If you’re in the market for an engagement ring with a really big diamond, you’re likely looking somewhere around the 2 carat range. There are even bigger diamonds, of course, but 2 carat diamonds are usually in the “sweet spot” for a lot of people because they’re big and flashy enough but aren’t quite astronomical in price.
How do you choose the right 2 carat stone for your engagement ring? What are the main criteria to look for and are they different than the things you’d look for in a smaller diamond?
There’s a lot that can be said about 2 carat diamonds , but in this article, we’ll cover the basics.
How big is a 2 carat diamond and do you want one for your engagement ring?
Most people haven’t seen 2 carat diamonds in person and yet 2 carats of weight equal just 400 milligrams or 0.4 grams. That’s essentially half a raisin and yet, for a diamond, it’s pretty big. If you’re wondering – the average size for an engagement ring diamond is 0.9 carats so 2 carat stones are more than twice as big.
Some online retail sites have a diamond size preview option, where you get to see the diamond on the hand of a model to give you an estimate of the carat size. Note that your finger size and the setting will affect how the diamond looks.
Size preview of 2 carat diamond by James Allen. See it here.
The average surface area of the table of a 2-carat diamond will be around 8x8mm depending on its shape (but could also be 6×13, 9×9, 7×7 and so on). So, would you want a stone that big for your engagement ring?
Most people would if they could afford it.
2 carat diamonds are really impressive to look at, especially if they are well-cut, with good clarity and expertly crafted into their ring and setting. However, it could also be said that they are a bit needlessly large – after all, a 1 to 1.2 carat diamond also looks big, is still considerably bigger than the average, and is much cheaper than a 2-carat diamond.
So, at the end of the day, it’s a matter of personal preference if you want a 2-carat diamond or something reasonably smaller.
How are 2 carat diamonds priced?
2 carat diamonds are expensive. Depending on their quality, diamonds of this carat weight can range anywhere between $5,000 and $60,000 or more. On average, the price of a 2 carat round brilliant diamond that’s well-cut will be around $20,000.
So, why are 2 carat diamonds so expensive if 1 carat stones can easily be found in the 5-6 thousand range?
The reason is that the price per carat of diamonds increases exponentially with the increase of the carat weight. Two .50 carat diamonds will not cost the same as a 1.0 carat diamond and a 2 carat diamond will not be the same price as two 1.0 carat diamonds. To illustrate these, compare these .50, 1.0 and 2.0 carat diamond prices. Notice how the prices increase with the increase in carat weight.
The reason for this is simple, – larger diamonds are rarer so it’s expected that they would more expensive. Especially if you want a high-quality diamond of a heavier carat-range, it’s normal for it to be extra expensive since it’s really hard to find and produce a clear, well-cut, and beautiful stone that’s also exceedingly heavy.
The 4Cs of 2 carat diamonds
Speaking of quality, let’s see what the driving factors in the quality – and therefore the price – of a 2 carat diamond are. As with any other diamond, the first thing to look for are the 4Cs – carat, cut, clarity, and color. With the carat, in this case, being set at 2 carats, the other three factors are very important for how each stone looks.
Before we start, however, please note that for any diamond you buy – especially in this carat and price range – you should always be given a certificate from a reputable lab like the GIA or AGS that detail and guarantee its properties.
Clarity is a key factor in larger diamonds for two reasons: 1) because they are bigger, inclusions and other flaws relating to clarity are much easier to spot, and 2) diamonds with excellent clarity in this carat range are very rare. We’ve gone over the standard diamond clarity grades in other articles but here’s a quick summary of the GIA scale:
While a 1 carat diamond can look good even with an I1 clarity grade (albeit rarely), a 2-carat diamond should usually be of a VS1 grade if it’s to look good. VS2 and SI1 grades can work too but very rarely as they’ll likely have inclusions and blemishes that are noticeable to the naked eye.
At the same time, going higher above VS1 will increase the price drastically so we’d generally advise against that.
This is an L color 2 Carat diamond with warm tints. It’s priced significantly lower due to the lower color grade. See it here.
Color grades in the diamonds industry are ranked in alphabetical order from D to Z with D being colorless and Z having strong yellow or brown hues. However, while D, E & F grades are considered the best, followed by G, H & I, even lower grades can look good depending on the setting color and style. At the end of the day, color is subjective, so if you’re fine with a K, L or even M grade – that’s great, you’ll also save a lot of money as these lower grades are much less expensive than higher ones.
For diamonds with warm tints, it’s best to use yellow or rose gold settings which minimizes and complements these hues. For diamonds that are meant for white gold or platinum settings, it’s best to opt for a higher color grade, unless you don’t mind a stone that’s yellower than its setting.
Cut quality elevates the sparkle and fire of your diamond. See this here.
Cut is vital for the quality of a diamond, especially in the 2 carat range. So much so that it’s the most important of the 4Cs. A diamond with a poor cut will not have the brilliance and sparkle we look for in a diamond, simply because the light performance will be poor.
We’d definitely recommend that you prioritize the quality of the cut over the clarity, color and even carat weight of your future diamond – that’s key to getting both the quality and the best value/price. The right cut/shape can even make a smaller diamond (say, 1.7-1.9 carats) look bigger because some cuts result in larger surface areas than others.
As for which shapes are best for 2 carat diamonds – this is really a matter of personal preference with each cut having its pros and cons. If you want to prioritize size, however, Round, Oval, Marquise, Emerald and Pear shapes result in larger surface area for the table of the stone than most other cuts.
Maximizing value with your 2 carat diamond purchase
If you’re working on a budget, we recommend prioritizing the look and quality of your stone over its carat weight. Don’t buy a diamond for the sake of its carat. Take a look at this diamond below. It’s an excellent cut 2 carat diamond priced at $7300, but would you buy it?
In terms of both quality and price, going under standard prices and opting for a stone in the carat range of 1.7 to 1.9 can give you the best value and quality. You’ll still be getting a large diamond, but you could save significantly by staying under the standard carat range.
If, however, you want a diamond that’s exactly 2 carats, then conduct a very thorough search through online and offline vendors alike to find not just a great quality stone but also a great value/price ratio. Online stores generally offer lower prices per carat because they have lower operating costs, however, with them, there’s the major issue of not being able to look at the stone in person before buying it. On the other hand, online vendors also offer a much larger number and broader range of stones so you can more easily find what you’re looking for.
Blue Nile diamond size preview. See it here.
In terms of online diamond vendors for engagement rings, we’d recommend James Allen and Blue Nile – both offer excellent 3D HD images for their diamonds and have excellent customer service and client-friendly policies.
Choosing a Lab-Created 2 Carat Diamond
A lab-created diamond is equal in beauty to an equivalent natural diamond. See more here.
Lab-created diamonds have gained in popularity to the point that most retailers, including de Beers who created today’s diamond engagement ring industry, now offer them. The stigma that once surrounded these diamonds have gone and an increasing number of couples are opting for them because of the many advantages that they offer. These include being more affordable, sustainable and ethical. The only difference between these diamonds and natural ones are that lab-diamonds were grown in labs using science and technology whereas natural ones were formed over millions of years in the earth’s crust.
With lab-diamonds, you don’t need to compromise on quality to get a 2-carat diamond at your price. You can have your cake and eat it too, which is why we recommend lab-diamonds for couples who want a high-quality diamond at a relatively lower price.
Are 2 carat diamonds worth it for an engagement ring?
If you want something really big and eye-catching for your engagement ring – 2 carat diamonds are the way to go. Prepare for a heavy blow to your wallet, however, which can easily be mitigated by simply going slightly lower on the carat weight and playing around with combinations of the 4Cs.
Engagement rings are typically purchased for a lifetime of wear and are often passed on as heirlooms down the track. Because diamonds aren’t the best investment it’s best not to buy a 2-carat stone for investment purposes without expert advice. But for a truly impressive diamond engagement ring of heirloom quality, you can’t go wrong with a 2-carat stone.