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How to Choose the Right Engagement Ring Carat Size

Written by Anna Currell
March 13, 2024

Getting engaged is one of the most exciting times in a couple's life together. And to add to the excitement, shopping for that perfect diamond engagement ring can be a lot of fun — your ring is a sparkling symbol of your commitment, your love, and your future together. Beginning this search can also be a little overwhelming; there are so many different rings to choose from. But don’t let this overwhelm you and put a damper on the fun. A great place to begin is determining the right carat size. Let's go over the basics of picking the perfect engagement ring carat weight for your partner.


What is a Carat? 

First, it helps to understand exactly what a diamond carat is. A carat is a unit used to measure gemstone weight. One carat equals 200 milligrams or 0.2 grams. Carat weight refers to the physical mass of the diamond, not its overall size. Two diamonds of equal carat weight can actually look different in size based on the stone's density and dimensions. 

Diamonds are priced per carat, so the higher the carat weight, the more rare and valuable the stone. Larger-carat diamonds are much rarer and therefore more expensive. For example, a one-carat diamond will generally cost substantially more than double the price of a 0.5-carat diamond. A diamond’s price usually leaps significantly with each bump in carat weight.

Consider Your Partner’s Style Preferences 

It’s no secret that everyone has their own unique style preferences; that’s why there are endless engagement ring options available. Use carat weight to help you gauge your partner’s preferences. For some people, a large, flashy diamond is exactly what they’re looking for; they want a bold statement and a prominent sparkle. For others, a smaller, more subdued carat count might be more their style. If your partner doesn’t wear jewelry every day, for example, a high-carat diamond might feel totally out of place for them. If you and your partner are searching for an engagement ring together, be sure to talk to them about their style preferences. 

Trying on Different Diamond Sizes

Rather than guessing about diamond measurements, have your fiancée-to-be try on rings in different carat weights. This can help you get a general idea for how a specific carat weight might look on their finger. You can narrow down preferred styles and settings first, then try on similar designs in gradually bigger carat weights to see the difference.

Be systematic about the process. Look at incremental increases like 0.5 carats, 0.75, 1.0, 1.25 etc. Compare the different options side by side to see what you prefer. You'll start to get a feel for the right balance and proportions.


A teardrop diamond bezel ring

It can help to take pictures and videos from different angles under varied lighting so you can review your options again when you get home. It’s also wise to bring along a trusted friend or family member to get their objective input on what looks best. 

Average Diamond Size by Budget

Carat weight will impact the cost of your ring; as a general rule, the bigger the carat, the more expensive the jewelry. Here are some typical engagement ring carat sizes in each budget range:

  • Under $1,500: 0.3 to 0.5 carats
  • $1,500 – $3,000: 0.5 to 0.75 carats
  • $3,000 – $5,000: 0.75 to 1.25 carats  
  • $5,000 – $10,000: 1.25 to 2 carats
  • $10,000 – $15,000: 2 to 2.5 carats 
  • $15,000 – $20,000: 2.5 to 3 carats
  • Over $20,000: 3+ carats 

Many factors affect diamond pricing beyond carat weight, like cut, clarity, color, brand, and demand. Excellent cut diamonds with no visible inclusions will fall on the more expensive end, for example. These are approximations and you can find many gorgeous rings that fall within your budget. Focus first on finding a ring style that you love within your spending range.

Prioritizing Quality Over Size

Don't get too hung up on carat weight as the definitive measure of an engagement ring diamond. Even professional jewelers have a hard time discerning a 0.95 carat from a 1.0 carat once it's set and worn. And if you’re shopping on a budget, you probably don't want to sacrifice the quality of the cut just to hit the next half or quarter carat increment. It's more prudent to invest in a better cut, GIA-certified diamond.

Beyond one carat, you’ll start to see diminishing returns. To the average person, there's little visible difference between a 1.25-carat and 1.5-carat diamond. You're better off purchasing the most ideal one-carat diamond for your budget than a two-carat diamond with visible inclusions. A beautifully designed ring featuring a stunning diamond — even if it's fewer carats than you’d hoped for — will draw more compliments than a huge rock will on size alone.

Focus on Long Term Wearability 

Your fiancée will wear their engagement ring every day for decades to come, so make sure the ring you select is something they can see themselves wearing comfortably over the long haul. Very large prominent diamonds and delicate thin bands are not the most practical for active lifestyles, for example. Think about durability and whether the ring suits your partner’s everyday style. You want this symbol of your love and commitment to withstand years of wear. Don't simply choose the biggest diamond you can afford.

Finding the Perfect Fit for Your Relationship 

There's no universal formula or rule for the perfect carat size. It depends on your budget, your partner’s style, and achieving the right balance for their finger and hand. Keep in mind that the meaning behind your ring is more important than any technical specs. When you follow your heart and get the ring that feels just right for your partner, it's sure to be a cherished symbol of your lives together.

Once you’ve picked out your perfect diamond, design your partner’s perfect ring around it. Create your partner’s one-of-a-kind dream ring with our bespoke jewelry concierge. We’ll help you design a symbol for your relationship that will last a lifetime!

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