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How Much is a 1 Carat Diamond Worth?

Table of Contents

  • Diamond’s Color Grade
  • Diamond’s Clarity
  • Diamond’s Cut
  • Diamond’s Carat


Diamonds have been a symbol of love and wealth throughout history. However, no single diamond is quite like another. Since diamonds are forever, if you’re thinking of buying one, there’s no question you should make sure you’re getting the most diamond for your dollar. This is where confusion sets in! What is the average 1 carat diamond price? If you’re like most jewelry owners, you probably have no idea the factors an appraiser looks at to value a traditional or simulated man made diamond.

There are such extreme diamond pricing variations from jeweler to jeweler. It leaves many customers scratching their heads as they attempt to puzzle out just why one diamond costs $3k, while another diamond of the same size and carat weight costs $10k. To the untrained eye, they look just alike, but to diamond cutters, the differences are quite distinguishable! However, the 4Cs of diamond: cut, clarity, brilliance, and color grade are just a few factors that contribute to the wide price range.

It’s important that you understand just what makes a cut diamond so valuable, so you don’t overpay when you go to purchase. Along with your purchase, you should receive a certificate that has a diamond cut grade for your diamond. That grade is determined by the four C’s we will discuss below. The higher the quality of your diamond, the more it will be worth.

Diamond’s Color Grade

The color of a diamond, or more accurately the lack of color in a diamond is one of the most important factors in determining how much a diamond is worth. Even the most subtle hints of yellow or brown can affect a diamond’s value in the negative. Generally, the less color a diamond displays, the more value it has and the higher it falls on the diamond price chart. This is because finding a diamond with little to no color is a rarity, and therefore is priced accordingly. The Gemological Institute of America grades diamonds according to the GIA diamond color scale which ranks diamonds in letter groupings.

  • D-F means a diamond is absolutely colorless, internally flawless, and highly valuable
  • G-J means a diamond is nearly colorless, so much so that only the most trained of an eye will catch it
  • K-M means a diamond has faint color, but still must be caught by a well-trained eye
  • N-R means a diamond has a very light color, which can be easily seen in larger stones
  • S-Z means a diamond has a light color and it can be seen in diamonds of different sizes

Remember that these differences in diamond color can be extremely subtle and sometimes may be hard to detect even for an expert. But the differences in color make a huge difference in how much a 1 carat diamond ring is worth.

Diamond’s Clarity

When discussing clarity, we are referring to everything in a diamond that might affect how light passes through it. When gem graders assess how to determine diamond clarity, they look at surface blemishes, inclusions, and transparency. Inclusions are from minerals that form crystals, twinning wisps, or long needle-like shapes in a gemstone. Many inclusions are often too small to make a difference in a diamond’s grade, but not always.

Though inclusions can be extremely intriguing and beautiful, they nevertheless negatively impact how much a diamond is worth. Inclusions are also one way to detect whether or not your diamond is real. Diamonds that are naturally made have more inclusions than man-made gems, and only natural diamonds have crystal inclusions.

Diamond clarity is graded by inclusions, ranging from:

  • No inclusions
  • Minute inclusions
  • Minor inclusions
  • Noticeable inclusions
  • Obvious inclusions

Obvious inclusions mean the worth of a 1-carat diamond is significantly less than the worth of a 1-carat diamond with no inclusions (otherwise referred to as internally flawless.) The best way to determine the clarity of a diamond is to seek a trained gemologist in the diamond industry who can properly appraise it.

Diamond’s Cut

The cut of a diamond is arguably the most important factor when determining its worth because it greatly influences the look of a diamond. However, the cut of a diamond is not referencing the diamond shape as some might mistakenly think.

It’s assessing how well the diamond interacts with light in a proportional, polished, symmetrical way. A poor cut can make your gemstone look dull and lifeless. A brilliant-cut diamond is essential for a diamond to sparkle as diamonds are considered valuable. Typically, when evaluating the cut quality of a diamond, there are three factors that are assessed in addition to the diamond’s proportions.

  • Fire-–the way a diamond flashes with rainbow colors in the light
  • Brightness––the reflection of white light on the internal and external surfaces of the diamond
  • Scintillation––patterns of dark and light that are evident when the diamond is moved or tilted

Now, about those diamond shapes. There are many popular diamond shape options in today’s market. Those shapes are:

  • Round
  • Oval
  • Marquise
  • Pear
  • Cushion
  • Asscher
  • Emerald
  • Radiant
  • Princess
  • Heart

When considering the shape of a diamond, the most common ones are round diamonds. Other shapes are often referred to as “fancy.” A diamond with a round shape tends to have more brilliance, which along with popularity and higher costs to manufacture, increases its value. A “fancy shape,” on the other hand, is often valued at lower price points because the demand simply isn’t as high. Economics 101 decrees that when demand goes up, scarcity also rises, which means so does value. Though stunning, an emerald, pear, or even oval shaped diamond does not rank as high as a round diamond ring.

Again, although some people commonly think of the shape and cut as the same thing, they are not. While shape does play a role in valuation, the cut quality is infinitely more important when determining how much your 1-carat diamond ring is worth.

Diamond’s Carat

The carat of a diamond is the measure of how much the diamond weighs. A single carat diamond weighs about 200 mg. The main thing to remember is that the higher the diamond carat weight, the higher the diamond price because large diamonds are rare. However, if you take two smaller diamonds that weigh the same in carats and compare them, the value for each can be wildly different due to other measurable factors, like color grade, how brilliant the cut is, and whether the clarity grade is internally flawless. That means that a larger diamond is nearly always worth more than multiple smaller ones, even if it’s the same diamond carat size.

Natural vs Man-Made Diamond

You can expect a natural 1-carat diamond to be worth more than a man-made 1-carat diamond, often by 20-30% or more. The biggest difference in each diamond is that one is a lab grown diamond, while the other is grown in nature. Both are still diamonds, with the same optical and chemical properties. Both are made up of carbon atoms in a crystalline matrix. And man-made diamonds can look just as horrible with a poor diamond cut a a natural diamond. However, if your budget falls on the lower end of the price chart, man-made diamonds can be a wonderful option as you can still purchase a dazzling gemstone for your engagement ring, at significant savings. Lab-grown diamonds can be designed to showcase your ideal cut, color, clarity, and desired total diamond carat weight.

Other Valuation Factors

The four C’s aren’t the only metrics used when figuring out how much a 1-carat size diamond is worth. Other metrics that are evaluated include:

  • The thickness of the girdle––which is the edge formed where the bottom and top of the diamond meet. If the thickness of the girdle isn’t uniform, the symmetry of the diamond is thrown off and could negatively affect how much the center stone is worth.
  • The culet––this is the flat or faceted bottom point of a diamond. The two factors that influence a diamond’s worth the most are the size of the culet and the angle. The best culet is small and perfectly positioned in the center of the diamond’s bottom.
  • A laser inscription––this metric is shrouded in controversy because some believe laser inscriptions decrease a diamond’s value due to microscopic indentations on the diamond surface.

Cost of  1 Carat Diamond

As you can see, determining the cost of a 1-carat diamond is not dependent on any single factor. It’s a complex combination of factors and qualities, and if any of those variables rank low on the diamond grading scale, it affects diamond prices and the worth of the stone itself.

Most of the time, you can count on the fact that the larger the diamond size, the more valuable it is, even with all of the other four C’s being relatively equal. This is mainly due to economics and the scarcity vs demand we mentioned. The larger a center diamond is, the rarer it is. Rare equals valuable.

With that said, pricing for a 1-carat diamond can range between $2000 to $25,000. However, as mentioned, one of the most deceptive things about figuring out the cost and value of a diamond is related to its carat. Remember that you will pay much more for a large, 1-carat diamond than you would for 3 smaller diamonds that total 1-carat between them. Therefore, shop wisely and seek help from an expert in the diamond industry before making a purchase. It’s the best way to ensure you’re paying a fair price for that excellent cut diamond engagement ring.

*Here at Diamond Nexus, we strive to provide valuable information while being clear and honest about our products. The Nexus Diamond™ alternative is a patented lab created diamond simulate that, among all simulants, most closely imitates the look, weight and wear of a diamond, with two exceptions – it is absolutely perfect in every way, and it costs significantly less. Price points and environmental facts expressed in this blog were taken from popular online retailers and may vary. Learn more about the environmental impact of mining by visiting our blog.

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