We’ve been noticing a wide range of engagement ring shapes and sizes. Of course, most of the gems in question have been spotted on celebs and trendsetters; in other words, they’re massive by our standards.

But what constitutes a “big” ring in the real world? To get a sense of what you and I would consider a large rock, Who What Wear tapped five-diamond experts to spill on the size they think ordinary people would consider big. Then we pooled their answers to find the average carat number.

Keep scrolling to see the final result and learn more from our panel of experts, including why people think this specific size is so jaw-dropping and which other factors go into how large a ring actually appears. Plus, go a bit further to check out recent “big” celeb diamonds and to shop engagement rings of any size. From round to cushion cut, the shape of diamond that you choose will have a huge impact on the look of your fiancé-to-be’s ring. It could also have a surprisingly large impact on the engagement ring’s price.

Diamonds come in a variety of shapes. You may decide to go with the timeless round cut, which is an excellent choice. After all, who can say no to a stunning diamond-like this? Other popular shapes include the princess, cushion and emerald cuts. Or you may follow your own sense of style. My personal favourite is the oval cut. In my mind, there is nothing more beautiful than a perfectly cut oval like this one. There are also several fancy diamond shapes, such as pear, heart and trillion-shaped diamonds. Each shape has its own advantages and disadvantages, from its appearance and brilliance to the price you’ll pay per carat.

Popular Engagement Ring Sizes

Stop in any jewellery store or take a quick browse online and you’ll find engagement rings available in all styles, cuts and sizes. Some of these are more traditional, using classic metals and cuts, while others are modern, using unexpected, unusual, and as unique cuts as the person receiving it. While there are many options, the majority of engagement rings end up sharing similar characteristics.

Most engagement rings boast a traditional round cut diamond weighing around 1-carat. This cut gives any ring a classic, sophisticated appearance. A well-cut diamond reflects light off internal surfaces and bounces back towards your eye. With a round cut diamond, the stone is cut in a way that is precisely designed to maximize the amount of light it reflects. This makes round cut diamonds one of the most brilliant diamond cuts, meaning round cut diamonds will gleam more than other popular cuts.

Average Carat Size For An Engagement Ring

While the movies and magazines tend to exaggerate the size of engagement rings, the reality is that the average engagement ring holds a 1-carat stone. Average doesn’t necessarily mean it’s best. While there are high-quality 1-carat diamonds on the market, stressing to get a diamond that meets the average size while staying within your budget may require compromising in other aspects of quality such as colour and clarity.

Halo engagement ring

What Is Carat Size Considered Big?

The way a diamond looks on your hand varies by individual. The size of your hand and fingers and the composition of the ring will affect just how big a stone looks. With the average-sized engagement ring being a 1-carat stone, it’s safe to say anything larger can be considered big.

Most people think diamonds are big when they start to reach 2-carats or bigger. However, rings of this size are less common. This is one of the reasons that most people feel 2-carats is a big diamond. However, even a 1.5-carat diamond can look big if it is a cut that enhances its size and has good clarity and colour.

It’s important to also keep your partner’s lifestyle and personality in mind when selecting an engagement ring. While it may be tempting to choose a large stone, if their style is typically on the simpler side, they may not feel comfortable walking around with a 2-carat diamond. On the other hand, if their profession requires them looking flashy and classy, selecting a larger stone may be necessary.

What Diamond Cut Looks Biggest?

The sentiment that bigger is better is often seen when it comes to engagement rings. But the interesting thing with diamonds is that size is only part of the equation. The depth and shape of the diamond’s cut also play a role in just how big the stone looks. Modern engagement rings are available in a wide variety of cuts, some of which enhance a diamond’s glow, while others focus on the stone’s perceived size.

Oval-Cut Diamonds

While the round cut diamond is the most popular cut, elongated shapes like oval appear larger. But before you opt for the shape that looks the biggest, you should understand other aspects you’re compromising. While elongated shapes look larger, they don’t have an ideal facet pattern like a round brilliant. This means they won’t have the superb sparkle that around emits. If this doesn’t bother you—as any shape will still look stunning—then opt for an elongated stone to get more diamond for your dollar.

Princess-Cut Diamonds

Princess cut diamonds are another popular choice for engagement rings. The princess cut is a more modern, edgier cut. Unlike the round cut, the princess cut is square. However, of the non-round cuts, this cut has the greatest brilliance and shine. This is because the princess cut has a close to ideal facet pattern. However, another important thing to keep in mind when considering a princess cut is that there are corners, making the stone susceptible to chipping depending on the durability of the setting you choose.

Which One is Bigger?

Figuring out whether an oval-cut or princess-cut is bigger is a bit complicated. It will depend on a few different things, like other accent stones and the setting you choose. When comparing side-by-side, an oval-cut diamond will look bigger than a princess or round-cut diamond.

One point to keep in mind is that oval-cut diamonds are typically more cost-effective as they are less popular than princess-cut diamonds and further away from an Ideal facet pattern. But, if popularity and facet patterns aren’t at the top of your list, then an oval centre stone might be the best and most budget-friendly shape to opt for.


What Carat Diamond Should I Get for an Engagement Ring?

For an engagement ring, carat weight expectations 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 weight changes can be difficult. For example, the diamond in the photo above is large, 1.50 cats, 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 setting’s price, so it’s best to pick an engagement ring setting before finding your diamond.

If you’re not sure what you’re looking for, check out James Allen’s inspiration gallery to see what others have done with a similar budget.

In addition, consider different diamond shapes. Though not quite as popular or sparkly as the traditional round, fancy shapes are becoming more popular, and most diamond cuts are still very sparkly. Better yet, fancy shapes can be 20-40% cheaper than rounds at the same carat weight.

Diamond carat size comparison

Although each diamond is unique, it is possible to approximate visual size, especially because modern diamonds are cut with machines to ensure precision. Within each carat range, diamonds have an average size of millimetres.

Well-cut round diamonds have less depth than well-cut fancy-shaped diamonds (diamonds other than round). A 1ct round diamond will have ~6.40mm length/width, while a 1ct Princess diamond, which will measure ~5.50mm.

Fancy shapes tend to have more weight and less size. So round-cut diamonds will cost more than fancy shapes of the same carat weight.

Visually, it’s hard to tell the difference between diamonds that vary 5 to 10 per cent in carat weight. For example, a 0.95ct and 1ct diamond will be nearly indistinguishable. (Take note if you want a 1ct diamond but don’t want to pay the price for that popular round weight!)

If a diamond is cut too deep, it may look smaller than a lower-carat diamond. When looking at carat weight and millimetre size, it is also important to consider length-to-width ratios for each diamond shape. These will help you understand if a diamond is too shallow or too deep, or if it has desirable proportions. A deep-cut 1ct diamond might look smaller than a 0.95ct shallow-cut diamond.

Remember: A carat is a weight, so a diamond’s measurement in millimetres can vary depending on how it’s cut. Choose diamonds that are cut very well. These diamonds tend to have less depth and more spread. This means their measurements are larger, making the diamond look visually larger than its carat weight.

How Much Should You Spend On An Engagement Ring?

Just like there’s no absolute average for diamond carat weight, there’s no exact amount that you should spend on a diamond engagement ring.

According to USA Today, couples reported spending an average of $5,598 on their engagement ring in 2014. Interestingly, the average engagement ring budget was $5,095 in 2011, indicating that couples are usually willing to spend more on rings when the economy is stronger.

While the average amount spent on a diamond engagement ring can be a useful statistic, it’s important to put it in context. Just like average carat weight, the average amount spent on an engagement ring can vary based on factors like location, age, and average income.

Instead of aiming for a diamond that’s larger than average, it’s best to focus on getting the best possible diamond for your budget. This means looking at your financial situation along with the needs of your fiancé-to-be, then working out how much you can afford to spend.

It’s also best to ignore any “rules” of budgeting for a diamond that you read in magazines or see in advertisements, such as setting aside a certain number of months worth of your salary for an engagement ring. Most of the time, these “rules” are created by marketers and jewellery brands.

Our guide to budgeting for an engagement ring covers this topic in more detail, with a variety of tips and tactics to help you buy a diamond ring that matches your fiancé-to-be’s tastes and your budget.

If You’re on a Budget, Consider a Yellow or Rose Gold Setting

As we mentioned above, the optimal colour grade for a diamond can vary depending on the type of setting you to choose.

In general, the trick is to make sure that the diamond you choose looks colourless in comparison to the setting. With a metal like white gold or platinum, a diamond with a faint tint (for example, a J or K grade diamond) will usually look slightly yellow, even to the naked eye.

However, because metals like yellow and rose gold have a distinct, slightly darker colour of their own, it’s okay to choose a diamond with a slightly poorer colour grade.

Buying a diamond with a K to M colour grade and pairing it with a yellow or rose gold setting can help you save a significant amount of money. Because the yellow tone of the gold usually shows through the diamond on its own, there’s often no perceivable difference to your eye.


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