Want to know how much a 1.5 carat diamond costs?
You're in the right place! In this Learning Jewelry guide, I'll go over topics like:
- The 4 Main Factors of Diamond Cost
- How Diamond Shape Affects Cost
- Tips to Save on a 1.5 Carat Diamond
Factors That Affect Diamond Cost
In a perfect world, a 1.5 carat diamond would cost the same amount as three 1/2 carat diamonds of the same quality.
My friends, it's not a perfect world.
One of the reasons I get frustrated with people who automatically write diamonds as a ripoff is because many of them don't realize the amount of effort, money, and people it takes to travel from the depths of the earth to a jeweler's case.
Is the diamond industry a business? Absolutely. Is there a markup cost? Of course. But diamonds aren't worthless. And they aren't all the same.
Diamond prices are assessed by a system invented by the Gemological Institute of America called The 4Cs of Diamond Quality. This is the system in which all diamonds are measured for quality and value.
The GIA's system involves diamonds being determined for value based upon Cut, Clarity, Color, and Carat weight. Each pillar has its own grading system based on its appearance according to the standard.
People mainly wore colored gemstones until it was discovered how to actually cut diamonds to sparkle the way we see today. When the idea that a round diamond could be cut down to perfect symmetry in order to display the most brilliance, there had to be standards. That's where the GIA comes in.
Diamond Cut Quality
One of the best ways to save on a 1.5 carat diamond is going to be to adjust your diamond grades. Give a little, take a little. When it comes to diamond cut, you shouldn't compromise.
When the gem world talks about cut, they can be talking about one of two things:
The cut of a diamond can be another way of saying its shape. But the diamond cut we're talking about here is about the way a gem cutter has shaped the diamond.
Round diamonds are the only diamond shape that can be perfect symmetry, also known as an ideal cut diamond. Ideal Cut grades and Excellent Cut grades are the highest cut quality achievable. You can have super ideal cut diamonds, but they aren't a standard grade to the GIA.
These are the following cut grades for diamonds: Ideal/Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair, Poor. You shouldn't see fair or poor diamonds in the retail world, nor should you ever choose them. These grades look dull and are more vulnerable to chipping and breakages.
There are 7 facts the GIA assesses when determining cut quality: brightness, fire, scintillation, weight ratio, durability, polish and symmetry.
All other shaped diamonds don't have official cut grades on grading reports. Many retailers still sort them as if they do have cut grades. In some places you might find a princess cut diamond or a cushion cut diamond referred to as ideal.
These shapes have a general range of dimensions and proportions they should be in order to reflect the most brilliance for that particular shape. But there's no exact formula like there is with round diamonds.
When shopping online, you should always choose the highest category the retailer has. If their oval diamonds are shown in Good and Very Good categories, opt for Very Good. For round diamonds, you should always go for Ideal or Excellent Cut grades.
If you go with a good or below diamond, it'll look different than an ideal cut one. You might not be able to notice the difference between an ideal, Very Good, or Good round diamond alone, but you can see it when they're side by side like this video below.
Notice how the ideal diamond sparkles brighter than the rest. That's because ideal cut diamonds don't have minor mistakes that a Very Good or Good diamond could have. Some of these may be symmetry errors, like extra facets or slight disproportions.
How to Save on 1.5 Carat Diamond Cut Cost
Normally with the 4Cs, we can fluctuate grades to save some money.
Your cut quality is something I don't recommend compromising. A diamond is renown and value for its unique sparkle and brilliance. Most of us would say they cost a pretty penny.
I recommend choosing an Excellent Cut or Ideal cut diamond when you can, and a Very Good one for other shapes. If the sparkle isn't a big deal to you, you can get a Very Good round diamond if you want. Just be aware that these may have errors in the cutting that wouldn't be found in Excellent cuts.
Even though ideals and Excellent cut diamonds are more expensive, buying them can save you money in other areas of diamond cost.
In a 1.5 carat diamond, a high cut grade reflects more light, causing any lower color or clarity grades to be less apparent. If you had chosen a Good cut diamond, you'd be more likely to notice blemishes and misshapen facets. This can impact the light.
When a diamond forms, the conditions its in causes inclusions. In mined diamonds, inclusions happen when bits of other crystals become trapped as its forming. This is often tiny pieces of other gemstones.
There are many types of inclusions. Some are visually appealing and others are not.
Your clarity grade lets you know how free of inclusions your diamond is when looked at under 10x magnification. The diamond industry recognizes the following clarity grades: Flawless (F), Internally Flawless (IF), Very Very Slightly Included, Slightly Included, and Included. These tiers are broken down further as VVS1 and VVS2, VS1 and VS2, SI1 and SI2, and I1, I2, and I3.
Very Slightly Included (VS) diamonds are the first clarity tier to be considered "eye-clean." When we can look at a diamond with the naked eye and can't see any inclusions at a 6-12 inch distance, the diamond is called eye-clean.
Read also: What is an eye-clean diamond?
That being said, it means that eye-clean diamonds are going to be more expensive. They command higher values and rarity as well. An eye-clean 1.5 carat diamond will be more expensive than two 1/2 carat eye-clean diamonds.
My clarity grade recommendation for a 1.5 carat diamond is VS2 clarity. You'll be more likely to find completely eye clean diamonds of this size or diamonds with less obvious inclusions than SI clarity or I clarity.
The reason why is because it's much easier to cut a smaller diamond with fewer inclusions than it is to cut a larger diamond. Inclusions are easier to see and harder to avoid when cutting larger stones out of diamond rough.
That's also why a 2 carat diamond isn't going to be twice the cost of a 1 carat diamond. They have to factor in the difficulty and rarity to find eye clean rough. Pair it with a shape like a round that discards the excess and it costs more.
Read also: Our list of the best VVS diamond retailers
How To Save On 1.5 Carat Diamond Clarity Cost
If you're starting to learn there's no cheap way to get a high quality diamond, you've got it right. There are no super sales on high clarity diamonds either. If a natural diamond claims to be 50% off of it's original price, there's probably a catch.
But just because there's no obvious sales on an eye-clean diamond doesn't mean you can't shave off some money in clarity cost. To do this, I'd recommend purchasing from an online retailer that has a 360˚ viewer. My personal favorite is James Allen for their controllable and crystal clear viewing.
A 360˚ viewer is your holy grail to saving money on diamond clarity. Sure, you could go see a diamond down at your local Zales in person. They'll take the ring and put in under a gemscope and you can check the inclusions there. Most people don't do this.
But they don't carry a multitude of loose diamonds at Zales for you to compare like you can online. In fact, most of the preset engagement rings and wedding bands at stores like Zales and Kay have I clarity-the lowest tier of diamond clarity. Not to mention, most of these stores won't even have a 1.5 carat solitaire in store to begin with.
You might remember I said that eye-clean starts with VS diamonds. While that's true, it doesn't mean you can't find an eye clean SI diamond. That's where a large diamond inventory and a clear 360˚ viewer come in handy. It takes time and patience to sort through SI diamonds looking for an eye clean one, but it's doable.
By using an online retailer, you can do this at your own pace with no pressure and end up saving hundreds more than if you were to go to your big jewelry retailer. And if you can find an eye clean SI diamond, there's no reason to spend money on a diamond with higher clarity.
You can buy a 2 carat diamond with lower clarity and color grades, but it won't be pretty. If your heart is set on a 2 carat, you should already know that you will be spending some cash. The general cost of a high quality 2 carat diamond is between $5000 to well over $20,000. It's a big range that depends on the combination of your other diamond grades.
The best way to save on clarity cost when buying a 2 carat diamond is to buy from an online retailer that lets you see the stone using 360˚ viewing. James Allen and Blue Nile are our favorite places to look at diamond clarity, but James Allen has better magnification.
These allow you to inspect individual diamonds and see the location of their respective inclusions. It may be tedious, but it'll be worth it when you find yourself saving $1000 bucks because you found an eye clean 2 carat diamond with SI1 clarity when a retailer would tell you it's not possible.
Because to them, SI diamonds will always have inclusions. But if you dig, you could find one that's eye clean. You can even do that with I diamonds if you look hard enough. All it takes is a little bit of digging and a lot of patience.
The big retailers don't want you to know this handy little tool because they don't offer it. They're not going to bring in 600,000 loose diamonds for you to observe up close and personal like James Allen.
They don't want you to save money. They just want you to spend it so their poor employees can meet their sales goals and feed their fam, which is understandable for them, but unfair to you.
Unlike cut and clarity, the color of a diamond has no impact to its durability. Diamond color grades are a visual preference. It does affect the overall cost and value of the diamond.
There are 5 groups in the GIA's color grade scale. Colorless (DEF), Near Colorless (GHIJ), Faint Yellow (KLM), Very Light Yellow (N-R), and Light Yellow (S-Z). Light Yellow diamonds are the beginning of fancy yellow diamonds.
Colorless diamonds are the most valuable and the most expensive. The reason why colorless diamonds are more expensive is because most diamond material is introduced to other elements when in the ground. Nitrogen impurities is what causes yellow in diamonds when the light is reflected through.
And just like with diamond clarity, it's much harder to cut a colorless 1.5 carat diamond than it is to cut three .5 carat diamonds.
The other thing to keep in mind is that as the diamond carat weight increases, the yellow tint becomes more obvious. For this reason, I recommend a minimum clarity of H (near colorless). It's completely up to you, but I seem to really notice the tint in diamonds from I color grades and below.
However, there are reasons why some might want a warmer color grade, such as skin tone.
How to Save on 1.5 Carat Diamond Color Cost
Since there's no physical harm in grabbing a diamond with a lower color grade, that gives you a good deal of wiggle room in order to knock the price down.
Buying a single stone setting can allow you to choose a color grade below my recommended color grade. Keep in mind that some of us notice diamond color more than others.
Another thing to think about is the type of gold your ring is set in.
Warmer color grades like JKL might not look so warm when set in yellow gold. The bright yellow color of the metal can make tinted. Pair that with a well-cut ideal diamond and it'll look even brighter without paying the cost of an F color grade to achieve a colorless look.
I saw a video on YouTube saying that you shouldn't put a warmer diamond in a yellow gold ring setting because you'll see the yellow band reflected through the diamond.
If your diamond has a high cut grade or ideal proportions for its shape, you shouldn't see through When you can see through a loose diamond, it's called windowing. Windowing is an example of a poor gemstone cut. Instead of reflecting light and sparkle due to facets, you can see through the stone like glass.
Whether or not you're able to save money by choosing below an H color grade, there is no need to be buying a D color grade. The visual difference between a D color diamond and a G color grade isn't worth the couple hundred price tag difference. If your diamond is an ideal cut, you won't tell the difference at all.
That's why it's important to pick from an online retailer that allows you to fluctuate your color grades like Blue Nile or James Allen. You can toggle with grades and prices until you find something both high quality and suitable for you. Majority of brick and mortar jewelry stores won't let you do that.
Now if you're really wanting to save money on by choosing a low color grade, it can be done. But you're going to have to be really flexible. White gold may be the most popular metal for engagement rings, but yellow gold or rose gold ring settings will allow you to choose a lower color grade.
This works best with yellow gold. The metal color can offset the faint yellow look in a K diamond. It can work with rose gold because of the pink coloring, but make sure you look at it first because some notice the difference more than others.
Diamond Carat Weight
Another big discrepancy is the difference between carat weight and carat size. Diamonds are measured in carat weight, but we visually see the size of it. That's probably because we're usually shown as standard weight chart that shows us diamonds from top view, like this one below.
The average weight of center diamonds bought today is around 1.08 carats. Keep in mind this is referring to round cut diamonds. A 1 carat round diamond is going to look much smaller than a 1 carat emerald cut diamond. Emerald cut shapes have a bigger table size (top view) than round diamonds of the same carat weight.
A round diamond has a long pavilion. An emerald cut diamond is cut very shallow, so that excess weight has been distributed to its face-up view. They both may be the exact same carat weight, but it'll look bigger because of its elongated shape and full corners.
Diamonds are priced per carat.
But the carat price of a diamond is unique to that diamond. You could come across a 1.5 carat diamond that costs $3,000 and another that costs $12,000. That's because the one that costs $12,000 is the better diamond. It's got higher diamond grades and is ultimately a better deal than the cheap one.
How to Save Cost on a 1.5-Carat Diamond
Typically, one of the recommendations is to shop with a retailer that allows you to choose your carat points instead of buying the dream sizes. This is a great way to save a couple hundred when buying a 1 or 1.5 carat diamond.
When you cross the realm into 2 and 3 carat diamonds, ways to save become increasingly difficult. Trying to buy a 2.93 carat diamond in order to save hundreds doesn't work well in this case.
The truth is, there's no cutting corners when trying to cut the cost of a 3-carat diamond based on weight alone. Your best bet is to keep the proper proportions for that shape. Make sure the retailer allows you to see those details. That would include the depth, table size, and length to width ratios.
Retailers that don't let you pick from a variety of diamonds won't often have the specifics of their diamonds unless it's put on a certification. All of the online retailers I've mentioned will have these specifics front and center.
Just like the carat size of the diamond changes based on its shape, so does the price. You already know that round diamonds are the most expensive, but do you know why? A lot of people wonder why the pricing is different between round diamonds and fancy shapes like pear shape. It's not just the brilliance or exact symmetry.
When jewelers cut a round gemstone, they are discarding a more a diamond rough than they would another diamond shape. The more diamond rough they have to discard, the cost per carat for that diamond goes up.
If you'd like to save a few hundred, I'd consider purchasing a fancy shaped diamond. Cushion cut diamonds are one of the most popular diamond shapes and is also more affordable.
The style of cutting impacts diamond cost somewhat too. While there are different ways to cut diamonds, the top 10 popular diamonds fall into either being brilliant-cut or step-cut. There are a few that can be both ways, like the trapezoid shape.
A brilliant cut diamond has been cut with a bunch of short, tiny facets. A brilliant cut shape will give off the most fire, as longs as it has a high cut grade. It gives off a glittering or sparkling effect.
Your brilliant shapes are going to be round, princess, pear, heart, marquise, cushion, radiant, trilliant, and oval cut diamonds.
Step cut diamonds have elongate facets that give off dramatic flashes instead of sparkle. Your step-cut center stones are usually emerald cuts or Asscher cuts.
Diamond Grading Report
I only recommend you purchase GIA or AGS certified 1.5 carat diamonds. These are the top labs in the world and will can help with appraisals, jewelry insurance, and reselling.
They have the tightest guidelines for diamond grades. There can be no doubt you are buying the diamond grades that come on your report.
Independent labs don't always have the tightest guidelines. An IGI graded natural diamond might have a different color or clarity grade at the GIA. This is what a classic GIA report looks like:
Bottom Line: How Much Does a 1.5 Carat Diamond Cost?
A 1.5 carat diamond is just above the average carat weight (1.2) for an engagement ring. The cost of it depends on its diamond grades in addition to it's carat weight.
You don't need the highest grades on all 4Cs, but you should never compromise cut. You can choose lower color and clarity grades to keep the costs of your 1.5 carat diamond lower.
You can also increase its value and accuracy by choosing a GIA or AGS grading report.
Overall, the average cost of a 1.5 carat diamond is between $5000 to well over $25,000.
Buying lab grown diamonds can slash your prices 20%-40% on a 1.5 carat diamond. Our favorite lab diamond retailers are James Allen and Blue Nile.