Carat weight might not feature first on the list of 4Cs for the educated buyer (cut quality is), that does not mean it isn’t important. In fact, it is one of the most significant factors that determine the price of your diamond ring purchase.
Over the years of running Beyond4Cs.com, I frequently get emails from readers who have questions about the best carat sizes to buy or whether a diamond is too small/large for a certain type of hands and etc…
So, how do you go about choosing a perfect size for your diamond?
Well, it really depends. While this might sound like a simple question, it is really subjective to your personal needs and the expectations of your recipient.
In this article, I’m going to show you 6 handy tips that many of our readers have found useful in helping them find their perfect diamond ring. Let’s dive in…
This is always the place to start from. Your budget will decide so much when it comes to purchasing a diamond and it can quickly help you narrow down available choices.
Obviously, you need to keep your expectations in-line with reality. You shouldn’t expect to buy a 3 carat diamond ring on an impossible budget of $2,000.
If you already have a pre-determined budget in mind, you can easily get an idea of what’s available in the market for that particular price point. Recommended vendors like Blue Nile and White Flash offer search tools that do this really well.
Blue Nile’s search toolbar will return results on what’s available for your budget.
In the world of gemstones, there is an exponential relationship between the cost of a diamond and its size. This is due to the market economics of demand and supply where the rarity of larger stones results in a big jump in prices.
To illustrate this concept, the cost of a two carat diamond will not be the combined prices of 2 one-carat stones even if they have the same exact cut/color/clarity characteristics. The cost of a diamond rises exponentially as carat sizes increase and prices typically jump at every 0.50 and 1.00 carat marks.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that a smaller diamond will look proportionately better with a smaller sized hand. Vice versa, trying to match a small 0.20 carat diamond ring on a large finger (i.e. size 8 or 9) will result in an odd and awkward appearance.
Size overkill will weigh a small finger down and feel uncomfortable.
So, if your recipient has relatively smaller fingers, you are in luck. This is because you don’t have to blow the bank account for a sizable diamond in order to get decent finger coverage!
Are you shopping for a ring meant for an engagement or an anniversary surprise? The importance of the occasion can help you decide how much to spend and how big to go to.
If a ring had already been given before, the next one need not be as big or could take on a different shape for variety. On the other hand, if the first one was a smaller purchase, you can make this upcoming one a whopper for a stunning upgrade!
Are you more spiritual than materialistic? Are you a spendthrift or a cautious spender? Hold on to your money if you are not sure and go for a smaller diamond regardless of what a salesperson might say. It is definitely easier to start small and upgrade to a bigger stone in future.
In fact, I’ve personally come across numerous situations that don’t play out well when people fail to stick to their budget. This usually happens when someone walks into a store with a stated budget only to come out of it with a bigger than expected expenditure.
Many times, these are people who make impulsive purchases and suffer from buyer’s remorse or get burdened with unnecessary debt.
Beautiful Round Diamond in 6 Prong Solitaire Setting
This tip will save you serious money if you approach engagement ring shopping with a practical mindset. If you aren’t aware yet, prices at the half and one carat marks leap significantly and can account for 20-30% price differences.
On the other hand, diamonds that are just below these weights cost a lot less and it makes sense to buy “shy”.
For example, instead of buying a 1.00 carat stone, you might want to consider getting one that lies in the 0.90-0.98ct range. This is because small carat weight differences (less than 0.1 carat) only result in minute changes to the physical diameter of the stone.
As a result, most people can’t tell differences in size with their naked eyes.
If you are working with a really tight budget, my advice is to go for a diamond which has a better cut at the expense of lower color and clarity. Better cut quality will render more brilliance and sparkle to the diamond. In turn, it improves the face up appearance for color and helps mask inclusions.
Choosing a delicate setting with thinner shanks or a halo setting will help you make the stone appear larger. As a rule of thumb, the thicker the band of a ring, the smaller the diamond will appear to be. On the contrary, any diamond you mount on thinner shanks will automatically be accented to look larger.
Absolutely gorgeous diamond ring with twisted pave shank from WhiteFlash.com
At the end of the day, only you can decide which carat weight is right for yourself.
While there are people in our society who will flaunt huge and exquisite purchases, I personally think that it should not be a measure of self-worth. A piece of jewelry with sentimental value does not have to cost you an arm or leg.
Your budget will probably be a limiting factor in your choice of diamond ring and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. If you can’t afford a bigger stone at this point in time, it isn’t wise to go into debt by taking a loan for something you cannot afford.
In my opinion, the importance of carat weight should not be judged as a prerequisite to a purchase. By itself, carat weight will not tell you much about the quality or beauty of a diamond.
Instead, it must be considered in conjunction with the other C’s (color, cut, and clarity). Having a better understanding of the 4Cs will help you render a complete picture and make the best purchase possible.