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Carat Weight — is a 2 Carat Diamond Too Big?

A visual guide to carat weight to help you answer that pesky question — is your dream diamond too big, too small, or just right.

Lab-grown diamonds have made larger diamonds more affordable than ever before. So, you might find yourself asking a new type of question — how big is too big? Is a two-carat diamond too big? A three-carat? This is becoming one of the most common questions we get asked. If a one-carat diamond is the most popular option for mined diamonds, what’s most popular for a lab-grown diamond? How large can you go before your ring simply isn’t practical, dwarfs your finger, or gets too ostentatious? There’s no obvious answer, but we get the question so often these days we’ll do our best to try and figure it out.

To help figure this out, we put together a visual guide to carat weight. Use these images to judge for yourself — how big is too big?

First thing first, let’s get some jargon out of the way.

Face Up

When we say “face up” what we mean is how a stone looks when viewed from above.

Carat Weight

Carat is a measure of a diamonds weight, not size. Two diamonds can be the same shape and weight but “face up” a different size. Confused yet? That’s because one’s packaging a lot of junk in the trunk, and the others more shallow.

Depth

How deep (tall) a diamond is. The deeper the diamond the smaller it faces up.

Pro tipShop for diamonds within the ideal depth range to find diamonds that look their weight.

Now for the good stuff.

IS A 0.5 CARAT DIAMOND TOO BIG?

Harper No. 5 set with a .6 carat center
and .12 carat side stones

You’re probably not wondering if a 0.5 carat diamond is too big, but rather, is it the right size for you?

A half carat round will “face up” smaller than a half-carat oval, pear or marquise, and while it can feel small, it doesn’t have to.

Your choice of shape, and setting, can have a big impact on how larger it looks.

If you’d like your diamond to look larger, consider a three stone, halo or cluster. These setting types are effective ways to give more visual presence to a smaller stone.

IS A 1 CARAT DIAMOND TOO BIG?

Definitely not. In fact, a one-carat diamond is the most popular choice for an engagement ring in the US. But, if you’re looking for the maximum carat you can pull off, fast forward, because a one carat diamond is most likely not for you.

Now, if you’re thinking about purchasing a one-carat diamond, remember what we said earlier — not all one-carat diamonds are created equal.

Different diamond shapes will appear smaller or larger, because of how deep they are. The oval, pear and marquise diamonds are all naturally shallow in cut, which is why they look so much larger than the Asscher and emerald cut diamonds. A one carat marquise is going to face up big. A one carat Asscher, not so much.

Mason No. 3 in platinum set with a 1 carat marquise cut diamond

To make things even more complicated, finger size plays a big role in how big a diamond looks. A one carat Asscher on a size 3 finger will look much larger than a one carat Asscher on a size 9 finger.

IS A 1.5 CARAT DIAMOND TOO BIG?

Harper no. 2 with a 1.7 carat oval and platinum prongs on an 18K yellow gold band

1.5 carats is larger than the average engagement ring. Whether or not it’s too large for your finger depends on a few things: your finger size, diamond shape, and your desired ring setting.

If you’re doing a classic round solitaire, and your fingers are size 5 or larger, you’ve still got plenty of room to size up. An east-west set marquise? You’re nearly maxed out.

1.5-carat diamonds are a great balance of size and cost. While the difference in actual dimensions between a 1 carat and a 1.5-carat diamond might not seem like much, visually a 1.5-carat diamond reads as quite a bit larger, especially for certain stone shapes and smaller finger sizes.

IS A 2 CARAT DIAMOND TOO BIG?

Four two carat emerald diamonds of varying length with ratios

Is a 2 carat diamond too big? Do chickens fly? Are avocados better on toast?

2 carats is our most requested carat weight. It doesn’t hurt that a two carat lab diamond is about the same price as a one carat natural diamond. Coincidence? We think not.

Now if you’re on a two carat budget coveting a three carat look, don’t despair. Here’s a few tricks you can use to make your diamond look larger.

Set it East West

East west settings aren’t just modern, they’re one of the best ways to get more bling for your buck. Set horizontally, a 2 carat oval is going to give you ample finger coverage and totally differentiated look.

Go Elongated

Elongated stones like the oval, emerald and pear read bigger then they are.

Opt for a Three Stone

Three stone settings are trending. They’re also a great way to get a bigger look for less. Pair your two carat center with .5 carat sides for a full finger look. Half moons can be a great accent for ovals, while we’re currently crushing on north south baguettes with an Art Deco vibe.

IS A 2.5 CARAT DIAMOND TOO BIG?

Harper No. 7 set with a 2.3 carat emerald diamond next to Parker No. 1 set with a 3 carat Asscher diamond

Not if you live in NYC.

But seriously, let’s talk goals. If you’re aspiring to blind strangers in times square, you’ll need to try harder. If you travel internationally and can’t bear the thought of leaving your ring at home, maybe you’ll want something more practical.

When thinking about your ideal carat weight, make sure to consider your ring size. A 2.5-carat diamond looks and feels larger on a size 6 finger than it will on a size 8 finger.

Now, a 2.5 carat may not be too big, but it might be too expensive. If you love this look but can’t afford to buy a mined diamond, go for lab-grown.  Lab-grown diamonds can be a great way to get a stunning, sparkling look without breaking the bank. Not sure lab-grown is for you? Read up on the myths behind lab-grown diamonds.

IS A 3 CARAT DIAMOND TOO BIG?

A Custom Made 2.7 Carat
Cushion Cut Diamond

If you’re worried a 3-carat diamond might be too big, you’ve already decided you like the look of a big diamond, and at this point, there isn’t a rule book to go by.

While yes, a 3-carat diamond is less wearable than a 1-carat diamond, you can make it more wearable by opting for a low-profile setting where the culet (bottom tip) of the diamond sits as low as possible in the setting, just above your finger.

If you’re worried it will sit too high, choose a more shallow cut like the oval or pear to minimize depth and maximize spread.

IS A 3.5 CARAT DIAMOND TOO BIG?

Not if we have anything to say about it.

Some shapes look great in all sizes. Others look better, the bigger they get. Step cuts are in that camp.

The bigger the diamond, the bolder the flashes of light.

A 3.3 carat F color lab grown emerald

IS A 4+ CARAT DIAMOND TOO BIG?

If you’re considering a four+ carat diamond, conventional guidelines about color and clarity no longer apply. As diamonds get bigger, their color shows, and inclusions become more visible. A four-carat oval with an H color will look noticeably more yellow than a 1 carat oval with a G color. Considering the price tag, we’d suggest working with an expert.

When it comes to lab-grown, 4 carat + diamonds are extremely rare. They represent less than .1% of the available stones on the market and are in extremely high demand, with many selling before they are ever listed online.

With a search like this, we like to start early and give ourselves time to find the best ones. Our direct relationship with diamond growers means we know what’s coming out of cutting, and can reserve stones before they ever hit the market. Did someone say first dibs?

STILL UNSURE?

Check out 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.