The abbreviation “CTW” can often be seen on diamond jewelry labels, but many people don’t know what these letters mean. Let’s see what CTW stands for and look more closely at how important this abbreviation is.
What Does CTW Mean in Diamond Jewelry?
In the context of diamond jewelry, CTW stands for “carat total weight” (or “carats total weight”). The term refers to the sum of the weights of all diamonds mounted in a piece of jewelry.
As an example, suppose you have a ring with one center diamond that weighs 1 carat and two smaller diamonds of 0.5 carats each.
The total carat weight of this piece of jewelry will be the sum of the individual weights of its stones, or 2 carats.
In other words, the ring will have a CTW of 2 carats, and you may see it labeled as “2 CTW.”
Carat Weight Basics
So what exactly do all these carat numbers mean?
Carat is simply a unit of weight, and 1 carat is equal to 0.2 grams.
Therefore, multiplying the carat weight of a diamond (or a group of diamonds) by 0.2 will give you the corresponding weight in grams.
For example, a ring that is 3 CTW contains diamonds that collectively weigh 0.6 grams.
As an example, take a look at these diamond rings with side stones — if you click on any one of them and read its details, you will see that the carat weight of the diamonds in its specs are listed as “total carat”, i.e. including the center stone and the side stones.
A note of caution: Do not mistake gold karats for diamond carats. Gold karat is commonly used to measure how pure a gold alloy is, i.e., how much of it consists of gold and what proportion is made up of other metals.
In contrast, carats, as we already saw, tell you how much a diamond weighs.
CTW and Other Similar Abbreviations
Apart from CTW, there are other abbreviations used to denote the total carat weight of a piece of diamond jewelry.
You can sometimes see the abbreviation DTW (or “dtw”) stamped on rings or other jewelry with diamonds. DTW simply means “diamond total weight” – essentially the same meaning as that of CTW.
Another abbreviation that means the same thing is TW (or “tw”), which is short for “total weight.”
So, if you see markings such as 2 CTW, 2 DTW, or 2 TW, you should know that they all mean the same thing.
Related: If you are interested in diamond jewelry and loose diamonds, you can use this diamond search tool to research diamond prices by carat, color, clarity, and cut.
Why CTW Is Important
The CTW number can be very useful because it allows you to compare different pieces of jewelry and figure out not only which contains more diamond (in terms of weight) but also which is a better deal.
For example, if you divide the price for each piece of jewelry you are considering by its total carat weight, you will see which one is cheaper per carat.
An important caveat: Take the price per carat for a certain piece of jewelry with a grain of salt, as this number may vary for a number of reasons.
For example, a ring that features larger stones can cost more per carat than another that has smaller diamonds. This is because bigger diamonds are rarer and therefore more expensive.
Another reason for why two pieces of jewelry may have different prices per carat is the quality of their diamonds. A ring featuring stones of lesser clarity and a lower color grade will most likely cost less per carat than another ring with diamonds of the same size but of better quality.
So, before you choose among several pieces of diamond jewelry, make sure you understand the reasons behind the differences between their prices per carat – whether they are due to the size of the diamonds, their quality, or something else.
Where to Buy Diamonds and Diamond Jewelry?
For diamond jewelry, we highly recommend James Allen because it shows real photos and videos for each diamond so you can take a 360-degree look at any stone before buying it.
For colored diamonds, we recommend Leibish & Co., which specializes in fancy color diamonds (use code JewelryNotes200 at checkout to get a 5% discount).