Wondering what engagement ring diamond would be best ? One of your key concerns is likely the carat size. What carat diamond is best, is it too big, too small, and will it put you in debt ? These are all valid questions, especially for something that you’re going to wear for the rest of your life, and a symbol of love.
Today we’re going to talk about and guide you through what carat diamond is best, whether 1 carat is enough, whether 2 carats are too much, and how you should go about choosing the perfect diamond size for that ring. Let’s take a look.
What carat diamond is best ?
The best diamond size is 1.00 carats, as it fits the shape and size of most people’s hands and is reasonably priced compared to other sizes. This is a round brilliant cut, usually measuring 6.5 mm across. The classic 1 carat round brilliant not only fits most people, it’s what is usually expected for a diamond engagement ring.
This is the average carat weight and size for an engagement ring diamond in America, and the average ring size is 6. So this is what you will usually see, in different settings, with a few variations. This is also the bulk of what jewelers usually stock.
If you’d like to stray from tradition the weight of the diamond still matters, but less so. This is because other shapes, such as a pear or an emerald cut diamond face up larger than a round brilliant. So a 0.70 ct pear would look as large as a round brilliant.
We will focus on the round brilliant in this post, but we will still talk about alternative diamond shapes and cuts, in case that is what you’re looking for.
Is a 1 carat diamond a good size ?
A 1 carat round brilliant diamond is a good size for most people, as it flatters most hand and finger sizes. If you have very small or very large hands, then the 1 carat might be too much or too little. In these cases you can either go for a different carat, or change the shape of the diamond entirely.
For example if your fingers are on the wider side, they might look better with an oval cut or radiant cut diamond, which face up larger than a round brilliant and also elongate the finger. That being said, the 1 carat size isn’t a catch-all size but it is the most popular and seems to fit best.
Read also: What Is Heirloom Jewelry ?
How much does a 1 carat round diamond cost ?
A 1 carat diamond can vary in price from $25,000 to $6,000, depending on clarity, cut quality, and color. The higher the quality, the higher the price, but it’s mostly clarity and then color that bring the price up.
So for example on BlueNile we’ve found 1 carat diamonds with E color, VVS2 clarity, and Ideal cut going for $15,000. The same filters on JamesAllen returned a $14,000 price tag. And on BrilliantEarth it returned a $11,000 price.
Let’s keep the color the same, bump up the clarity to IF, and keep the Ideal cut. On BlueNile this diamond sells for $18,000, on JamesAllen for $16,500 and on BrilliantEarth for $14,000.
Now let’s take a look at a 1 carat diamond with G color, VS1 clarity, and Very Good cut. On BlueNile it sells for about $10,000, on JamesAllen for $9,500, and on BrilliantEarth for $8,000.
You can tweak the various factors like clarity, cut, and color to get a lower price. And if you’re in a pinch, you can go for a slightly lower carat weight. Uneven weights like 0.97 are usually priced lower than even weights like 1.00 or 0.90. So going for a lower carat weight might help you out.
Let’s take a look at the same diamond we looked last time: G color, VS1 clarity, Very Good cut. But this time we’re looking at 0.90-0.95 carats. On BlueNile it sells for $7,700 or less, On JamesAllen for $8,000 or less, and on BrilliantEarth for $6,200 or less.
So as you can see just a slightly smaller carat weight will impact the total price but not the overall look of the diamond. The difference between a 0.92 diamond and a 1.00 ct one isn’t immediately obvious to the naked eye.
What to consider before settling on 1 carat diamond
Before you settle on a carat weight you should consider a few things. After all, a diamond is still expensive, no matter the carat size. And it’s always worth checking out diamond alternatives before settling on a diamond. Who knows, you might find something you enjoy. Back to diamonds, let’s take a look at the most important factors to keep in mind before getting a 1 carat diamond.
1. Take a look at the diamond’s color, clarity, and cut
Carat weight is just one of the 4cs of diamonds. You have a 1 carat diamond but is its color good enough for you ? What about the cut quality ? And the clarity ?
For example a 1 carat diamond with poor clarity will show all those imperfections because there’s a lot of diamond to show them. Or, if you’re getting a round brilliant with a yellow tint the only way to save it would be to use a yellow gold band, and that may or may not fit in with your preferences. If it does, all the better !
As for cut quality, that is something you cannot see for yourself because you need a magnifying glass and a lot of time to check the diamond on all its sides. But what you can immediately see is how much it sparkles (or not). A poor cut will be dull, and especially dull when compared to a good or excellent cut diamond.
Our point is that you should always check the clarity, cut quality, and color of your 1 carat diamond. Because carat weight influences price a lot, yes, but you can get a far lower price for a diamond that has lower clarity or a more noticeable color. And for this reason we recommend…
2. Always, always check the diamond in person
Looking online at something you might like is one thing, but checking the diamond in person is another. By checking the diamond you can compare it with other diamonds of the same weight, and compare color, clarity, and cut quality. Who knows, maybe you will find a 0.9 diamond with better color and clarity but of the same price as the original diamond.
Or perhaps you notice that your preferred 1 carat diamond is cut too deep or too shallow, and it’s only noticeable when compared to a perfect cut diamond. Browsing online is fine, but always check it in person.
3. Consider the shape of the diamond cut
Consider the diamond shape you’re buying. Are you sure you want a round brilliant ? We’re not discouraging you, we’re asking you to take a look at the pros and the cons of whatever diamond shape you’re thinking of. Here’s a quick rundown of the pros and cons of a round cut, the most popular choice.
Pros of a 1 ct round brilliant:
- is traditional, expected, will likely fulfill your fiancee’s want
- is the sparkliest diamond cut possible, especially calculated for maximum fire and brilliance
- is the most common and all jewelers carry it, you have plenty of options
- doesn’t show color that much, so you might be able to go one grade lower than usual
- is easy to incorporate in most ring designs
Cons of a 1ct round brilliant:
- is common, so if you or your loved one want to stand out it might not be the best
- is usually 30-35% more expensive than any other diamond cut
The other diamond shapes available all tend to face up larger than the round brilliant and are always more affordable, so you might get more bang for your buck. It’s key that you take a look at several options before deciding on a diamond shape, just to compare things.
For example a 1ct round will appear much smaller than a 1 ct oval, simply because the oval has extra length and carries some of the weight on the points as well. Conversely, a 1ct princess cut is not much larger than a round, but the square shape will always appear larger than the round shape.
Read also: How To Choose Diamond Side Stones
4. Consider the finger and hand size compared to 1 carat
The diamond will end up in a ring, which ends up on a finger. The ring and thus the diamond must compliment the wearer’s hands, and size does matter here. For example petite hands will make a 1 carat diamond look larger, most of the time. They can safely wear something like 0.7 carats and still achieve the same look, just because of those small, slender hands.
Meanwhile larger hands may benefit from a larger carat size, like 1.10 or 1.15 ct, to achieve a similar look. So you should consider the ring size when deciding whether a 1 carat diamond will be too big or too small. It’s always a good idea to go and try some rings on, from 0.9 ct to 1.10 ct and see which version works best for you.
Do keep in mind that your ring’s setting (like a halo or bezel) can make the diamond appear larger or smaller.
5. If you’re on a budget you might need to get creative
On a budget for that 1 ct diamond ? There are a few things you can do to make your life easier, be it lowering the carat weight or looking for alternatives. Let’s take a look at these options.
Try 0.9 ct diamond. That’s right, a slightly lower carat diamond can and will save you a lot of hassle while not taking too much from the overall beauty of the ring. The thing is, diamonds are not all perfect 1.00 ct, some are 0.97, some 1.01, some 1.11 and some are 0.89. The point is that the exact carat weight is not consistent and there are 1.00 ones but when compared to slightly smaller ones (like a 0.95 or a 0.92) they don’t appear that much larger.
But they do weigh less, so you would pay less, and the overall effect of the ring is the same. If you’re worried about it appearing too small, you can always go for a dainty milgrain bezel setting or a small halo.
Moissanite and lab-grown diamonds might come in handy. If a natural diamond goes beyond your budget there are two more options you can take. Your options are a lab-grown diamond or a moissanite.
A lab-grown diamond is still a diamond, with the same qualities and imperfections, but comes at about 60% the price of a natural diamond, simply because it is lab-grown. Will anyone know it’s lab grown if you don’t tell them ? No, not really, you can keep this to yourself if you want.
Moissanite is not a diamond, it is a diamond simulant, and is less than half the price of a lab-grown diamond. The downside to these is that they tend to have a bit too much sparkle (compared to a diamond) and reflect a double image so something with too many facets may end up looking fuzzy. Of course, this is if you’re trying to pass it off as a real diamond. Moissanite is a beautiful gem in its own right so you can proudly wear it as a moissanite.
Is a 2 carat diamond too big ?
A 2 carat diamond is only too big when it gets in the way of day to day activities and you risk damaging the ring or having it snag or get caught up in something. It may appear gaudy on a petite hand but just right on a larger hand, the same way a 1 carat diamond may look perfect on a petite hand but too small on a large hand.
Ultimately the 1 carat diamond is the average but you do not necessarily have to subscribe to that. If you like the look of a larger diamond on your hand and can afford it, then why not ? Attract some attention if you like, have fun. And the opposite is true as well, keep it sweet and simple if you don’t want a big ring.
It’s you (or your fiancee) who has to like the ring and wear it, so make sure whatever ring you choose, it’s something that fits with you or your fiancee’s style.
I’m the main author for jewelrymaterialguide.com. I started this site after we did tons of research before our wedding and noticed that there is information about rings, jewelry, and so on that is really hard to find on the internet.