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What Is a Carat? What To Know When Ring Shopping

by Clean Origin
Last updated on December 9, 2022
Wedding Band Set

Have you ever been jewelry shopping and stopped to wonder, “what is a carat?” You hear it thrown around, but may have no clue what it truly means. Well, we have the answer for you. It is crucial to know what a carat is, as well as the difference between carat vs karat. This is especially when you are shopping for an engagement or wedding ring.

What is a Diamond carat?

A common misconception is that a diamond’s carat is its size. Carat is, instead, a measurement of a diamond’s weight. One carat equals 0.20 grams. 

Carat weight looks different across different diamond shapes and sizes. Some diamonds may look larger than others, while their weight says otherwise. Deep-cut diamonds will appear smaller than a more shallow-cut diamond cut, despite having the same carat weight. 

This chart is a helpful place to start to see how diamond carat weights look on round cuts. Keep in mind that this chart shows the proportions of weight distribution; it does not show the actual sizes of weights. 

Carat comparison chart. What is a carat.
Carat weight comparison chart.

Karat vs Carat

While carats and karats sound the same, knowing the difference is crucial. Now that we know a carat is a unit of weight that measure the sizes of gemstones (like diamonds), let’s explore what a karat is. 

A karat is a measurement indicating the purity of gold; it is measured out of 24 parts. For example, 18-karat gold is 18/24 parts gold. 24-karat gold is pure gold. 

Pure gold is regularly mixed with other metals to make the gold harder, sturdier, and less likely to scratch, resulting in sturdier jewelry. When deciding what percentage of gold is right for you, keep your lifestyle – and how hard you will be on your ring – in mind. A lower percentage of gold will be more conducive to a more active and intense lifestyle because the ring will be harder and less likely to scratch. If you work with your hands often and want your ring to stay nice, we recommend choosing 14-karat gold for a great balance of beauty and sturdiness. 

What Weight Should My Ring Be?

While the weight of your diamond will largely be determined by the diamond cut you are looking for—as well as personal preference—there are some helpful tips to keep in mind: 

  • The average carat weight of engagement rings is 1.08 carats
  • 2 carats, and above is a fairly large diamond
  • How big the diamond looks on your hand can change depending on the size of your fingers. A 1-carat diamond will appear larger on someone with petite hands.

Do you have more questions about diamond carat weights or carats vs karats? Schedule an appointment with a Clean Origin diamond expert here.