Want to know how much a 4 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 a diamond's cost
- How diamond shape affects cost
- Tips to save on a 4-carat Diamond
Factors That Affect Diamond Cost
One could assume a 4 carat diamond would cost twice the price of a 2 carat diamond of the same quality. The truth is, there are a lot of factors that determine the overall price of a 4 carat diamond.
And not all 4 carat diamonds are created equal either...
Diamond quality is broken down into a system called the 4Cs. The 4Cs was invented by the Gemological Institute of America. The GIA invented the system shortly after we learned how to optimize round diamonds for the brilliance and sparkle.
The 4Cs indicates there are 4 main pillars a diamond is judged on. These 4 pillars are Cut, Clarity, Color, and Carat. Each pillar is broken down into its own grades.
The price of a 4 carat diamond engagement ring will depend mainly on the 4Cs of that individual diamond and a few other characteristics.
Diamond Cut Quality
Your cut quality is the singular most important grade of your diamond. That's because your diamond's cut determines its overall brightness, brilliance, and even its durability.
Diamond cut can be referring to the shape of a diamond or the way it's physically cut by a diamond cutter. Your cut quality will determine how bright or dull your diamond is.
There are 5 cut grades:
Ideal/Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair, and Poor. You shouldn't really see any Fair or poorly cut diamonds in the retail world, but if you do-they'll look dull like this:
There are 7 facts the GIA assesses when determining cut quality: brightness, fire, scintillation, weight ratio, durability, polish and symmetry.
Round diamonds are the only diamond shape that is truly ideal, though ideal cut princess cuts and cushion cuts can be found online at James Allen. These shapes aren't truly ideal, but rather fit between a range of recommended measurements.
These measurements have been decided by diamond experts and gemologists. But round diamonds are the only shape that has perfect symmetry and the best light performance as an ideal cut diamond.
Ideal cut diamonds and Excellent cut diamonds are the same top cut grade, but the GIA only uses the term Excellent cut. The American Gem Society uses the term ideal or AGS 0 Ideal.
On grading reports, you'll find that fancy diamond shapes (non round) don't have an official cut grade. However, when you're shopping online, you can usually buy Very Good or Good fancy shapes.
If you're not a diamond buff, the difference between a Excellent Cut, Very Good cut, and a Good cut diamond may be minimal on their own. But check out this video below side by side.
Do you notice the difference in light performance? The Good cut diamond was much duller than the other two. Diamonds like this may have disproportions or symmetry errors.
Symmetry errors cause the light going into the diamond to leak out rather than reflect back out.
It's much harder to save on cut cost of a 4 carat diamond, so I don't have any specific techniques. You don't want to skimp on your cut grade, especially if a round diamond. For the other shapes, you should focus on the ideal proportions for that shape instead of an actual cut category.
The next C to consider when factoring the cost of a 4-carat diamond ring is the clarity of that diamond. All diamonds have inclusions. Lab grown diamonds have metallic inclusions caused by lab conditions. They are generally more eye-clean than mined diamonds.
Mined diamonds can have a multitude of different inclusions.
Inclusions can be naturally made during the crystal growth process or they can be manmade, usually happening during the cutting process.
Internal inclusions are usually bits of crystal that was trapped in the diamond. They don't usually cause any harm to the diamond unless they're close to the surface.
If a diamond is struck near a bigger crystal inclusion, it's more likely to chip there. But most internal inclusions are just a visual problem. The ones that can damage your diamond if struck are more often referred to as blemishes.
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:
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.
As you might've guessed, eye-clean diamonds are more expensive.
If you're learning that high quality is high dollar in the diamond world, you're catching on.
With a 4 carat diamond, an eye-clean diamond grade is going to be very expensive. It's much easier to cut a smaller diamond with fewer inclusions than it is to cut a larger diamond.
And at a rare size like a 4 carat, the price range is going to be much higher. Inclusions are easier to see and harder to avoid when cutting larger stones out of diamond rough.
They have to factor in the difficulty and rarity to find eye clean rough. Pair it with a shape like a round that discards more excess rough and price raises more.
Rarely, you might see a clarity grade of SI3, but these are usually just I clarity diamonds. I clarity is the lowest tier of clarity and are usually heavily included. Some retailers won't even sell I diamonds, but most retail chain stores frequently carry them-and charge double what you'd see at an online retailer.
When diamonds are formed underground, they have other impurities in them that cause them to become tinted. Certain elements that have seeped into the diamond crystal create fancy color diamonds. For example, the element boron creates blue diamonds. These are rare.
The GIA values diamond color based on the presence of yellow in the diamond, caused by the element nitrogen.
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 4 groups in the GIA's color grade scale. Colorless (DEF), Near Colorless (GHIJ), Faint, (KLM), Very Light Yellow (N-R), and Light Yellow (S-Z). Light Yellow diamonds start creeping into the realm of yellow fancy colored 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.
In these instances, I'd just be careful with lower color grades for engagement rings that aren't a single stone setting, like a solitaire or a bezel setting. Ring settings with other small diamonds might offset the color grade of your center stone.
Popular designer rings like Neil Lane and Vera Wang are notorious for having this issue. Go into any local Kay's and check out their halo Neil lane settings. You'll be able to notice a difference in color when staring at the center, then at the halo diamonds.
Smaller melee diamonds will have a higher color grade because they're little. No jeweler is going to put small JKL melee stones in a ring, so they might appear whiter than your center stone.
By choosing a 4 carat diamond color grade of near colorless and even faint, you can save a few hundred dollars. Keep in mind that you'll be able to see color more in a 4 carat diamond than you would when buying a 1 carat diamond ring. You might not like the way it looks and opt for a more expensive color grade.
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 1.08-1.2 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.
It boils down the fact that rectangles look bigger than circles. Rectangles, square shapes, and oval shapes all appear bigger than a circle. With diamonds, those shapes are more shallow and wider across. Round diamonds are deep with a smaller face up view.
Even though the surface area of fancy shaped loose diamond might be bigger than a round cut diamond of the same grades, it's more than likely to be less expensive. Round brilliant diamonds are the most sought-after diamond shape and the most expensive.
Diamond cynics might indicate the demand is the reason why it's so expensive, but that's not quite true. Sure, supply and demand is a big pricing factor in any industry, but round diamonds are just a little bit more special than other diamond shapes.
Round is the only shape to have superior light performance and perfect symmetry and proportions, right? Aside from this, gem cutters have to discard a lot of the diamond rough when cutting out a round diamond.
Every shape has a special way it needs to be cut and polished from that rough.
Different bits of the rough work better for different shapes. In order to cut a round diamond, around 60% of the diamond rough has to be trashed. But in a princess cut diamond, only 20% of that rough is thrown out. That's because round diamond have to be cut with more precision.
There are very few ways to save on a 4 carat diamond because of their rarity. Choosing a fancy diamond shape like pear diamond over a round shape can save you the most. Check out this list of guesstimated prices for 4 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.
Step cut diamonds have elongated 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.
Diamond Grading Report
If you're buying a 4 carat diamond, you absolutely can't skimp on the diamond certification. A diamond grading report is your evidence that you have paid the cost of the actual grades of that diamond. Without a certification, you could be buying a diamond that has worse diamond grades than you paid for.
That being said, there are lots of diamond grading labs.
Not all of them are the same. In fact, some grading labs have looser guidelines than others. I recommend you only buy 4 carat diamonds that are certified by the GIA or AGS. Avoid 4 carat certified diamonds in-house, GCAL, IGI, GSI, EGL. If buying lab diamonds, I recommend the GIA or IGI certifications.
GIA and AGS grading reports command the most value because they're leading resources in the gem industry. Their guidelines for diamond grade sorting is the highest. It's also been said that diamonds certified by other labs have come out with worse diamond grades once graded by the GIA.
If you've dropped $80K on a 4 carat diamond with excellent color and clarity, you most definitely want to know you've got the exact high quality diamond you paid for. Diamond grading reports are there to protect you. You can even send an ungraded diamond to the GIA for certification as well.
Bottom Line: How Much Does a 4 Carat Diamond Cost?
If you're in the market for 4 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 a super ideal cut diamond 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 4 carat diamonds.
For 4 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 surface area. I don't recommend going lower than an H color grade for 4 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.
The average amount for a high quality 4 carat diamond will be around $30,000 up to over $300,000.
You can even cut that cost down 20-40% by purchasing a lab-created diamond. They may have no trade-in value, but you can get a 4 carat diamond that's 1/3 the cost of mined diamond. For lab diamonds, I recommend purchasing from Clean Origin or James Allen.