Diamonds are sold by the carat (shown as ct.), which is actually a unit of weight, though most think of a carat in terms of size. The word “carat” comes from the “carob” seed, the original unit of measure for diamond traders. Today, a carat is equal to exactly 0.2 grams (about the weight of a paper clip). Carat weight is unrelated to the similar sounding karat, which refers to gold’s purity. (Learn more about precious metals)
Two diamonds of equal carat weight can have very different costs based on other factors (such as cut, color, and clarity). In understanding the importance of carat weight, know thy partner. If the recipient’s heart is set on a certain size diamond, then carat weight will probably be the most important factor in your search until the desired size is attained. At that point, other criteria will take on more importance. Most women can tell you the carat weight and shape of their ideal diamond, and most men can tell you the price.