Shopping for diamonds is one of the most exciting yet challenging experiences. You find what looks perfect in terms of color and clarity, but then realize the cut isn’t your personal preference. Or, you find a stone that appears excellent with regards to all the other Four Cs, except for its weight. As a shopper, you’ll be left wondering which carat weight is ideal for you.
But let’s start from the beginning – is there really an ideal carat weight? Most diamond buyers will reckon that it depends on your individual requirements. However, expert gemologists recommend going for a carat weight that guarantees a balance of the other Four Cs. Besides, how big a diamond looks also comes down to other aspects, such as your ring size and method of setting.
All said and done, we all desire a diamond that looks bigger, be it realistically or deceptively. In this post, we’ll explore various ways on how to enlarge the size of your diamond without necessarily increasing the carat weight.
What are The Most Popular Diamond Carat Weight and Why Does Size Matter?
According to market research, most diamond shoppers in the US prefer an engagement ring whose center can accommodate a 1 carat diamond. Buyers in other countries prefer a ring center size that can hold a 0.5- to 1.00-carat diamond. But as you shall find out, the situation isn’t as cut and dried as it sounds.
In many countries, the ideal carat weight of a diamond depends on the shoppers’ levels of income. However, it’s generally observed that a 1-carat diamond offers the best return for your money.
First, a 1-carat diamond isn’t too big to draw undue attention to yourself; neither is it too small to be invisible. It’s just the right size for those who don’t find a 0.5- or 1.5-carat stone appealing or affordable. Also, 1-carat diamonds tend to be reasonably-priced. You should note that diamond prices increase exponentially as opposed to linearly. For instance, the price of a 3 carat diamond may be five times as much as that of a 1-carat diamond, even if the two stones are similar in all other aspects.
However, the choice of diamonds based on their carat weight isn’t always economical. In terms of size, you may discover that a 0.9-carat stone looks nearly as big as a 1-carat diamond, but could be up to 35% cheaper. As you can see, the price relationship doesn’t correlate with the 10% reduction in weight.
Evidently, size does matter when shopping for diamonds. What experts warn is viewing the size explicitly from an economic standpoint. That’s for the simple reason that diamond prices vary exponentially. Instead, you should always consider the fire and brilliance aspects of the stone you desire. And that’s where other elements of the Four Cs come into play.
How to Make a Diamond Look Bigger
1. Choose the Right Shape
Diamonds come in various cuts and shapes. And choosing the right shape could reflect positively on the overall size of the stone. Round shapes are the most popular, as well as the most expensive. The price tags of round diamond shapes are mostly determined by the craftsmanship involved in cutting and polishing the stone.
Generally, round shapes create an illusion of size due to their infinite number of facets. As you may already know, the size of a diamond mostly comes down to its light-handling properties. And light-handling attributes are further determined by the number of angles the stone has, as well as the extent to which those facets are elongated.
From this formula, it’s clear to see that round diamonds look larger due to their infinite number of angles. However, the facets in a round diamond aren’t as stretched as, say, those in oval-shaped diamonds. Besides, round-shaped diamonds are deep cut, which means much of the stone lies beneath the surface. Therefore, for similar carat weights, oval shapes will absorb and reflect maximum light and color. Consequently, they will look larger.
Generally, consider fancy shapes when looking to enhance the size of your diamond. Examples of fancy diamond shapes include oval, marquise, pear, and emerald shapes.
2. Insist on Brightly-colored Gems
Brightly-colored diamonds tend to appear larger than their dull-colored counterparts. Of course, colorless diamonds are an exception to this rule. Again, it all comes down to the light-handling characteristics of the diamond.
Diamonds with bright color hues of red, pink, purple, and green often appear larger than those with dull color hues such as brown. It’s okay if you prefer transparent diamonds. But should you opt for colored gems, your best bet is to choose those with bright and sparkly color hues. If in doubt, opt for colors that are closer to D on the diamond color scale.
3. Choose the Best Clarity
The clarity of a diamond denotes the number of inclusions the stone has. To determine that, grading is done based on how the stone scores in the diamond clarity chart. The chart usually ranges from Internally Flawless to Inclusions 2.
Inclusions tend to impair the light-handling properties of a diamond, which further makes the stone appear smaller. The more the number of inclusions, the poorer the light-handling attributes of the stone. Therefore, for the same carat weight, always insist on diamonds with fewer inclusions. Go for a stone whose grading report suggests a clarity score closer to IF on the clarity chart.
4. Go for Shiny Bands
The brightness of the band you choose also impacts the size of your diamond. Mirror-bright metals, such as white gold and platinum, reduce the contrast between the center stone and the metal. Therefore, they complement the sparkle and brilliance of your diamond, ultimately making the diamond look larger. Observing the diamond from afar, you’d think it’s as big as the size of the band.
Generally, when choosing the color and brightness of a diamond ring, insist on metals that reduce the contrast between the diamond and the band. The goal isn’t to make the centerpiece stand out, but to merge it with the metal so that it looks like one large piece of diamond.
5. Choose a Slim Band
When shopping for an engagement ring, the focus shouldn’t be on the ring but the diamond. Going for thicker and broader bands will make the stone look relatively smaller.
That’s why experts recommend choosing slimmer bands. Examples include a petite solitaire engagement ring or a halo engagement ring. To ensure the ring accentuates the center stone, go for those that taper as they approach the diamond.
6. The Fewer the Prongs, The Bigger the Diamond
The prong setting is one of the popular methods of mounting a diamond on a piece of jewelry. In this method, small pieces of metal projections, known as prongs, are used to hold the diamond to a ring.
The main idea behind the use of diamond prongs was to secure a diamond to a piece of jewelry firmly. However, prongs are nowadays also used to maximize the amount of light striking the center stone. By harnessing the light from various angles, prongs can enhance the sparkle and brilliance of a diamond, thereby improving its size. Therefore, it’s logical to imagine that more prongs on a piece of jewelry would make the diamond stand out. However, that isn’t always the case.
Most diamonds in settings, such as Tiffany or solitaire, feature up to 8 prongs. But experts opine that the fewer the number of prongs, the larger the diamond will look. The ideal number of prongs in a standard engagement ring should be 4. If you’re primarily looking to secure the diamond to the jewelry and not necessarily to bring out its sparkle, perhaps you’re better off with a bezel setting.
If you must go for more than four prongs, ensure they’re as thin as possible. That way, they won’t steal the show from the real gem. But going for fewer and thinner prongs isn’t enough. It’s also important to ensure they’re designed from mirror-bright metals.
7. Look for Cluster or Halo Settings
On the settings, you should opt for the most strategic design that offers maximum prominence to the diamond. Halo settings have always been a preference for many, especially those who desire a large centerpiece diamond. In these settings, a halo of smaller pavé stones surrounds the center stone. Experts believe a halo setting can make your diamond appear up to 1.5 times larger. And as you may expect, this can save you hundreds of dollars you’d have otherwise spent increasing the carat weight.
In addition to halo ring designs, you may also consider cluster settings. In cluster settings, stones of nearly equal sizes are grouped together. Besides creating an illusion of size, cluster settings can also be customized into different shapes, such as a sunburst or a flower. Not to mention, they’re ideal for people with smaller hands or fingers.
8. Look for an Optical Illusion
Some jewelers may include a magnifying material at the base of the setting where a diamond would be mounted. The material absorbs as much light as possible and reflects it on the diamond. As such, the diamond appears deceptively larger than it really is. The only problem with this trick is that such materials can lose their luster over time. And polishing them would require dismounting the diamond.
Repeated mounting and dismounting could cause the diamond to wear off. A better alternative here would be to keep your diamond as clean as possible. The cleaner the stone, the brighter it looks. You can either have your local jeweler do the cleaning for you, or do it yourself using jewelry-grade cleaners and polishing cloths.
The size and weight of diamonds affect their prices and overall brilliance. When looking for a large diamond, most shoppers would naturally go for higher carat weights. But as we’ve highlighted above, there are numerous ways you can enhance the size of your diamond without necessarily shelling out extra bucks on more carats.