stone and drastically reduce its light performance. Since you don’t either want a stone with a deep pavilion, the ideal cut provides the best possible light performance while also maximizing the diameter of your stone.
This 1.46 carat diamond looks even bigger because of its ideal cut and halo setting.
The best way to choose a loose diamond is to focus less on carat weight and more on cut grade and diameter. A .80 carat ideal cut diamond may look as big (and certainly prettier) than a poorly cut 1.00 carat diamond. Keep in mind that at certain “magic” weight points, a diamond’s price increases dramatically. For example, a 1.5 carat stone will cost proportionately more than a 1.4 carat stone of the same quality. Unless you are specifically looking for a loose diamond in one of these benchmark weights, you can get a great deal and an even better look by opting for a diamond just shy of these round numbers (say, .9 instead of 1.0) with high cut grades instead.
There are gorgeous super ideal cut diamonds available in a full range of price points, and in every carat weight. A .40 carat stone that is cut and set to perfection can look more sparkly and eye-catching than a larger, duller stone. It’s tempting to look for a big stone that will impress people, but if you choose quality over quantity, you will always get a diamond you will treasure forever.
The bottom line is that carat weight should be the last factor you choose for your loose diamond. Once you decide on the cut, clarity and color grades that are important to you simply look for the largest stone of those parameters that fits into your budget.
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