For sheer popularity and staying power, it’s hard to beat a 1-carat diamond. In fact, in the United States the average engagement ring diamond is a little over 1 carat in weight, meaning that when it comes to finding the right stone to propose with, 1 carat is a great place to start. 

The popularity of the 1-carat engagement ring also means access to a larger selection. Unlike the more rare 2 or 3 carat diamonds, 1-carat diamonds are widely available, both via online stores and local brick-and-mortar locations. 

But there’s a downside to the 1-carat diamond’s availability, and that’s quality. Because while there are many beautiful, superior 1 carat diamonds on the market, there are also a lot of less-than-ideal options that can easily get in the way. And sometimes, a higher-priced stone may not necessarily mean a higher quality stone. Here, we share the ins and out of 1-carat diamonds, and how to find the right one for you. But first, let’s discuss the difference between a diamond’s carat and its size

Diamond Size vs. Diamond Carat

In rating diamonds, the most common unit of measurement is the carat. Carat is closely tied to value because, at the risk of over-generalizing, a larger carat usually means a larger stone. However, this correlation is not implicit. That’s because carat as a unit of measurement describes a gem’s weight, not its size. 

A single carat is equal to 200 milligrams, and is subdivided into 100 ‘points.’ This allows diamond experts to measure a diamond to the one hundredth decimal place. Precise measurements mean that they can then assign the diamond a much more definite price. 

A diamond’s size, on the other hand, is not nearly as precise. That’s because size refers to the diamond’s appearance. Specifically, how big does the diamond look?

A diamond, as it sits in a ring, is much like an iceberg that floats in the ocean — not all of it is easily visible. When one measures a diamond’s size, one incorporates factors such as the table surface area and cut. For example, an emerald cut diamond sits relatively flat, while a round diamond will naturally have more depth. The emerald cut might be the same carat weight as the round cut, but it would appear larger, and thus be a larger size

What’s Special About 1 Carat Diamond Rings?

1-carat diamond rings are perfect in terms of affordability and practicality. Given that diamond prices tend to increase exponentially as the carat weight goes up, those who choose to purchase more extravagant carat sizes may find themselves straying well outside their budgets. At the same time, larger diamonds are more likely to catch on or brush up against things while being worn — potentially damaging surfaces, clothing, or even the ring itself. Single carat diamond rings are small enough that this isn’t usually an issue. 

Additionally, because 1-carat diamonds are so popular, you’ll be much more likely to find exactly what you’re looking for. These diamonds are available in every shape and can be made to fit nearly any setting. And, if your 1-carat diamond seems too small right now, you can always upgrade to a larger diamond at a later date.

1 Carat Diamond Clarity Rating

Diamonds are traditionally graded according to the 4 C’s: cut, color, clarity, and carat. These metrics are used to determine the overall quality (and price) of a diamond. Diamonds that are higher quality in some areas but much lower quality in others will likely be of lower value than a diamond that scores well throughout.

And while each of the 4 C’s play an important role in describing the overall quality of the stone, it is worth taking the time to discuss clarity specifically, especially as it relates to 1-carat diamonds.

Clarity refers to the number of internal and external features (called inclusions and blemishes) that naturally occur in diamonds. Fewer inclusions or blemishes mean a higher rated, and more valuable, diamond. 

The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) has created a scale for measuring diamond clarity. Internally flawless (IF) diamonds are considered the highest quality. These are followed — listed here in order from higher quality to lowest quality — by diamonds with very very small inclusions 1 (VVS1), then very very small inclusions 2 (VVS2), very small inclusions 1 (VS1), very small inclusions 2 (VS2), small inclusions 1 (SI1), small inclusions 2 (SI2), and then finally inclusions 1 (I1), and inclusions 2 (I2). 

Unlike in 2-carat diamonds or larger, which usually feature a bigger table/surface area, inclusions within 1-carat diamonds are not nearly as obvious. 

When shopping for a 1-carat diamond, don’t feel as though you need to limit your search only to those that fall into the IF category. Instead, a VS2 diamond or better that looks clear to the naked eye will shine just as nicely. In fact, you may even be able to find SI1 diamonds that are able to pass the test, particularly when placed in ring settings that hide any obvious defects.

To reiterate, you probably won’t be able to see much of a difference between the VS2 and the IF single carat diamond without placing them under a microscope. So, if budget is a concern, expand your search to include those mid-scale stones. 

1 Carat Diamond Price

A single carat is equal to 200 milligrams. But even though 200 milligrams isn’t very heavy — roughly equal to the weight of a single raindrop, and only 1/10th the weight of a penny — a single carat of a high-quality diamond will usually cost around $4,000 to $5,000. 

The good news is that when compared to diamonds of larger carat weight, 1-carat diamonds are less expensive per carat. As previously mentioned, diamond prices increase exponentially with weight. So while you may end up paying $5,000 per carat for a 1-carat diamond. A 2 carat diamond of the same quality might cost $10,000 per carat — $20,000 in total. 

Buyers can take advantage of this by purchasing multiple smaller stones for their rings, rather than investing in a single large stone. 

However, it’s also worth noting that trying to save money by dropping slightly below the 1-carat weight category is not advised. In terms of price, there’s not much of a difference between a 1-carat diamond and a .95 carat diamond. At the same time, limiting your search to “almost 1-carat diamonds” will drastically limit your selection. 

As an alternative, many diamond buyers choose lab-grown diamonds. Lab-grown diamonds are physically and chemically identical to mined diamonds; these are real diamonds, with the same atomic structure and appearance as diamonds pulled out of the ground. The only differences between lab-grown diamonds and mined diamonds are that lab-grown diamonds are created in controlled lab conditions, and they cost significantly less than traditional diamonds. At Clean Origin, one of the world’s most trusted retailers of lab-created diamonds, we offer 1-carat diamond rings for ~$1,000 to $4,000 — all with exceptional cut, color, and clarity. 

Our Recommendations when Shopping for a 1 Carat Diamond Ring

When shopping for a 1-carat diamond ring, understanding grading scales is only the first step. Here are our top recommendations to keep in mind while you shop for the diamond of your dreams:

Don’t settle for a low-quality cut

With the right cut, even a smaller diamond can dazzle the eye. Maximize your 1 carat diamond’s brilliance and fire, by only considering diamonds that are excellent cut — anything less, and your diamond may lose its sparkle.

Keep an eye on the color

To the naked eye, there’s not much difference between a completely colorless diamond and one that’s mostly colorless. So, as you shop for your 1-carat diamond, feel free to consider diamonds that fall within the G through I range. These diamonds will, for all intents and purposes, look colorless. Also, be aware that the metal used in the ring may affect the apparent color of the diamond; a diamond in a yellow gold setting may look lower on the scale than the same diamonds paired with white gold.

Consider a lab-grown diamond

As addressed above, lab-created diamonds are identical to mined diamonds in every respect, aside from their origin and their price. These diamonds are ethical and environmentally friendly. And, as an added bonus, they cost a lot less; we only offer diamonds that are made in a lab, so we can keep the prices low without cutting into the quality. So, if you’re interested in a higher quality diamond on a smaller budget, lab-grown may be the solution.

Talk with an expert

Whether you’re buying for yourself or as a gift, choosing a diamond is an important, personal journey. Bring along a guide, by consulting with a knowledgeable diamond expert. A diamond expert will be able to help you refine your search to fit your needs, as well as answer any questions you may have. Clean Origin’s diamond experts are available to help you find the perfect diamond. Contact us today.