Carat Weight - The 4 Cs of Gemstones

Oftentimes, many in the gemstone sphere immediately give Carat, one of the 4 Cs, priority over the remaining three Cs: Cut, Color, and Clarity. This is of course because many people think bigger is better, and as carat refers to the weight by which gemstones as well as diamonds are measured, it just has to be the most important factor.

This really could not be farther from the truth, for so many reasons. Lets us explore the meaning of a stone’s carat weight, what the implications are, and how to go about selecting the stone with the proper carat weight.

The Carat Weight System

Long ago, before there were all sorts of sophisticated tools available for individuals to go about measuring stones accurately, there were precision scales on which the stones were set alongside carob seeds. This is the way in which a gemstone’s weight was measured. The carat system came about this way, and is still used until today. Within each carat are one hundred points. Each point represents 1% of a carat, meaning, a stone that weighs one and a half carats is a 1.50 carat stone, or a stone of 150 points.

Density and Weight

Though diamonds and gemstones both use the carat system, they are not equivalent in terms of carat sizes. What does this mean? Well, although a diamond is a gemstone, it has different specifications than, say, a ruby and therefore stones of equivalent carat weight will have different visual sizes. For instance, rubies are denser than diamonds, so a 1-carat diamond will look bigger than a 1-carat ruby.

 Emerald jewelry with very similar carat weight and size of the center stones

Emerald jewelry with very similar carat weight and size of the center stones

Weight is Not Size

Something many people fail to understand or to realize is that the carat weight of a stone is not the same thing as its size. Similar to the way in which the density of the stone plays a crucial role in its carat weight vs. its visual size, so stones with identical carat weights appear differently due to the way that they carry the weight.

Stones that have large crowns and short pavilions can appear large and yet be equal in carat weight to stones with small crowns and deep pavilions, which appear less impressive than the former stones. The same works the other way around. Two stones that look identical in size can in fact bear different carat weights if they are different types of gemstones and are formed differently. Gemstones should neither be too shallow or too deep, but one can get a larger looking stone for the same price as a smaller looking one of the same carat weight, which will suit his or her needs without hurting one’s pocket too much. This can be achieved by looking for a stone of the desired carat weight that has a large crown and table, thus giving off a large appearance.

 Assorted emerald and diamond jewelry

Emerald jewelry with very similar carat weight and size of the center stones

Another important aspect to remember in regards to gemstone carat size is that a stone with a low carat weight does not necessarily mean that it will be less expensive. This is because larger gemstones, especially rubies, tend to have many inclusions. Smaller ones, more often than not, will have a higher clarity level, thus making them pricier. That is why it is necessary to factor in all this information when looking for a gemstone with the right carat weight.

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