Three carats is a dream diamond size for many jewelry-conscious shoppers. That’s because the sparkle and brilliance of diamonds is relative to their carat weight. Therefore, all other factors kept constant, a 3-carat diamond is likely to shine brighter than a similar stone of a lower carat weight. However, that unique advantage comes with a reasonably hefty price tag. But if you exercise due caution while shopping for your ideal 3-carat diamond, you might just end up with a gem to cherish forever.
As you probably already know, the price of a 3-carat diamond depends on a few factors. As a shopper, you must understand how to leverage all these factors to your advantage. That way, you’ll know what to prioritize and what to sacrifice. Remember, this is a significant investment, and you want to get it right the first time.
Indeed, the internet is awash with expert advice on how to shop for diamonds wisely. As a mindful shopper, you’ll need to have as much information in your back pocket before taking the plunge. Also, remember that getting great bargains out of a 3-carat diamond largely depends on the shifting sands of your local jewelry industry. All said and done, finding a 3-carat diamond within your budget isn’t entirely impossible. In this guide, we shall focus our attention on the price of a 3-carat diamond, and highlight how to best shop for one.
How Big Does A 3-Carat Diamond Look?
A 3-carat diamond weighs 0.6 grams or 600 milligrams. To put it into a better perspective, that’s approximately the same size as a raisin. Now, 600 milligrams may not look or sound like much. But in the jewelry industry, a negligible variation in the weight of a diamond reflects heavily on the diamond’s price, as well as the balance of the Four Cs. For instance, a shopper could opt for a 2.9-carat diamond instead of a 3-carat one. The difference in carat weight may appear insignificant. However, that very decision might have been inspired by a disproportionate variance in the prices of the two stones.
Three carats isn’t the most popular diamond size among the round carat weights out there. You’re more likely to bump into diamonds weighing 1, 1.5, and 2 carats in your local jewelry store. Some consumers consider three carats too big for a gem that should be subtly visible. Others find the cost of most 3-carat stones way beyond their budgets.
Indeed, recent consumer research suggests that each region around the world has its preferred diamond carat weight. And hardly do three-carat diamonds feature anywhere among the most favored diamond sizes. In the US, most consumers tend to buy 1-carat diamonds. Now, this rarity alone could have a monumental impact on the overall cost of your 3-carat diamond. But before we delve deeper into that, let’s have a look at what an average 3-carat diamond will cost.
How Much Does A 3-Carat Diamond Cost?
Generally, a standard quality 3-carat diamond costs between $15,000 and $95,000. But shopping for an ideal diamond within such a broad price range isn’t a walk in the park. And considering that the price can even fall anywhere outside this price range, it’s even more challenging to find an excellent 3-carat stone for you.
Fortunately, diamond weight isn’t the only thing that influences their cost. Your chances of locating a perfect 3-carat diamond depends on how efficiently you sift through and eliminate the other price-defining factors.
Factors That Influence the Cost of a 3-Carat Diamond
1. Shape and Size
The first element that determines the price of a 3-carat diamond is the shape and size of the stone. But even before we go further, it’s imperative that we distinguish between the shape of a diamond and its cut. Although the two terms are usually used interchangeably, they denote different things altogether. The shape of a diamond generally refers to the outline of the stone or its external figure. When we refer to a diamond as pear, round brilliant, or cushion, we’re often making reference to its shape. On the other hand, the cut of a diamond refers to the diamond’s facets, dimensions, symmetry, as well as the reflective attributes of the stone.
The shape of a diamond directly impacts the size of that stone. And that ultimately influences the cost of the gem. The size of a diamond relative to its shape is often known as the face-up size. The bigger the size, the higher the cost. According to a 2018 research, most jewelry shoppers considered size as one of the most important factors when buying diamonds. And the size element was further influenced by finer aspects, such as width, weight, height, and length of the diamond.
The following chart illustrates the different shapes of 3-carat diamonds, as well as their corresponding face-up sizes and average cost.
The chart compares the prices of 3-carat diamonds across various shapes, based on the VS1/VS2 clarity score and G/H color range. However, the chart isn’t meant to explicitly push diamonds of the said clarity score and color range. Indeed, you can still find better bargains on diamonds with lower color and clarity score.
From the chart, the significant price variations mostly depend on the cut quality. It’s also evident that fancy-shaped 3-carat diamonds cost significantly cheaper. Not to mention, fancy diamonds might actually appear more elegant on your finger compared to other shapes like round. Another benefit of going for fancy-shaped 3-carat diamonds is that they feature larger face-up sizes. Therefore, they tend to look bigger than they really are. And such an excellent illusion of size positively influences the diamond’s light- and color-handling properties.
Overall, a fancy-shaped 3-carat stone is generally cheaper, look bigger, as well as come with maximum fire and brilliance.
2. The Diamond Cut
The cut of a 3-carat diamond impacts its price nearly the same way the shape does. The cut of a diamond affects both its brilliance and performance. For instance, this diamond may look almost as big as this one. However, you can clearly see that the former diamond creates a bigger impression in terms of fire and brilliance.
Generally, the cut of a diamond depends on the skill and craftsmanship of the cutter. Based on cut, a diamond can be graded as poor, fair, good, very good, or excellent. When cutting raw diamonds, the cutter will use their professionalism and good judgment to determine how best to combine the different proportions of the stone. The primary motivation is to maximize the diamond’s sparkle.
Overall, a 3-carat diamond is easier to cut than diamonds of smaller sizes. However, the process could be further complicated by the number of inclusions and the desired level of brilliance. That explains why round diamonds are the most expensive since they require more expertise to cut. The oval, marquise and Asscher cuts follow in that order.
3. The Diamond Color
Three-carat diamonds come in various colors. And those colors are priced differently.
First off, let’s emphasize that diamonds are primarily graded depending on their absence of colors. Therefore, colorless stones tend to be more expensive. It’s the presence of hues and tints in them that makes all the difference in terms of color. The hues often result from the presence of nitrogen trapped inside the diamond. However, there’s an exception to that rule. In certain circumstances, a diamond may have an intensely strong color. The color intensity usually emanates from the presence of trace elements within the stone. Due to their rarity, intensely-colored diamonds, also known as fancies, are quite expensive.
Another thing to remember is that the role color plays in defining a diamond’s quality improves with the size of the diamond. So, when shopping for a 3-carat diamond, always ensure you check the stone for even the slightest tint. The convention is to choose diamonds that range from H to I on the diamond color range, for white platinum or gold settings. For yellow or rose gold rings, you’ll do well with any 3-carat diamond on a lower color grade.
However, don’t always rely on color grades as the ideal indicators of the performance of your 3-carat diamond on a ring. That’s because when grading diamonds based on their colors, gemologists often look at the body color from the diamond’s side and not from its face-up appearance. So, while a 3-carat diamond may come with a hefty price tag due to its high score on the color grade, you may discover that its face-up appearance doesn’t look as sparkly.
4. Clarity Differences
Diamond clarity is determined by the amount as well as the location of its flaws. Most of these flaws are normally internal, also known as inclusions. When they occur externally, diamond flaws are referred to as surface irregularities. Flaws directly affect the light-handling properties of a diamond, hence its value and price.
Larger diamonds readily show their inclusions. For instance, a 3-carat diamond with an SI2 clarity score on the clarity scale will reveal its flaws more readily than a 1-carat diamond of the same clarity grade. Therefore, you should always insist on a 3-carat diamond with higher clarity grades.
Although the cost of 3-carat diamonds is significantly influenced by their clarity, experts warn against blindly following the clarity grading formula. You may come across different 3-carat diamonds with similar clarity grades but priced differently. The price variations might be occasioned by the visibility of those inclusions. What’s more - clarity is quite a relative and subjective trait. Therefore, your best bet is to choose an eye-clean diamond.
5. The Fluorescence
When shopping for a 3-carat diamond, don’t dwell too much on the four Cs as to forget the other finer aspects that dictate the overall price of the diamond. Diamond fluorescence refers to the extent to which the stone glows when exposed to ultraviolet light. Fluorescence mostly results from the presence of phosphorus within the internal structure of the diamond. Therefore, it’s important to stress that in this regard, phosphorus isn’t considered a flaw but a positive element.
Contrary to popular belief, the relationship between the price of a 3-carat diamond and its fluorescence isn’t always relative. While all diamonds feature a degree of fluorescence, not much of that quality can be captured by the standard gemological equipment. That’s why statistics tend to suggest that only 35% of diamonds emit some glow. In most cases, fluorescence will make a diamond look hazy. As such, fluorescent 3-carat diamond might be priced between 10 – 20% cheaper than those with fainter and zero fluorescence. However, a diamond’s glow can also enhance the whiteness and brilliance of the stone.
Many diamond dealers tend to play a psychological game with the fluorescence aspect of their diamonds. That’s because most buyers naturally believe that higher fluorescence translates to better quality. To get it right, ensure you buy a 3-carat diamond that comes with proper grading certificates. That way, you’ll establish whether the fluorescence is a pro or a con for that particular diamond.
6. The Finish Grade
The finish grade implies the smoothness of a diamond’s surface. It’s another one of the more delicate elements that will dictate the price of your 3-carat diamonds. Also known as polish, the finish grade is what gives a diamond its luster and sheen.
Remember that it’s rare for a diamond to feature a perfect polish. Instead, there will always be some tiny imperfections. Examples include abrasions, nicks, scratches, pits, and burn marks. The good news is that these flaws are rarely visible to the naked eye. Most of them can only be visualized through the jeweler’s loupe. Gemological labs grade polish from “Poor,” “Fair,” “Good,” “Very Good,” and “Excellent.” As we mentioned previously, flaws show in larger diamonds than in smaller ones. So, whatever the price, avoid 3-carat diamonds that range between “Poor” and “Fair” in terms of polish.
Also, different diamond cuts are polished differently. The primary objective is to rid the stone of inclusions, scratches, and abrasions. That means you might come across diamonds that feel rougher but feature higher price tags. Therefore, smoother isn’t always costlier when it comes to finish grade.
To get it right, you must first establish your desired polish before checking out the prices of your ideal 3-carat diamond. And instead of dwelling on the sheer smoothness of the diamond, focus more on how eye-clean it appears. The chances are that the fewer the surface irregularities, the higher the finish grade.
7. The Symmetry
The symmetry of a diamond refers to the regularity and balance of its facets. It mostly comes down to the shape of a diamond’s angles in relation to the overall position of those angles.
At the end of the diamond grading process, diamond facets are often compared in opposing pairs. The pairs are known as windows and mirrors.
Flaws in the symmetry of a diamond may influence how efficiently the diamond directs light that travels through it. Therefore, these flaws significantly reduce a diamond’s brilliance.
As you may expect, a diamond’s symmetry depends on the craftsmanship of the cutter. Ideal cut diamonds have even proportions and symmetrical facets. Besides excellent cutting skills, polishing also affects a diamond’s overall symmetry.
But spotting an asymmetrical diamond isn’t easy unless you’re a seasoned jewelry shopper. As such, always look out for any special visual effects. For instance, oval diamonds have what’s known as the bowtie effect. The bowtie effect implies that not all the light at the center of the diamond reflects back to the table. While it may often be looked at as a defining symbol of the oval diamond shape, the effect might as well be viewed in a negative light.
Most diamond grading reports lack these special effects. Therefore, the onus is on you to locate them, then use their presence to negotiate the price of your 3-carat diamond.
8. The Girdle Thickness
A diamond’s girdle is the part of the stone that attaches the crown to the pavilion. It’s often graded as thin, medium, or thick. A girdle affects the symmetry and proportion of a diamond. When it’s too thin, the diamond may be susceptible to chipping. And when it’s too thick, it could add extra weight to the stone. However, this weight is usually negligible. And while it doesn’t impact the size or elegance of the diamond, it could influence the price of your 3-carat diamond.
Some diamond polishers may hive off some weight out of a diamond and make up for that by increasing the girdle thickness. To avoid these unpleasant surprises, always insist on medium girdle thickness.
Shopping For 3 Carat Diamonds
Regardless of their immense weight, the good news is that 3-carat diamonds are easy to cut and polish. Therefore, they’re readily available in numerous shapes and cuts.
But when it comes to shopping for diamonds, there are always challenges to grapple with and precautions to take.
First off, let’s reiterate that the best place to shop for 3-carat diamonds is online. It’s been proven that shopping for diamonds online from reputable dealers is up to 30% cheaper. Secondly, ensure you only deal with vendors that offer diamond certificates from reliable gemological labs. It’s also important that you buy from a vendor that deploys cutting-edge diamond viewing technology. Some online dealers now use interactive photos and 360 degrees displays. That enables you to examine the diamond more closely against the parameters we’ve highlighted above. Lastly, remember that the cost of a 3-carat diamond isn’t cast in stone.
And though we’ve discussed the major price influencers, they aren’t the only ones. Other aspects like rarity, ring setting, and the local jewelry industry dynamics will also come into play.
All in all, shopping for a 3-carat diamond is an exciting experience as it’s a challenging one. Such diamonds come with significant price variations depending on what you’re looking for. The general consensus is to have a checklist that’s as elaborate as possible. Then, brainstorm each item as you check on what to prioritize.