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Does Size Matter? Center Stone vs. Total Carat Weight

Diamond Carat Weight

There are many factors that go into the appraisal of a diamond ring, and with the countless designs that pervade the market, it becomes necessary to appraise each ring individually. Some have intricate filigree or an antique setting that can make grading a complicated process. Others are encrusted in diamonds that are each fractions of a carat, and others still may be quite plain, but hold stones of impressive proportions.


When trying to determine a suitable price for a diamond ring, whether to buy or for resale, one should first understand that the diamonds are what represents most of any ring’s value. These come in varied sizes, shapes and colors, and a ring might have anywhere from one to fifty stones. A logical question arises: How does a ring with a single big diamond compare with one that has many stones? Which is more valuable?


When browsing for a diamond ring or looking to sell one of your old pieces, it’s very important to understand the lingo – or risk getting a raw deal. To begin, one should familiarize themselves with the acronyms that jewelers use:

CW: Carat weight, meaning the weight of an individual stone in carats (1 carat is the equivalent of 0.2 grams). This is also sometimes abbreviated as DW, or “diamond weight”. Carat weight is used to describe single stones, so if you see a listing with “1CW”, you know it’s likely a single-stone ring with a 1 carat diamond.


CTW: Total carat weight, meaning the total weight of all the diamonds on the ring, in carats. It can also be abbreviated as TDW, which means “total diamond weight”. This number is just a sum and says nothing about how many stones are on the ring, or their individual sizes, so a ring labeled “1CTW” could be 4 stones of .25CW each, or 10 of .10CW each.


Knowing how carat weight and total carat weight work is crucial in understanding how diamonds are priced, but without more information, it’s impossible to accurately appraise a diamond ring. Take this scenario as an example:


square halo diamond engagement ringA
solitaire 1ct diamond engagement ringB

Ring A has twenty 0.10CW diamonds and a total carat weight of 2.00 at $5,400. Ring B has a single 1.00CW diamond and total carat weight of 1.00 at $11,000. Why is Ring B more expensive? One may be fooled into thinking that it’s simply because a bigger center stone is more precious, but they’d only be partially correct.

Diamond Size Does Matter

For rings, bracelets, other pieces of diamond jewelry, and loose stones especially, their size has a tangible impact on the price that they can eventually fetch. It cannot be refuted that the bigger a diamond gets, the more expensive it becomes as well. This is the reason that Ring B, from the previous example, is worth so much more than another ring with double its total carat weight. Bigger stones are rarer, and rarity is the property that gives diamonds their value in the first place. However, diamonds have other features that can add or subtract immense value.


Color, clarity, and cut are also factors that one should be familiar with. While not as immediately apparent as sheer size, these qualities can drastically change the price of a stone too. For instance, if your budget for a single-stone ring is $10,000, you could shop from a range of diamond sizes between 0.50CW and 2.00CW or more – but it’s likely that the biggest diamond still within your budget will have inclusions, be imprecisely cut, or slightly off-color. At the end of the day, even less-than-perfect diamonds are a sight to behold, and only the customer can determine which is best for their needs.


Taking a Central Role

Before buying or selling a diamond ring, each of the stones must be appraised for all the qualities that give it value. The main stone on a diamond ring has a vital role in this process both visually and financially. As the centerpiece of a ring, it is naturally the biggest, and more importance is placed on its cut, color, and other qualities that determine price.


A ring set in precious metals like platinum and bejeweled with a handful of .25CW diamonds may look beautiful and have well-proportioned stones, but its price will pale in comparison to a simple titanium ring with a large center stone. When shopping, one needs to understand this delicate balance, and know the specific grading terms that appear on an official report from GIA or IGI. Most shoppers are unaware of the nuances present in diamond appraisal, a fact that a disreputable jeweler may take advantage of.


Besides carat weight, a diamond has a host of other attributes that ultimately help potential buyers assess its value. These are just as important as its weight (and accordingly, size) and include color, cut, clarity and more. Some can be determined with the naked eye, but measuring a diamond’s exact weight is next to impossible without state of the art equipment. A professional grader must carefully scrutinize all these characteristics closely. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and the International Gemology Institute are both organizations that grade diamonds in a reliable manner, and no diamond should be without a report from either of these institutions.


Understanding Carat Weight When Reselling

When looking to sell your diamond ring, it’s important to understand that the size of the center stone has a weaker relationship with price that you might realize. Knowing the cut, clarity, color and carat weight of your diamond (plus the other qualities that appear on a grading report) means that you can attain a better price from those who know how to evaluate these features and characteristics.


There is no better resource for highlighting the quality of your stone to knowledgeable buyers than a professional grading report. Worthy buyers are professionals who understand the minutiae that make every diamond unique, and we provide complimentary GIA or IGI grading so that these buyers have transparent, irrefutable evidence of a diamond’s precise quality. They can therefore bid more confidently on the online auction platform, which consistently proves to increase the amount a seller can receive for their diamond jewelry. Connect with Worthy today to turn your old, yet precious pieces into funds for your next vacation, home improvement project or whatever you may desire.

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  1. Cristine Rosa says:

    I have a great highly graded solitaire that I would like to sell it.

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