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Is a 1 carat diamond ring too small?

Is a 1 carat diamond ring too small? Too big?What size diamond should you buy? So many questions. We have the answers to help you find your perfect engagement ring.

By Stephanie Dore

Diamonds are meant to be seen. To sparkle. To shine. They do their best work boldly, catching not only the light but everyone’s eyes. If we didn’t want them to be seen, why would we wear them at all? So sparkle matters, sure. But when it comes to picking an engagement ring, what about size? Is bigger really better? Is 1 carat enough? 

While social media algorithms would have you believe there’s a girl around every corner with a whopper of a rock weighing down her ring finger, the fact is that in the US, the average engagement diamond is just under 1 carat. And throughout the world, even smaller. The real question is—is a 1 carat diamond ring enough for you? 

And just to make the question a little more fun, there are a lot of factors that affect how large a diamond looks, beyond its weight. Here’s what you need to know:

How Big is a 1 Carat Diamond?

Remember, carats are actually a measure of weight, not size, so the measurements of a 1 carat diamond will differ from stone to stone. But if we’re talking about your average round brilliant, they’re going to land somewhere in the region of 6.5mm diameter. Or about 1/4 inch. 

That’s Right. They’re Not all the Same size.

This is why a diamond’s depth and cut is so important. A deeper-cut 1 carat round diamond might be as small as 6.2mm across, while a shallower stone might measure 6.8mm. But those cut differences will more noticeably affect your diamond’s sparkle than it’s face-up size. After all, a big dull diamond won’t ever look prettier than a small sparkly one.

And we’re only talking about round brilliant cuts here—what happens when we throw other shapes into the mix?

A deep one carat asscher diamond compared to a shallow one carat asscher diamond
Depth can make a diamond appear smaller or larger than it should.
But go too shallow and your diamond will appear dull and lifeless.
The marquises long, slender form make it’s face up larger than any other diamond shape

When Size Met Shape

Some diamond shapes will just plain give you more size for your money, no matter what. Ovals and Marquises—due to their elongated form and shallower cut—will always look larger than a similar carat weight round diamond. Asschers on the other hand—which are usually cut deeper and all squared off—will look the smallest.

one carat asscher diamond vs one carat round diamond
A one carat round diamond faces up larger than a one carat Asscher diamond because it’s more shallow and has a less curved belly

Giving Size the Finger. Your Finger.

No matter what diamond size you choose for an engagement ring, one of the largest factors in its appearance actually has nothing to do with the diamond itself. Yep, it’s the size of your finger that really matters. Or the size of the finger that will be wearing that gobstopper. The larger the finger size, the smaller the diamond will look. And vice versa. 

In the US, the average ring size is a 6, and that’s the size most retailers show samples in. If you’re a size 8, which is 10% larger, a 1 carat diamond might look more like a .90 carat on your finger. And if you’re a size 4, a 1 carat diamond might look more like a 1.10.

How Big is Everyone Else Buying?

While 1 carat—or just under—has been the US average for a hot minute, the growing popularity of lab grown diamonds and moissanite, which are more wallet-friendly, is driving the average size up. If getting more size for your money is your highest priority, choosing one of these are easy ways to do just that.

So is a 1 Carat Diamond Ring Too Small?

Look, averages are averages for a reason. And 1 carat will be a safe choice for most people and certainly nothing to be embarrassed about. But you should always do you. Attract attention if you want. Choose a showstopper for special occasions and a subtle band for more active everyday activities. Ultimately, you (or your partner) is the one who’s gotta wear it, so if it doesn’t work with your lifestyle, then no matter what size you choose, it won’t be the right one. While you’re at it, check out a few of our favorite looks for different lifestyles —

Low Maintenace Lifestyle

Showstopping Styles

Diamond Forward Solitaires

Effortless Everyday Bands

It’s not Rocket Science

The carat weight you choose will, of course, be affected by your budget. But diamond prices can vary dramatically based on the quality (those pesky 4Cs) and the type of diamond you’re interested in. A 1 carat lab grown diamond can be yours for under $1,000, while a flawless natural 1 carat diamond might run you more than $10K. 

Determining your realistic budget before you start shopping will make your life a thousand times easier. Then use the 4Cs as little levers you can adjust up and down to get something that works with your wallet.

Easy Does It

Think you’re ready to check it out for yourself? Try our diamond search where you can view 360-degree images of more than 10,000 diamonds and don’t forget to zoom out (because size can be deceiving), or book an appointment at our New York salon to view certified lab-grown and natural diamonds in person. 

Not finding what you’re looking for? Email us with what you’re looking for at hello@frankdarling.com. We’ll curate a list of 5-7 exclusive stones that are just right for you.