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What is a carat?

The term “carat” refers to the overall weight of a diamond. Instead of grams or ounces, diamonds are weighed in carats. 1 carat is the equivalent of 200 milligrams. It’s easy to get confused and think that carat weight refers to a size, because it is typically associated with a certain size of diamond, however, it ultimately goes into that weight. Some diamonds can be cut uniquely and look a lot bigger but in reality weigh less because of the way they were cut, making them a lot less valuable than a diamond that was cut in a standard way that looks smaller but there’s more mass in the actual stone.

Round cut diamond carat sizes drawn to scale on a hand. 

How big is a carat?

When cut with the proper proportions and quality, a 1 carat round diamond is 6.5 millimeters across, a 2 carat round is 8.0 millimeters and a 3 carat is 9.1 millimeters. A 1 carat round diamond is the most common size diamond carat size and diamond shape for engagement rings. Our graphic shows the approximate size of each carat size on a hand for reference. One thing to note as well, if you have a smaller ring size (2-5), the diamond carat sizes will look bigger on your fingers and vice versa for those with larger finger sizes (8-12), carat sizes may look smaller on your hands.

The Abelson diamond engagement ring features a 3 carat oval center stone.

Diamond Carat Price

The carat weight of a diamond largely affects the price of your stones. There are many factors that go into diamond pricing, all of 4 C’s of course affect the total price of your stone, but carat weight makes an especially big impact on what that final price is going to be. Whenever you get to this specific carat weights like 1.0 carat, 1.5 carat, 2.0 carat, 3.0, you see some pretty steep price point jumps because of the rarity factor— diamonds are naturally occurring substance in our earth and require a ton of energy and work to find. The average yield in most diamond mines is 1 part diamond to 1 million parts host rock. The larger in carat size you go, the rarer that particular diamond becomes. My recommendation for saving some money in the carat weight department is going just under the carat marks. For example, instead of a 1 carat, go for a .99 carat stone or .95 carat stone. Instead of a 2 carat go for a 1.95 carat stone. The sizing will look really similar to the look you are trying to achieve without the price tag that comes with each carat size threshold. You won’t save a crazy amount of money, but it will still save you some – everything adds up.

Diamond Quality

The higher you go in carat weight, I really recommend from a value perspective also making sure that stone is high quality in the remaining 4C’s as well. You still want a high quality cut and crisp proportions, with a color that you really appreciate. It’s nice to have a 2 carat stone but if it’s really poor quality (the clarity is really low, its cloudy, it cut wrong and doesn’t sparkle) I wonder if that’s ultimately achieving what you want, which for most people is that really crisp, white, sparkly 2 carat look.

Does a halo make a diamond look bigger?

Another tip for saving some money in the diamond size department is going lower in the the carat size for your diamond center stone, but accenting with smaller stones: halos, smaller diamonds, to create the look of a larger center stone. Working with these smaller stones, also called diamond melee, makes it easy to really boost a look without adding as much to your budget. It’s also a great way to add some personality and a unique touch to your design, as the diamond solitaire ring has been reimagined many many times.

The Colle 1.5 carat engagement ring with diamond accent stones.

The Jules 1.01 carat diamond engagement ring. 

At the end of the day it comes down to what do you value and what are you looking to get out of your engagement ring? Some people really value having a large carat size, and to some it doesn’t matter as much. If you are shopping for a ring for your partner make sure to get their opinion, maybe you’re budgeting for a carat size that you don’t even need, or maybe you’re not budgeting enough for the carat size you need. Everyone has different preferences and styles when it comes to the ring.

For more information download our free guide: 7 Things You Need To Know Before Buying An Engagement Ring

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