Often confused as the size of a diamond, carat actually refers to a diamond’s weight. Diamonds are weighed in metric carats: one carat equaling 200 milligrams, or 0.2 grams – roughly the same weight as a paperclip. The higher the carat weight, the increase in the diamond’s price.
Adopted by the United States in 1913, the modern metric carat takes its name from the carob seed. Since small carob seeds had a weight that was fairly uniform, early gem traders used them as counterweights in their balanced scales. Today, the carat is universally known as the standard unit of weight for diamonds and other gemstones.
Just as one dollar can be divided into 100 pennies, a carat can be divided into 100 points – allowing precise dimensions to the hundredth decimal place. Some jewelers may even describe a diamond weighing less than one carat based on its points alone. For example, a diamond weighing 0.25 carats may also be referred to as a “twenty-five pointer.”
It’s important to remember a diamond’s value is determined using all of the 4Cs, not just the carat weight. Two diamonds of equal carat weight can have very different cost values depending on the diamond’s color, cut and clarity grade. For instance, a diamond with a higher cut grade will appear larger in size as the diamond will properly reflect the majority of light that enters the diamond – regardless of the equal diamond carat weight.
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For more information on diamond carat weight, take a look at the GIA video below: