When it comes to popping the question with the perfect ring, 3 carats is a couple steps beyond ‘modest’. Standing at more than double the current average for engagement rings, a diamond of this weight will look (and feel) exceptionally beautiful, luxurious, and conspicuous.
Opting for a 3 carat diamond is not for the faint of heart. Highly coveted within the world of fine jewelry, these diamonds are a little less common than some of the lower carat weights – and, in particular, the fan-favorite 1 carat stone – and, of course, significantly more expensive.
There are, however, plenty of ways of ensuring that the cost of your diamond does not skyrocket, and that you still find an excellent deal on your 3 carat engagement ring.
A well-proportioned Round Brilliant 3 carat diamond will boast a diameter of just over 9mm, while the highly popular Princess will measure approximately 8mm x 8mm.
Carat refers specifically to weight, with a single carat being equal to 0.2 grams. A 3 carat diamond, then, will weigh in at exactly 0.6 grams – not enough to weigh down your future bride’s finger like an anchor, but more than enough to draw the gaze of everyone within a 20 foot radius.
To put it into perspective, a Round Brilliant 3 carat diamond is about 1.2mm larger than a 2 carat diamond – or just under 2mm larger in diameter than a 1 carat diamond. While this may sound like a pretty small number, the difference is palpable, and a 3 carat diamond will possess an incredibly strong level of magnetism in any ring setting.
Prices will fall between $20,000 and $100,000 – or more in the case of a very high quality diamond – but, for a quality diamond, prices tend to start at around $30,000.
One thing that is important for any new buyer to note is that the price per carat of a 3 carat diamond will be higher than the price per carat of a 2 carat diamond. In other words, you can’t take the price per carat of a 2 carat diamond and multiply it by three. This is because diamond prices increase exponentially with carat weight – and the reason why a 3 carat diamond is not twice the price of a 1.5 carat diamond, or three times the price of a 1 carat diamond.
It is also important that you keep in mind that the lowest price for any given carat weight will be reserved for diamonds with significant flaws, such as discoloration and inclusions – or, of course, a poorly proportioned cut. We will talk about this in more detail below but, for now, keep in mind that diamonds with any of these issues represent a very poor choice, no matter how impressive they are in size.
When it comes to engagement rings, yes, a 3 carat diamond makes for a pretty extraordinary sight.
Whatever shape you choose – and whatever setting – a 3 carat diamond will be undeniably large, without looking excessive or like ‘too much’.
Opting for something like this classic Round Solitaire Engagement Ring will create a timelessly understated piece, while the sheer size of the diamond will generate a tremendous amount of sparkle, and allow you to appreciate the natural beauty of the stone. That extra weight means that every beautifully polished facet, and those seemingly endless depths of the diamond, will
Alternatively, a bolder choice like this Marquise Halo Engagement Ring in Rose Gold gives you the chance to make a strong statement. The higher carat weight makes it possible for you to show off every minute detail of an impeccably cut, and to make full use of a more unique shape in your design.
Not at all. First off, there’s no such thing as ‘too big’. Secondly, while 3 carats is a considerable size, it’s by no means ‘the limit’ for engagement rings.
Consider the fact that Hollywood-favorite Elizabeth Taylor sported a 33.19 carat diamond, and that should put to rest any fears of your ring turning out ‘too big’.
Also, the 3 carat diamond enjoys a great mid-point between the more modest sizes, and the celebrity-sized diamonds that can prove a little unwieldly away from the red carpet. It’s large enough for you to really appreciate the intricacies of a well-cut diamond, but the right size to prove comfortable during day to day wear.
If you’re still on the fence, then you can take a look at our guide to 2.5 carat diamond rings instead but, before you jump to any conclusions, it’s going to be a good idea for you to see one of these diamonds for yourself with the guidance of a local jeweler.
When it comes to price, size isn’t everything. Two diamonds, both weighing in at exactly 3 carats, can differ in price by tens of thousands of dollars. It’s important not to go for those bottom-of-the-barrel prices, but it’s also just as important that you steer clear of those super high prices, too – and understand how you can do so while still buying a knock-out diamond.
In terms of eye cleanliness, it’s vital. Beyond that, however, pursuing quality for the sake of it could mean you wind up spending thousands of dollars more than you need to.
Consider the GIA’s clarity scale:
Only the first two grades, FL and IF, represent diamonds that feature no internal inclusions. Whether you’re looking at them under intense magnification, or holding them in your own two hands, you won’t be able to spot any flaws because, put simply, they’re just not there.
Every other grade features inclusions but, depending on the size of diamond your chose, it is feasible that you could find an eye clean diamond at any point between VVS1 and SI1 (or, for small diamonds, SI2). This means that, while you (or an expert grader) will be able to spot those inclusions under magnification, you won’t be able to detect them while you’re holding the diamond in your own two hands. A similar rule holds true for diamond color.
Understandably, it is a lot more important that your chosen diamond looks good in your hand than under strong magnification – particularly when the difference means tens of thousands of dollars spent or saved, depending on what you settle with.
So, while it’s important that you don’t go beyond a certain point, that ‘point’ is a lot further down the scale than most first-time shoppers imagine it to be.
The trick is to figure out what grades you can feel comfortable focusing your search on…
No, but they are more likely to show them since minor flaws aren’t necessarily going to be ‘masked’ by the diamonds facets and sparkle.
As such, you probably want to aim a little higher on the clarity scale than you would for, say, a diamond of 1.5 carats or lower. Nevertheless, avoiding those top grades – from FL and IF to VVS1 and VVS2 – you can still save a significant amount of money, and avoid the trap of thinking that those lower grades are a waste of time.
For 3 carat diamonds, it’s a good idea to take a look at diamonds with clarity grades of VS1 and VS2. There, you will find a great variety of eye clean choices at a fraction of the cost of VVS1 and VVS2 diamonds.
Yes, it’s easier to spot a slight yellow tint within a larger diamond than it is to spot color in a small diamond.
This is why, when it comes to buying much smaller diamonds (and particularly diamonds below the 1 carat mark) it’s possible to find great choices at much lower color grades. Either way, however, whether you’re looking at a 0.5 carat diamond or a 3 carat diamond, it’s best to focus on the ‘Near Colorless’ category of color grades, rather than those that sit above and below.
Too far down the scale, in the ‘Faint’ category, you’ll spot a yellow tint easily – even in smaller diamonds. Too high, and you’ll be charged a premium.
The H color grade is a great place to look, as it’s not tied down by the high value attached to Colorless grades, although widening your search to include both G and I color diamonds will yield more choices – and, in the case of I color diamonds, potentially more savings.
Yes. A poor cut will be very obvious in a diamond of this size, and, as well as looking bad, could seriously harm your diamond’s ability to sparkle.
Cut refers specifically to the quality of the diamond’s finish, rather than its shape. The quality of a diamond’s polish and symmetry – and, of course, its proportions – need to be completed by the diamond cutter to an incredibly high standard.
If not, your Round Brilliant could appear crooked in shape – or your Cushion could be lacking that tremendous fire the shape is famed for. The diamond’s facets could be irregular in shape or size, visibly scuffed or burned the cutter’s tools, or dull in appearance – lacking those electrifying flashes of brilliance that we all think of whenever the word ‘diamond’ is spoken.
This is all the more true in larger diamonds. We mentioned above how this carat weight gives you the chance to really show off the beauty of your chosen shape, whether you go the traditional route or opt for something more unusual.
If, however, you settle for a diamond with a poor cut, then this means that any flaws or mistakes will be very, very obvious – and totally undermine your decision to invest in a 3 carat diamond in the first place.
The diamond represents about 3/4s of the story – since, while it plays the starring role, it’s never quite complete until it’s been carefully set within a beautiful ring, designed specifically to complement the stone…
For a high quality, custom setting, you can expect prices to start at around $1,000- $1,500, with more complex settings costing upwards of $2,000.
There are three main factors to consider when you’re anticipating the cost of your engagement ring setting. First of all, you want to pay for the jeweler’s expertise. It’s important not to fall into the trap of thinking that ordering one of these settings online is a good idea; however convenient it may seem – and cost effective – it’s vital that you don’t sacrifice the skill and proficiency of a jeweler for the sake of time and (relatively minor) savings.
Second of all, your choice of metal will impact the price substantially. Platinum tends to be the most expensive choice, since it’s used at a higher purity than gold (which, while more expensive per gram, must be alloyed with other metals for strength).
You can expect to pay three of four times as much for platinum as you would for the comparable white gold, but platinum’s bright white sheen often cinches the deal for shoppers on the fence.
And, finally, you’ll need to consider the CTW of your ring – an abbreviated for carat total weight, or the combined weight of your center stone and any accent diamonds used in the halo setting, hidden halo, or pavé shank. This will increase the price, though nowhere near as much as your 3 carat diamond.
The setting generally represents between 15% and 25% of the overall cost of a diamond engagement ring.
This is not, however, a strict rule – and not one that you need to agonize over. Your jeweler will be able to walk you carefully through the cost of creating your desired setting, and offer their own suggestions for tailoring it to your vision and price point.
Nevertheless, for now, you only need to know that the diamond will (and should) represent the lion’s share of your investment, and that this is the best place to focus on in the beginning.
No, this is one area where you don’t want to save money.
Buying an engagement ring isn’t comparable with any other purchase. First off, it’s highly personal – for many reasons – and, on top of that, it’s much more significant financially than most of the more ‘run of the mill’ purchases we make online.
A lot happens during a face-to-face consultation with a jeweler. They’ll talk you through your thoughts, then chip in with their own suggestions – extra, little details that will turn any design into something totally unique and suited to you and your partner. They may suggest a hidden halo, or swapping the classic solitaire design for an impressive cathedral, which will give your diamond a little more height without straying too far from the traditional solitaire shape.
And, after that initial appointment is wrapped up, your jeweler will get to work creating your ring from scratch.
You can’t compare this with ordering a ring online and waiting for it to arrive in the mail before you know what you’re really getting – even if doing so saves you a few hundred dollars.
For a good quality diamond secured within a quality setting, you can expect to pay anywhere from $30,000+.
By now, it’s no doubt clear that a 3 carat diamond ring’s value hinges on many different variables. From the cut, clarity and color grades of the diamond, to any additional, smaller diamonds you choose to include with your setting, to the metal and design of the setting itself.
Is it worth the price? Absolutely. 3 carats is considerably larger than the national average and, even if ‘surpassing the Joneses’ couldn’t be further from your mind, the fact remains that a diamond of this weight will look truly magnificent on the finger of your future bride.
As always, there are areas where you can save some serious money, and areas where it’s not advisable. Clarity and color are both great areas to shave thousands of dollars off the final bill, but it’s important that you steer clear of the lower Cut grades or the ‘too good to be true’ deals you can find online.
So, where do you start? The place thing to do is begin by browsing through a wide range of GIA graded 3 carat diamonds, then taking advantage of our long list of contacts to find a reputable local jeweler who can talk you through your choice, your vision for the ring and, with the details ironed out, create the perfect engagement ring for your proposal.