The 4 Cs:
Understanding Diamond Carat Weight
When we talk about diamond "size," we typically discuss diamond size in terms of weight, and a diamond's weight is measured in carats.
Note: Don't confuse karat and carat. "Karat" with a "K" is a measure of gold's purity (or fineness) out of a total of 24 parts. To learn more about metal purity, please read this article: Understanding Precious Metal Quality. "Carat" with a "C" is a unit used to measure a gemstone's weight.
The average engagement diamond size/weight (we will use these interchangeably) is around 1 carat. As we discuss size and offer some helpful tips, we will use this 1 carat size as our main point of reference.
All of the information we've covered in previous sections will come together in this final chapter (please read the pages on diamond cut and color/clarity before going further).
Here are the most important things you need to know when choosing the size of your diamond:
"Big Gets Noticed, Beautiful Gets Admired"
The main point we've hammered again and again is that CUT is by far the most important C, and that's particularly important to remember when thinking about choosing the size of your diamond.
A piece of advice we've shared with our customers for years is : "Big gets notice, but beautiful gets admired." And if it's your goal to get a BEAUTIFUL diamond that takes your breath away, that gets noticed and admired, then it's worth considering choosing a smaller diamond of a better cut quality.
If you opt for a larger diamond, but it isn't cut as well, it may be big but it will likely appear dull, lifeless, and lacking the sparkle that diamonds are known for.
Well-Cut Diamonds Look Bigger Than They Are
Another thing to remember if you're choosing between BIG or beautifully cut, is that the incredible display of brightness and sparkle of a well-cut diamond will make it appear larger than it actually is.
Conversely, a large diamond that's poorly cut can look smaller or less impressive than it should.
Often you can go slightly smaller and pay for the better cut, and you won't even notice the decrease in size because of what you gain in sparkle.
There Is No "Standard" Price For a 1 Carat Diamond
One of the questions we get a lot from new engagement ring shoppers is: "How much does a 1 carat diamond cost?"
And if you read the previous sections you'll know instinctively at this point that the answer to that question can vary wildly.
An ideal cut 1 carat diamond is going to command a much higher price than a poorly cut diamond because of it's exceptional sparkle.
A F color, VVS1 clarity 1 carat diamond will be worth far more than a M color, I1 clarity diamond because of it's incredible rarity.
Because of other quality factors, a 1 carat diamond can be worth $2,000... Or it can be worth $25,000.
This is why we always coach engagement ring shoppers to consider all other factors of a diamond's quality BEFORE thinking about diamond size.
The Price You Pay For "1 Carat"
This tip is a matter of personal preference, but it's a helpful tip if you're looking for ways to get the appearance of a 1 carat diamond while saving some on the price:
As we've said, much of a diamond's value is determined by its rarity among other diamonds, and gem-quality diamonds over 1 carat are rare.
And this is reflected in the price of any diamond of 1.00 carat or more.
Now, some people want that feeling of buying a rare, true 1.00 carat+ diamond. If that's you, we totally understand. That rarity will contribute to the long-term value of your diamond.
But if you're shopping for an engagement ring and you can be satisfied by buying "in the neighborhood" of 1 carat, you can save some money by buying a 0.90 carat, for example.
You will actually pay a premium for the rarity of a diamond being over the 1.00 carat mark. By staying slightly under, you can get the "look" of a 1 carat diamond without the 1.00 carat+ price bump.
A Simple Approach To Choosing Your Diamond's Carat Weight
For most engagement ring shoppers, we recommend beautifully cut diamonds in the "near colorless" and "slightly included" range. This gives you a diamond with incredible sparkle and looks "clean and white" to the naked eye.
And we recommend you prioritize the 4 Cs in that way: Cut first, color and clarity second, carat weight last.
If you shop this way, the choice of carat weight becomes simple. Buy the biggest diamond you can or want to, within the cut/color/clarity criteria you've decided on.