Carat weight is without doubt one of the key criteria that shoppers consider when buying a diamond. In conjunction with its cut grade, the carat size of a diamond would affect the physical diameter (face-up size) that an observer sees.
So, this begs the question: which is more important? Should you buy a bigger carat diamond or a better cut diamond? Is striving for more carats better at the expense of cut quality?
In my opinion, cut is more important because it determines how brilliant the diamond is and its overall beauty. A smaller, well cut diamond would look visually better than a bigger one that is poorly cut.
Think about it, would you rather have a beautifully cut 0.90 carat diamond that is 6.2mm in size and comes with a lower price tag or would you rather pay more for an ugly looking 1.00 carat diamond that measures up at the same 6.2mm in physical size?
This is a super ideal cut 0.91 carat diamond with J color and VVS1 clarity that I handpicked from JamesAllen.com (GIA #1313339137). Here, I want to highlight the diamond’s superb contrast patterning and eye-pleasing symmetry.
Feel free to click on the image above and interact with the diamond for yourself.
This diamond costs $4,650 and measures up at 6.26mm x 6.22mm x 3.85mm. I’ve also attached the idealscope and hearts patterning images below for your convenience.
In a nutshell, these images reveal the diamond’s light performance and cut precision. And to be clear, both images indicate a diamond with extremely strong light return and a high level of craftsmanship.
As a consumer, one of the biggest mistakes is to shop with the misconception that a higher carat diamond is always better. Very often, I come across people who blindly chase after a psychological 1.00 carat mark at the expense of cut quality.
Let me show you why it is a bad idea by performing a comparison using 1 carat round diamonds with similar color/clarity specifications to the ideal cut stone above.
These steep-deep diamonds are both 1 carat round brilliants with J color and VS1 clarity.
We will begin by looking at the diamond on the left (GIA #6305487877) that costs $4,920. This diamond has a depth of 64.2%, table of 59.0% and a slightly thick – thick girdle.
Could you guess what the mm measurements of the diamond are in terms of length/width/depth?
It measures up at a measly width of 6.19*6.25*4.07 mm. Yep, that’s right and there’s no typo error here. Are you surprised to find that a 1 carat diamond faces up as big as the 0.90 carat ideally cut diamond?
Let that fact sink in for a moment.
This mediocre diamond costs more because its weight hits the 1.00 carat sweet spot. Yet, the bulk of the weight lies within the depth of the diamond which cannot be appreciated once it is mounted in a ring.
The diamond on the right (GIA #6282859556) fairs slightly better in a similar comparison and costs $4,820. With a depth of 64.1%, table of 57.0% and a slightly thick to very thick girdle, it measures up at 6.26*6.22*4.00 mm.
In the examples listed above, all 3 diamonds have a similar diameter with a variance of less than 0.1 mm. Based on this, I can tell you that the human eye won’t pick up the negligible differences in physical size.
And, here’s the kicker.
Besides lower pricing, the ideal cut round diamond has HUGE visual differences in terms of better brightness and sparkle. This by itself will make the 0.91 carat stone look whiter and bigger compared to both the larger 1 carat diamonds.
On top of that, the added benefits of having better brilliance and scintillation will help to mask inclusions and body color. This means you can buy a cheaper diamond with lower clarity/color grades to achieve the same look!
Does bigger carat weight necessarily mean that the diamond appears bigger? No.
Does a bigger carat weight result in a diamond that looks more beautiful? No.
Does a bigger carat weight equate to a diamond with better sparkle? No.
Given a choice, I think the answer is very clear on which diamond you should pick.
The point to take back here is; if you fall in love with a particular gem, make sure your decision isn’t based on size alone. In my opinion, cut is king. The factor of better cut alone will offer you the benefits of the other 3 Cs combined.
Coming up, did you know that the biggest influence on a diamond’s price is its weight? On the next page, we’ll reveal some tips on how you can use this knowledge to your advantage…
Thank you for your very useful website!
I’m currently searching for diamond for an engagement ring for my girlfriend and have been browsing online retailers for a while not really knowing what to look out for. The info on your website has been very useful and I feel a little better equipped than I was a few weeks ago and knew nothing about diamonds!
My current plan is to work through a jeweller who is well known to a friend of mine who also works in the jewellery industry.
I am primarily looking for a Princess cut diamond because I like the square shape and I think it will work well in the setting I have chosen.
The jeweller has sourced a diamond and I am going to view it tomorrow before he has it set.
Please could I ask you if you are able to review the attached GIA report and let me know your initial thoughts or concerns? I know that you must get a tonne of requests like this and it must be hard to form an opinion from a piece of paper but I would just appreciate if you saw any red flags. From the info on your website my initial thoughts are that the table size seems a little large given that you state that “The majority of nice performing stones tend to have smaller tables in the 64-69% range”, do you think the table size of 77% is a concern here?
For the carat size of 0.56 what are your impressions of the dimensions? At a ratio of 1:1.027 it seems to be within your recommended range. It also seems to have a pretty good carat weight ratio with physical dimensions. I was told that this diamond has more emphasis on carat weight and I could get a larger size diamond for less money.
Also, I note that that the girdle is Thick. Would that be a concern to you?
On your site you note that the corners of the princess cut are susceptible to damage. Are there any settings which I should avoid in general? I’ve attached an idea for the setting that I had and wonder if you have any concerns about this type of setting?
I appreciate your time and any advice or tips you might be able to give.
Thick girdles for princess cut diamonds don’t bother me and it is OK if other proportions AND light performance checks out.
But here’s the thing.
At a table size of 77%, I can tell you that ANY princess cut diamond will have serious cut deficits and adverse impact on light performance. From experience, buying from “a friend” has always led down to the same path of overpaying and getting inferior quality.
The larger table size is usually polished for a reason to retain carat weight but this compromises the diamond’s fire.
Very Nicely explained. I really like the way you demonstrate with the images. I also agree with the point “Cut Is King” in the diamond industry.