Carat – is it a weight or a value?

The term carat is perhaps the term most often used when talking about diamonds – but what does it really mean and what is its significance?


Contrary to generally accepted opinion, a carat isn’t a measure of value, but rather of weight.  One carat equals 200 Mg. of mass and is used to measure the weight of gemstones (including diamonds) and pearls. When used in relation to gold it is a measure of purity.  It can be spelt either carat (UK spelling) or karat (US spelling).


What’s The Value Of One Carat Diamond

So, now that we’ve established that carat refers to volume or weight, how does a diamond’s carat value effect its financial value?  Well since the value of a diamond is calculated according per carat, the bigger (heavier) the diamond, the more expensive it will be – usually!


There are additional factors that influence a diamond’s value.  These include color, clarity and cut (see our articles on these subjects) and all have a direct influence on the value of a cut and polished diamond sold to the public or a dealer. 


For example (and please remember these are general figures used to give you an idea of the differences in value). A 1 carat white, flawless diamond could command a retail value of around $20,000 with prices dropping to as low as $100 for an equivalent carat weight, badly flawed stone.


How Does Carat Translate Into Size


Even though carat refers to weight, we still need a size reference to give us a general idea of how big or small a diamond will be.  So, the table below shows the average expected sizes for cut diamonds ranging from 0.25 carats to 5 carats.


More Is Better


For many people, the dream is to own a single, large carat diamond.  However, as we already know, the larger the polished diamond so generally, the higher its price (more about that later).  So what’s the solution?  Here old and modern technologies come together to provide a solution. 


Modern equipment and the age old skills of the diamond cutter now make it possible to produce from one, suitable, rough diamond, a series of smaller diamonds.  Also, very low carat diamonds can now be cut and polished effectively making them more available on the market.  This means that a piece of diamond jewelry can use many different carat weight stones to produce a dramatic effect – but at a lower cost.


What’s more, often a design incorporating many stones of different weights can be more beautiful and have a greater visual impact than a piece with one large stone.  


Big, Bigger & Biggest

OK, now’s the time to feast your eyes on some of the world’s most famous, biggest and most expensive diamonds ever!  These are the diamonds that are so fantastically expensive that even in your dreams you wouldn’t be able to afford them.  But, on the other hand, dreams can be fulfilled…


Now let’s start the countdown of the world’s 10 largest cut diamonds – from the “smallest” to the largest.


1. The Jonker – Found in South Africa by a man called…Jonker, the 726 carat stone was cut into 13 smaller diamonds with thelargest, known as the Jonker1 weighing 143 carats and an estimated value of $3,000,000.


2. The Vargas, a 726.6 carat stone found in 1938 in Brazil that was cut into 26 stones, the largest being 44.17 carats, by US diamond expert and cutter Harry Winston.


3.The Golden Jubilee, a yellowish-brown rough diamonds weighed 755 carats when discovered in South Africa in 1985.  The largest cut diamond ever produced came from this stone.  At 545.67 carats it is owned by the Thai Royal Family and worth an estimated $4 million.  If the original diamond had been a clear diamond, it would have been worth around $14 million.


4. The Woyie River – discovered in 1945 in Sierra Leone in the river that gave it its name.  Weighing 770 carats, it was eventually cut into 30 smaller stones.


5. The Millennium Star - found in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1995, the rough stone weighed 777 carats.  The world’s second largest, colorless and flawless cut diamond, 201.04 carats, was cut from the Millennium and, because of purity has been insured for over $160 million.


6. The incomparable Diamond – this yellow-brown stone was found in a pile of rubble in the Congo in 1989.  Cutting the stone was a challenge but resulted in a stunning, triangular shaped 407.48 carat diamond.


7. Star of Sierra Leone – a 969 carat diamond, discovered in 1972 renowned for its chemical purity.  It was purchased by Harry Winston for less than $2.5 million.  The “Star” was eventually cut into 17 stones, 13 of which are classed as flawless.


8. The Excelsior Diamonddiscovered in the Jagersfontein Mine in South Africa, in 1893. Until the discovery of the Cullian Diamond (see below) the “Excelsior”, at 995.2 carats, was largest rough diamond ever found.  It was cut into a series of 10 smaller diamonds, the largest weighing in at 69.68 carats.   This largest diamond, known as the Excelsior 1, sold for $2,642,000 in 1996.


9. The Cullian Diamond is the largest clear diamond ever found and weighed in at a massive 3106 carats – that’s around 620 grams!  It was found in South Africa in 1905 and cut into 105 diamonds including the world famous Great Star of Africa (530 Carats) and Lesser Star of Africa (317 carats) which are part of the UK’s Crown Jewels.  Estimated value – 2 billion US dollars!


10. The Sergio Diamond, found in Brazil in 1893 is a black diamond (also known professionally as a “carbonado”) that before cutting into some 13 polished stones was a massive 3167 carats, about 635 grams.  However, some experts claim that the extremely rare black diamonds are not real diamonds but have their origins as fragments from a meteorite that struck earth millions of years ago.


So, there you have it, the world’s 10 largest diamonds.  You may not be able to afford one of them, but you’re sire to find the perfect diamond for your needs and budget here at Couplez.


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