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! If you’re like most jewelry owners, you probably have no idea the factors an appraiser looks at to value a traditional or simulated lab 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 diamond's cut, clarity, and 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.
Assessing a 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 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.
Remember that these differences in 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 is worth.
Assessing a 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:
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.
Assessing a 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 how the diamond is shaped 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 do to be considered valuable. Typically, when evaluating the cut of a diamond, there are three factors that are assessed in addition to the diamond’s proportions.
Now, about those diamond shapes. There are ten shapes that are popular in today’s market. Those shapes are:
When considering the shape of a diamond, the most common one is a round shape. 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. “Fancy” shapes, on the other hand, are 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 do not rank as high as a rounded 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 is infinitely more important when determining how much your 1-carat diamond ring is worth.
Assessing a Diamond’s Carat
The carat of a diamond is the measure of how much the diamond weighs. A single carat diamond weighs about 200mg. The main thing to remember is that the higher the carat weight, the more the diamond is worth 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 is internally flawless. That means that a larger diamond is nearly always worth more than multiple smaller ones, even if it’s the same carat size.
Costs of Natural vs Man-Made Diamonds
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 grown in a lab, 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 cut as natural diamonds. 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 carat weight.
Other, Less Important 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:
So, How Much Does a 1-Carat Diamond Cost?
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 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 a diamond is, the more valuable it is, even with all of the other four C’s being relatively equal. This is mainly due to economics and that 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 beautifully cut diamond 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.