You’ve probably heard of a carat, especially if you’ve been in the market for a diamond engagement ring. But, how much do you know about it? Do you know what the abbreviations “ct” and “CTW” stand for?
Don’t worry if you have no idea. We’ll tell you everything about carat weight in this article.
But, if all this talk about diamonds is getting confusing, why not check out our cubic zirconia rings? They’re affordable, elegant, and you don’t need to worry about complicated terminology!
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What’s a carat?
A carat is a unit used to measure the weight of a diamond and is one of the famous 4Cs. A single carat weighs 200 milligrams. This means that a 1-carat diamond is 200 milligrams in weight.
The higher the carat weight, the more the diamond is worth. What about when there’s more than one gemstone in a piece of diamond jewelry? This is where total carat weight comes in.
A carat is not to be confused with karat (with a k). Karat refers to the purity of gold and has nothing to do with diamond weight!
The abbreviation “ct” means carat. A carat or ct refers to the carat weight of a single diamond.
The abbreviation “CTW” means carat total weight. This is also referred to as “CTTW,” total carat weight, or just total weight. Carat total weight refers to the carat weight of every diamond in a single piece of jewelry. This can also be referred to as “diamond total weight” or “DTW” as well as “total weight” or “TW.”
Carat weight versus total weight
Here are two examples to illustrate the difference between the carat weight of a diamond and carat total weight.
First, imagine a diamond ring with a single small center diamond. Next to it, there’s a solitaire engagement ring with a much larger diamond. The diamond in the first ring might have a carat weight of 0.2 carats. In contrast, the diamond in the engagement ring would have a much heavier carat weight, say 1 carat.
Now imagine a diamond ring that has multiple diamonds. There’s a large center diamond that has a carat weight of 1 carat. Then, there are two smaller diamonds to either side of the center stone, each weighing 0.2 carats. So, the total carat weight would be the larger diamond’s carat weight plus the carat weight of the two smaller diamonds. It, therefore, has a 1.4-carat total weight.
So if you see a diamond engagement ring with the marking “2 DTW,” “2 TW,” or “2 CTW,” it means that all of the diamonds on the ring have a 2-carat total weight (0.4 grams).
It’s important to know the difference between individual carat weight and the total weight of all diamonds in a piece of jewelry. You don’t want to accidentally buy diamond jewelry thinking that it has a huge 2-carat diamond when it actually has ten 0.2-carat diamonds!
Total carat weight can also help you compare jewelry. Comparing total carat weight across a selection of jewelry can help you determine which gives you more diamond for your dollar.
A higher carat diamond can weigh far more than small diamonds, depending on the quality and size differences. Also, keep in mind that diamond prices depend on more than just diamond size—including clarity, color, cut, and more! And, of course, if you’re shopping for loose diamonds, total carat weight is irrelevant!
Now that you know all about carat weight, do you need to brush up on the other 4Cs?
Different gemstone varieties will have different sizes at the same carat. This is because every gemstone has a different density. So a 1-carat diamond is a different size than a 1-carat opal, for instance.
Another important factor when it comes to the size of a diamond is the cut. A deeper cut will make a larger carat diamond look smaller because a lot of the diamond will be hidden inside the ring setting. So it can be smart to buy a shallower and smaller diamond in some cases. These can look like a bigger diamond with a larger carat weight in the right ring!
Buying your next diamond
Remember these two tips:
Carat weight refers to the weight of a single diamond.
Carat total weight refers to the combined weight of multiple diamonds.
The next time you’re at a jeweler with a friend and they ask you, “What does CTW stand for?” you’re going to be able to give them the full answer!