Buying an engagement ring can be a stressful, challenging experience. From cut and clarity to colour and more, there are several factors you’ll need to keep in mind to make sure you get the highest quality ring for your budget.
One factor that people often worry about when buying an engagement ring is the size of the diamond. Thanks to the countless articles published every year about celebrity engagement rings, it’s easy to assume that the average diamond is far more extensive than it is.
Below, we’ve looked at the data to determine how large (or, more specifically, how heavy) the average diamond engagement ring is. We’ve also covered how you can get the best possible value on an engagement ring, helping you buy the highest quality ring within your budget.
Average Diamond Size for Engagement Rings
When selecting an engagement ring design, most buyers focus on the centre stone. You may be asking yourself, “How many carats is the average engagement ring?” If you were to think that one-carat is the most popular weight, you’d be wrong. Most buyers select just below a carat for their centrepiece stone, and the most popular carat size is three-quarters of a carat or 0.75 carats.
Diamond prices jump at one carat, which is why many buyers select just below that one-carat mark. The difference in price between a diamond just shy of a carat and a perfect one-carat weight can be substantial.
While price tags jump significantly at one carat, the size difference between a three-quarter carat and a full carat is negligible. A one-carat weight doesn’t mean the diamond will have a substantially larger diameter. The dimensions and measurements of a three-quarter carat diamond and a full carat diamond are fractions of a millimetre apart and not precisely a size difference that the eye can easily recognise. It’s safe to say that no one will ever be able to spot the difference between a one-carat diamond and a three-quarter carat diamond without a professional’s help. Because there is a significant price difference, but not in appearance, many people choose the smaller diamond to stay within their budgets.
The difference in Diamond Sizes
If the three-quarter carat diamond is the most popular size, what is all the buzz around that divine one carat? Diamond size is about preference, investment intentions, and status.
Larger diamonds are much harder to find and mine than smaller diamonds. Basically, the more a diamond weighs, the rarer its stone is and the higher its cost. Large, flawless diamonds with a high colour grade are scarce and valuable. This is why you will often see celebrities rocking insanely large and perfect diamonds that seem to sparkle and shine from miles away. While prices jump significantly at one carat, they go even higher at two carats and beyond.
But, the size of the diamond is not the only factor that can affect its value. A high-grade three-quarter carat diamond may be a far better investment than a poor-grade one-carat diamond. While a price goes up with weight, it also falls with an inadequate cut, low clarity, and a yellow colour hue (except Fancy Yellow grades).
The difference in Diamond Shapes and Cuts
The shape of the diamond also affects how a carat weight translates to size. For example, a three-quarter carat marquise diamond looks more significant than a three-quarter carat round brilliant diamond. This is because the marquise diamond is cut with a larger table, which means a larger percentage of the diamond is visible when the ring is worn. For buyers who want a larger diamond at a lower carat weight, vertically cut shapes with large tables like the marquise, pear, and oval are the best choices.
However, heftier diamond weights also create prominent visual appeal. For a buyer who can splurge on a massive carat weight (especially two carats and above), they will notice that the details and beauty of specific diamond cuts are often more visible to the naked eye than others.
For example, the Ashoka diamond cut may only be performed on larger diamonds. The amount itself is so exquisite that it takes a more substantial carat weight to highlight the design’s details. The beauty of this cut would be lost on a smaller sized diamond.
A heart-shaped diamond ring also looks more impressive when it’s larger because a larger shape highlights its arches to display the heart shape fully. If the diamond is too small, it may be hard to make out its heart shape from a short distance. Asscher and emerald cuts also play elegantly in a larger carat, as larger stones reveal the step facet cuts’ intricacies.
However, it’s important to note that imperfections and colouring may also be more visible in larger-sized diamonds. As a result, it is best to pay close attention to the colour and clarity grades when shopping for a large diamond.
Can a Diamond be Too Big?
Three-quarter carat diamonds are the most popular size, but that doesn’t mean they are right for everyone. For some buyers, a three-quarter carat diamond may be too big. Small hands make a smaller carat seem more extensive, and a thinner finger might feel overwhelmed by even a half-carat. Some people with long and lean fingers may even find that a larger diamond’s weight makes wearing their ring uncomfortable. Women who are always active or frequently work with their hands may find that a smaller diamond is a better fit for their lifestyle. Furthermore, many women simply prefer the look of daintier rings that feature smaller carat diamonds.
Many vintage engagement rings often feature smaller central diamonds or clusters of tiny diamonds. Every individual has a unique style and carat weight that reflects their unique look and preference.
How Large Is The Average Diamond Engagement Ring?
There’s no single source that tracks the average diamond engagement ring size (after all, it’s not the type of question you can ask on the census). This means that the average is part of a range rather than an exact number.
Depending on the data source, the average weight of an engagement ring center stone in the US is between 1.08 and 1.2 carats. According to a 2014 article in USA Today, it’s just over one carat for the centre stone, with a two-carat average weight for the entire ring (this weight takes into account any additional diamonds and gemstones, such as those used in a halo setting.)
Outside the US, diamond engagement rings are usually a lower carat weight. In the UK, the average is about 0.6 carats, while countries like Japan and China, which don’t have the same diamond culture as North America, have an even lower average carat weight. Within the US, the average size can vary based on where you are in the country. In general, if you’re in a large city like New York or Los Angeles, you can expect to see a significantly larger average diamond size than in a smaller city.
Age also affects the average diamond size. While the national average is somewhere between 1.08 and 1.2 carats, millennials usually spend less on diamonds than older generations, making their average diamond carat weight lower.
In short, there’s no absolute average — instead, the diamonds used in engagement rings vary hugely in carat weight based on factors such as your age and location.
So What Does This Mean? Does The Average Matter?
In our opinion, you shouldn’t let the average diamond size influence your budget. The most important thing is to get something you can afford. The ring is a symbol of your love, commitment, and promise of a future together. And you do not want to start that future in debt. So don’t go into debt trying to reach the average if it’s genuinely out of your budget.
Another thing people unwittingly do is sacrifice quality just to hit the desired goal. For example, maybe someone has a budget of $3,500 but wants to reach an average of 1 carat. Sure, you can buy a 1-carat diamond for $3,000 and have some left for the setting. But it’s going to be an inferior quality diamond that looks dull. It’s much better to buy a smaller diamond with an excellent cut.
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.
While the average amount spent on a diamond engagement ring can be a useful statistic, it’s essential to put it in context. Like average carat weight, the average amount spent on an engagement ring can vary based on location, age, and 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.
Getting The Best Bang For Your Buck
We get it that you want the largest diamond possible. Let’s just make sure that you don’t sacrifice quality for size. So here are some tips on getting the best value.
Always get the best cut possible.
The cut is the factor that determines how brilliant a diamond will be. Even the highest quality diamond will be dull if the amount is inadequate. If the diamond is sparkly, it can mask colour, hide inclusions, and appear larger. This means you can save money on colour and clarity. Please do not skimp on cut. This is the area where the extra money will make a massive difference in appearance.
Diamond cutters have a lot of pressure to hit that 1-carat mark. So often, the diamonds are not cut to ideal proportions. Not only does this mean lousy light performance, but it also means a lot of the carat weight could be hidden in depth. So you’re spending extra money just to have 1-carat on paper, but it’s wasted on something you can’t even see.
Look for a diamond slightly under the magic numbers. The magic numbers are every 0.5 carats. At these weights, diamond sellers can fetch significantly more. If you go just below a magic number, you can pick up a diamond for as much as 25% less.
For example, a VS2 H Excellent cut diamond that is one full carat costs around $5,800. But keeping all other C’s the same and dropping the carat weight down to 0.9 will also drop the price down to $4,800. And nobody is going to be able to tell the size difference.
Tip: If you don’t believe that no one will be able to tell the difference, here are some numbers: A 1-carat round diamond is around 6.4-6.5 mm in diameter. But a 0.9-carat round diamond is 6.2-6.3 mm in diameter. This is just a difference of 2 mm (equivalent to the thickness of a piece of paper). But you can save so much. You would need a size difference of 20% apart to be able to tell.
Get a diamond lower in clarity.
Clarity is the best area to save some money on. Most flaws are too small to be seen by the naked eye. We recommend looking for VS2 diamonds. And it’s not impossible to find eye-clean SI1, SI2, or even I1 diamonds. This can save you thousands.
Yellow gold or rose gold rings are cheaper than white gold. It’s not that the setting itself is more affordable. It’s the fact that you can buy a diamond lower in colour, which means huge savings. For a 1-carat stone, going down to a J-color can save a couple of thousand dollars. You can then use that towards a bigger diamond if you wish.
Tip: Here’s another best-kept secret: A diamond with medium-strong fluorescence can improve the colour in lower-grade diamonds (I and below). Fluorescence is a natural phenomenon where the diamond glows blue under UV light. It can cancel out some of the yellow in lower-coloured diamonds and make them whiter.
Buy Your Diamond From a Reputable Online Vendor
One of the best ways to save money on your engagement ring is to purchase both the diamond and the setting from a reputable online vendor instead of shopping offline.
Brick and mortar stores have high costs that affect the price of their diamonds. From rent to utilities, salaries and inventory costs, these costs add up quickly and have a real, noticeable impact on the amount you’ll pay for a diamond. On the other hand, online vendors don’t need to pay for rent in upmarket shopping districts or additional significant operating costs. This allows them to offer equal or better quality diamonds for as much as 50% less than most brick and mortar jewellery stores.
We recommend buying from vendors that sell high-quality GIA or AGS certified diamonds at the best prices in the industry. They also should have diverse selections, allowing you to quickly choose a diamond and setting that fit within your budget.
When a buyer is debating between a full carat diamond and a diamond that weighs just below one carat, the reality is that the size difference between those diamonds is mere fractions of a millimetre. There’s no need to shell out more money for a one-carat diamond for buyers on a budget. Instead, scale back the carat weight and focus on high colour, cut, and clarity grades. However, if money’s no object, go big and select a sensational shape enhanced by the diamond’s larger size! The best way to choose the right ring is to forget about the size and focus entirely on what your significant other would want instead!
How To Make A Diamond Appear Larger
You’ve looked at all you can do to save (above) but still have trouble reaching the average? Don’t worry. There are some options to help make a smaller diamond appear larger.
- Halo settings make a diamond larger. I love this trick. One of the most popular locations is the halo, which has a ring of small diamonds around the centre diamond. This setting gives off serious bling and makes it look as if the diamond is enormous.
- A bezel setting also works the same way by increasing the overall diameter (as long as the bezel is not so thick that it makes the diamond look smaller).
- Consider a fancy-shaped diamond. Another favourite suggestion is to go for another shape. Not only do fancy-cut diamonds often appear larger than they are, but they’re also cheaper than round too. Plus, they are unique and will appeal to girls who like to stand out in a crowd. Pear and marquise shapes look the largest. Just stay away from the Asscher cut, which has the smallest surface area of all forms.
- Thin bands make a diamond larger. The narrower the band, the larger the centre diamond will appear. Knife-edge bands give the illusion of a very thin shank. Another useful setting is to go with a slim pavé band. Setting it in a band of small diamonds will make the center stone pop.
- Cluster settings give the illusion of a huge diamond. This is when a cluster of smaller diamonds make up the centre. So from farther away, it looks like one big diamond. This is a relatively inexpensive way to get to a large centre.
The size of the diamond is such a personal choice if you can meet it – great! If not, don’t let the number scare you or make you think you need to spend beyond your means. The ring must be in line with your budget. Also, don’t make the diamond size your absolute top priority at the expense of beauty.
Lastly, remember – the ring is a symbol of love and commitment. There are many ways to show that without spending a fortune – whether it’s putting in the effort to plan an unforgettable proposal or designing the perfect ring unique to her style.
These are all more meaningful gestures than merely buying a diamond that matches the national average.