The value of a piece of jewelry is something of a matter of taste: if a necklace or a pair of earrings don’t suit your preferences, you’re not likely to want them or wear them. (Fortunately, Copeland Jewelers is your place for Austin custom jewelry design!) But there has to be some standardized way of determining value, of course, or else no two parties would ever be able to agree on a price. For diamonds (and certain other gemstones), official monetary value is determined by the “four Cs”: carat, color, clarity, and cut.
The weight of a diamond is measured in carats, making this C the most objective of the four factors. In ancient Greece, diamonds and other precious materials were weighed using carob seeds, which were relatively consistent in size (and are still used today for flavoring food), as the counterweights on balance scales. This practice was called “keration,” which is the origin of the word “carat.” In the early twentieth century, the measurement of one carat was standardized to equal one fifth of a gram (0.20 g), or seven thousandths of an ounce (0.007 oz). A diamond’s weight is measured extremely precisely, so each carat is broken down into hundredths, which are often referred to as “points.” This means that a half-carat diamond weighs 0.50 carats, or 50 points.
The weight of a diamond does not necessarily correspond to its surface area, since the surface area is determined by the stone’s cut. The cut of a stone is generally designed to maximize color and clarity, and it may cause the stone’s weight in carats to decrease significantly – hence why the four Cs should be considered all together, relative to one another, in determining a stone’s value. Diamonds that are cut to appear large may have relatively small carat values, while those that are cut to appear small may have relatively large carat values. Once a diamond is set in a piece of jewelry in Austin (or anywhere else!), its weight can no longer be precisely determined, but an approximate weight can be determined by examining its outer dimensions. If multiple diamonds are used in one piece of jewelry, a number for “total carat weight” will likely be used, rather than listing the carats of each stone individually.
The rarity of diamonds, especially quality diamonds, makes their value relative to their carat size less straightforward than you might expect. Statistically, a single one-carat stone will be found among every million diamonds that are mined, while a single two-carat stone will be found among every five million. For this reason, if Diamond A and Diamond B have similar colors, clarities, and cuts, but Diamond B weighs twice as much, it’s likely to be three or even four times more expensive than Diamond A. Additionally, 0.50, 0.75, and 1.00 carats are referred to as “magic sizes,” and they can command premium prices. While a diamond of 0.48 carats and another of 0.50 carats may appear almost identical, the one that is slightly smaller will probably cost significantly less, all other factors being equal.
While carat is the easiest of the four Cs to define with a numerical value, it should probably be the least important factor in determining what you like and don’t like. The other three Cs will have a much greater impact on a stone’s appearance, especially when it comes to brilliance and sparkle. It’s much better to spend your money based on how a piece of jewelry looks when you wear it than based on its weight. When it comes to finding jewelry that fits your preferences, or learning about how jewelry is created and evaluated, look no further than Copeland Jewelers, your Austin jewelry store. Our wide selection, knowledgeable staff, and reputation for custom jewelry design will ensure you find exactly what you’re looking for.