We can’t honestly tell you that size doesn’t matter with your engagement ring. After all, it’s your engagement and your ring. Plus, the band itself has to be the right size or else it won’t fit! But we can tell you that the size—or carat—of your engagement gem isn’t the whole story. And we can honestly tell you the average carat size in the US, too! But first, let’s talk about how gems are sized and what else comes into play.
Simply put, a carat is a unit of measurement to describe the weight of a gem. Much like we use pound to describe the weight of objects, carat is specific to gems, including diamonds. Overall, more carats means a bigger gem. But the shape of the diamond also affects its appearance. In fact, a round cut will make your diamond look bigger than other cuts, like cushion or oval cuts. So if you’re looking to get the biggest diamond, we recommend considering a round cut in addition to a high carat count.
But if you’re just here to find out the average carat size and learn how to afford and adjust your dream diamond—then you’re in the right place! In this post, we’re going to reveal the average carat size in the United States along with tips for affording your ideal gem size.
Average Carat Size in the United States
Like everything, averages vary greatly in the United States. For example, the average carat size in NYC is two and a half times bigger than the national average! So, while you’ll be interested to know that the average carat size in the US is just over one carat, that varies greatly based on your region. If you want to know what your peers will be wearing on their fingers, we recommend researching your specific city or state.
Pricing Your Diamond
Just like carat size varies greatly, the cost of diamonds varies greatly as well. In the US, the average couple spends $6,350 on an engagement ring. But according to The Diamond Pro, a single-carat diamond can cost anywhere from $1,800 to $12,000. That’s a huge range! The Diamond Pro also explains that that wide range affects the average spend on engagement rings—the high price points skew the overall data.
So why is that range so large? (Seriously, it shocked us, too!) Well, diamonds are valued based on their color, clarity, cut, and carat. The carat, of course, we already know refers to the weight of the gem. The color refers to, well, the color! For diamonds, colorless is better. But for other gems, color variations make them more or less valuable. For example, a ruby red ruby is more valuable than an orange-hued ruby.
Clarity is based on how well light shines through the gem—are there any (microscopic) minerals? Finally, we have cut, which is the most important factor. It assesses how well the gem was cut, proportioned, and polished. And the better the cut, the much higher the price.
We may not be able to give you a specific price range based on your dream carats. We can’t even give you a specific carat based on your ideal price range. But we can tell you to set your budget first, and look second. There are so many factors that go into buying a diamond or gem, so it’s important to know your limits before you spend $12,000 on a (albeit) perfect diamond!
Go Bigger with Lab-Grown Diamonds
Lab-grown diamonds are exactly what they sound like: diamonds that are made in a lab instead of mined from nature. And because of their origins, they tend to be much cheaper than natural diamonds. Up to 30% cheaper, to be exact! On top of that, the untrained eye can’t usually tell the difference between a lab-grown diamond and a natural one. Of course, trained professionals will be able to tell—but that’s it! You likely won’t notice the difference.
There are some drawbacks to lab-grown diamonds, however. As with any large purchase, make sure you buy from a reputable source and that you read all of the fine print. For example, do they offer ring insurance? And it’s important to know that lab-grown diamonds don’t have the same resale value as natural diamonds. This isn’t usually a thought when purchasing a ring, but some couples like to trade in the ring to size up down the road. Well, that process is more expensive with a low trade-in value.
Re-sizing Down the Road
Did you really think we’d give you a problem without a solution? Getting a bigger ring doesn’t require a trade in—or even a new stone! While it is possible to make your diamond larger, you can usually only do so by about half a carat. So if you want a big, bold, new look, resizing the actual diamond may not be your best bet. Or, if you want to commemorate a special occasion—like a new baby or anniversary—you may want to change the ring instead of just making it bigger.
To do this, you can add another diamond on either side, or go bold with colored gems on either side. Or you can add ring enhancers that wrap about your gem and draw more attention to it. It’s even possible to replace the band—maybe with one that has diamonds in it, too? So even if you do choose a lab-grown diamond, you don’t have to lose money on the trade in for a new gem. Instead, you can spruce up what you already have!
Buying an engagement ring requires a lot of decision-making. Heck, every part of getting married requires it! So it’s important to take your time and stick to your budget to find the perfect ring, because once you do find it, you won’t want to take it off ever again. (Except, we hope you do when you shower and work out!) The time and energy spent on the buying process will be worth it.
Where are you in your engagement ring buying journey? Are you considering lab-grown rings?