The allure of the 1-carat diamond...
Buying a diamond engagement ring can be a daunting task. It can be the most important decision you ever make, and you want to get it right the first time. Diamonds come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, but the most popular stone is the 1-carat diamond.
People are drawn to the perfection of the 1-carat stone, and prices often skyrocket due to demand. So how can you make sure you’re buying a quality gem without paying more?🤔
In the article, we’ll look at the appeal and typical price of the 1-carat diamond, and we’ll share thoughts and tips on how to buy a 1-carat diamond engagement ring without breaking the bank.
The basics of 1-carat diamond rings
A popular choice: The notorious 1-carat diamond
The numbers don’t lie: shoppers really love 1-carat diamonds. But why?
This “fact” is somewhat a data fallacy, as true numbers show 1-carat diamonds are an American trend. In the United States, the average diamond size is one carat, with shoppers moving toward sizes just slightly above and below it.
In other areas of the world, such as Europe and Asia, the average diamond size is .5 carats, which means Americans seem alone in their obsession.
Average diamond size can also vary by region. For instance, New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, and other large cities where residents have expendable income tend to see a larger average diamond purchase, which is typically two carats!
In contrast, areas further from cities see a decrease in average diamond size. It’s clear that wealth plays a role in whether people see the need for a 1-carat stone.
The final reason for the fascination with 1-carat diamonds is the human desire for perfection. People often obsess over having a flawless look and ideal life. The 1-carat diamond is perfect not only in appearance but in number: a rounded number that looks amazing on all fingers.
Understanding carat weight vs. Diamond size
So what does a 1-carat diamond look like? The short answer: it depends on a diamond’s shape and cut. That’s right, not all 1-carat diamonds are even the same size! A 1-carat diamond just means the stone weighs 200 milligrams.
Two diamonds can have the same weight but look rather different, as their cuts and proportions are not the same. The precision of a diamond’s cut impacts the spread of that carat weight, changing how length of the stone’s table.
A 1-carat diamond’s shape also impacts size. For instance, 1-carat Asscher cut diamonds look much smaller than round stones. In contrast, 1-carat oval diamond rings as well as pear and marquise-shaped stones look much larger thanks to their elongated tables.
How big is a 1-carat diamond ring?
So if carat does not denote size, what can you expect when shopping for a 1-carat diamond ring? Here is a handy tool to help you conceptualize the size of 1-carat round diamond rings and buy sensibly:
How much is a 1-carat diamond ring?
Pricing a diamond ring: Check the numbers
Although the diamond itself may often be the largest chunk of the budget for a ring, it’s important to plan for the other elements that you will have to pay for. 💰Here are some facets of a diamond ring’s price to take into account when deciding what you can afford:
A diamond’s price can vary widely, and there are several factors that can make a 2-carat diamond almost the same price as a .20-carat stone! We’ll discuss the criteria used to determine a diamond’s price shortly.
Ring setting price
A ring’s setting is customizable, and there are multiple ways you can save or spend on this crucial element. The setting protects your diamond and prevents any chips or damage, so finding a quality setting that’s within your budget is important!
The most significant factor with ring settings is material. The more durable the metal, the higher the price! Platinum and palladium are tough, luxury metals that last forever, but they come at a much higher cost than reasonably strong yellow, white, or rose gold.
In contrast, titanium, stainless steel, and sterling silver are much more affordable ring metals, but they do not have the shine and appeal of precious metals. Understanding which metal is right for you can help you decide how much you’re willing to spend on a setting.
Price of customization or additional design elements
Another factor of the ring setting is additional elements or customization costs. Whether you’re selecting additions for your ring or creating a new piece altogether, make sure you account for these extra costs when budgeting.
While a solid gold band may not seem pricey, a band with pavé or channel set diamonds can cost you. Other design elements that may increase price include side stones, accent stones, and rare colored gemstones.
Milgrain, filigree, and metal accents typically do not raise the price of a commercially produced ring, but handmade elements that require time and craftsmanship may cost more.
Furthermore, if you create a custom ring or seek personalized elements—such as engraving—these costs can add up as well. Account for any labor and design costs, shipping prices, and the price of the additions themselves in your budget.
Additional service package pricing
Finally, make sure you get a service package that suits your needs. Many retailers offer free lifetime servicing with your purchase, but not all of them. Speak with your jeweler regarding any additional costs such as yearly cleanings, repairs, and more.
How is a 1-carat diamond priced?
So how do retailers price diamonds? Calculating the cost of a 1-carat diamond ring is not an exact science, but there are two major factors that play into pricing:
Size matters: Per carat pricing of diamonds
Carat weight dictates a diamond’s starting price, and other factors influence how high that number increases from there. The average price of a 1-carat diamond of any quality is currently $2,000-2,500.
Remembering the other 3Cs
The other 3Cs—cut, color, and clarity—can further influence a diamond’s price. Two diamonds of equal size can have radically different price tags due to brilliance, hue, or imperfections.
Cut and color impact the diamond’s face appeal, affecting sparkle, whiteness, and more. For clarity, inclusions and blemishes can vary by diamond, and larger or more damaging ones may decrease a diamond’s price.
It’s crucial to include all 4Cs in your buying decision, and a trusted jeweler can walk you through each stone’s specs and explain how its quality affects its price.
1-carat diamond ring buying guide
From budgeting to buying, purchasing a new 1-carat diamond ring can be a stressful process. Luckily, we’ve put together some questions and thoughts to consider both while planning your budget and shopping for your new gemstone.
Before you shop: Questions to ask yourself while creating a budget
To avoid feeling dissatisfied with your purchase, ask yourself these questions before buying a diamond ring:
What is your approximate budget for this ring?
Americans spent an average of $7,750 on an engagement ring in 2019, so it’s important to understand how much you can spend from the beginning. 💡Forget the “2 months salary” rule that society perpetuates and think deeply about your own personal situation and how much you are willing and able to spend!
Creating a diamond ring budget is basically finding the balance between your partner’s expectations and the money you have available for a ring. By keeping in mind your beloved’s preferences and realistically fitting them to your savings, you can find a ring that is sure to fit your budget.😊
Most people spend about 2-3 months' salary on a ring, but this is dependent on your personal situation. Think about your current and future income, any savings, and your expenses per month. Ask yourself some questions to gauge your budget:
- How much can I save monthly if I cut down on extra spending?
- How much do I already have saved?
- Does my job have a lot of growth potential in the next few years? Will my income increase significantly, or should I save according to my current income?
By being realistic and discussing finances and expectations with your significant other, you can create a reasonable budget to purchase a lovely ring. Remember: there are multiple ways to save money while purchasing a diamond ring, and you can even come up with some clever ways on your own based on your situation!
Diamond vs. Ring setting: How should you arrange your budget?
If the average 1-carat diamond (of any quality) is about $2,000 and Americans spend roughly $7,500 on an engagement ring, that means a ring setting can be a big part of your budget! While the diamond is the centerpiece of an engagement ring, the setting can enhance a diamond’s beauty and make lower-quality stones shine brighter.
Many online retailers and some jewelry stores allow buyers to choose both their diamond and ring setting. ⚠️We recommend buying from these retailers, as doing so gives you full control of your budget and the ability to find a better deal on your ring.
However you split your budget, make sure you have realistic expectations for how your significant other’s preferences will fit your spending needs.
Which diamond shape should you choose?
Some diamond shapes are more expensive than others as a result of high demand. Understand which shapes your significant other likes and consider any alternatives that may better suit your budget!
Because diamond prices vary by shape, you can temper your beloved’s expectations by understanding how to buy the right diamond for her. 👉🏻For instance, if she values size over a specific shape, you can stick to stones that appear larger than others. Diamond shapes with longer silhouettes include marquise, pear, oval, emerald, and trillion.
Round diamonds are the most popular shape, and they’re often the most expensive. However, a round diamond looks amazing on any finger, so they’re the most versatile! Square shapes—particularly the 1-carat princess cut diamond ring—are the second most popular and can also be pricey.
Among 1-carat stones, expect to pay the most for popular round and square-shaped diamonds as well as heart and marquise stones. To save money, look at more affordable emerald, radiant, and Asscher cut diamonds instead.
Keep in mind that the 4Cs also play into diamond price, which we’ll discuss below.
Shop smart: How to amplify your diamond’s beauty
Use the 4Cs to find the best diamond for your budget
When you can’t decide between two diamonds, make sure you check the specs! Learning the 4Cs and using them to purchase the right diamond is crucial in avoiding buyer’s remorse.
Most of our suggestions below are centered on round diamonds, but exceptions for fancy shapes are also mentioned.
When it comes to the 4Cs, cut is king! Always check a diamond’s cut, as it’s often the difference between a sparkling stone and a lackluster gem. Even high-quality color and clarity cannot save a poor cut!
📝We recommend purchasing diamonds with Excellent or Ideal cuts, and this is something you should rarely compromise on. A high-quality cut can mask inclusions and calm yellow tones, so prioritizing cut can save you money in other categories.
Color can mean the difference between a white diamond and a yellow or brown stone. As such, we recommend diamonds with GIA color grades of G to I.
Save your money when it comes to D and E grade diamonds, as most people cannot tell the difference between Colorless and Near Colorless stones. In fact, they usually can’t recognize the difference between stones within two color grades of each other!
If you’re looking at two diamonds, consider whether you really need the higher color grade if you’re looking to stay within budget. However, for shapes with larger tables, such as emeralds, always go with the higher color grade as their large surface area shows more color.
If a colorless diamond isn’t in your budget, consider purchasing a yellow or rose gold setting to neutralize some of a diamond’s yellowish hue!
Not all blemishes and inclusions are the same, and clarity sometimes comes down to personal preference. However, for an eye-clean diamond that’s sure to sparkle, we recommend stones with a VS2 grade or higher.
VS2 grade diamonds still have inclusions, but it is where they are located that matters. Diamonds with a grade of VS2 or higher don’t typically have inclusions within their table, which means they do not directly impact the face-up appeal of your stone. Since everyone looks at the table of your diamond, it’s important to keep it clear of any imperfections!
If a VS2 gem is out of budget, consider SI1 and SI2 diamonds instead, as their inclusions will be near the edges of the stone. This is particularly doable with princess, heart, cushion, radiant, oval, pear, and marquise-shaped diamonds, which hide inclusions better than other shapes.
However, emerald, baguette, and Asscher stones, require at least a VS2 rating to avoid visible inclusions.
For elongated diamond shapes, you’ll also want to consider whether the bow-tie effect bothers you!
When it comes to carat weight, shop around to see if you can get a better deal on a diamond “around” 1-carat. You may be able to find .90-99 or even 1.10 carat diamonds that are the same price or cheaper than 1-carat gems.
Diamonds around the 1-carat size look the same on your finger, so the changes are insignificant. Because people prefer the perfection of a 1-carat diamond, you can sometimes snag a great deal on stones that aren’t quite “perfect” when it comes to carat weight!
However, this requires some research, because these “almost 1-carat” diamonds are becoming less common. With high demand for diamonds right outside the 1-carat range, finding a deal means logging some hours searching through diamond inventories.
Overall, just make sure you do not limit your search to diamonds that are 1-carat, as stones around that size are equally stunning and offer the same effect!
Choose the right setting to elevate your diamond’s beauty
There are plenty of setting types that can dazzle your soon-to-be fianceé! Here are some suggestions based on style:
Simple and classic
Nothing is quite as lovely as a 1-carat solitaire diamond ring. If your significant other likes clean lines and timeless looks, stick with a prong setting for her engagement ring. They’re the most affordable option available, and saving money on your setting means more money for a high-quality diamond.
The prong setting is ideal for exceptional quality diamonds, as they allow as much light as possible to pass through it. As such, prong settings offer enhanced sparkle and make diamonds look a bit larger than they actually are.
Unique or dramatic
There are a few options for anyone who prefers a diamond ring that dazzles onlookers.
To make your diamond appear larger, opt for a cathedral setting to lift your stone above its metal band. Cathedral settings have side arches that create a dramatic look, whether the band is plain metal or full of smaller diamonds.
Another style that makes diamonds appear larger and more vibrant is the halo setting. By surrounding your center stone with diamonds, you can make any gem appear brighter and larger. A 1-carat halo diamond ring can require more upkeep in the long run, so just factor maintenance costs into your budget for this setting style!
A tension setting makes a diamond appear as if it is floating within the band, offering an eye-catching appeal. Tension settings can be risky, but they’re great for anyone who doesn’t work with their hands. Plus, the floating look itself is so appealing, there’s no need for costly accent stones!
If your fianceé has an active lifestyle, try a bezel setting to protect her diamond. Bezel settings sometimes cost slightly more, but they surround the diamond and protect it from damage. Plus, the right bezel setting may enhance the circumference of a smaller stone, making it appear larger. So, you can potentially save money on carat weight! However, broader bezels can make a diamond appear about 10-20% smaller, so make sure you think about this design carefully before purchasing!
🌟For wearers who value sparkle, try combining these designs with a solitaire setting engagement ring!
With tiny diamonds that enhance sparkle, pavé settings are an affordable way to add shine to your ring. Tiny diamonds aren’t graded like larger stones, so they don’t come with hefty price tags either. Pavé stones also fit anywhere on a setting, and they enhance the color and clarity of low-quality diamonds.
A channel setting band includes larger diamonds for less. By keeping the diamonds within the band, a channel setting offers extra protection and requires less maintenance than the pavé setting. Although the channel setting may cost more upfront, you’ll spend less on repairs over time!
Bar settings are a unique way to add accent stones to a ring. Similar to tension settings, these bands require a less active lifestyle, as the stones can fall out. However, the bar setting is a daring way to add accent stones while standing out from the crowd.
Bonus: Get the best value and save more money
💰So what are some simple ways you can get more bang for your buck with a 1-carat diamond ring? Here are our final thoughts on the matter:
Cut is ALWAYS king
We cannot stress this enough: a diamond’s cut should be the most important factor in your decision! Without an expert cut, diamonds will not have their typical brilliance and fire, and you’ll be dissatisfied as a result. If you have to sacrifice carat weight for a better cut, do so. It’s better to have a small but spectacular diamond than an utterly unimpressive large stone.
Be careful with color and clarity
While we recommend a mid to high-quality diamond when it comes to color and clarity, there are other factors to consider rather than just their GIA or AGS grade.
👀First, you’re realistically looking for a diamond that is eye-clean. Whether that means it has a clarity rating of VS1 or I2, just make sure the stone does not have any inclusions visible to the naked eye.
Finally, try to achieve a balance between color and clarity.⚖️ For a diamond in the G-I color range, SI clarity should suffice. However, D-F color diamonds require a VS2 color grade or higher as their colorless nature highlights inclusions.
Choose the right metal setting for your diamond
Think long and hard about how much money you’re willing to spend on your setting, as different colored metals can change how white your diamond looks!
White metals are great for high-quality diamonds, as they bring out their natural whiteness. However, platinum is much more expensive than white gold for the same level of shine.
If you choose a diamond with a lower color grade, yellow and rose gold can make your diamond appear whiter. They also offer a warmer hue that complements the sunnier tones of a yellowish diamond.
Men’s 1-carat diamond rings offer even more metal options, with palladium, stainless steel, tungsten, and titanium as alternatives for their rings.
Try a diamond outside the “perfect” 1-carat
As previously mentioned, expand your potential diamond pool by looking at stones “around” 1-carat. Take a look at these two diamonds from James Allen:
In this case, the larger diamond is actually cheaper for the same specs!
You can find great deals on diamonds between .90 and 1.10 carats. If you’re not obsessed with the perfection of 1-carat diamonds, give yourself more options and find a diamond that looks the same on your fianceé’s finger for a fraction of the price.
Lab-grown diamonds: An affordable “conflict-free” alternative
If you’re looking for an ethically conscious approach to diamond buying, try lab-grown diamonds. Completely man-made, these stones are carbon copies of natural diamonds!
Rather than promoting unethical mining practices and environmental destruction, opt for lab-grown diamonds that are just as durable and 30-50% cheaper than their natural counterparts.
Lab-grown diamonds are even graded by the AGS and GIA, so you can still get a report to back up those specs!
Combine natural diamonds with diamond simulants
If you want a 1-carat three-stone diamond ring or one with accent stones, the price can creep up quickly! Luckily, diamond simulants are an affordable option for those extra diamonds without sacrificing your natural center stone.
Certain simulants, such as moissanite and white sapphire, are nearly as strong as diamonds for much less. Plus, most people cannot tell the difference between diamonds and high-quality simulants, so observers won’t even know!
Milgrain and filigree: Classy but not costly
These gorgeous decorations are made of metal, so they won’t fall out or chip over time. Additionally, they’re affordable, and some jewelers even offer mixed metal settings that take these designs to a whole new level.
Milgrain and filigree are also much less expensive than accent stones, and they require less maintenance over time.
Pair your diamonds with colored gemstones
Colored gemstones are a perfect way to add stones without paying for more diamonds. Plus, including a splash of color in your ring can make it stand out among the crowd.🤗
Sapphires and rubies are popular options for colored stones because they’re nearly as durable as diamonds. Add them as side stones, pavé accents, a halo, or however you wish to include some color into your piece.
Other affordable colored gemstones include tanzanite, morganite, emerald, amethyst, and aquamarine. These gems can also improve the overall color of your diamond!
Warranty and customer service also matter
It’s important to purchase your ring from a retailer that offers superior customer service and warranty options. At some point, your ring will require servicing, and it’s nice to know your jeweler has your back!
Many online retailers offer 24/7 support in the form of phone, email, and chat services. Knowing a professional is available to answer your questions is extremely helpful should anything go wrong.
Every ring requires servicing, even if it's just a yearly cleaning. Make sure your jeweler provides these services free of charge or for a nominal fee!
For instance, white gold rings require rhodium plating every few years, and you should always find a jeweler that offers this service complimentary. Additionally, if you buy your ring in the wrong size, it’s helpful to have a retailer that offers free resizing within the first year of purchase.
Compare jewelers to get the best deal
Similar to shopping around for diamonds and settings, you should shop around for a retailer that suits your needs.
Find a jeweler whom you trust that can walk you through the buying process without pushing. Having a professional that can answer all of your questions, point out any issues, or offer suggestions can be incredibly helpful throughout the process.
Finally, make sure your chosen retailer takes care of your piece even after your purchase. Look for companies with excellent customer service policies and yearly servicing options. Don’t choose the first jeweler you find!
Where to buy a 1-carat diamond ring: Our recommendations
If you’re buying online, there are several reliable retailers that offer exceptional diamonds at affordable prices. These companies also offer excellent service plans and have experts standing by to answer any questions you have. Here are 5 online retailers we recommend:
- 24/7 customer service and chat option
- Conflict-free compliant process
- Free worldwide shipping
- Hassle-free returns within 30 days of purchase
- One free resizing within first year of purchase
- Free engraving
- Conflict Free Promise
- 30-day return policy
- Diamond price guarantee: will match or beat competitors
- Lifetime complimentary servicing
- Special order options available
- One free resizing within one year of purchase
- Ethical sourcing in line with Kimberley Process
- One year buy back guarantee
- Free worldwide shipping
- Customer Loyalty Program available
- Custom diamond cutting services
- “Beyond Conflict Free” promise
- Utilize recycled precious metals
- Free 30-day returns
- Complimentary lifetime warranty
- Free lifetime diamond upgrade available
- Guaranteed conflict-free diamonds
- Custom setting and diamond cut options available
- Free lifetime manufacturer’s warranty
- 15 day inspection period in which you can return your ring
- Lifetime upgrade policy
FAQ about buying 1-carat diamond rings
If we haven’t already answered your questions, peruse our FAQ below for more information on 1-carat diamond buying:
Is a diamond without a grading report worth less?
Technically, a diamond that doesn’t have a grading report SHOULDN’T be worth less than a stone that has one. However, in reality, not having a grading report DOES impact a diamond’s worth.
A diamond grading report does not change a diamond’s inherent qualities. But, without that report, no one can verify the value this diamond should have.
Diamonds require documented, unbiased proof of their quality to garner the price they deserve. Having a diamond report allows you to resell your stone, replace it if lost, and loan against it. Otherwise, it’s just a lump of minerals with no resale value! Please always make sure you buy from reputable dealers that offer full reports on your purchases.
Is it good to divide a 1-carat diamond into multiple small diamonds?
Some retailers and jewelers offer this service, but it is not recommended.
For starters, all diamond recuts come with a cost. Spending money to cut a 1-carat diamond into smaller stones that will have less value isn’t advisable. Your finished product will be worth significantly less than the stone you had initially!
Instead, you may want to purchase smaller stones that can accent your larger one. The cost of the smaller diamonds may even be less than the cost to recut!
What should I do if I’m still not familiar with the buying process?
Many of the retailers we listed above offer 24/7 assistance, so you can speak to a professional as you shop.
Certain sites, like James Allen, provide the option to have your diamond inspected by a certified jeweler as you’re shopping, meaning you can get further details about any stone’s specs and feel more comfortable about your purchase. Real-time online inspections are an excellent way to make sure you’re buying a diamond that suits your needs.
Buying a diamond ring can be a tricky task, and it’s easy to end up pouring most of your budget into one facet of your new piece.
However, finding the balance between what you want and what you can afford is crucial to buyer satisfaction. Think about the features you want to prioritize in your diamond ring, and follow our tips and tricks on how to purchase the right ring for your needs.
For more information on 1-carat diamonds, check out our diamond buying guide that walks you through the process of purchasing a gem online. Or, if you need more education on the 4Cs and what to look for in a diamond, consider our comprehensive 4Cs guide. Overall, you’ll want to make sure you buy a diamond that suits your requirements while still finding the right setting for your stone!