The time-honoured, tried and tested classic option is a solitaire diamond on a fairly simple setting, in platinum or gold. By far the most typically requested stone for one of these is the one carat diamond. Basically, you will not go wrong if you opt for this style and size. As far as budget is concerned, did you know that there is a way you can cut corners – literally!? Diamonds increase in value for each 0.5 carat. What this means is that if you select a stone just shy of 1 carat – say a 0.9 carat diamond, you will get more for your money. And for all intents and purposes (i.e. the overall look, feel and presence of the stone) you may as well have a 1 carat classic, because no-one will be able to tell the difference. And you might be able to divert those dollars saved into a more expensive setting, for instance. Or a taller wedding cake perhaps?
CUT, COLOUR AND CLARITY
Carat, cut, colour and clarity determine the quality of a given diamond in combination, but the most influential of the 4C’s is cut really. If the cut has not been finished skilfully, it doesn’t matter how big the diamond is, it won’t sparkle as it should. So you can play around with the cut factor to an extent, to suit your preference for size or carat, in line with your budget. For instance, the most excellent cuts can pretty much obscure any internal imperfections or ‘flaws’ or ‘inclusions’. So if you are not too concerned about those things, you can potentially get a bigger diamond which is not perfect in all ways, yet the cut is sufficient that the stone presents beautifully anyway. Sounds good right? Industry expert, US diamond specialist Anna Jay sums it up well: “Rather than being hung up on what the number is I suggest focusing on what you like, what looks best on your hand, and working with a jeweler that can help you find a beautifully cut diamond.” Conversely, you may come across a diamond which has not been cut to the same high standards and so is less valuable. If it’s a big one, and you’re craving copious carats, you might get a big boy for a fair bit less than a comparable competitor with a better cut. The same applies with colour and clarity. If you’re willing to overlook lower gradings in these areas, you might be able to go up an increment or two on the carat scale. Most people are more interested in the overall quality of the diamond over its size, but by carefully considering the interplay of these four factors in a particular stone, you may be able to live with less of one in return for more of another, which may ultimately suit your search best.
If you’re not hung up on having a round cut solitaire, why not consider some of the other shapes? The other shapes such as Marquise, oval and pear shape diamonds in particular can look really sizable when worn, yet their carat count is the same. In general, these other shapes cost significantly less than round, so you can get a larger looking jewel boasting more carats, if you opt for one of these. Known as the ‘fancy’ shapes, they are very popular at the moment and they are striking in their designs, difference and dramatic nuance.
Sure, settings play second fiddle to the star of the show, the diamond. But they have an important role to play. Different settings can accentuate the way the size of the stone appears, visually. Side stones, halos and other design features can make a centre stone seem larger. On the flip side, a diamond which is too big on a setting will not sit properly and may look crook. The setting is crucial, not an afterthought, so make sure you keep this in mind when deciding how many carats you need.
Don’t forget that big stones can be more difficult to live with – in terms of an item of jewellery worn daily on someone’s hand. A large stone with a higher profile is much more likely to get caught or knocked; can make it tricky to reach into pockets and things. For a person who’s active – on the go – or working with hands, a carat-heavy diamond can be heavy going! Also, consider the shape of the person’s fingers. Are they delicate; elegant? Or of more generous proportions? You want the ring to look just right as it rests on the finger, not too small or too large, but just right.
Smaller diamonds can look just as good as their weightier cousins. Diamonds which are 0.1 – 0.4 carats can make gorgeous, sophisticated, understated rings - which are perfect if your style is more minimalist. 0.5 carat diamonds are a great option for a terrific looking, high performing ring. You may go for a halo setting to get some extra sparkle. 0.7 carats is an elegant compromise between the smaller, less expensive stones and the one carat classic. This size can get you a dazzling diamond which stands proud solo or with a little help from some side-stone friends.
Is there an ideal carat weight for engagement rings?
No. Although one carat is definitely a classic choice and very popular. Hard to go wrong with a one carat solitaire.
I can probably only afford a small centre stone. Can smaller diamonds look terrific too?
Yes, they certainly can. In fact a minimalist, understated look is very fashionable. It’s a matter of selecting a top quality smaller stone and appropriate stylish setting.
Are larger diamonds always more spectacular than smaller stones?
No they are not. Quality is not about carat weight. There are a number of factors, mainly the diamond’s cut, clarity and colour.