What Is Diamond Carat: What You Need to Know Before Buying

Alicia Briggs | December 07, 2023

Of the diamond 4Cs (cut, color, clarity, and carat), diamond carat is arguably the most well-known. People commonly mistake diamond carat with diamond size, but carat refers to a diamond's weight. While many shoppers prioritize a higher carat weight above all else, bigger isn’t always better when it comes to carat.

Below, we’ll cover everything you need to know about diamond carat including how to select the perfect carat weight for your VRAI created diamond.

What Is the Carat of a Diamond?

Diamond carat refers to how much a diamond weighs. A carat is the unit of measurement for a diamond’s weight.

Understanding the Diamond Carat System

The diamond carat system began with a carob seed, which gem traders would use to balance their scales. The carat system is now a universal system of measurement, and the only method used for weighing diamonds.

How Is Diamond Carat Measured?

A carat consists of 100 points. To measure a diamond’s carat weight, jewelers weigh the diamond on an electric micro-balance scale. The diamond carat is then recorded at the hundredth decimal place for the most accurate carat weight, i.e. 1.13-carat, .07-carat, etc.

One reason for recording the carat weight at the second decimal place, instead of rounding up, is the diamond carat price. When calculating the total cost of a diamond, the carat weight is multiplied by the price per carat.

What’s the Difference Between Carat Weight and Total Carat Weight?

Carat weight and total carat weight are two different measurements. Carat weight is the carat weight of a single diamond, such as the center diamond. Total carat weight (tcw) is the combined total carat weight of the piece of jewelry.

For example, the total carat weight of a diamond ring would include any pavé set diamonds, side stones, and the center diamond.

While total carat weight influences the ring’s cost, the carat weight of the center diamond is a better indicator of the ring’s value. A diamond with a high carat weight is more valuable than the total carat weight of several smaller diamonds.

How Big Is a Carat?

How big a 1-carat diamond is depends on the diamond's shape and measurements. While all 1-carat diamonds weigh the same, their cut and shape determine their size.

An easy way to see how big a diamond will look at different carat weights is to use our virtual diamond carat size chart. You can compare how every VRAI created diamond will look on a size 6 hand when you select and view the diamond online.

Diamond Size vs Carat Weight

Diamond carat and diamond size are often mistaken for one another, but they aren’t the same thing. Diamond size refers to the measurements of a diamond (height, width, and depth). Diamond carat is a diamond’s weight.

While diamond carat weight will affect the size of a diamond, it’s not the only factor. Higher carat weights will only appear larger by a certain percentage. If you’re trying to determine the actual size of a diamond, refer to its measurements, not just the carat weight.

Diamond Carat Chart

Compare the most popular VRAI created diamond shapes by diamond carat, price, and measurements.

Round Brilliant Cut Diamond

  • 1 Carat: $1,200, 6.57mm x 6.57mm x 3.95mm
  • 2 Carat: $2,200, 8.16mm x 8.14mm x 5mm
  • 3 Carat: $4,500, 9.3mm x 9.33mm x 5.65mm

Emerald Cut Diamond

  • 1 Carat: $1,000, 4.97mm x 7.26mm x 3.08mm
  • 2 Carat: $2,100, 6.1mm x 8.92mm x 4.04mm
  • 3 Carat: $4,500, 7.11mm x 10.54mm x 4.39mm

Princess Cut Diamond

  • 1 Carat: $1,050, 5.54mm x 5.57mm x 3.73mm
  • 2 Carat: $2,400, 6.96mm x 6.98mm x 4.85mm
  • 3 Carat: $4,200, 8.05mm x 8.1mm x 5.33mm

Oval Cut Diamond

  • 1 Carat: $1,100, 5.7mm x 8.4mm x 3.3mm
  • 2 Carat: $2,400, 7.21mm x 10.52mm x 4.21mm
  • 3 Carat: $4,500, 8mm x 12mm x 4.81mm

Diamond Carat Price

Carat weight noticeably impacts the diamond price. The diamond carat price can increase significantly by just a few carat weight points. For example, a .97-carat Round Brilliant cut diamond costs $936. A 1.01-carat Round Brilliant of the same quality costs $1,208. The only difference is a few carat points.

The price per diamond carat also differs depending on the diamond’s shape and popularity.

The reason higher carat weight diamonds are more expensive is because they are considerably more rare. Because carat weight doesn’t necessarily translate to how big your diamond appears, it’s not always worth paying more for a slightly higher carat weight.

At VRAI, we offer high-quality diamonds at higher carat weights for less than any diamond retailer - both mined and lab-grown. VRAI created diamonds are grown in our zero-emission foundry, through a vertically integrated supply chain. With no middlemen markups, we can offer certified lab-grown diamonds at more accessible prices.

What Is a 1-Carat Diamond Worth?

Diamond carat is only one factor in determining a diamond’s worth. The worth of a 1-carat diamond depends on the diamond 4Cs and the overall diamond grade.

A 1-carat VRAI created Round Brilliant cut diamond with G color, SI1 clarity, and Excellent cut starts at $1,200 and goes up from there, based on quality.

Why Is 1 Carat So Expensive?

A 1-carat diamond is noticeably more expensive because it’s considerably rarer than lower-carat weights. This is because the carat weight suggests the size of its rough diamond. Larger rough diamonds are harder to find.

Higher-carat weight diamonds also require a skilled craftsman to cut a high-quality diamond while preserving more of the rough diamond. This is why a quality, Excellent cut 1-carat diamond is more expensive.

Which Carat of Diamond Is Best?

The best carat weight is the one that suits your lifestyle, budget, and size preferences. A 1 or 2 carat diamond is the most popular choice for an engagement ring. A diamond ring of this size is beautiful and brilliant, but easy to wear every day. This is ideal for shoppers who prefer an engagement ring that’s still subtle, or who work with their hands.

If you’re on a budget, you can buy a diamond at a better value by choosing a carat weight just outside of your ideal range.

Since diamonds at higher carat weights are more valuable, they also come at a higher price point. 3-carat diamonds and above are considered larger diamonds. Many shoppers prefer large diamond rings because they love diamonds, or value size, brilliance, and rarity above all else. However, higher-carat weight diamonds will cost more and may interfere with your day-to-day activities.

How to Choose the Best Diamond Carat Weight

Personal preference, diamond quality, and shape are the most important factors in choosing the best carat weight.

Diamond Carat Weight and Cut

The diamond cut greatly determines the appearance of your diamond, including how big your diamond looks. A poorly cut diamond at a higher carat weight can look smaller than a lower carat weight diamond with a high-quality cut.

While carat weight impacts the price and rarity of a diamond, the visual difference between .10-carat is almost impossible to see. A poor-quality cut, however, will noticeably impact the diamond’s size, brilliance, and beauty.

The ideal cut grade changes depending on diamond shape and carat weight. Cut becomes more important at higher carat weights. If you’re on a budget, choose a slightly lower carat weight to lower the cost without sacrificing cut quality.

Diamond Carat and Diamond Shape

The ideal carat weight differs depending on the diamond shape. Diamond shape impacts size, and how different cut, color, and clarity grades appear at higher carat weights.

Elongated diamond shapes, like Emerald, Oval, and Marquise cut diamonds, carry their weight on the top or the table. They’ll appear larger than they are at higher carat weights. Diamond shapes that hide their weight in the pavilion, like Cushion cut diamonds, often appear smaller than they are. For these shapes, a higher carat weight is more important.

If the diamond shape doesn’t hide color or clarity well, a higher carat weight means you may have to choose a higher quality grade to ensure a clear and brilliant diamond.

Diamond Carat and Ring Setting

The engagement ring setting can help maximize carat weight and brilliance. To enhance shine and size, choose a Halo or Bezel setting. Settings that fully encircle the center diamond will highlight its size. The handset perimeter of pavé diamonds in a Halo setting also adds brilliance.

For lower-carat weight center stones, side stones create the illusion of a bigger center diamond, while still saving on the total cost. A Three Stone engagement ring, for example, creates the illusion of one large, brilliant diamond - no matter the carat weight.

For higher-carat weight diamonds, a more secure ring setting that protects any sharp edges is essential. Bezel settings are considered the most secure ring setting, as well as 6 or 8-prong settings.

Frequently Asked Questions About Diamond Carat Weight

Below, we answer the most common questions about diamond carat:

Is a 1 or 2-Carat Diamond Better?

A 1 or 2-carat diamond is not necessarily better, but they will differ in price and appearance. Consider the diamond’s measurements and appearance to decide which carat weight is better for you.

A 2-carat diamond is typically more than double the price of a 1-carat diamond. While a 2-carat diamond appears larger and more brilliant than a 1-carat diamond of the same quality, how much larger will depend on the shape and cut.

Compare how each diamond looks on your finger, how comfortable it is to wear, and if it aligns with your budget and preferences.

Is It Better to Have a Higher Carat Diamond?

A higher carat weight simply means that the diamond is rarer. If having a more valuable diamond is important to you, then a higher carat weight is better for you.

Higher carat weight diamonds are often bigger and more brilliant, but the diamond shape and cut quality also determine this.

Is 1-Carat Diamond Okay?

A 1-carat diamond is more than okay - it’s the most popular carat weight.

Is a 2-Carat Ring Too Big?

A 2-carat diamond ring is typically not considered big. It’s one of the most popular carat weights for a ring, but whether or not it's too big will depend on your preference.

Is There a 1000-Carat diamond?

There are currently four 1000-carat diamonds. The first gem-quality diamond found in over 100 years with over 1,000 carats was mined in 2015 in Botswana. Three more diamonds of over 1,000 carats have been mined since. They weigh 1,080.1, 1,758, 1,174, and 1,109 carats.

Why Does My 2.5-Carat Diamond Look Small?

If your 2.5-carat diamond looks small, it may be because it has a poor quality cut, the diamond shape hides its carat weight, and/or the ring setting hides its size.

What Are Magic Sizes in Diamonds?

Magic sizes for diamonds are carat weights where the diamond value significantly increases. Magic diamond sizes are .25ct, .50ct, .75ct, 1.0ct, and so on. Magic sizes are rarer and more popular carat weights, so the price per carat rises considerably.

What Is the Difference Between Carat and Karat?

The difference between carat and karat is much more than one letter. Karat is how the fineness of gold is measured, while carat is the unit of measurement for diamonds.

Find the Best Carat Weight for Your VRAI Created Diamond

Explore our full inventory of VRAI created diamonds to find the best carat weight for your engagement ring or loose diamond. You can filter by carat weight, diamond shape, price, and the remaining 4C’s to easily find the right carat weight for you.