What Is the Best Size for Your Diamond Engagement Ring?

One of the most important decisions you have to make when choosing your diamond ring is the size of the diamond.

The statistics show that not everyone wants a large diamond, and the average size chosen is often very specific to the location of the consumer.

JamesAllen Engagement Rings

If you aren’t quite sure what size diamond is right for you, keep reading as we’re going to take a look at the average carat size for diamond engagement rings. We’ll also reveal our top tips on how to save on a diamond ring’s size!

Average Size of Diamond Engagement Rings Around the World

Marquise engagement ring yellow gold
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First things first, it might seem that all women want a large flashy diamond to sparkle on their finger. After all, a diamond is a girl’s best friend and the bigger the better, right? Not necessarily. In fact, the average diamond sizes varies from region to region.

In the US, the median size for a diamond ring is 1 carat, with most people spending roughly around $6000 for their ring. However, it is important to note that these are only the average and you’ll find people on either end of the pendulum. There are those who buy diamonds as small as .25 carats and others who go well over the 2.0 carat mark.

Keeping that in mind, here are what the figures say:

  • United States: On average, the consumers in the US opt for diamond sizes around the 1.0 carat mark. However, an increasing number of people seem to be opting for stones just under 1.0 carat (we’ll discuss why this is a good idea further down). Most Americans spend approximately $6500 for their engagement ring.
  • United Kingdom: The UK has slightly more modest figures with the average diamond size being .6 carats. UK consumers typically spend around $2500 for their purchase.
  • Europe and China: Europeans and the Chinese seem to prefer a more practical approach to their engagement rings, with the average size being just .5 carats. In China, the custom of giving your significant other a diamond ring is fairly new and only just starting to rise in popularity. As the trend grows, the desire for larger, showier diamonds may increase too.
  • Japan: On average, the Japanese tend to prefer smaller diamonds, with .3 carats being a popular size for their engagement ring. It is speculated that this is because the sizes of fingers are much smaller in Asia. In fact, most Asian women have ring sizes between 5 and 6.
  • Australia: Australians spend about $5500 on an engagement ring, but don’t seem to prefer a certain size. What Australians do look for is diamond quality, and will often refuse to drop down in the 4Cs simply to purchase a larger stone.

However, bear in mind that most people who go for larger diamonds have higher disposable income levels and can afford such purchases. This is true in cities such as New York and Los Angeles. In smaller cities, such as Illinois and Michigan for example, people on average people spend less on items such as diamonds. This means that the average differs based on the city and shouldn’t be taken as a rule for the whole country.

What is a Big Diamond?

Vintage hexagon engagement ring
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If your loved one wants a ‘big’ diamond, you might be wondering what constitutes big. This differs from person to person, but in general a diamond between 2 to 3 carats is considered large. If you’re going for size and are looking to impress, a carat size over 2 is sure to tick all the boxes.

How to Choose the Size of Your Diamond

The right size diamond for you depends largely on your budget, preferences and frankly, what you value. Whatever size you opt for, here are some ways to get the most out of your purchase:

Focus on the Cut and Diameter

Two diamonds of the same carat weight can appear very different, with one seeming larger. This can be due to the depth and the shape of the diamond.

There is such a thing called spread diamonds, also known as shallow-cut diamonds, where the stone is cut shallow in order to exhibit a larger surface area. While it would look larger, it would also have less brilliance and poorer light performance than a deeper cut diamond. These diamonds are generally given a lower cut grade as they are considered as having a lower cut quality.

princess vs round diamond
The princess cut diamond appears larger due to its diagonal length.

Another factor is the shape of diamonds. Certain diamond shapes can make the diamond look larger. When we look at a diamond, our eye tends to measure the diamond from tip to tip, focusing on its diameter.

For example, the round diamond is typically smaller in appearance than a princess cut diamond of the same carat weight. The round cut is a deeper cut and the circular shape can trick the eye into seeing it as smaller next to a square cut. This is because the square princess cut appears larger diagonally.

Go Below the Standard Sizes (especially 1.0 carat)

Most people choose 1.0 carat diamonds as they are ‘perfect’. However, would you still opt for this if you knew that the difference between a 1.0 carat and a .98 carat stone could be $2000, while the visual difference would be practically non-existent? Choosing a stone just slightly under the 1.0 carat mark is often a smart financial move.

Diamonds increase in price exponentially as the carat weight goes up. This means that two .50 carat diamonds will not equal the price of a 1.0 carat diamond, which would be much more expensive. Compare the two diamonds below. The difference in price is over $5000!

.50 carat diamond 

1.0 carat diamond 

Because the demand for 1.0 carat diamonds are relatively high, these stones are often marked up. When you search for diamonds, you’ll notice that there are many in the 1.0 to 1.10 carat range, whereas diamonds around .95 to .99 are much rarer. This is because diamond cutters deliberately choose a 1.0 carat cut over slightly smaller diamonds. Often, they have to sacrifice the quality of the diamond to retain the 1.0 carat weight.

These two diamonds are almost identical in their specifications, except that one diamond is 1.0 carat and the other is .90. The difference in price, however, is almost $2000!

1.0 carat E color VVS1 diamond

.90 carat E color VVS1 diamond 

The size difference between these two is about 10% but the price difference is 40%.

Diamond retailers profit off the fact that the purchase of diamonds is often driven by emotion than by rationality. Having said that, if you really want that 1.0 carat stone, and budget is not a concern, then definitely go for it!

Shop Online

Shopping online allows you to pick and choose the best diamond and gives you lots of options. You can browse diamonds without ever having to leave your own home and have it delivered to your door.

What’s more, online shopping for diamonds is generally 30 to 70 per cent less expensive than shopping in-store, as these retailers have fewer overhead costs, and most (like James Allen) don’t necessarily own their inventory.

However, ensure that you are able to see HD images and videos of the actual diamond like this as well as the grading report.  

Read our quick review on some of the best online retailers for diamonds.

How to Compare Diamond Sizes

Different carats for engagement ring

Often, it can be difficult to understand the size of a diamond simply by speaking in carats. After all, how many of us know the size of a 1 carat diamond versus that of a .50 carat unless we see it with our own eyes? Most women are quite surprised at how large a diamond carat actually is when they see it in person.

Engagement ring on girls finger

When shopping in store, you have the advantage of putting the ring on your finger. When shopping online, however, this can get somewhat tricky. Most diamond retailers will have a diamond size calculator.

The James Allen site has a helpful Diamond Size Calculator that shows you the size of the diamond on a finger.

You can also look for images of hand models with the ring on it as a guide. This gives you an approximate idea of how the diamond will look.

Should I Choose the Average Diamond Size?

There is no need to feel pressured into emulating the choices of others. There is also no dictate stating that a large diamond is better.

Spend only what you feel comfortable spending on a diamond ring and focus on other important things that matter to the two of you, like buying a house, raising a family, traveling the world or whatever else it may be for you.

At the end of the day, the engagement ring is simply a symbolic item, meant to signify a new chapter and the promise between two people. And whether this is signified by a .30 carat diamond or a 3.0 carat stone, or a different stone altogether, is completely up to you.

Dani Rhys

Dani Rhys has worked as a writer and editor for over 15 years in the jewelry niche. She holds a Masters degree in Linguistics and Education. She has always been interested in expression through fashion and accessories, and her extensive experience in the field has made her a respected voice in jewelry trends and education. As the chief editor of Jewelry Shopping Guide, she not only leads the content strategy but also shares her insights through engaging articles. Her passion for storytelling is reflected in every piece she curates, exploring the intricate relationship between jewelry and personal identity.

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