For an engagement ring, expectations about carat weight are often at odds with the reality of diamond prices. Consider your options carefully and remember that even rings with small diamonds can be elegant and sparkly. Furthermore, telling the difference between small changes in weight can be difficult. For example, the diamond in the photo above is large, 1.50 cts, but certain engagement ring settings can make smaller stones look even larger than this one.
Keep in mind that the ring setting itself will cost some money. At a minimum, a simple solitaire would usually run around $250. A pavé band or halo setting will bring that cost to about $1,000, while three-stone settings start at around $1,500. More intricate designs and additional accent diamonds and gemstones increase the price of the setting, so it’s best to pick an engagement ring setting before finding your diamond.
A Note About Carats
Keep in mind that carats measure a diamond’s weight, not its dimensions or size. However, you can get an idea of the size of a round diamond by its carat weight.
For a diamond budget under $1,000, you’ll probably look at diamonds under 0.50 cts. Although round diamonds in this range are under 5 mm across, they can still be incredibly sparkly. Choosing low clarity and color grades will let you find the largest diamond you can, and, at this weight and size, clarity and color have little impact on beauty.
Very small diamonds of 0.10 cts make for beautiful, simple, and understated rings. For a minimalist style, this might be all you’re looking for.
Half-carat diamonds are a popular choice for engagement rings. With a diamond budget of about $1,000, you can find a half-carat round with great performance. At this weight, a solitaire will stand out, though halo settings are still great for additional sparkle.
A sweet spot in the compromise between size and price, diamonds around the 0.70-ct mark make great engagement ring stones. A diamond budget of about $2,000 can get you a fine diamond at this weight.
Almost one carat, 0.90 cts is a popular choice for those looking to save on a one-carat diamond. Unless someone’s measuring your diamond, they’ll never know that it’s below 1.00 ct, and the jump in pricing at the one-carat mark makes this diamond weight appealing to those looking for savings. However, since many consumers are opting for 0.90 cts, this has actually caused a small bump in price for diamonds in this range. Expect to spend around $3,000 to $4,000 for a well-cut round 0.90-ct diamond.
Because it’s the most popular weight, diamonds experience a price jump at 1.00 ct. The price jump is especially high for round diamonds, and, at this weight, you’ll get the most savings by choosing a fancy shape. With a budget of $4,500, you can find a great one-carat diamond. However, if you’re willing to compromise on clarity and color, you may be able to find a one-carat diamond at $3,000.
Sizes just over one carat are often overlooked. First-time diamond buyers who aim for a one-carat diamond often opt for higher color or clarity grades when they realize they have room in their budget. Why not go for a higher carat? At this weight, a diamond is noticeably larger than one carat and truly stunning. With a diamond budget of about $6,500, you can find a round 1.25-ct diamond with excellent performance. At $4,000, you could get a great diamond with a lower color grade.
At 1.50 cts, diamonds begin to look very large, and their sparkle will certainly draw attention. Of course, such a diamond comes with a hefty price tag. For a well-cut round in the near-colorless range, a 1.50-ct diamond will run about $9,000. If you’re willing to compromise on color, a budget of $5,500 could work.
If you’re looking for something big and noticeable, 2.00 cts will certainly make a statement. At this weight, a round diamond is a little over 8 mm in diameter (10 mm = 1 cm). However, finding a well-cut diamond of this size becomes difficult. Make sure you know what you’re looking for. For a diamond with great sparkle, you’ll need a budget of at least $16,000. Compromising on color can give you significant savings, and a budget of $9,000 to $10,000 should get you a beautiful diamond for a colored gold setting.
For a truly stunning ring, a 3.00-ct diamond may be just what you need. At this weight, there’s no doubt you’ll have a big rock. However, a ring like this has a big price, too. For a three-carat diamond with excellent cut and color, you’ll want to budget about $35,000. Again, lower color grades will cost you much less, around $23,000.
If only a celebrity-sized diamond will do, then a 5+ carat stone is what you’re looking for. At this weight, diamonds are not only eye-catching and large but also rare, and it’s even more difficult to find one with great performance. At this size, budget $60,000 to $100,000 for a well-cut diamond.