What’s the Best Size for a Center Diamond in an Engagement Ring?

When you begin your search for the perfect engagement ring, you might find that very first stage somewhat daunting – in a world of seemingly endless diamond options, what should you buy? For the majority of people, buying an engagement ring will be the first time they have come in to contact with the diamond industry, and so it is perfectly natural to feel clueless when people start throwing around terms like carats and clarity.
But help is on hand.
As you would imagine, diamonds range enormously in price. The famous Great Star of Africa is over 500 carats and is worth an estimated $400 million, but since it is currently residing in a royal scepter in England, you’ll have to look for something slightly cheaper.
Great Star of Africa Diamond
The Great Star of Africa Diamond
Image Source: Wikipedia
The average size of an engagement diamond has decreased over the past few years, due to worldwide economic changes. As credit companies have decreased the amount of credit offered to people, it has been more common to pay cash for a diamond and the purchase size has gone down accordingly. Smaller diamonds tend to be bought by people buying from non-specialist mall shops, while those investing in larger diamonds are likely to do vast amounts of research online (maybe that’s what you’re doing now…).
When you begin your search, you will hear people talk about the Four Cs. This refers to the cut, clarity, color and carat – it is that last one that measures the weight of a diamond, with one carat equaling 0.2 grams.
The average size of a diamond purchase in the US is, perhaps unsurprisingly, one carat. In fact, that one carat mark is referred to as a ‘magic mark’ because the weight is so iconic that it costs proportionally more than, say, a 0.90 carat diamond. That is why liberties are commonly taken in the cutting of the diamond to retain excess weight and hit the one carat mark. More about the importance of Cut quality below.
If you don’t have your heart set on a one carat diamond, getting a stone slightly below this mark can mean that you get much more for your money. And, in fact, if you choose your stone carefully, you could even end up with one that boasts more sparkle than a one carat diamond.
Consider the other three ‘Cs’ and see if you can maximize one of those – either the color, clarity, or cut. (for step-by-step guidance to the 4 C’s click here) For instance, if you are most interested in purchasing a diamond that is extremely clear, with very few inclusions or imperfections, you may prefer a diamond with VS or even VVS clarity grading. Dropping a color grade or two, let’s say from an F to an H, may help you attain a diamond with that supreme clarity you desire. Or, if the majority of one carat diamonds in your price range have too much of a yellow tinge for your taste, you may try considering a 0.90 carat diamond that is a little closer to colorless.
That final C - Cut – can be an element worth really pouring over, as it is the cut quality where all the fire, brilliance and sparkle comes from. If you choose an ideal cut or A CUT ABOVE diamond, the edge-to-edge light return maximizes the visual size of the diamond. This can make it appear larger than an inferior cut one carat stone. Find out more about ideal cut diamonds here and our A CUT ABOVE Diamonds here.
Another way of maximizing your budget is to choose a less expensive shape – typically Princess cut diamonds are cheaper than Round cut. If you’re interested in learning about diamond price factors, you can read our article about it here

Lab-grown diamonds can also be a remarkable way to further stretch your budget. Costing significantly less than their Earth-mined counterparts, lab diamonds present an alternative that doesn't compromise on the quality, brilliance, or beauty of your gem. This cost-effectiveness allows you to potentially invest in a larger carat size or a designer brand setting without expanding your budget.
Overall, purchasing a diamond for an engagement ring should ideally be an artful act of balance, and not just a decision based on center stone size alone. It should also be fun, not daunting, which is why we offer best-in-class customer service. We’re on hand to answer all of the questions you will have about your diamond selection, so contact us via Live Chat to discuss how we can help you make the most of your budget today.

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