A BALANCING ACT
It's the old quandary. Is bigger better or is less more?
Both, actually, when it comes to diamonds. Size is sought after, naturally; but overall quality counts in the stretch.
This balance of size and quality makes up much of the art of a professional gem cutter. It is the cutter's job to produce a gorgeous diamond while giving the consumer the highest CARATAGE for his or her money.
Caratage means CARAT, the measurement used to weigh a diamond.
The word carat is taken from the perfectly matched carob seeds that people once used in ancient times to balance scales. So uniform in shape and weight are these little seeds that even today's sophisticated instruments cannot detect more than three one-thousandths of a difference between them.
Don't confuse it with KARAT, the method of determining the purity of gold.
One Carat= 200 milligrams, or 0.2 grams. 142 carats adds up to one ounce. Carats are further divided into points.
What does all this mean, and how does it work?
The price of a diamond will always rise proportionately to the size of the stone. Large diamonds are rare and have a greater value per carat. So, in terms of points, remember that a one-carat diamond will cost much more than a 95 pointer.
In theory this may seem easy, but in practice it's far more complicated.
Look at it from the cutter's perspective. 250 tons of ore are blasted, crushed and processed to produce one carat of rough diamond. And only a fifth of all rough diamonds are suitable for gem cutting. This is the raw material that a cutter works with.
The challenge to the cutter is to give us a diamond of the greatest possible weight as well as one of the finest quality.
While diamond shape doesn't affect a stone's worth, the cutter must follow precise formulas for each stone shape. The advantage is sometimes on the cutter's side, because some diamond cuts can eliminate flawed or badly colored parts of the stone.
Either way, you can see how a cutter's skill is the determining factor in preserving the beauty of a diamond while maintaining its size and value.
GET IT IN WRITING
But in the end, how do you know you're getting your money's worth? Few consumers are diamond experts. That is why you get a CERTIFICATE when you buy a diamond.
In certificates, as in appraisals and receipts, a diamond's weight is clearly written in carats.