best carat diamond

What is Best Carat Diamond: What You Should Know

The Cullinan Diamond is said to be the largest and highest carat diamond ever found. It weighed a whopping  3,106 carats and was found on January 25, 1905, by Frederick Wells. It was quickly called the Cullinan Diamond in honor of diamond prospector Sir. Thomas Cullinan—the mine’s owner.  But is it the best carat diamond there is?

Not by any measure. Carat is a measure of weight while the qualifier “best” signifies suitability for a particular purpose or end; call it a standard for its physical attributes.

So what is the best carat diamond? Stay on and find it. This article could help you in your diamond buying decisions.

What is the Best Carat Diamond?

The best carat diamond is that which best fits your budget—assuming all the other elements of the 4Cs are equal (the chart below shows the price ranges of different “best carat” diamonds you can find in the market).

Best diamond carat price range chart
Best diamond carat price range chart

If the above seems like putting the carriage before the horse, it is. Do please read further to find out what and why.

A diamond’s quality—and price—are determined by the 4Cs. These are color, clarity, cut, and carat weight. The first three are about a diamond’s aesthetics, carat weight is not. So how can it be a factor in determining a stone’s quality and price, you may wonder?

Carat Weight and Diamond Pricing

If you’re purchasing a diamond engagement ring or any piece of jewelry, its carat weight is one of the first things you want to know. And the following primer is going to give you a short overview of how carat weight can affect a diamond’s price.

Carat is a measure of weight

Diamonds are weighed in carats – the international unit of measure for gems. And one (1) carat is equal to 200 milligrams. This is not to be taken the same as Karat – the unit of fineness of gold, i.e. 18 K, or 24 K.

The word “carat” is derived from the carob beans which are so uniform in size they were used as counterweights to measure the weight of diamonds.

And how do carats affect the price? Large-carat diamonds are very rare, hence are more expensive. It’s no accident that engagement rings are generally affordable because they use small-carat diamonds.

How to measure a carat weight

Getting the right carat weight
Getting the right carat weight

The GIA measures a diamond using an electronic micro-balance scale that is accurate to the fifth decimal place. Traders, however, don’t have the capability and can only measure carat weight to two decimal places. So when buying diamonds, opt for stones with round values as fractional weights may affect the price.

Carat weight may not be the same as diamond size

Weight is a function of density. Different gems have different densities, so they vary in carat weight per unit of volume.

Diamonds, on the other hand, have the same density whether natural or lab-grown. But the way a gem is cut may make it look smaller than its actual carat weight.

For example,  a round brilliant diamond may be cut too deep or have a girdle that is too thick.  When set, this gem will look too small – a 1.2-carat diamond may look smaller than a well-cut 1-carat.

In this case, you will be paying more for something that looks small to people

Carat weight and price

Those who know the history of the Hope Diamond (currently stored at the Smithsonian) know that it is a 45.2-carat blue diamond with an estimated value of $ 250 million. That’s how astronomically expensive very rare diamonds can be. But your need for an engagement ring is not that lofty. All you want is a colorless or near-colorless diamond that fits your budget. 

In that case, there is a very strong correlation between carat weight and price. The heavier the stone, the more expensive it will be. And that’s not taking into account the way it is cut. Bear in mind that the way a diamond is cut also determines its quality and price.

Prices jump at certain carat weights

The relationship between carat weight and the diamond price is not linear. There are carat weights that cost more. The trade calls them the “magic sizes,” such as 0.25 ct, 0.50 ct, 0.75 ct, or 1. oo ct. So if you don’t have any hangups about numbers and their symbolisms, buy a gem with a carat weight a little smaller than those that belong in the magic size category.

Know what is carat weight and total carat weight

The carat weight of a solitaire engagement ring, such as the one in this Diamond Nexus review, is the weight of the center stone. A halo engagement ring is another matter. Its carat weight, or total weight, is the sum of the carat weights of all stones in the ring – like the Valencia Princess Cut Engagement Ring from Diamond Nexus.

At first glance, halo-type engagement rings may seem more expensive than a solitaire. It’s not necessarily the case. The price driver of an engagement ring is the size of the center stone. A solitaire with a center stone that weighs more than all the stones in a halo will be more expensive – assuming all things being equal.

There are cases where engagement rings with diamond center stones are embellished by other semi-precious colored stones, such as rubies, sapphires, or emeralds. In this case “total gem weight” is used instead of total carat weight.

Use an apple-to-apple comparison

When shopping for loose diamonds, it is normal for people to canvass the per carat prices from reputable dealers. While this may look harmless, you may not get the best per-carat price in town. This is because you could never get an exact apple-to-apple comparison among them.

To get over that problem follow these simple tips:

  • Be sure that the diamonds you are interested in are graded by the same laboratory. Some laboratories may use different standards or processes when grading them.
  • Decide on the shape. The price per carat is often affected by its shape. For example, don’t compare a 1.00 ct oval or pear to a 1.0 ct round brilliant. The price per carat may differ.
  • If possible, have a sample with identical or near-identical characteristics such as cut, color, and clarity as to the one you are shopping for. This is the best way to get an apple-to-apple comparison when canvassing for the best per carat diamond price. You should not compare a 1.0 ct round with an excellent brilliant cut diamond to a 1.0 ct diamond but poorly cut.

Bigger is not always better

When shopping for diamonds, the prevailing question is always, Ïs higher or lower carat diamond better?”

More often than not, when people buy diamond rings what they want is often at odds with reality. While large carat diamonds, like the 24-carat blue diamond shown below, tug at their hearts, their pockets say otherwise. Buying a diamond ring. or any kind of precious jewelry item for that matter is dependent on budget, lifestyles, and expectations.

24-carat diamond
24-carat diamond

In that respect, if budget is not a problem, you may opt for the largest stone available. But its inclusions and imperfections may show.

Remember that a diamond’s sparkle, its fireworks, and its brightness are dependent not on carat weight but on cut. Instead of putting your bet on carat size, go for clarity and cut.

For example, for large carat diamonds, the marquise cut is the best while the round cut is used for smaller diamonds. The most beautiful diamond cut, however, is the pear or teardrop cut.

A large, emerald cut diamond will show inclusions and step-cut diamonds do not produce the color scintillation people are expecting from diamonds.

Get a GIA grading report

An engagement ring is a significant financial and emotional investment. So you have to be sure that you are getting a real deal. To do that, ask for a GIA grading report from your jeweler. Never take his or her word as gospel truth. The market is full of diamond alternatives that look just like real diamonds at a fraction of the price.

Tips on Buying the Best Carat Diamond

Buying the best carat diamond is no more difficult than buying your best pair of shoes, your best pants, or your evening gown. They are all dependent on your budget, your lifestyle, and your reasons for buying them. They must all fit together to arrive at the best purchase—according to your perspective.

Diamonds are always expensive. The larger they are, the more expensive they come. Undeniably, however, it is always a girl’s best friend and your stone of choice for your loved one.

So here are some tips to help you buy the best carat diamond for her.

Buy a pre-cut loose diamond

This will save you thousands of dollars and give you a wide leeway of diamond cut choices, such as round brilliant, cushion cut, princess cut, among others.

Buying loose stones also gives you the option of settings and design. Plus, you’ll be avoiding expensive mark-up costs.

Should you take this path, here are some questions you might want to ask:

  • What is a 1- carat diamond worth? That will be between $ 2,000 to $ 20,000, depending on its 4Cs characteristics.
  • If that’s way out of your budget and want to scale down, go for a lower carat. A 0.1-carat diamond price will be somewhere around $ 5,000.00.

Best Carat Diamond Prices

Whichever purchasing path you choose, below is a rough guide on the best carat diamonds vis-a-vis prices:

  • 0.10 to  – 0.40 carat
    This carat size is barely 5 mm across. But don’t be dismayed by its size. They can still be incredibly sparkly and would make beautiful, simple, and understated engagement rings. You might want to go for this size if you are minimalist in lifestyle. And you can buy them for as low as $1,000.00.
  • 0.50-carat
    Diamonds of this size are popular for engagement rings. Also available at around $ 1,000.00, this carat size is perfect for solitaire-type rings.  For added sparkle, a halo type is recommended but that would increase the price.
  • 0.70 carat
    If you want to have a sweet compromise between size and price, this carat weight is best for you. Diamonds of this carat weight make great engagement ring stones. And they are not going to break your bank either. You can have a fine diamond at $ 2,000.00.
0.70-carat engagement ring
0.70-carat engagement ring
  • 0.90 carat
    For people who want to pay a little less, buy this carat weight instead of a one-carat diamond. There is a huge difference in price between the two. Besides, when set, nobody can tell the difference. On the downside, its popularity has caused a slight upward tick on its price. Nevertheless, 0.90-carat diamonds can still cost somewhere between $ 3,000 to $ 4,000 for a well-cut diamond.
  • 1.00 carat
    The 1.00-carat diamond is the most popular weight for engagement rings. And because of that, it is a bit pricey, too, especially for round diamonds. If you want to save a bit, buy fancy-shaped diamonds. For a  budget of $ 4,500, you can find a really great one-carat diamond. And if color are clarity is not a big issue, you can buy them for $ 3,000.00
  • 1.25 carat
    If you want to up the ante, go for this carat size. At this weight, a diamond is noticeably larger and more stunning than a 0ne-carat stone. Go for it if you have a budget of about $ 6,500. It is worth the buy. But if you want this size, choose a stone with a lower clarity grade. It will only cost you around $ 4,000.

The above information will get you started with the process of buying loose diamond stones for whatever purpose you may have. But if the prices are still way over your head, yet still want to have a diamond of something that looks like one, consider diamond alternatives.

Consider diamond alternatives

You need not pay the full price of natural diamonds if you go for the alternatives like lab-grown diamonds, moissanite, zirconia, white sapphire, etc.

White sapphire engagement ring
White sapphire engagement ring

They look very much like diamonds and cost a fraction of the real thing. Besides, nobody will know except you—or a trained jeweler, of course.

Don’t stress yourself up with thoughts of which diamond carat is pure. Carat is a measure of weight, not of purity Besides, even lab-grown diamonds are as chemically pure as mined ones.

When buying diamonds, your first question is the number of carats a stone of interest will be. Then you give it close scrutiny if it satisfies the things you are looking for in your purchase. If everything checks out and the price fits your budget, congratulations. You have found the best carat diamond. It is not something that exists in any jewelry store but something that fits your taste, your lifestyle, and your budget.

Now that you know the best carat diamond, you might want to know more about diamond polish and symmetry. Check out our article, “Diamond In the Rough: Understanding Polish and Symmetry For Diamonds”