The larger the stone, the better… or is it?
When it comes to diamond engagement rings, the size of the center stone is often a subject of conversation and varied opinion. Is there an ideal size? How big should I go? How big is too big? Or does size even really matter?
Yes size is still a thing to many, but not to all. Surely it matters — especially if it does to you and/or your partner as a personal preference. Huge diamond engagement rings are still quite popular; note however that not everyone buys into the long-held notion that the bigger the rock, the greater the love or the bigger the statement. And as more and more consumers become educated and aware, many are now realizing the fact that the diamond’s size is not all that matters.
Consider the 4Cs of Diamond Quality
Stone size is not the end-all and be-all of engagement rings. Diamonds are valued according to the 4C’s of Diamond Quality — Cut, Clarity, Color, and Carat weight, a standard grading scale developed by Gemological Institute of America (GIA) founder Robert M. Shipley. All four qualities are essential to understand, and are important factors to consider before making any significant diamond purchase.
Carat Weight is Not Same as Diamond Size
When searching about diamond size, carat weight is a topic that pops out frequently. However, do not confuse one with the other. Carat (ct) is actually a unit for measuring the weight of diamonds and other gemstones, not the size or dimensions.
Diamond is the only known gem that consists of a single element. Diamonds are pure carbon (usually 99.95%) which means it has uniform density (mass per unit of volume) throughout the gem itself. That is why it follows that the higher a diamond’s carat weight, the bigger it is. But the actual dimensions of the diamond is not the same as how big it looks on the ring. This is more so affected by the way it is cut because naturally, the gem is mounted in such a way that we mostly see it from the top. That means that a diamond may look bigger than another of a different cut or shape even if they have exactly the same carat weight. Another factor that can affect how big it looks is its sparkle, which makes the stone noticeable even from a distance. The gem’s sparkle depends on how it is cut, the way light hits it and bounces off it, and how high its clarity grade is. So a diamond with higher marks in clarity, cut and mounted by a highly skilled jeweler may actually look bigger and better than another diamond with a higher carat weight.
What is the ideal carat weight for an engagement ring?
There is no clear-cut answer to this as really it all comes down to a matter of personal preference and practical considerations such as budget, finger size, comfortability and lifestyle among others. Note that carat weight is a major factor in determining the price of the diamond.
As the carat weight increases, so does the price of the diamond. But this relationship is not linear, rather it is exponential. One cannot expect a one-carat diamond to cost double that of a half-carat stone, it actually costs up to six times as much! This is because bigger diamonds are rarer, and even a small fraction of a carat can make a considerable difference in the cost of the stone.
One-carat is said to be the most popular size for center stone and among the most appraised. It is the ultimate classic that sparkles bright in any setting and every diamond shape. While half-carat diamonds, according to the International Gem Society (IGS), are a popular choice for engagement rings to the budget-conscious buyer. It is offered at reasonable price points and can be a real eye-catcher in the right ring setting.
If size does matter to both you and your partner but your budget does not fit your choice, know that there are subtle ways to achieve that big diamond look without breaking the bank. You can, for example, consider adding a halo around your center stone, choose the best cut for your diamond or go slim with your ring setting.
Whatever diamond size or carat you choose, do not compromise on quality.