Whether we admit to it or not, we’re all guilty of peering over our neighbors’ fences every once in a while – although, for the most part, the peering is only metaphorical. Whether you’re checking out how green your grass ought to be, or how much your future bride’s engagement ring needs should tip the scale, knowing the ‘going rate’ is useful, even if it’s not everything.
Engagement rings and proposals come with a lot of ‘social baggage’. There are plenty of expectations among friends, family, and coworkers, as well as your partner, and an enormous amount of pressure to meet them – or else, we tell ourselves, we’re going to start off this next chapter (the most important chapter of our lives) on the wrong foot.
This isn’t true, of course, but It’s helpful to understand the average size for engagement rings, since it helps first-time shoppers to ground themselves in the world of diamonds – to get some sense of where they might want to start their search and, perhaps, end it too.
In the US, the average carat weight for diamond engagement ring is around 1.1, with the Round Brilliant solitaire representing the most popular choice among couples.
There’s a very good reason why the 1 to 1.2 carat range remains the ‘ideal’ for so many shoppers: diamonds of these sorts of sizes (when properly proportioned) are big enough to make an impact, to show off the true beauty of the stone, and its shape.
In a Round Brilliant, the face-up diameter of a well-proportioned 1 carat diamond will be around 6.5mm – a great size that, statistically speaking, is going to meet the expectations of many brides-to-be.
Nevertheless, it’s pretty common for any shopper to start dreaming about how much they can afford to surpass the average by – and the sort of impact they could make with it. It’s not hard to be seduced by the idea, particularly when so many celebrities are stepping out with glittering boulders on their ring fingers.
Most shoppers will want to avoid anything that falls below the 0.9 carat mark.
It would be easy to say, ‘there’s no such thing as too small’, it’s pretty clear to the overwhelming majority of shoppers that their partners already have certain expectations for the diamond. And, while these expectations might be pretty vague, the national average is a handy tool of reference for what is generally considered ‘the norm’.
Anything that looks noticeably smaller than the norm, then, will risk looking ‘too small’.
Some shoppers looking to keep the overall cost of their engagement ring down will look to the carat weights just below 1, since it’s widely known that 1 carat diamonds (as a result of their popularity) come at a premium cost.
A 0.95 carat diamond will appear pretty much the same size as a 1 carat diamond, after all – although it’s worth noting that the savings between the two might not be as big as you’re expecting, since 0.95 carat diamonds, or ‘nearly 1 carat diamonds’, have become popular searches.
Still, what starts off as a minor and unnoticeable size difference can grow pretty quickly, and we wouldn’t recommend that shoppers looking to keep up with the Joneses go too far below 1 carat.
No diamond is too big for everyone out there, although many women tend to find that diamonds within 5 or so carats prove the most comfortable to wear.
It’s easy to get caught up on how big, impressive, and ‘heavy’ a diamond engagement ring should be, but it’s pretty useful to keep in mind the fact that, while bigger diamonds are undeniably coveted (and particularly within recent celebrity engagement rings), there is still such a thing as ‘too big’ for many people.
Sure, Elizabeth Taylor’s headline-making Krupp diamond, weighing in at 33.19 carats, is a pretty impressive sight – but a diamond that overshadows the whole hand like hers is not for everyone. We’re willing to bet that Taylor didn’t wear that diamond to do errands – if the queen of the silver screen ever did errands, that is.
What’s more, plenty of celebrities – the frontrunners of ‘go big or go home’ when it comes to engagements – forgo the larger carat sizes in favor of something more modest. Mila Kunis and Keira Knightly both said yes to diamonds thought to sit comfortably under the 3 carat mark.
The point is that there is no definitive cut off point between the points of ‘too small’, ‘too big’ and ‘just right’. For some women, even a 2.5 carat diamond will represent a daunting step up from the 1 carat range; for others, the same diamond will fall shy of expectations.
Remember that you’re buying a ring for every day, not just the red carpet, and that diamonds up to around 5 carats tend to prove the easiest to wear in day to day life.
It is way better to strike a balance between carat weight and visual quality, than to invest in a massive diamond with poor cut, clarity, color, or proportions.
For starters, you want an Excellent or Very Good cut, as graded by the GIA. Sure, it’d probably be easy for you to find a very attractively priced 3 carat diamond with a Fair or Poor cut – and to talk yourself into thinking cut doesn’t matter that much – but you’d be making a major mistake. Diamond Cut, more than anything else, determines sparkle, which means that your 3 carat dud could prove pretty lifeless on your partner’s finger.
Next we have color and clarity – to features that prove quality isn’t everything. While you’ll want to get a diamond that looks perfect, you don’t need to invest all your money into quality and have nothing left over for carat weight. Read our guides to diamond color and clarity to find out more about the ‘’sweet spot’ between paying for quality, and saving on quality.
In other words, it’s better to have a bigger diamond than a Very, Very Slightly Included 1 (VVS1) diamond. It’s also better to have a smaller diamond than an N color diamond, or a spready diamond.
Since there’s no specific size requirement for any diamond engagement ring, the best rule is this: the diamond should be big enough to meet your partner’s expectations, but not so big that visual quality represents the sacrifice.
It’s easy to feel tempted towards the biggest diamonds in your price range. Big diamonds make a massive impact; they are a symbol of wealth and status as much as romance, and there’s no denying the appeal of putting an out-and-out rock on your partner’s finger.
But the belief that size is everything is one that only rookies to the diamond world subscribe to.
There’s color – do you want a big, yellow diamond or a smaller, clear diamond?
Then there’s clarity – do you want to look down and see flaws sprinkled through the center of your diamond, or visual perfection and a great sparkle?
And, of course, there’s Cut – are you willing to sacrifice sparkle, symmetry, and a high quality polish for sheer size?
1.1 carats represents the ideal middle ground for so many because of the fact that, after taking size and quality into account in (more or less) equal measure, it’s a financial sweet spot, and a beautiful, wearable, and classic choice for any bride to be.
You can take a look at our full range of GIA graded diamonds here, and use our Jewelry Store Locator to locate the perfect diamond in a reputable local jewelry store near you.