CTW Meaning in Diamond Jewelry: The Complete Guide

We’re glad you’re here, glad that you’re looking for a diamond engagement ring to celebrate a beautiful new beginning in your life.

Our purpose and passion here is helping first time shoppers to understand diamonds, engagement rings, and how to get exactly what you’re looking for at a price you can afford — even if you think you can’t.

That’s why we’re here to answer any and all of your questions.

CTW meaning is a common question among anyone shopping for a diamond engagement ring for the first time.

What does CTW Mean in Diamond Jewelry?

CTW means Carat Total Weight. It’s the total weight, measured in carats, of all the diamonds included on the ring.

So for example, suppose a ring has the following three diamonds:

  • One 0.75-carat center diamond
  • One 0.25-carat diamond on one side of the center diamond
  • One 0.25-carat diamond on the other side of the center diamond

Then the CTW is 0.75 + 0.25 + 0.25 = 1.25 CTW. In other words, it has 1.25 carats of total weight, measured in carats, in diamonds.

How to Avoid Being Fooled by Disreputable Sellers’ Use of CTW

I’ll add more about the meaning of CTW, below, just to make sure you nail down the concept.

I’ll also show you other variants of the same abbreviation. (There are a surprisingly large number.)

But first, here I’ll explain how high-pressure ads and salespeople can trick the unsuspecting buyer.

To avoid that, follow these rules when buying any diamond:

  1. Always buy from a reputable seller such as James Allen, Brian Gavin, or Blue Nile. (Yes, we refer to them constantly here. But it’s because they have stellar reputations. It’s because we know you can trust them. It’s not because we earn a small commission from their sales linked to us — because virtually every retailer on the Internet pays such commissions. We chose these three because you can trust them.)
  2. Always carefully examine the lab grading report for any diamond on any ring you’re looking at. This prevents any misunderstandings. They show you exactly what you are getting. You can often find them linked at the product pages of diamonds offered for sale at reputable seller such as James Allen, Blue Nile, or Brian Gavin.

Why You Should Pay Extra Attention to CTW

It’s because, although the meaning of TCW is perfectly well accepted, and the term is used by perfectly reputable sellers (it’s used by everyone), it’s also used by unscrupulous sellers to manipulate unsuspecting buyers.

It can manipulate you into believing you’re getting a deal, when you’re really not.

As we’ve seen in other pages here, there are no huge deals in diamond buying. Diamonds themselves are never discounted by reputable sellers. (Even disreputable sellers aren’t really discounting diamonds. They just make you think they are, for example by using this CTW trick.)

So here’s an example. Which of the following pitches do you think is most manipulative of unsuspecting buyers new to shopping for engagement rings?

  • Huge Savings — Black Friday Only! — 50% off — Get this 2-Carat Diamond Engagement ring (CTW) for $2,000
  • Huge Savings — Black Friday Only! — 2 CTW. Diamond Engagement Ring (20 diamonds of 0.1 carats each) for $2,000

The second one tells you the real story. It’s less effective as a manipulation. (Still, of course, it has red flags all over it. Diamonds are never really discounted, although the rings themselves — not the diamonds — can sometimes see some discounting.)

The first one is pure fantasy, as it tries to trick you into believing you can get a 2-carat (single) diamond for $2,000.

And that’s a perfect example of why we publish this site — to arm you against that kind of trickery.

Frequently Asked Questions about CTW

Here are a few common questions regarding CTW in diamond jewelry:

How Is CTW Used by Reputable Sellers?

It’s simply listed in the specifications of a ring or at most just simply listed in the product title. It’s not used manipulatively.

Is the Gold or Other Metal of a Ring Counted in the CTW Meaning?

No. Only the weight of the gemstones (in this case, diamonds) is counted in totaling the CTW.

What Is the Difference Between Ct and CTW?

Ct just means carat(s). For example, suppose a diamond solitaire (a diamond ring with one diamond gemstone only, and no other gemstones at all) is listed as a 0.75 Ct ring, you can know that it’s a 0.75 Carat diamond.

CTW means there are more than one diamond, since CTW means “carats of total weight.”

As in: 1.21 CTW, or “1.21 carats of total weight, counting all the diamonds on this piece of jewelry.”

Does CTW Count Any Other Kinds of Gemstone on the Ring? What If There Are 3 Diamonds and 2 Emeralds?

No — not at reputable sellers, anyway. All kinds of things happen at disreputable or fly-by-night sellers on the Internet.

But at a reputable seller (such as, for example, James Allen, Blue Nile, or Brian Gavin), each kind of gemstone gets its own CTW in the listing.

Suppose you were looking at a diamond engagement ring which had:

  • One center diamond of 0.75 carats
  • Two diamonds of 0.5 carats each
  • Two emeralds of 0.25 carats each

The diamond CTW would be 0.75 + 0.5 + 0.5 (the center + the two smaller diamonds) = 1.75 CTW.

The emerad CTW would be 0.25 + 0.25 = 0.5 CTW.

What Does CTW 0.01 Diamond mean?

In very low cost jewelry, not fine diamonds, you may come across a ring which offers several very small diamonds totaling up to only 0.01 CTW (carats of total weight, which as we said above just means “total weight, measured in carats, of all the diamonds on this piece of jewelry”).

What About the Meaning of TCW? Is It the Same as CTW?

Unfortunately, CTW isn’t a standard abbreviation. Stores use several different abbreviations.

But fortunately, it’s easy because they all mean the same thing. All of these expressions mean the same as CTW. (They all mean the total weight, in carats, of all the diamonds on the ring.)

  • CTW
  • TCW
  • CTTW
  • tcw
  • Ctw
  • c.w.
  • t.w.
  • w.
  • And at some retailers you’ll even see TDW (total diamond weight). In that case you’ll see something like “1/2-Ct. TDW”. It still means the total weight, in carats, of all the diamonds on the ring.


Now you know the meaning of CTW, in diamonds. And the other expressions such as TCW, TDW, and all the rest.

Everyone has asked your question about TCW meaning, because quite frankly the diamond engagement ring (and other jewelry) industry just hasn’t yet settled on a standard abbreviation.

But no problem, now that you know.

All the abbreviations such as CTW mean the same thing. They all mean the total weight, in carats, of all the diamonds on the ring.