Understanding Carats: Weight vs. Total Weight All Entries
With an expensive item, it's important to understand the terms used to describe its features and value. For example, when buying a vehicle, many car buyers will consider the vehicle's engine, noting its horsepower, torque, and fuel efficiency in order to buy the right vehicle, at the right price for them. When buying diamond jewelry, there are going to be similar specialized terms that will let the buyer know what type and value diamond they are buying (or selling). Two of the most important diamond-related terms to understand and know the difference between are carat weight and total carat weight.
The Basics of Carat Measurements
Carats are a measurement term used to describe the weight of a diamond and other gemstones. One carat equals .2 grams or 200 milligrams.
- Carat Weight. Also abbreviated simply as CW, the carat weight is the weight of an individual diamond or other stone in carats. This is sometimes also called the diamond weight or DW. A jeweler will use the term to describe the weight of a single stone. So if you're looking at a ring with a large central diamond and it is listed as 3CW, then you know that single diamond weighs 3 carats or .6 grams (3 x .2 grams).
- Total Carat Weight. The total carat weight, often abbreviated as CTW, of a piece of jewelry is the sum weight of all the diamonds or gemstones on that piece of jewelry. This term is also sometimes called total diamond weight or TDW. This measurement is a sum number and should not be used to determine how many gemstones or unique diamonds are on a ring or the carat size of any one diamond. So, for example, a ring labeled as being 3CTW has a sum weight of 3 carats, but how those carats are spread out may vary. For example, this may mean the ring has 3 separate stones that each weigh one carat, or it may have one large diamond that weighs 2 carats bordered by two smaller diamonds each weighing .5 carats.
Another term to note when buying or selling diamond-based jewelry is 'melee diamond'. Melee diamonds are small diamonds that weigh under .15 carat. These are the tiny diamonds you'll often see lined around larger primary stones and, in general, are not considered very high-quality. So when buying or selling a ring that has a high total carat weight, one should consider first whether that total carat weight is primarily composed of a large, high-quality central diamond or if it consists mostly of melee diamonds. In general, a ring composed primarily of melee diamonds will be a lower value than a ring composed of one to three single diamonds -- even if the rings have the same total carat weight.