The world of diamonds can often be overwhelming for newcomers. To an inexperienced person, diamonds are just shiny stones that girls go crazy about, but it hits them like an avalanche once they get acquainted with the details.
What is a TW diamond? What’s a pavilion? Pave cut – is that what I heard my hairdresser mention? Total depth?
The anatomy of a diamond is probably the first hurdle people face when getting to know these stones. Yeah, it’s a lot to take in. Not only that, but it can pose a lot of pressure for any soon-to-be owner of a diamond.
When deciding what diamonds to buy, we already know that a hefty amount of money needs to be set aside. That being said, it’s perfectly normal for someone to aim at making every penny worth it!
What’s more, missing out on certain factors or details could lead to an uneducated decision, which could ultimately mean paying for something you’re unsure is worth it.
It’s perfectly okay to want to be on top of everything and understand every single aspect of a diamond you’re looking to buy. That’s exactly why we’re here!
The Importance Of Standardization
So, to set the field for proper understanding of TW, DW, etc., let’s first establish a few things.
First, all the norms and measurements you might hear and read about when researching diamonds are there for a good reason, obviously. They serve to give quantifiable insight into different aspects of a diamond.
These measurements, or quantified values, are then compared to a base standard. Doing this allows for more precise and more adequate pricing of diamonds.
So again, even if the terminology might seem too much for you, it’s actually there to help!
History Of The Carat
A significant moment regarding standardization in diamonds’ history began with the use of the carat in the 16th century. However, that was merely the first step towards an internationally recognized unit, and it contained a crucial issue.
Can you take a guess?
The issue was that, while each country was happy with their idea of the carat and how much it weighs, there was no consensus for a unified, international unit. That, of course, made trading diamonds between multiple countries a needlessly arduous task.
It wasn’t until a bright and sunny day in Paris, 1877, when the Syndical Chamber of Diamond Merchants had adopted the official metric carat.
Except… this one weighed 205 mg.
So let’s stay in Paris and skip a few years, all the way to 1907.
A General Conference of the Metric Convention is being held, and – wouldn’t you know it – a metric carat which weighs 200 mg has just been accepted. Finally!
Soon after, however, more questions started to arise, and people realized that carats alone weren’t enough to compare diamonds.
Now, why is comparing diamonds so important, and why do experts go through all the trouble of creating measurements to do this?
Simply put, it helps determine a difference in quality, which, in turn, decides the difference in prices on the market.
All diamonds are beautiful in their way, depending on what you like – but some diamonds require a higher degree of technical proficiency to achieve a certain glow or cut. On the other hand, other diamonds are naturally more “rich” than others and therefore deemed as more valuable.
That is especially true when comparing manufactured or “lab-made” diamonds to natural, “real” ones.
Throughout the years, people have come up with many different ways of measuring a diamond’s value, and to understand some of the tools used, we should start from the basic and most popular one – the carat.
What’s A Carat And How Are Carats Determined
The carat is actually very easy to understand. In simple terms, a carat is a unit of mass – like an ounce, a pound, or a kilogram. Not to be confused with the karat – a measurement used for gold – the purpose of a carat is to measure gems and pearls.
One carat weighs about 0.00705 ounces (oz), but a much more manageable number to remember is simply 200 milligrams (mg). The metric take on the carat comes in handy because it allows us to measure it in precisely determined subdivisions:
Each carat consists of 100 points, each point, of course, being 2 mg.
Now that we’ve come to understand the basics, let’s move on to other measurements used in the diamond assessment.
Related Read: How Many Carats Is A Pure Diamond?
What Is A TW Diamond Compared To CW
Carat weight refers to the weight of a single diamond. Diamond total weight refers to a combined weight of multiple diamonds.
Let’s make this a tad simpler by looking at an example: Imagine there are two different diamond rings in front of you. They’re both gorgeous, with a stunning shine emanating from each of them. However, they have a core difference in their design.
One ring contains a single large 5 carat stone, while the other is made up of five smaller ones, 1 carat each.
Now, there’s obviously a big difference in their looks and how they would feel on a finger, but what we’re interested in is how a retailer or a diamond expert determines the comparative value of these two rings.
Here comes the rundown: When assessing the value of these two rings, the first ring containing a single diamond would be said to have a carat weight of 5.
Now, when looking at the other ring, we can’t approach it in the same way. Instead, we’d say that the other ring has a total weight of 5 carats. That means that the combined value of the small diamonds on the second ring adds up to 5 carats.
But you could indeed take one of those smaller diamonds from the second ring, and mark it as 1 carat, in other words, 1 CW.
That’s the main difference between CW and TW: CW is used when assessing a single stone, whereas TW is used when gauging the combined carat weight of multiple stones.
As far as the pricing goes, the general rule you can always go back to is – if you have one large diamond of, say, 2 carats on one side, and two diamonds, 1 carat each, on the other, the single 2-carat diamond will have a higher price than the other two combined.
So, are there exceptions to this rule? Of course!
TW and CW aren’t the only factors to consider in a diamond. We have to also take into account the cut, clarity, and color. You could indeed have one large stone on a ring, but if it’s poor quality, then a few smaller ones of a more excellent grade will easily outdo it in value.
To sum it up: A bigger diamond will always have greater value than multiple smaller ones, but only if they are equal in quality.
Those fancy rings in movies that have one big and shiny stone glistening in all its glory look pretty different now, huh?
That is a significant piece of information to have when shopping for jewelry. Common sense might have you believe that if you have ten 1-carat diamonds, they would be equal in value to a single 10-carat diamond.
As we’ve established, this isn’t the case at all.
Other Notable Measurements
So far, we’ve gone over some crucial topics, but there are a few other terms used when gauging a diamond’s value. We’ve talked about diamond TW and CW – so, what else is there?
Similar to the previous two, there’s also CT, which is just an abbreviation of “carat” and is often used interchangeably with carat weight or CW.
CT TW or diamond carat total weight refers to the combined weight of all the diamonds that your jewelry contains.
Read Also: Can You Measure Diamond Weight In Grams?
Common Mistakes When Buying Diamonds
With all this talk of numbers and the importance of the carat, readers in a hurry might forget about other important factors that determine a diamond’s price.
Not Knowing The 4 Cs
The 4 Cs are of critical importance in this matter. We’ve mainly discussed one of them – the carat – but we also have clarity, cut, and color to consider.
Luckily, we have an article on that – to set your mind at ease and get you in the loop even further.
Not Asking Proper Questions
Jewelers exist for a reason. They have expertise that can’t be rivaled by just anyone.
And because of this, don’t be afraid to dive deep into details with your diamond retailer about the stone you’re interested in purchasing. It’s their job to inform you about all the aspects of your diamond.
Any legitimate jeweler will have all the possible information about each and every one of their stones.
Not Checking A Diamond’s Certificate
Next, it’s always recommended to look for the diamond certificate and examine it carefully.
Moreover, all diamonds come with an inscribed certification number on the girdle. You want to make sure that the number engraved on the diamond matches the one written on the official certificate.
You can further verify all the necessary information on the Gemological Institute of America’s (GIA) website, for example.
GIA certificates are one of the most well-known and trusted in the world. Other certificates worth noting are the American Gem Society (AGS), European Gemological Laboratory (EGL), Gemological Science International (GSI), and International Gemological Institute (IGI).
Note: Not all the certificates mentioned above are equally legitimate. Some of them are more trusted and more consistent than others. In general, the GIA and AGS certificates are seen as the best.
While diamonds do represent something perfect and incredible, obsessing over some minor details might cost you a lot.
A common mistake diamond shoppers make is not knowing what “magic numbers” are – and how much they can actually influence a diamond’s price.
Magic numbers are seen as major price breakpoints based on certain diamond weights. They’re significant to be informed of because you can potentially save up to half the price for a change that nobody with a naked eye can notice.
What this means for you as a buyer is the following: Suppose you are looking to buy a 1-carat diamond, and it has a solid price. In that case, you can actually save up an impressive sum of money by looking at a 0.99 carat diamond with all the other qualities remaining the same.
Yes, that 0.1 carats really can make a significant difference in the price and shouldn’t be ignored. Whether you want to do that or not is up to you, of course, but ultimately there is no person other than a diamond expert who could tell the difference.
Read Also: How Many Carat Diamond Should You Wear?
Wanting to get the best jewelry out of your investment is perfectly normal. This desire leads to education about diamonds, their pricing, and properties, which can often turn out to be seriously overwhelming.
It can even seem as though making an educated purchase is an impossible task, what with all the details one should consider when considering the purchase of a gemstone.
It’s because of this issue – that anyone can run into at a certain point, by the way – that we’ve prepared this article.
Moreover, you shouldn’t lose sight of a latent, seemingly non-existent factor in this story; the human factor.
Now hang on, all this talk about precise measurements, nearly half a millennium of assemblies and conferences, and that still hasn’t solved everything?
Yes, human subjectivity – which shows itself through opinions and conclusions during the evaluation of diamonds – plays a big part. Of course, it does! After all, it’s us who came up with all these measurements and symbols in the first place.
It’s us who see the beauty in gemstones – and deem them valuable.