One Carat, Two Carats... How Many is Enough for Different Occasions?

how to choose engagement or wedding ring

As soon as you let the size of the diamond influence the budget, you'll either find yourself in a lot of debt, or you may be sacrificing the clarity of the diamond.

Carat – not to be confused with karat or carrot – is defined as a unit of mass equal to 200 mg (1 carat = 0.2 grams) used for measuring the weight of diamonds. One carat equals a fifth of a gram (0.20 grams) – or about the weight of a small paper clip – so there are five carats to the gram. The gemstones are also sold per carat.

The English word carat comes from the Greek word for keration ('little horn'), referring to the shape of the seedpods of the carob tree. These seeds are small and uniform in weight; therefore, they were a standard for weighing gemstones in early times.

The metric carat was adopted as an international standard in 1907 at the Fourth General Conference on Weights and Measures.

Meanwhile, karat is something different – it is used as a measure of the purity of gold, such as 14 karat yellow gold.

Now, when you’re purchasing a piece of jewelry to be given as a gift for a specific occasion, how do you know what carat weight to buy? Whether in diamonds or other gemstones, do more carats always mean better appearance or greater value? Do two stones of the same carat weight look similarly in two pieces of jewelry?

Read on to find out the answers to these and more questions that may arise in choosing the best jewelry for your significant other on some of traditional occasions.

Engagement ring: the traditional diamond

Buying a one of a kind engagement ring for your loved one can be a scary task, as there are so many things to take into consideration: from the 4C’s to the style and the budget you can or are willing to spend.

According to a survey undertaken in 2017, the average carat size of the center stone is 1.2 carats, while the average carat size for the total ring is 1.8 carats.

For most people, the higher the number of carats, the better! Most engagement rings at a jewelry store have between a 1/5th carat and upwards.

Size wise, a 1-carat diamond is about that of a pea. It seems to be the perfect size for a diamond solitaire, as it is not too big, not too small, and suits all hand sizes.

You may think that 1.00ct diamonds are highly priced, but the value does vary quite a bit depending on many other things.

It's important to remember that carats are a unit of weight, not a measurement of size. Depending on how it is cut, a one-carat gem may look much larger or smaller.

For example, a one-carat diamond with a round cut may be 6.5 mm in diameter, but a princess cut diamond of the same weight is only 5.5 mm.

As soon as you let the size of the diamond influence the budget, you'll either find yourself in a lot of debt, or you may be sacrificing the clarity of the diamond.

If you've got a modest budget and you want to reach the average of 0.6 carat, you'll need to make sure you've got enough for the setting as well. The chances are the quality of the diamond you get will be quite poor.

A smaller diamond with a much better cut will always determine how brilliant the diamond will be. A sparkly diamond can hide inclusions, mask colour, and even look larger.

It’s useful to know the way diamonds are measured and priced, but their ultimate value will be entwined with your most precious memories. Gemstones size chart cannot measure that, nor can monetary value reflect it.

Wedding ring: something worn every day

While choosing the right engagement ring is fretted and mulled over for months, the wedding band can be something of an afterthought. But as a piece of jewelry people wear for the rest of their life, it pays to spend a bit of time finding the perfect wedding ring.

Wedding bands range in setting style from prong to pave to bezel. They can come set with a variety of stones. You can mix white diamonds and color diamonds or gemstones.

The idea is to choose something that becomes a part of your spouse’s life seamlessly.

For instance, if they play sports or an instrument, a slimmer ring with rounded edges (appropriately called the “comfort fit") may make the most sense. Some people like dainty stuff, some like honkers… Some women prefer the extra sparkle on their wedding band, while others want to keep the attention on their engagement ring. You have to observe to decide.

When is one carat more than one carat? The stone shape and cut can have a big impact on whether a stone looks true to its carat weight. From classic round to funky trillion, each cut shows its size differently.

It may maximize the carat weight and appear quite large, or it may have qualities that make it look a bit smaller. For example, in cushion cut, the rounded edges create the illusion that the stone is larger than it is, because it is neither a circle nor a square.

Also, you can make the gemstone look bigger. Let’s say, you want to buy her a 0.4 carat gemstone…On a thin solitaire ring, it’s not a very big look. But if you surround that gemstone with a sparkling halo of stones, then suddenly, that small stone looks huge! It transforms that gem into something impressive and flashy.

A really good trick is to break that carat weight up! If she wants a 1.00 carat stone ring, then purchase a ring that has multiple stones (instead of just one), that total 1.00 altogether.

If you cut a few points off the carat weight, you’ll save a lot. It’s called “Buying Shy”. But it’s actually just a “lighter” carat weight. Which means, instead of buying a 1.00 carat diamond, buy a 0.93 carat one.

You’ll save a ton of dough, and still achieve the same appearance. This is because it’s very difficult to tell the difference of a couple of points with the bare eye.

Review several styles before making your final decision. You can always trade up for a nicer ring in a few years when your financial picture is more established.

Anniversary ring

While there are no specific rules for when you should give anniversary jewelry, there are some established traditions regarding what type of jewelry you should give.

Each anniversary is associated with a different type of metal or gemstone, from gold and silver to pearls, sapphires and other gemstones. You can find many recommendations online for buying anniversary rings depending on the year of your anniversary.

With colored gemstones, this carat law is even more muddled and unrealistic. For example, a high-quality ruby of three carats may be more valuable and rarer than a ruby of over 200 carats, as huge rubies are common, but full of serious inclusions. These giant specimens are impossible to cut into fine stones because of their flaws; therefore, their value is very low.

Also, remember that size and weight are different. For example, one cubic millimeter of sapphire will be twice as heavy as one cubic millimeter of opal because the sapphire's specific gravity is twice that of opal. Online, you can find specific calibrated sizes for more information.

Many types of gemstones may be limited to certain sizes or weights. In most cases, certain gem types will only be available in small sizes, but there are a handful of gems known to be available only in large sizes as well, such as ametrine.

This type of bicolor quartz is rarely found in gems weighing less than 5 carats, since cutting it down any smaller could reduce or even eliminate its attractive colors.

Other gems, such as alexandrite and demantoid garnet, are extremely rare in large sizes.

While it is important to look at the carat weight of the gemstone, there is no law that states you need to stick to it. In choosing a stone for the ring to give your significant other, our best advice would be to take your time, trust your own taste, do ask for a “gemological certificate” from an independent laboratory and above all, compare. You can make independent research by using online services such as gemstone carat weight and price calculator.

But remember, the carat is only one of the four factors that determine the value of a gemstone in a ring. The other three, such as cut, color or clarity, will also greatly affect the price of gemstones.