When choosing a diamond for a ring’s center stone, buyers love the one-carat diamond. When set in a diamond ring, a single carat is large enough to make an impression, without overwhelming the finger. It’s the perfect size for many buyers, which leads us to the topic of this post: how much does that one-carat diamond cost?
Every diamond commands a different price, and even diamonds of the same weight can vary considerably in their cost. On the low end, one-carat diamonds are available on the market for around $1,000. However, a lower price tag also comes with lower quality. A flawless, D-color, ideal cut diamond, a top quality stone, can cost up to $15,000.
With a range like that, it can be hard to know the right amount to spend. Here’s what you need to consider when buying a loose one-carat diamond:
Not to be confused with cut, the shape of the diamond is what form it takes. The most popular shapes for engagement rings are round brilliant, pear, marquise, heart, Asscher, emerald, cushion, princess, oval and radiant. The cost of each diamond shape depends on the demand and popularity of the shape and how costly it is to cut a diamond into that shape. Round diamonds are not just the most popular, but they also lose the most rough diamond when being cut. Therefore, round is the most expensive shape.
The cut of the diamond is a rating of the craftsmanship involved in turning a stone from a rough diamond into a polished diamond. The diamond’s symmetry, depth, and other proportions determine the cut grade, and the cut affects how the diamond reflects light. A high quality cut is brilliant, while a poor cut may result in a duller diamond.
The specific cut of different shapes also affects the overall beauty of a diamond. For instance, if a marquise is cut too narrow, it looks skinny and ‘malnourished.’ A heart that’s cut too wide with not enough edging in the bridges looks too much like a round stone and loses the appeal of the heart.
Cut is important to a diamond’s value and beauty, and poor cuts negatively affect price. So if color and clarity are graded high, but the stone is still a super deal, make sure the cut is up to snuff. Cut is the one area that we never recommend sacrificing in order to get better size, as the cut has the most direct impact on the light performance and characteristic beauty of a diamond. That’s why we called ourselves Brilliance.
Some buyers opt for lower color grades so that they can get a larger carat stone. A yellow gold or rose gold setting will work well in hiding the yellow tint of diamonds with lower color grades. For some, that slightly yellow or even brownish color may have a vintage appeal.
Many buyers, however, want a crisp white stone, which means paying more for a higher color grade. On the other end of the spectrum are fancy color diamonds, which have such a deep color that they actually cost more.
Be sure to review the color grade spectrum so that you are completely happy with your choice, and the diamond will have the appearance you want. When buying a white diamond, you can usually get the best value in your one carat by aiming for a color grade of H, I, or J.
The clarity grade of a diamond is based on the flaws found within the diamond. Almost all diamonds have some sort of internal flaw when viewed under magnification. Flawless stones do exist—and their price tags reflects their rarity. You may find a one-carat stone for an incredibly low price, but if the flaws of the stone are visible to you, the low price might not be that much of a “steal.”
Included clarity grades (I1, I2 or I3) contain flaws that are visible to the naked eye. These stones are not what jewelers consider “eye clean.” They may be incredibly cloudy and feature visible nicks or other flaws. Yes, included stones will be cheaper—but buyers beware! Many big box stores use fancy lights to up the brilliance of I1 clarity diamonds and hide the inclusions. Always ask to see the stone you’re looking at in natural light before making up your mind.
For most diamonds that have brilliant-cut facets, a clarity grade of SI1 will look just as clean to you as a flawless diamond, giving you the most value. For diamonds that have step-faceting, it is best to stay at or above a VS2, making that grade the best value for your purchase.
When buying a one-carat stone (or any size diamond), the price depends on a number of different variables. There is no simple price formula for a diamond. Each stone is unique, and the price tag reflects the individuality of each stone—for better or worse. When selecting your perfect one-carat diamond, review the other 3Cs (color, clarity and cut) to decide which stone fits your idea of perfection and your budget. Always remember to check online for pricing before buying any diamond to make sure you get a fair price.