Just when you were starting to feel like you got your head around the four Cs, there’s another mysterious abbreviation you’ve got to work out: CTTW.
While you won’t see it on every piece of diamond jewelry you come across, CTTW is an important and common sight to see, usually included alongside other information about cut, color, and clarity.
Don’t panic – it’s a pretty easy concept once you’re able to recognize what it means for diamond jewelry, and will prove very useful if you’re shopping for pieces that are sold with more than one diamond included.
CTTW stands for Carat (CT) Total Weight (TW). This might also be expressed as ‘total carat weight’, or under the abbreviation CTW, but it will mean the same thing regardless: the total weight of all diamonds included within a piece of jewelry.
By now, you’ve probably gotten used to the concept of carats: representing a weight of 0.2 grams each, they are by far the most commonly used unit of measurement for diamonds. So, as one example, 1.5 carat diamond weighs 0.3 grams, or 300 milligrams, and so on…
Now Imagine you have a ring setting that features a pavé band, which included many melee diamonds. Or, alternatively, a halo setting made up of, say, sixteen accent diamonds. The best way for jewelers to summarise that ring is by offering a CTTW, or a carat total weight for that ring, rather than listing the individual carats of each diamond used.
So, the total carat weight of that halo setting could be say, 2.5 carats. If you were to add your 1.5 carat diamond into the center of that ring, the ring would then have a CTTW of 4 carats.
For the same reason that your center diamond’s carat weight is important to know: it will influence the overall value of the ring.
Obviously, when you’re shopping from a trustworthy jeweler, then you don’t need to get caught-up on the idea of being able to ‘outwit’ the seller – but it’s still handy to understand this method for understanding the overall value of the ring, since your jeweler will definitely want to make you aware of it.
Any piece of diamond jewelry that features more than one lone diamond will have a CTTW, whether you’re shopping for a pair of diamond earrings, a pavé infinity ring or, of course, an engagement ring. Jewelers don’t just add these small, accent diamonds into jewelry and guess at the cost – every slight change in carat weight is noted down, and used to determine the item’s value.
Still, it’s important that you learn the most significant difference between a 1 carat diamond and a collection of smaller diamonds with a CTTW of 1…
CT is an abbreviation for Carat, while CTTW refers to the total carat weight of a piece of jewelry.
Since a diamond solitaire will only ever feature one diamond, it will only ever offer the carat weight (or CT) of that diamond, rather than a CTTW for the ring.
However, plenty of rings feature accent stones on the shank, within a halo or hidden halo. If you were to talk to your jeweler about this Princess Cut Pavé Engagement Ring in Yellow Gold, for example, then they would provide you with a unique CTTW for the accent stones, plus whatever the carat weight of the center diamond turns out to be.
We mentioned above that there’s a key difference (aside from the obvious) between CT and CTTW, and it’s price.
The value of a 1 CT diamond will not be the same it is for a collection of diamonds with a CTTW of 1. While, in terms of weight, you’re getting the same ‘amount’ of diamond, larger diamonds are considered far more valuable than smaller diamonds, which are typically created as a ‘byproduct’ during the cutting process for larger diamonds.
This is the same reason why a 2 carat diamond won’t simply cost doubt what a 1 carat diamond with the same cut, color, and clarity grades. Price increases exponentially.
A 0.1 carat diamond won’t cost a tenth of the price of a 1 carat diamond, which means that a CTTW of 1 won’t cost the same as a single, 1 carat stone.
CTTW is a unit of measurement, not a diamond.
It’s pretty common for first-time shoppers to presume that a piece of diamond jewelry accompanied by the tag ‘CTTW’ is, perhaps, not made of real diamond at all. After all, the abbreviation CZ refers to the somewhat convincing (though definitively inferior and less valuable) Cubic Zirconia, right?
Well, fortunately, CTTW is not some shady attempt at pulling the wool over your eyes – so don’t let this deter you from an otherwise beautiful piece of jewelry.
Each diamond is typically around 0.01 – 0.02 carats, but the total carat weight can vary from a fraction of a carat, to much, much higher.
This is definitely a case of ‘how long is a piece of string?’
A half-pavé band can feature a handful of melee diamonds under 0.01 carat each, while a full pavé band can be created from many, slightly larger diamonds – any anywhere in between.
In essence, there is no ‘standard’ for pavé bands, and they can be designed totally different from one another according to your taste and budget. Any piece of diamond jewelry a reputable jeweler offers will be accompanied by a CTTW, and will influence the overall cost of the ring.
This would translate to a total carat weight of 0.25 – or 0.05 grams (one quarter of a carat).
Melee diamonds, or the diamonds used in pavé settings, can be incredibly small and, individually, feature very, very low carat weights. For this reason, the total carat weight of, say, an engagement ring before the center diamond is added can sound pretty low (although this depends entirely on the number and size of diamonds used in it).
These days, many grooms like to incorporate a little sparkle into their wedding band. If, say, they chose to use the flush setting to incorporate a couple of very small diamonds into the band, then the CTTW of that ring could well be as low as 0.25.
While, for the center stone, we’d recommend aiming for a diamond at or above 1 carat in weight, there really is no ‘ideal’ CTTW for the ring itself.
Some of the most beautiful and classic engagement ring styles will have a CTTW of zero before the center diamond is added. This Oval Cathedral Engagement Ring in Yellow Gold, for instance, features only the center stone, and no additional accents within the setting itself. So, say you decided to use this 2 Carat F-VSI Oval Diamond, your ring would have a CTTW of 2.
Then again, some of the most popular and enduring styles feature plenty of small, complementary melee diamonds that will raise the CTTW of the ring considerably. Say you placed that same diamond within this Oval Halo Engagement Ring in Rose Gold; the CTTW of the completed piece may be double that of the first ring – if not more.
An even more extreme example of the different total carat weights engagement rings feature would be the three stone engagement ring setting, like this Three Stone Oval Engagement Ring in Platinum. While this features fewer separate diamonds than the halo, each one will boast a carat weight that will be significantly higher than the previous ring’s accent stones, meaning a potentially higher total carat weight.
Basically, while you’re probably leaning towards one of the rings on this list, there’s no right or wrong total carat weight for any engagement ring. All of these rings are beautiful, and representative of very popular styles among brides-to-be.
The CTTW of your engagement ring matters to its value, not its beauty – or, for that matter, the impact it will have when you finally give it to your future bride.
CTTW is an important concept to get your head around, since you’ll likely run into it a lot as you start researching engagement rings, taking a look at styles and, most importantly, working out what sort of prices the type of rings you like tend to fetch at the jewelry store.
It’s definitely not as important a concept to your engagement ring as the Four Cs, or the design of the setting itself, but it does matter to the overall cost. If you want to lower the cost, then lowering the CTTW (by, for instance switching from a full pavé to a half pavé) is a good place to start, which is why it’s great to feel confident using CTTW in conversation.