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What Is A Carat: A Guide to Understanding Diamond Carats

Diamonds are a girl’s best friend… but does this apply to every diamond, or is there a diamond that is better than the best? Today, we’re discussing diamond carat and what carat diamond is the best. Read on to discover the best-carat diamond for you and what else you should consider when shopping for a diamond for your engagement ring or any piece of fine jewelry.

Three different carat sizes compared side by side

Whether considering a natural, lab grown diamond, or diamond simulant, the carat is an important component of a diamond’s quality that contributes to its overall value. But what is a carat, why does it matter, and what carat diamond is best?

What Is A Carat

Carat is the measure of a diamond’s weight, not size. A single carat is 200 milligrams. This means a 1-carat diamond is 200 milligrams, a 2-carat diamond is 400 milligrams, a 3-carat diamond is 600 milligrams, and so on. However, a carat can be divided into 100 sub-points so gemologists can rate a diamond extremely accurately. This is why you see diamond carats given with decimals. For example, a 1.73-carat diamond will be closer in size and weight to a 2-carat diamond than a 1-carat diamond.

Carat is also an important indicator of diamond quality. It is one of the 4 Cs, which are the four distinct characteristics that a diamond is evaluated on.

Carat Weight & Prices

So how much is a 2 carat diamond and how much is a 3 carat diamond? Diamonds are extremely valuable, and the higher the carat, the more valuable they are. The value of a diamond increases with carat weight because the supply of larger diamonds is far less than the supply of smaller diamonds. The sparkling, perfectly shaped diamonds used in fine jewelry and diamond rings are cut from raw, unpolished diamond stones. These diamond stones are created beneath the earth’s surface over the course of hundreds, if not thousands of years. Larger carat diamonds come from larger raw diamonds, which are much rarer.

An infographic comparing diamond carat weight pricing It’s easy to assume that a diamond would go up in price proportionally based on carat weight i.e. if a one-carat diamond is $2000, a 2-carat diamond would be $4000, a 3-carat diamond would be $8000, and so on. However, this isn’t the case. As carat weight increases, so does rarity, which causes the price to increase exponentially.

So while a 1-carat diamond may cost anywhere between $2,000 and $20,000, a 2-carat diamond can cost anywhere between $8,000 and $50,000, and a 3-carat diamond can cost anywhere between $30,000 and $150,000. So diamond price depends primarily on diamond size or diamond weight — as well as the cut quality and diamond clarity of your stone. That being said, it can also depend on whether you purchase a natural diamond from an old-fashioned jewelry store or a lab grown diamond from an alternative diamond shop.

Maximizing Carat Value on a Budget

Diamonds will always be valuable, and thus, will always be expensive. However, there are ways that you can find a diamond with an incredible carat size within your budget. By following these tips you can maximize what you plan to spend on your diamond ring or diamond jewelry.

Select a Loose Diamond

Image of a loose diamond simulant
Purchasing a loose diamond from an online retailer can help you save thousands on the price of a diamond. Plus, when you purchase the stone all on its own, you have the unique opportunity to create a completely custom ring. If you do this, you can avoid storefront markups that price similar stones and settings well above your budget.

Consider a Diamond Simulant

Diamond simulants are a fraction of the cost of naturally mined diamonds, yet provide the same beauty and sparkle. Take the
Nexus Diamond™ alternative, for example. This diamond simulant mirrors the look and wear of a diamond, with two exceptions – it is absolutely perfect in every way, and it costs significantly less.

Diamond simulants undergo a thorough, independent evaluation by a skilled grader specifically trained in the diamond quality scale (the 4Cs) just like natural diamonds do, so you can evaluate them based on carat, clarity, color, and cut just as you would a natural diamond. Every Nexus Diamond™ alternative is created to meet the highest quality standards, which means it is internally flawless and colorless and has an ideal cut. For any naturally mined diamond of the same caliber, no matter the carat size, the cost would be at the very top of the price range.

Image of a solitaire engagement ring

Round Down

While people are attracted to round numbers, a 2.88 carat diamond is practically equivalent to a 3-carat diamond but may cost a bit less without the number 3 in front of it. This is especially important to note for couples looking for a diamond for an engagement ring. You may be able to save a bit of money by opting for a carat weight that is slightly less than a whole number, or by choosing a ring setting or diamond shape that makes the diamond appear larger than it really is.

Diamond Shape’s Influence on Carat Size

Diamond carats come in all different diamond shapes and sizes. For example, you can find a 1, 2, or 3-carat diamond in a round shape or any of the fancy shapes, which include oval, cushion, princess, pear, emerald, marquise, asscher, radiant, and heart-shaped diamonds. To compare diamonds of different shapes, diamond carat size chart.

Two different diamond shapes compared side by side
Some shapes appear larger in size when compared to other shapes of the same carat weight. This is due to a few reasons. For one, the shape of a diamond affects how it reflects light, and thus, how it appears to the eye. For two, some shapes carry more of their weight in the depth of the stone and some shapes carry more weight on the surface of the stone, which makes them appear bigger.Round diamonds with an ideal cut will sparkle and shine unlike any other cut, which makes them appear large and brilliant. Other shapes such as marquis and trillion tend to carry their weight on the surface, making them appear larger than they actually are.

Impact of Carat Weight on Size

Most of the time, the higher the carat weight of a diamond, the larger it is. However, this isn’t always the case. Carat measures the entire weight of the stone, but much of a diamond’s weight, depending on its shape and cut could be held in the bottom of the stone, rather than on its surface. The size of a diamond, on the other hand, refers to how large the stone appears. A diamond with a lower carat weight may actually appear larger than a diamond with a higher carat weight if the lighter diamond has more surface area than the heavier diamond.

Best Carat Sizes For Diamonds

An image showing the difference in diamond carat weight
Every diamond is uniquely beautiful and can be used beautifully regardless of its size. Half carat diamonds can make beautiful diamond earrings, while even smaller diamonds can be strung together to make a beautiful diamond band. Larger diamonds look beautiful all on their own in a pendant necklace or in an engagement ring with a solitaire setting.

High Carat Sizes

All of a diamond’s attributes are important to consider, especially with diamonds of high carat sizes. Perhaps even more important than carat size is the cut of the diamond. If the diamond isn’t cut well, it doesn’t matter how big it is, it won’t appear brilliant and beautiful. Color and clarity also play an important role in the quality of a diamond, though. The larger the carat size, the more visible any hint of color or any flaw within the diamond is. Color and clarity are less obvious on diamonds of smaller carat sizes.

Highest Carat Diamond

The Cullinan Diamond is the highest carat diamond that exists. This diamond was discovered in South Africa in 1905 and given the name the “Star of Africa”. The raw diamond weighed 3106 carats. It was later cut into 9 large stones and nearly 100 smaller stones, the largest of which is called the “Star of Africa I” and is 530 carats. The majority of the diamonds cut from the Cullinan Diamond, this one included, are kept in the Tower of London as part of the Crown Jewels.

Ideal Carat Size for an Engagement Ring

The best carat size for an engagement ring depends on your unique budget and style. Carat affects the cost of a diamond more than any other attribute so those with their sights set on a big diamond will need a big budget.

Several loose diamond simulants in different cuts and sizes
Your style also plays an important role in selecting the best carat size. If you are choosing a diamond for the center stone of your diamond engagement ring, you will want to consider more than just carat size. You will also want to consider the diamond cut, clarity grade, and diamond color, all of which contribute to diamond quality, as well as the diamond shape that most appeal to you. All diamonds are beautiful, but if you are looking for a diamond that will stand out in a solitaire setting, consider diamonds that are at least one carat.Shop our selection of simulated diamond engagement rings or browse loose stones. We offer every carat size you can imagine to help you decide what one is right for you and your 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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