Carat Weight Vs Total Carat Weight

October 25, 2023 – Posted in: Jewelry Blog

The weight of a diamond is expressed in metric measurements as a carat, and this is the standard unit of weight for almost all gemstones. A carat equals 200 milligrams, which is 0.20 grams or 1/5 of a gram. The total carat weight (TCW) is the total weight of all the stones in a diamond ring. Read on to learn more.

What Do Carats Actually Mean?

Carat Meaning and weight infographic

The word carat comes from the Greek word for the carab tree. The seeds from this tree were used as a reliable weight measure. The standard size of a carab seed consistently weighs about one carat with only a slight variation. Due to this consistency, they were applied as a reliable measure of weight. The carat was first used as the unit of measurement for diamonds in 1907. Before that, gemstones were evaluated in various ways between countries, and there were different standards according to where you were in the world.

What Does Total Carat Weight or CTW Mean?

What is total carat weight infograph

When shopping for diamonds, you’ll probably see references to the total carat weight (TCW) or the carat total weight (CTW). Total carat weight gives you the combined weight of all diamonds or gemstones in one piece of jewelry where more than one diamond has been used. Most jewelry sets or jewelry sold in pairs are usually sold using total carat weight. For example, diamond solitaire earrings are often quoted in total carat weight, indicating the total weight of the stones in both earrings.

Often, the combined carat weight may be abbreviated as CTTW. In some engagement rings, this is sometimes spaced as CT TW. The total weight of all the stones in a piece of jewelry is referred to as TW. The abbreviation for carat is CT, which describes the weight of valuable stones like diamonds.

Other Letters Seen Alongside CTW in Jewelry

You may see the letter A or G alongside a diamond’s total carat weight (CTW).

A – Refers to the approximate carat weight. For example, a diamond cluster ring could have an approximate total of 1 carat of diamonds. But in reality, they may weigh 1.01 carats or 0.99 carats. Jewelry manufacturers often use this term to avoid needing to be precise.

G – Refers to the guaranteed weight of a diamond. The guaranteed weight of a diamond is usually around one point more than the weight sold. A 1-carat diamond trilogy engagement ring should have a set of stones weighing at least 1.01 carats to qualify as guaranteed carat weight.

Carat Weight vs. Total Carat Weight

Total Carat Weight Example

Carat weight gives you the weight of a gemstone and is commonly used as an indicator of size. The more a carat weighs, the bigger the gemstone will be. The total carat weight tells you the combined weight of several diamonds within a jewelry piece. This can significantly impact the overall price and value. Many first-time diamond buyers confuse the carat weight with the total carat weight and often use the terms interchangeably. But, as explained, they are entirely different numbers.

A diamond carat weight tells you how much a single or specific diamond weighs. It gives you the independent weight of a center stone and that of a loose stone. In contrast, the total carat weight tells you the combined mass of all stones in a diamond ring. It’s the sum of all the carat weights of stones in a jewelry piece.

How to Calculate Total Carat Weight

If there’s only one center stone in a diamond, the carat weight will equal the total carat weight. But how do you determine the carats of a diamond ring with a center stone and small diamonds surrounding it? If the center diamond is 1-carat round, and the smaller diamonds surrounding it are 0.25 carats, the total carat weight will be the carat weight of the center diamond plus that of the smaller diamonds. That will be 1 + 0.25 = 1.25 carats.

When looking at the cost of diamond rings, you may find that a ring with two 1-carat stones costs less than a single 1-carat stone. The reason being, it’s easier for a stone cutter to create smaller stones than to source material large enough to cut into one 2-carat stone.

Warning Regarding Total Carat Weight

Customers Inspecting Diamond with Loupe in Showroom

If a diamond engagement ring has a main center stone, our company, Estate Diamond Jewelry, will never list the total carat weight in the title. We always specify the individual carat weights of the different stones within a piece with a main center stone.

WARNING: Many ring sellers will title their engagement rings with the carat weight as the “Total Carat Weight” instead of using the center carat weight. These malicious sellers are attempting to list their carat prices deceptively in a way to appear more appealing.

There should be two prices: the price per carat of the center stone and the price per carat of all small stones within a jewelry piece. Some dealers could be inexperienced and not have sufficient knowledge about weighing stones. A common malpractice is when a jeweler advertises the total carat weight of stones within a ring but doesn’t indicate the individual weight of the centerpiece. This is important because a large diamond is more valuable than multiple small stones that are equal in mass.

Always deal with a genuine, reputable jeweler when diamond shopping. When buying a diamond engagement ring, always ask for a written offer outlining the weight and quality of the centerpiece and the surrounding stones. Aside from the carat weight, the offer or receipt should also show the color grade, size, clarity grade, and dimensions. Also, ensure that your jeweler indicates whether the diamond has been drilled, treated, or enhanced.

Examples of Carat Weight vs. Total Carat Weight

Here are some examples from our range to give you a clearer picture of a diamond’s carat weight and the total carat weight of the combined stones. Note that these engagement rings all have a main stone with side stones.

Blairstown Ring

Old European Cut Diamond Ring Circa 1925 14711 F6

This beautiful antique ring with an old European cut diamond is VS2 clarity and I color. The shoulders have three round diamonds.

The main stone weighs 0.70 carats.
The side stones weigh approximately 0.10 carats in total.
The total carat weight is 0.80 carats.

Denton Ring

Edwardian Era Diamond Three Stone Ring Artistic

An antique ring with three stones centering an old European cut diamond. With VS1 clarity and J color, it’s set in prongs. The center stone is flanked by two old European cut diamonds that are VS2-SI1 clarity and I-J color.

The main stone weighs 1.88 carats.
The side stones weigh approx 0.50-carats each.
The total carat weight is 2.88 carats.

Cairns Ring

1.14ct Diamond Platinum Engagement Ring Bokeh

A gorgeous old European diamond ring with diamond-set leaf-shaped accents on the shoulders. The bezels of the leaf-shaped diamonds have fine miligrain. The center diamond is K color with VS2 clarity.

The main stone weighs 1.16 carats.
The side stones weigh 0.10 carats in total.
The total carat weight is 1.26 carats.

Diamond Price per Carat

The cost of a diamond rises as the carat weight increases. But prices increase exponentially instead of incrementally. Specific carat values mark the points where a diamond price jumps: 0.90 carats, 1.00 carats, 1.50 carats, 2.00 carats, 3.00 carats, 4.00 carats, and 5.00 carats. This makes diamonds that range from 0.01 to 0.90 carats cost about the same price per carat. When a diamond’s carat value is above 0.90, it enters a new range, increasing its price per carat.

If stones from the 0.50 to 0.89-carat range are sold for $1,000 per carat, a 0.88-carat stone will cost $880, and a stone that’s 0.89 carat will cost $890. The price per carat goes up at the 0.90-carat marker. If, for example, it jumps to $1,200 per carat, a 0.90-carat diamond will cost $1,080, which is more than the 0.89-carat stone for $890, regardless of the stones looking similar in size.

Diamond Price Chart

A diamond’s carat weight has the most significant impact on its price. Larger carat weights are harder to grow, which makes them rare and priced accordingly. For example, a 1.0-carat diamond is more expensive than the total cost of two 0.50-carat diamonds.

All stones are priced by their carat weight, but they are grouped into price categories. If you buy a diamond that’s just ‘underweight,’ you could save some money. A 0.49-carat stone might be up to 8% less than a 0.50-carat. Even though it’s only 1 point less in weight, it’s placed in the next lower price category.

This table provides a clearer idea of carat weight and cost:

Diamond WeightCarat Price (Round Brilliant Cut, Per Carat)Total Price
0.50 Carat$1,220 – $5,800$610 – $2,900
1.0 Carat$2,500 – $18,000$2,500 – $18,000
1.50 Carat$3,300 – $24,000$4,400 – $32,000
2.0 Carat$4,200 – $29,000$8,400 – $58,000
3.0 Carat$7,200 – $51,000$21,600 – $153,000
4.0 Carat$8,400 – $71,500$33,600 – $286,000
5.0 Carat$9,600 – $67,500$48,000 – $337,500

Is Carat Weight and CTW Related to Diamond Size

13025 Customer using a Loupe on a Diamond and Sapphire Halo Engagement Ring in Showroom

Often, people confuse carat weight with visual size despite it being a weight measurement. You can’t really see carat weight with the human eye. Several factors affect the weight of a stone, like the shape, density, and formulation of the jewel. A stone that looks big doesn’t indicate that it has a high-carat value. The weight of a gemstone will visually show itself differently depending on its type and shape. For example, a 1.0-carat round Sapphire may measure about 6.0mm, and a 1.00-carat round diamond may measure about 6.5mm. The reason being, the different densities of various gemstones.

One of the most important factors to consider when buying a diamond, sapphire, or ruby is the carat weight. The carat weight of a diamond determines the amount of material used in polishing and cutting the stone. For example, two stones with the same clarity grades might be valued differently if one is much bigger than the other because of their respective carat weight.

It’s important to know that the carat weight of a diamond isn’t the same as its size. Some gemstones may be denser and weigh more than others stones of the same size. For example, a 1-carat emerald will be smaller in size than a 1-carat diamond despite having the same carat weight. Remember that the biggest stones are often more valuable and rarer when noting a stone’s carat weight. This might also make them harder to find and more expensive.

Talk to a Jewelry Expert

Afshin and Benjamin in Showroom with Rackcard and Estate Jewelry

Understanding a diamond’s carat weight and carat total weight is important when it comes to purchasing jewelry. These terms significantly impact a diamond’s value and price and so should not be overlooked. Knowing these terms in detail will equip you to make informed decisions about buying a valuable and beautiful engagement ring.

Even with all this knowledge, deciding on the right diamond can be challenging. Instead of going it alone, let our experts assist you in choosing the perfect diamond. We’ll show you ideal pieces based on your diamond cut preference, diamond clarity, and budget. We’re also happy to show you a copy of the GIA certificate for diamonds of your choice.

Contact us at Estate Diamond Jewelry for professional assistance and get the ball rolling to find the perfect piece that will delight your significant other.