Want to know how much a 3 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 3 Carat Diamond
Factors That Affect Diamond Cost
Most people assume that diamonds have a flat cost. A 3 carat diamond should cost 3x the cost of a 1 carat diamond, right? Or perhaps twice the cost of a 1.5 carat diamond?
It'd be the correct math if diamond cost was dependent on carat weight alone, but it isn't. The price of a diamond isn't based on just one thing, but a few actually. The main factors that affect the cost of diamonds are going to be the 4Cs of Diamond Quality.
The 4Cs is a system invented by the world's leading resource in diamonds, jewelry, and gemology, the Gemological Institute of America. The GIA is the most respected authority in the diamond industry and sets the quality standard for all diamonds.
You see, initially diamonds didn't sparkle all that much because we didn't know how to cut them so they'd reflect the brilliant light we see today. It's also why you'll notice that kings and queens of old hardly wore diamonds, but chose colored stones instead.
But then ideal cut diamonds were invented and the GIA created the 4cs of Diamond Quality: Cut, Clarity, Color, and Carat.
Diamond Cut Quality
The cut of a diamond is going the most important quality factor of your diamond, but it's not the most cost effective. Cut can refer to the shape of the diamond, but is most often referring to the way the diamond has been cut from the rough.
The reason why your cut grade is the most important of the 4Cs is because it has a direct effect on the over beauty of the diamond. There are 7 factors considered when determining the cut quality of a diamond: brightness, fire, scintillation, weight ratio, durability, polish and symmetry.
The GIA recognizes 5 standard cut grades: Excellent/Ideal, Very Good, Good, Fair, and Poor. It's rare to see poorly cut diamond on the market. If you are getting a round cut diamond, you should always go for the Excellent/Ideal cut grade if you are wanting the most brilliance.
Ideal/Excellent cut diamonds are round diamonds that have been cut and faceted to exact proportions. Symmetry mistakes such as extra facets or misshapen facets don't exist on these diamonds. The round diamond is the most popular diamond shape in the industry due to its classic look and unparalleled brilliance.
Ideal cut and Excellent cut diamonds are going to be more expensive, but are important to the overall foundation.
Not only do lower cut grades produce less brilliance, they're more susceptible to damage being cut to uneven proportions. And with a large center stone like a 3 carat diamond, you'll want the best cut you can get.
But if you really can't afford a top tier cut grade with your round diamond, a Very Good diamond is a quality choice. Other diamond shapes don't have official cut grades, but retailers may separate them by cut grades. In that case, you'll just stick to anything fancy shapes labeled Very Good or Ideal.
Some places like James Allen will have ideal princess cut diamonds or cushion cut diamonds. However, there is no official ideal grade for these because there is no exact symmetry like there is with round diamonds.
Instead, the quality is determined more by length to width ratio, symmetry, and proportions.
These so called ideal cut princess diamonds' proportions simply fit within a parameter recommended by gemologists to emit the most brilliance out of that shape. There's nothing "scammy" about these diamonds, just be aware that they aren't exact like round diamonds.
If you're wanting the best cut diamonds in a diamond, I'd recommend you check out Whiteflash. While their 3 carat diamonds cost upwards of $30,000, they will have superior light performance you can actually see. The ASET and IdealScope images provide a visual assessment using red and white colors to show where light is leaking through your diamond.
Since there are lots of ways to make the price of a 3 carat diamond fluctuate, here's a cost comparison of an Excellent/Ideal, Very Good cut, and Good cut diamond all with similar diamond grades to them. Keep in mind this is only a rough estimate as other factors like polish and symmetry play a role in cost.
To the average viewer, you might not see a real visual difference in appearance between these different cuts to justify the cost difference.
Check out this video below of comparing the three cut grades side by side:
How to Save on 3 Carat Diamond Cut Cost
Regarding diamond cut, I don't recommend you cut corners to cut down cost. Other factors that are attributed to diamond cost can be adjusted freely, but not cut. It's my personal recommendation that you buy either Very Good cut diamonds or ideal cut for a 3 carat stone.
I don't know about you but when I hear Good cut, I hear, "Acceptable."
When I hear Fair cut, I hear, "Eh, it'll do."
Decent, acceptable, okay...these aren't the words to describe a beautiful three carat diamond. A diamond is supposed to represent beauty and a big dull rock on your ring finger just doesn't scream beauty to me.
A Good cut diamond will look so much worse being 3 carats than it would on a 1 carat diamond.
If you'd like to save cost on the cut of your 3 carat diamond, I'd recommend going with a Very Good cut instead of Ideal or Excellent when choosing round diamonds. Just know that you will sacrifice brilliance and beauty.
Diamond Clarity is probably the easiest of the 4Cs for consumers to understand. When diamonds are being formed underground, they are often forming with other crystals and minerals that become part of the diamond while it is growing. These bits of crystals are called inclusions. Internal inclusions are within the diamond itself and appear floating.
External inclusions called blemishes can affect the overall durability of the diamond if near the surface. Blemishes can be natural or manmade, usually during the cutting process. There are many different types of inclusions.
If your 3 carat diamond ring has very slight inclusions under 10x magnification, it's consider eye-clean. Eye-clean diamonds are considered higher quality and are more expensive, given the other grades are high as well.
The GIA has determined 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.
In some rare cases, you might hear of an SI3 diamond but they're basically same quality as I diamonds. There are actually a lot of online retailers that won't even sell you I diamonds because they're so visually unappealing.
Strangely enough, you'll find these I diamonds (untouched by online stores) front and center throughout mega jewelry stores like Zales and Kay Jewelers. I remember when I worked at Kay, they told me, we don't carry any diamonds in the store below I. Yeah, they barely carry any above it either.
An SI diamond in these stores will cost around $7000 for a 1 carat solitaire with no certification. A comparable diamond from James Allen.com will cost you $3,000 dollars less.
Because I diamonds sold this way are a ripoff.
How To Save On 3 Carat Diamond Clarity Cost
So, you know that eye-clean diamonds don't have to be flawless to be free of inclusions. This is good news for diamond buyers everywhere. The cost between an IF clarity 3 carat diamond and a VS2 clarity 3 carat diamond are considerable, but the visual appearance is almost nonexistent.
As long as your 3 carat diamond doesn't have blemishes that could impact durability, diamond clarity is your choice. But if you want to make the most of your dollar, always look at your diamond before you buy it. Whether it's in-store under a Gemscope or online using a 360˚ viewer, make sure you see your inclusions before buying it.
I can't begin to tell you how many times people wanted to return a ring at Kay when they realized there was a big black mark in their diamond. But it was natural and normal for I clarity diamonds. At these stores, you don't get the luxury of choosing from a bunch of loose diamonds. It costs those stores way too much money, but it also costs you a lot of money as well.
A big jewelry store employee might tell you there's no way to get an eye-clean 3 carat SI1 diamond. They might say that all SI diamonds looks like "this".
I say their wrong.
Are you going to come across a lot of SI1 diamonds that look like that? Most likely. SI isn't considered an eye-clean grade. But does that mean they don't exist? Not at all. You just need the right tools: the right online retailer, a clear 360˚ viewer, and some patience.
The best 360˚ viewers online are going to be James Allen and Blue Nile. They're going to have some of the biggest selections of SI diamonds as well. You can sit back and relax as you find yourself saving thousands online instead of throwing away thousands in stores like Kay and Zales.
For 3 carat diamonds, my minimum clarity recommendation is going to be VS2. Even though you can find the eye clean SI diamonds, they are more difficult. Most VS2 3 carat diamonds should be eye-clean for a diamond of that size.
The color grade of your diamond is very flexible when it comes to saving cost. That's because diamond color is completely based on your preference. No color grade has any physical effect on the integrity of your diamond. The only thing color affects is the overall value of the diamond.
The GIA's diamond color grade scale consists of 4 groups. Colorless (DEF), Near Colorless (GHIJ), Faint Yellow (KLM), Very Light Yellow (N-R), and Light Yellow (S-Z). Light Yellow diamonds start creeping into the realm of yellow fancy colored diamonds.
Because a 3 carat diamond is a large size, a Faint Yellow grade like a K color, would appear more yellow than a 1 carat diamond with the same color grades. Check out a comparison of the two below. Can you tell which diamond looks more yellow?
Overall, most people don't want a tinted yellow diamond. But there are some reasons why they might. Some people of color might prefer warmer color grades that complement their skin tone. Which is awesome, because you get to save money too.
But in general, a large faint yellow diamond is not seen as a high quality diamond. A good quality diamond, but not great or high.
Though diamond color is completely up to the beholder, I'll still give a minimum recommendation. If you want your 3 carat diamond to appear colorless, I'd recommend a minimum of G color grade.
H and I color grades will also appear colorless, but be careful if your 3 carat diamond ring has other diamonds in it. An example of this would be a halo setting.
Personally, if I was buying a 3 carat diamond, I'd avoid a halo setting simply because I'd want that stone front and center. But the other thing you want to consider is that melee diamonds usually have better diamond grades.
They can offset a low color grade by being brighter and whiter than the center stone and making it appear worse than if it were a solitaire ring.
Even though I recommended minimum G color grade, you should always eyeball the diamond yourself. Some people notice yellow tint more than others. You should also think about how it looks in relation to its setting.
How To Save On 3 Carat Diamond Color Cost
If you want to save money on diamond color cost alone, you could drop your G to an H color grade. You can also do I color, but you start drifting into that yellow tint.
Instead of having your 3 carat diamond engagement ring in a traditional white gold setting, you could opt for yellow gold. The yellow gold color will make a low color diamond appear more colorless.
Saving money on diamond color with the big brick and mortar retailers is just as difficult as trying to save clarity cost. And it all points back to the fact that they just don't have diamond to pick from. With so many people in and out, you don't have time to compare and contrast.
They have their own protocols to follow about how many rings they can have out.
Online, there are no protocols, no pressure, and you have all the time in the world to compare different color grades of 3 carat diamonds. Some online retailers will even let you compare and contrast two diamonds with each other.
The 360˚ rotation especially helps with seeing how the light hits your diamond and how the color grade goes through. For example, you could see and HD image of a I color diamond and think it looks colorless. But when you see it rotating in real time, you might realize it looks a bit more yellow than you'd like.
Keep in mind the viewers are not an exact science. It is possible that you might end up with a diamond more tinted in person than online. The naked eye can see things differently once your ring has arrived. Just in case this could happen, make sure you're buying diamonds from an online retailer that has a great return policy.
Some companies like Ritani will actually have FedEx pickup the package from you. Clean Origin—my top pick for lab diamonds—has a 100 day return policy that allows you time to decide if you really like it. Other companies like Blue Nile and James Allen have 30 day free returns.
Diamond Carat Weight
For most consumers, carat weight equates to the size of the diamond. Carat size is the width of the diamond from face-up. Carat weight is the actual weight of the diamond. Carat size is measured in millimeters. A 3 carat diamond weighs .600 milligrams.
Carat is another diamond grade that you can fluctuate without compromising the integrity of your diamond. There are popular sizes in carats like 1/2, 3/4, 1, etc. But carat weight is most often measured in carat points when shopping online.
Mega retailers love to sell you these "dream sizes" without allowing you to pick your own carat weight.
The truth is, a diamond weighing 2.93 carat points to 3.07 are all considered a 3 carat diamond.
The carat size of the diamond changes when the shape does. Round diamonds don't retain as much of the diamond rough so a 3 carat round will look much smaller than a 3 carat radiant cut diamond. A 3 carat radiant cut diamond would also be cheaper than a round brilliant.
Fancy shaped diamonds (shapes other than rounds) are generally less expensive than a round diamond of the same grade. Many of them retain more diamond rough and also look bigger. Check out a comparison of other sizes below.
Typically, diamonds are priced per carat. But diamond prices aren't an exact science either. A retailer might tell you that a 2 carat diamond is priced at 7, 180 per carat. But when you ask them about a 3 carat diamond, you might be surprised when a 3 carat costs a much higher price. It could be $12,000 per carat.
How To Save Carat Weight Cost of a 3 Carat Diamond
There all different kinds of ways to save while diamond buying, but when you've got your heart set on a 3 carat diamond, it proves to be a bit difficult.
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. 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. Check out this list of guesstimated prices for 3 carat diamonds according to their shape. Note that these are just average and general figures.
Another thing that makes different shapes is the style of cutting. 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 cut either way, 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. They look like steps, go figure. When the light hits step cut facets, you see dramatic flashes of light, like paparazzi cameras on the red carpet. That might be why these are a favorite among celebrities.
Your step cut shapes are going to be emerald cuts and Asscher cuts. Baguettes and trapezoids are also step cut, but commonly used as side stones, not center stones.
But take another mega popular shape like the princess cut diamond and only 20% of the rough has been thrown away. That's one reason why you might see princess cut diamonds of the same grades costing less than round brilliants.
Diamond Grading Report
The other big thing I want to mention is grading reports. You might know them as diamond certifications. Diamond certifications come from all different gemstone labs from all over the world. Some come from prestigious labs like the GIA or American Gem Society.
When you shop at online retailers, you're more likely to cross paths with certified diamonds by the GIA, AGS, IGI, or GCAL. Each laboratory has a specific way on which they assess the four Cs of diamond quality.
For this reason, I only recommend you purchase GIA or AGS certified diamonds. They are more expensive than other labs and obviously uncertified diamonds. But if you're going to spend that much money on a 3 carat diamond, you'll need to have the most accurate diamond grades.
Bottom Line: How Much Does a 3 Carat Diamond Cost?
A 3 carat diamond is expensive. But there are a few different ways you can try to save a little bit of money, some in the short term and some over time.
If you're in the market for 3 carat diamond, make sure you get a well-cut stone. If buying a round diamond, my recommendation is to always buy an Excellent Cut diamond or an ideal cut diamond. You can buy super ideal cut diamonds if you'd like, but it's not necessary.
For the clarity, I recommend a VS clarity grade. VS1 or VS2, it's your choice. It's possible to find an eye-clean SI diamond if you choose to shop online with a retailer that offers 360˚ video on a large inventory of 3 carat diamonds.
For 3 carat color, I recommend a G color grade. Yellow tints tend to show up more visibly in larger diamonds. You might even consider going up higher with diamond shapes with bigger face-up views. I don't recommend going lower than an I color grade for 3 carats.
Some ways you might be able to knock down your diamond price includes the ring setting you've chosen, the metal, and choosing a 360˚ viewer.
You should always buy a certified diamond to ensure you're actually paying for the right diamond grades. The GIA and AGS certified diamonds are recommended for the highest accuracy and overall resale value.
A high quality 3 carat diamond will cost you around $20,000 on the low end and can be over $240,000 depending on your other diamond grades.
You can even cut that cost down tremendously by purchasing a lab-created diamond. They may have no trade-in value, but you can get a 3 carat diamond that's 1/3 the cost of mined diamond.