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Professional terminology of gemstones – Carat Weight


The term “carat” originated in ancient times when gemstones were weighed against the carob bean. Each bean weighed about one carat. Gem traders were aware, though, that the weights varied slightly. This made it advantageous for them to own both “buying” beans and “selling” beans.

In 1913, carat weight was standardized internationally and adapted to the metric system, with one carat equaling 1/5 of a gram. The term “carat” sounds more impressive and is easier to use than fractions of grams. Consequently, it is the preferred unit of weight for gemstones.

The weight of small stones is frequently expressed in points, with one point equaling 0.01 carats. For example, five points is the same as five one-hundredths of a carat. Contrary to what is sometimes assumed, jewelers do not use “point” to refer to the number of facets on a stone.

Effects of carat weight on price - Most people are familiar with the principle, the higher the carat weight the greater the value. However, in actual practice, this principle is more complicated than it appears. This can be illustrated by having you arrange the following four ruby rings in the order of decreasing value. Assume that the quality and shape of all the rubies are the same and that the ring mountings have equivalent values. When comparing the cost of rubies and sapphires, you should also start noting the per carat cost instead of concentrating on the total cost of the stone. This makes it easier to compare prices more accurately, which is why dealers buy and sell gems using per-carat prices.

Sizes versus carat weight – Sometimes in the jewelry trade, the term “size” is used as a synonym for “carat weight.” This is because size and weight are directly related. However, as corundum stones increase in weight, their size because less predictable. This means that a 0.90 carat sapphire may look as bigger than a 1.05 carat sapphire. Therefore, you need to consider stone measurements as well as carat weight when buying rubies and sapphires. You don’t need to carry a millimeter gauge with you when you go shopping. Just start noting the different illusions of size that various stone shapes and measurements can create.

You should also note that rubies and sapphires normally have different measurements than other gemstones of the same weight. For example, because of its higher density, a one-carat ruby is considerably smaller than a one-carat emerald. Rubies and sapphires are heavier than diamonds and most colored stones. One major exception is the garnet. Depending on the type, garnets may have a similar or greater density than corundum stones.

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