Three-carat is a dream diamond size for many jewelry-conscious shoppers owing to the fact that the sparkle and brilliance of diamonds are 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, this unique advantage comes with a reasonably hefty price tag. But, if due caution is exercised while shopping for an ideal 3-carat diamond, it is possible to end up with a gem worth being cherished forever.
As may already be known, the price of a 3-carat diamond depends on a few factors. For a shopper, it is imperative to understand how to leverage all these factors to their advantage; for through doing so, they will know what to prioritize and what to sacrifice. Remember, this is a significant investment and so it is essential to get it right the first time.
Undoubtedly, the internet is awash with expert advice on how to shop for diamonds wisely, implying that a mindful shopper will need to have as much information as possible in their 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 the local jewelry industry. All said and done, finding a 3-carat diamond within a budget is not entirely impossible. In this guide, attention will be focused on the price of a 3-carat diamond and on 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 is approximately the same size as a raisin. Now, although 600 milligrams may not look or sound much, 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 in the jewelry industry. For instance, a shopper could opt for a 2.9-carat diamond instead of a 3-carat one; the difference between the two stones’ carat weight being rather insignificant. However, that very decision might have been inspired by a disproportionate variance in the prices of the two stones.
Three-carat is not the most popular diamond size among the round carat weights, and it is more likely to bump into diamonds weighing 1, 1.5, and 2 carats in a jewelry store. Some consumers consider three carats too big for a gem that should be subtly visible, whereas others find the cost of most 3-carat stones way beyond their budgets.
A recent consumer research suggests that each region around the world has its preferred diamond carat weight, and, interestingly, hardly do three-carat diamonds feature anywhere among the most favored diamond sizes. In the US, most consumers tend to buy 1-carat diamonds. This rarity alone could have a monumental impact on the overall cost of a 3-carat diamond, but before this factor is shed light upon, let us 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, though shopping for an ideal diamond within such a broad price range is not a walk in the park. Moreover, considering that the price can even fall anywhere outside this price range, it is even more challenging to find an excellent 3-carat stone.
Fortunately, carat weight is not the only thing that influences diamonds’ cost. This implies that the chances of locating a perfect 3-carat diamond depend on how efficiently one sifts through and eliminates 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. To better understand this, it is important to 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—referring to a diamond as pear, round brilliant, or cushion translates into making reference to its shape. On the other hand, the cut of a diamond refers to the diamond’s facets, dimensions, symmetry, and reflective attributes.
The shape of a diamond directly impacts the size of the stone, ultimately influencing 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 research conducted in 2018, most jewelry shoppers considered size as one of the most important factors when buying diamonds. This 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 along 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. Be that as it may, the chart is not meant to explicitly push diamonds of the said clarity score and color range. Indeed, better bargains on diamonds with lower color and clarity score can still be found.
From the chart, the significant price variations mostly depend on the cut quality. It is also evident that fancy-shaped 3-carat diamonds cost significantly cheaper, not to mention that they might appear more elegant on the finger compared to other diamond shapes, such as the round one. Another benefit of going for fancy-shaped 3-carat diamonds is that they feature larger face-up sizes, and hence tend to look bigger than they are. 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, looks bigger, and comes 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, though it can be seen that the former creates a bigger impression in terms of fire and brilliance than the latter.
The cut of a diamond depends on the skill and craftsmanship of the cutter. Based on the cut alone, a diamond can be graded as poor, fair, good, very good, or excellent. When cutting raw diamonds, cutters will use their professionalism and good judgment to determine how best to combine the different proportions of the stone—the primary motivation being to maximize the diamonds’ 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. This 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 that are priced differently.
First off, let us emphasize that diamonds are primarily graded depending on their absence of colors, which is why colorless stones tend to be more expensive. The presence of hues and tints makes all the difference in terms of color. The hues often result from the presence of nitrogen trapped inside the diamond. Nonetheless, there is an exception to this rule.
In certain circumstances, a diamond may have an intensely strong color that 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. Thus, when shopping for a 3-carat diamond, always 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, any 3-carat diamond on a lower color grade will do.
However, do not always rely on color grades as the ideal indicators of the performance of a 3-carat diamond on a ring. 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. Therefore, while a 3-carat diamond may come with a hefty price tag due to its high score on the color grade, its face-up appearance may not look as sparkly.
4. Clarity Differences
Diamond clarity is determined by the amount as well as the location of its flaws most of which are normally internal, also known as inclusions. When they occur externally, they are referred to as surface irregularities. Flaws directly affect the light-handling properties of a diamond, hence decrementing its value.
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, 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. A shopper may come across different 3-carat diamonds with similar clarity grades but with different prices. The price variations might be occasioned by the visibility of those inclusions. What is more, clarity is quite a relative and subjective trait, and therefore, the best bet would be to choose an eye-clean diamond.
5. The Fluorescence
When shopping for a 3-carat diamond, do not 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 and mostly results from the presence of phosphorus within the internal structure of a diamond. Resultantly, it is important to stress that in this regard, phosphorus is not considered a flaw but a positive element.
Contrary to popular belief, the relationship between the price of a 3-carat diamond and its fluorescence is not always relative. While all diamonds feature a degree of fluorescence, not much of that quality can be captured by the standard gemological equipment, which is 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 diamonds 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 because most buyers naturally believe that higher fluorescence translates to better quality. To get it right, buy a 3-carat diamond that comes with proper grading certificates; doing so will help 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 and is one of the more delicate elements that dictate the price of 3-carat diamonds. Also known as polish, the finish grade is what gives a diamond its luster and sheen.
Remember that it is 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, and 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 mentioned previously, flaws show in larger diamonds than in smaller ones, and 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, with the primary motivation of ridding the stone of inclusions, scratches, and abrasions. This means that there is a good chance of coming across diamonds that feel rougher but feature higher price tags. Therefore, smoother is not always costlier when it comes to finishing grade.
To get it right, establish the desired polish before checking out the prices of the ideal 3-carat diamond, and instead of dwelling on the sheer smoothness of the diamond, focus more on how eye-clean it appears. 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 and 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, 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 can be expected, a diamond’s symmetry depends on the craftsmanship of the cutter. Ideal cut diamonds have even proportions and symmetrical facets. Besides, excellent cutting skills and polishing also affects a diamond’s overall symmetry.
But spotting an asymmetrical diamond is not easy unless a jewelry shopper is seasoned in the craft. This substantiates the significance of looking for any special visual effects. For instance, oval diamonds have what is known as the bowtie effect that suggests that not all the light at the center of the diamond reflects 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; one reason why the onus is on the buyer to locate them and use their presence to negotiate the price of a 3-carat diamond.
8. The Girdle Thickness
A diamond’s girdle is the part of the stone that attaches the crown to the pavilion and is often graded as thin, medium, or thick. A girdle affects the symmetry and proportion of a diamond. When it is too thin, the diamond may be susceptible to chipping, and when it is too thick, it could add extra weight to the stone. Be that as it may, this weight is usually negligible, and while it does not impact size or elegance per se, it could influence the price of a 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, entailing that they are 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 us reiterate that the best place to shop for 3-carat diamonds is online. It has been proven that shopping for diamonds online from reputable dealers is up to 30% cheaper. Secondly, it is pertinent to deal with vendors that offer diamond certificates from reliable gemological labs and that deploy cutting-edge diamond viewing technology. Some online dealers now use interactive photos and 360 degrees displays, enabling a buyer to examine the diamond more closely against the parameters highlighted above.
Lastly, remember that the cost of a 3-carat diamond is not cast in stone. Although the major price influencers have been discussed, they are not 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 as exciting an experience as it is a challenging one. Such diamonds come with significant price variations depending on what a buyer is looking for. The consensus is to have a checklist that is as elaborate as possible before brainstorming each item to decide what to prioritize.