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Best Diamond Size – Is There One or Is it All Subjective?

Best diamond size for your engagement ring

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Choosing your diamond size is a big decision and can be difficult with the societal pressures that a larger diamond is a symbol of love, prestige and how much you value your other half. With all this, the tendency is to opt for bigger diamond sizes, with 1 carat being the preferred size.

But larger diamonds cost more and might not be the right choice for everyone. After all, the statistics show that not everyone wants a massive rock on their finger. So with that, let’s take a look at the ‘best’ diamond sizes around the world and how to choose the right diamond size for you by shopping smartly.

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Average Diamond Ring Size – Around the World

While diamonds are the most popular stone for engagement rings around the world, the size of diamonds chosen vary depending on the region. The averages show that not everyone wants a large, flashing diamond on their fingers.

  1. United States: The US seems to have the highest interest in large diamonds, with the average diamond size being 1.2 carats. The typical spend on a diamond ring is about $6500.
  2. United Kingdom: On average, UK couples choose diamonds around the .60 carat mark with a typical budget of $2500.
  3. Australia: Australian couples don’t seem to have a preferred diamond size but will buy a smaller stone if it means not compromising on quality. The average spend is $5500.
  4. Japan: Japanese couples prefer smaller, petite diamonds around .30 carats.
  5. Europe: .50 carat diamonds is the average around Europe, with a typical budget of $1500.
  6. China: Like Europeans, the Chinese also take a practical approach to diamonds, with an average diamond size of around .50 carats.

Note that these are averages, meaning that you’ll find people on either end of the spectrum – some spending thousands on a 3-carat ring and others with smaller .30 carat diamonds. However, what stands out is that the US has the biggest average carat sizes for diamonds and the biggest budget.

Why Size Doesn’t Matter… All that Much

While a large diamond might be what most people are after, the trouble is that when size is prioritized over all else, you could end up with a diamond that looks big but isn’t of good quality.

Not every diamond is created equal, and quality factors include more than just size. You would have to consider the cut (often considered the most important quality factor), color and clarity as well.

If you’re diamond is a 2-carat stone but with a poor cut, you’re going to end up with a rock that looks like glass. So while size matters, it’s not everything.

Compare the two diamonds below:

low quality round shape diamond
Round shape diamond

See more diamonds here.

If I were to ask which you would prefer, chances are you’d say the second diamond. Does it matter that its only .80 carats while the first is 1.20 carats?

Are Diamond Size and Carat the Same Thing?

Another thing to note is that diamond carat doesn’t always equate to diamond size. People tend to use these terms interchangeably, but this isn’t’ correct.

Carat refers to the weight of the diamond, how heavy it is when you put it on a scale while the size of a diamond refers to its geometric dimensions, the height and width of the stone. Two diamonds equivalent in carat weight can look different in size, depending on factors like the stone’s shape.  

Smart Ways to Make Your Diamond Look Bigger

There are ways to make your diamond look bigger by choosing the diamond carefully. Here are some tips to help you decide:

1- Pick the Right Shape

Certain diamond shapes tend to make the stone appear larger. Although the round cut is the most popular diamond shape, it also tends to appear smaller than several other shapes including emerald, marquise, princess, Asscher and oval among others.

To put this into perspective, a 1 carat round diamond will appear smaller than a 1 carat emerald cut diamond. The reason for this is that the round diamond is a deep cut, with a lot of the diamond hidden beneath the surface. The emerald cut, on the other hand, is rather shallow and its shape emphasizes its size.

Emerald shape solitaire setting engagement ring in white gold

Emerald cut diamond. See it here

Round cut diamond engagement ring in white gold

Round cut diamond. See this ring here.

When set in jewelry, the emerald cut is bound to look like a much larger diamond than the round cut. Because you tend to only see the top view of the stone after it’s set, it’s easy to mistake the emerald cut as having a bigger carat weight.

2- Choose the Right Setting

Some settings can emphasise the diamond’s size making it appear larger. For example, settings with thinner bands, fewer prongs and shiny white metals can highlight the diamond’s size with less metal to overwhelm the stone. For a colorless diamond, choosing white gold or platinum can make the stone look bigger because the metal blends in seamlessly with the stone.

Also consider surrounding your diamond with a halo of smaller diamonds to make it appear larger than it is. The extra sparkle from the halo adds to the brilliance of the center stone, giving it the illusion of looking larger than it is.

Round shape diamond engagement ring

See more halo settings here.

3- Stay Under Standard Sizes

There’s something about saying ‘I have a 1 carat diamond’ instead of saying ‘I have a .92 carat diamond’. 1 carat sounds perfect and complete. They’re a symbol of prestige. It’s a magic number that many brides desire. This also goes for other standard sizes like 1.5 or 2 carats.

However, because of this demand for standard prices, these diamonds often command higher prices than stones slightly under standard weights. Compare this .92 carat diamond with this 1 carat stone. The price difference is over $1000 but the difference in size would be unnoticeable.

This is not to say that 1 carat diamonds are bad or that you should avoid them. If you have the budget for it, there’s no reason not to get that perfect 1 carat size. But if you’re on a budget and have a practical approach to buying your diamond, then drop below standard sizes for good value.

How to Know the Diamond Size You’re Buying

When buying your diamond online, it can be very tricky to choose the right diamond size when thinking about the stone in carats. Unless you see it physically, visualising a diamond’s size can be difficult.

carat size preview function from James Allen

Carat size preview tool from James Allen.

Diamond carat weight tool Blue Nile

Diamond carat weight tool from Blue Nile.

Several reputable online retailers allow you to understand a diamond’s size with tools that let you see how a diamond will look against your finger. This gives you an approximation of the diamond’s overall size.

What Size Diamond Should I Buy?

There are no rules about the diamond size you should buy, regardless of what society or the diamond industry may say. The general notion is that you should spend two months’ salary on a ring, but this thinking originated with a smart De Beers marketing campaign designed to make you spend more on your diamonds and buy bigger stones. Forget what the media tells you or what society dictates.

Instead, when buying your diamond, consider your budget and preferences to help you choose the right size for you. There’s no need to copy what others do and there’s no rule saying that a certain size is best. Your engagement ring symbolizes your union and love, and this doesn’t correlate to a diamond size or price.