How Many Carats Should an Engagement Ring Be? | The Diamond Reserve

How Many Carats Should an Engagement Ring Be?

In the United States, the national average for an engagement ring is around one carat, however there is no “correct” size or amount to spend on an engagement ring. Ultimately, the perfect engagement ring is the one that you like wearing and meets your budget and lifestyle.

What is the Ideal Carat Size for an Engagement Ring?

According to a study by The Knot in 2021, the average engagement ring diamond in the U.S. was 1-1.5 carats. 50% of those who participated purchased rings between 1-2 carats, only 25% of rings were over 2 carats, and round is still the most popular cut. The study also concluded that diamond size was not as important as the cut and shape of the stone. In the United Kingdom, the average size is 0.6 carats, and in Europe it’s even smaller, weighing in at 0.5 carats.

Carat is the unit of measurement for the physical weight of diamonds, gemstones and pearls. The term comes from the ancient method of measuring weight against the seeds of the carob tree. In 1907 the 4th General Conference on weights and measures, agreed that one carat would be equal to 200 milligrams of a diamond (⅕ of a gram) and subdivided into 100 points (75 points is equal to ¾ of a carat); the metric carat stands as the industry standard.

Large diamonds are more rare than smaller ones, and as the carat weight increases, the value of the diamond increases; however, the increase in value isn’t proportionate to the size increase. Ultimately, it’s the cut of the diamond that’s responsible for its brilliance and sparkle, so a smaller diamond can be more beautiful than a larger one. 

Choosing Your Engagement Ring

The most important thing to consider first when purchasing a diamond is your budget, then you can get to the fun part, choosing your shape and setting. The shape of a diamond affects how carat weight translates to size; a ¾ carat marquise will look bigger than a round brilliant because the marquise is cut with a larger table so more of the diamond is visible when the ring is worn. Vertically cut and elongated shapes with large tables like marquise, pear and oval are the best choices for those wanting a larger diamond at a lower carat weight.

A larger looking center stone can be achieved by adding side stones, halos, or other embellishments which change the perceived size of a diamond. A ‘big’ diamond is also relative to an individual’s finger size; a one carat diamond on a small finger can look very large, while one of the same size on a larger sized finger could look smaller. You’ll also want to consider what size carat you’ll feel most comfortable wearing every day.

  • An emerald or oval cut will elongate one’s fingers
  • Long fingers look shorter with a round cut
  • A thinner band makes any gemstone look larger
  • A halo setting will make a stone look 1-1.5 carats larger than it actually is
  • Round brilliant diamonds have the highest brightness and fire relative to their size
  • An emerald cut will look larger on your finger than a round cut

Flaws in a diamond weighing 2-3 carats will look bigger than one carat would, so you’ll likely want a higher clarity grade; with a smaller stone, you won’t need a flawless diamond. Remember that jewelers can reset your ring, add side stones or swap the center stone for something larger. Many people “upgrade” the diamond on their engagement ring later in life, sometimes to mark a special occasion like an anniversary or the birth of a child.

We can help you create the ring of your dreams and answer questions to help you determine the right size, shape and feel for your engagement ring. Give us a call at 303-385-8449 or click here to schedule your appointment.