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The truth behind the cost: Why are Diamonds so expensive?

by Willyou.net * Mar 26, 2022

Key Takeaways

  • Diamonds are an expensive investment, particularly if you invest in a stone that has been scored highly on the Four Cs by an independent lab, like the GIA.
  • Their high cost is largely a result not just of their rarity, but of the difficulties associated with recovering them from nature. It takes a significant amount of work to recover even a relatively small number of diamonds from the earth, particularly if they’re buried deep underground.
  • Diamond prices are determined by many aspects, and a rough guide can be found by checking the weekly Rapaport Diamond Report.
  • The best way to get a great price on your diamond is to brush up on the Four Cs, and which grades represent the best investment point for you, and, of course, to shop in person. Buying a diamond online may be cheaper, but it’s all too easy to make a bad investment.
princess marquise cushion diamond ring

It’s a tale as old as time. First comes love, (then comes a trip to the bank to withdraw thousands of dollars in savings for a diamond ring), then comes marriage and everything else thereafter. We’re glossing over a few details, of course, but the most important details are all there.

Except, of course, everything you need to know about finding a yes-worthy diamond ring (and why diamond rings have to bite that sizeable chunk out of your savings account).

Diamonds are infamously expensive items. Even if you don’t know a lot about them, where they come from, what they are, or why they’re the traditional choice for an engagement, you probably know that they don’t come cheap.

The answer is, like a diamond, multifaceted. It’s the result of a long list of factors – and all of them are worth understanding if you’re going to be staking everything on one of these stones.

First of all, just how expensive are they?

The average price range for a 1 carat diamond typically falls between $2,500 and $20,000, although they can cost substantially less – or substantially more.

For a 1.5 carat diamond, however, the average price range is a lot higher – between $5,000 and $36,000. This is something we explain in a lot more detail in our guide to Diamond Prices, if you’re interested in learning more about how price increases alongside carat weight.

The most important thing to understand, however, is the fact that price can differ by thousands and thousands of dollars, even for diamonds of the same carat weight. So many more factors influence price. For this reason, the answer to the question, ‘How much does a diamond cost?’ really is a case of ‘the length of a piece of string’.

Suffice to say that diamonds are an expensive purchase – and for many, many reasons.


Diamonds are the product of billions of years’ worth of raw, natural power. They are mined from countries like Botswana, South Africa, Canada and Namibia, and represent major sources of income for them – and yet, they’re still relatively uncommon, and all the more valuable for it…

Are diamonds actually rare?

Yes and no. Diamonds are a finite resource, and the number of gem quality diamonds (diamonds good enough to be used in jewelry) is very small compared with the number of diamonds that aren’t beautiful enough to be sold to the public.

It’s not like you’ll struggle to find a beautiful diamond. They’re not so rare that tracking one down will have you cosplaying as Indiana Jones, but you will want to be aware of how a diamond’s features can make it rarer (and therefore more valuable) than others.

Since diamonds are a natural resource, it’s incredibly common for them to contain significant chemical impurities and inclusions. The randomness of their creation means that the risk of diamonds being visibly ‘flawed’ is high. This is why perfect diamonds are so popular among collectors – because the chances of them even existing are slim to none.

Put differently, diamonds with high color and clarity grades are rarer than diamonds with poor color and poor clarity. As a shopper, you’ll want to find a diamond that sits somewhere in the middle. This won’t be cheap, but it doesn’t have to blow your budget out of the water, either.

This rarity is, for the overwhelming majority of shoppers, a worthwhile investment. Consider the fact that lab grown diamonds hold so little value by comparison to natural diamonds, despite their visual similarities. There is a lot of sentimental and social value attached to these earth-made stones…


Natural diamonds are earth-made, but any natural diamond you consider purchasing will be the result of a tremendous amount of skill, time, and attention from diamond cutters, who have to ensure that the potential value of each rough stone is realized.

These days, cutters have a lot of tools at their disposal, and it’s possible to digitally ‘map out’ the rough stone in order to plan the best approach for creating the best diamond possible. Their priorities lie not just in retaining as much carat weight as possible (since every cut diamond will, inevitably, weigh less than the rough stone it came from), but also in cutting a shape with strong dimensions, and a beautiful sparkle.

This is skilled and demanding work, and a major reason behind the high cost of diamonds on the market.

Social Value

There is nothing like diamond. For engagements, for milestone gifts, for the red carpet – no other gemstone can come close to the power exerted by a beautiful piece of diamond jewelry. For this reason, their value is, understandably, high.

It has been this way for thousands of years – but particularly within the last century, ever since De Beers transformed the industry with their famous ‘Diamonds are forever’ slogan.

A part of diamonds’ high social value stems from their high price, but a part of their high price stems from their social value. The fact that most of us can’t imagine picking anything but diamond for our engagement rings says it all.

Why diamonds?

For so many reasons. They are unique in their beauty and light performance, their strength, and their historic significance around the world.

There is no denying the beauty of diamond. Its glassy appearance, combined with an unrivalled ability to produce flashes of fire and brilliance whenever the light hits, makes it a totally unique choice for fine jewelry. It’s striking, and capable of nabbing your attention even from across the room.

But, even though there’s nothing quite like diamond, there are plenty of other beautiful gemstones out there – so why has diamond become the near-unanimous choice? Because it’s not just beautiful, but it’s also incredibly strong. A beautiful engagement ring is going to be the world’s biggest disappointment if it stops looking beautiful in five, ten, even twenty years. They are supposed to represent eternal love, and they can’t do that if they’ve got a shelf life of just a decade.

Diamond is stronger than any other natural substance, which means that it’ll last longer. Diamond engagement rings can be passed through generations, and heirloom diamonds can be treasured for centuries if they’re cared for properly.

Couple that with a rich history – millions and millions of years’ worth of history, behind every single stone out there – and you’ve got a clear winner for pretty much any bride or groom.

Why diamonds are more expensive than gold?

Diamonds are rare, and their value is determined based on a long list of factors. Gold has a set market price, however, and doesn’t require the same extensive practices for extracting and cutting that diamonds require. 

Plus, from a practical standpoint, diamonds are pretty lightweight. 1 carat – the average weight for a diamond sold for an engagement ring – is equal to just 0.2 grams, though the average price is around $6,000. Obviously, the value changes by thousands of dollars if you’re looking at a bag of melee diamonds totaling 1 carat (which will be far less valuable), but you get the idea. A 1 gram diamond is equal to 5 carats, which can push prices well into six-figures.

Gold’s price per gram is much, much lower than that.

So, Why Are Diamonds so Expensive?

Diamonds are unlike anything else. Their value is a result of so many factors – some that have been around for thousands of years, others that are totally unique to each and every stone that comes onto the market.

Diamonds are collectors’ items, and some are so rare and coveted that they will sell at auction for millions of dollars. They are also a central part of traditions surrounding engagements and commitments in many, many parts of the world, and probably always will be.

By the time they make it to the jeweler’s workbench, they are also the product of incredible skill, and a true testament to the entire industry dedicated to these beautiful stones.