How Much Should a 3 Carat Diamond Cost? Prices and Tips to Save

The average carat weight of diamonds bought for engagement rings is around 1.20 carats. But there are some who want bigger carat weights, but not the price tag.

So how much does a 3 carat diamond cost? The average cost of a high-quality 3 carat diamond can range between $22,000-$100,000. It’s a big range, The price tag of a diamond is determined by many factors as I’ll explain below.

At the low end, $22,000 is a big purchase. Many are skeptical of the diamond industry’s prices. A lot of them don’t know how they’re priced. When you don’t know how they’re priced, you don’t know how to look for the best savings.

Read on to learn how much a 3 carat diamond is and how you can get it for less.

What is a 3 Carat Diamond?

All diamonds are measured in carat weight. Most retailers will list their diamonds and diamond engagement rings at popular carat weights like ½, ¾, 1, 1 ½- and so forth. The diamond industry calls these dream sizes.

Carat weights aren’t always in whole numbers, especially if you’re buying a diamond online. Many diamonds are offered in carat points.

Like pennies and dollars, there’s 100 carat points in a carat. If your 3 carat diamond is measured in carat points, it might look something like this: 3.04.

A 3 carat diamond is considered to be a diamond weighing 2.95-3.17 carats. Three-carat diamonds that are 3.18 points have become 3 ⅕ carats.

  • 2 carats: 1.93-2.07
  • 2½ carats: 2.43-2.57
  • 2 ⅝: 2.58-2.68
  • 2¾ carats: 2.69-2.82

Big retailers sell their diamond engagement rings at “dream sizes”. Dream sizes are what everyone is looking for. Most aren’t looking for a 3.15-carat diamond, they want round numbers.

Choosing carat points can help you save more on a 1 or 2-carat diamond. It becomes difficult with a 3 carat diamond. You can save between $100-$300 by choosing carat points instead of 3 carat dream sizes.

How Big is a 3 Carat Diamond?

Let’s clear up the confusion on what carats are. Say it with me now: carat weight. Emphasis on the “weight”, if you didn’t catch that.

Weight is not equal to size. Carat weight and carat size are different. Here’s the typical kind of chart a jewelry store might show you: Diamond Size Chart

A lot of first-time buyers assume every 3 carat diamond looks that big. The problem is, you’re forgetting that diamonds have different shapes.

Round diamonds are the most popular diamond shape and the most expensive. The price is due to their ability to have perfect symmetry for their brilliance. Most people think it’s because they’re popular. The industry just wants more money, right?

Asscher shapes are the most affordable, and they’re the 3rd most popular. It’s not about ripping people off. It’s about the best light return. Round brilliant diamonds have the smallest face-up size as well.

A round diamond has the top half of the diamond, called the crown. The longer cone-shaped half is the pavilion. The diameter across a round 3 carat diamond is 9.3 millimeters. That’s the face-up size.

A round diamond only has about 40% of the diamond rough its cut from. A gem cutter has to discard 70% of the rough to cut a round diamond. It has a smaller face-up view than 3 carat diamond of other shapes. That’s because most of its carat weight is in the pavilion

Most of the carat weight in a round diamond is in a place you can’t see. Without it, round diamonds wouldn’t have the best sparkle and fire for the light to enter and bounce back out.

Is a 3 Carat Diamond Too Big?

Three-carat diamonds can have different face-up sizes based on their shape. So then, are 3 carat diamonds too big?

Elongated diamond shapes like ovals, emerald cuts, and marquise cuts, will appear bigger. Shapes like these make shorter fingers appear more slender. A 3 carat diamond in those shapes might look too big on your hand.

Diamond shapes like round, cushion, Asscher, princess cut, radiant cut, heart cut, or pear cut are going to be right up your alley.

Best Diamond Shape For a 3 Carat Diamond

Before I worked in the diamond industry, I was strictly princess-cut all the way. Now, I’m more fluid with my diamond shapes. That allows me to save more.

Majority of online diamond retailers have around 10 diamond shapes in their inventories:

  1. Round Brilliant
  2. Princess Cut
  3. Cushion Cut
  4. Radiant Cut
  5. Oval Cut
  6. Pear Cut
  7. Asscher Cut
  8. Marquise Cut
  9. Emerald Cut
  10. Heart Cut

We want the biggest bang for our buck, right?

Here are some diamond shapes to choose based on what’s most important to you.

  • If you want your diamond to look big- marquise, emerald cut, oval,
  • If you want your diamond to look big and make your finger look longer- marquise
  • If you want the lowest-costing diamond shape- cushion cut
  • If you want a glittery brilliance– cushion, marquise, radiant, oval, pear, or heart cuts
  • If you want dramatic flashes of light instead of sparkles- emerald cut or Assher cut
  • If you want the best diamond shape for your active lifestyle- cushion, radiant
  • If your diamond has clarity of VS and above- emerald cuts, Asscher cuts, all other shapes
  • If your diamond is SI or I Clarity- cushion cut, princess cut, oval, radiant cut, marquise, heart, or pear

Here are the measurements of a 3 carat diamond in the 10 different shapes

Diamond Shapes 3 Carat MM Measurements
 Round 9.4
Princess 8.25
Cushion 8.2
Oval 11.2 x 8
Pear 11.7 x 7.8
Marquise 14.5 x 7.25
Emerald 10.0 x 7
Asscher 8
Radiant 8.5 x 7.5
Heart 8.5 x 8.5

Other Factors That Influence the Size of a 3 Carat Diamond

There are a couple of things that directly affect how big your 3 carat diamond looks. A 3 carat diamond can look bigger or smaller based on its environment. This has to do with your ring.

If you have wider fingers, a smaller diamond shape might look smaller on you.

I’d stay away from round, cushion, hearts, pears, and Asschers. You can go to a local jeweler to see what they look like on your finger before buying.

Your ring setting has a big effect on how big your 3 carat diamond looks. If your ring shank is wider, your center diamond may look smaller.

If your ring is too busy with accent diamonds, you might get lost in the sparkle. That isn’t always a good thing. It can detract from your center stone.

You should choose a 2mm minimalist ring setting for a 3 carat diamond. Ring settings that have straight bands will be the best for showing off your diamond.

You can choose a classic solitaire or a simple pave setting like this:

You’re able to get flashy sparkles from a pave setting without detracting from your center.

How Much is A 3 Carat Diamond Ring?

Some 3 carat diamonds may start at $19,000 on the lowest end. These will have lower clarity and color grades.

I based my range on a 3 carat diamond that is:

  • SI clarity or higher
  • GIA or AGS graded
  • J or higher color grades.

A lot of people think that a 3 carat diamond is supposed to cost 3x the price of a one-carat diamond. Diamonds don’t work that way. The larger carat weight you go up, the better your clarity and color grades have to be.

Let me explain.

A 1-carat diamond with SI clarity may present a couple dark inclusions. They will look much bigger and stand out more when your carat weight is increased. You have to buy higher color and clarity grades as you increase carat weight. That’s why carat weight increases price lightning-fast.

Every diamond has a cost-per-carat. The cost-per-carat isn’t listed where you can see it. If you want to know that, you’ll have to ask. One 3 carat diamond might be $9,200 per carat and another might be $7,600 per carat.

Otherwise, you’re stuck with an unattractive large diamond. You’ll find more 3 carat diamonds with lower clarity and color grades at better prices. They’re not nearly as pretty. But it’s still over $15,000 for one with lower grades.

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather spend the extra $6,000 on a beautiful diamond. It sounds much better to me than spending $17,000 on a cloudy tinted one.

Here are some real world prices for GIA certified 3 carat diamonds with different color and clarity grades pulled from online today:

James Allen 3 Carat Diamond Grades Retail Price Link
Asscher Cut

3.01 carats
SI1 clarity
E color

$33,420 https://www.jamesallen.com/loose-diamonds/asscher-cut/3.01-carat-e-color-si1-clarity-sku-7694169

 

Cushion Cut

3.07 carats
SI2 clarity
I color

$23,850 https://www.jamesallen.com/loose-diamonds/cushion-cut/3.07-carat-i-color-si2-clarity-sku-13194333

 

Marquise Cut

2.93 carats
VS2 clarity
D color

$41,130 https://www.jamesallen.com/loose-diamonds/marquise-cut/2.93 carat-d-color-vs2-clarity-sku-11035043
Radiant Cut

3.01 carats
SI1 clarity
D color

$29,840 https://www.jamesallen.com/loose-diamonds/radiant-cut/3.01-carat-d-color-si1-clarity-sku-10799766

 

Emerald Cut

3.01 carats
VS2 clarity
J color

$28,770 https://www.jamesallen.com/loose-diamonds/emerald-cut/3.01-carat-j-color-vs2-clarity-sku-10737354

 

 

Where To Buy A 3 Carat Diamond Ring

Buying Online VS Buying In-store

The best place to buy a 3 carat diamond engagement ring is online. Online diamond retailers can save you 20-60% more than popular chain retailers. Local jewelers may have comparable prices online, but they charge you for labor.

The amount of online diamond retailers is increasing every day. Some specialize in fancy-colored diamonds or lab-created diamonds.

James Allen

James Allen is an online retailer that caters to diamond buyers of all tastes and budgets. They carry colorless, fancy colored, and lab-grown 3 carat diamonds. They are the most popular place to buy diamonds online today.

Here’s why you should shop James Allen:

  • Over 300,000 loose 3 carat natural diamonds
  • They have the lowest diamond prices online (and will price match if they don’t)
  • They have 24/7 customer service via chat, email, or phone
  • Any diamond over $30,000 can get a free ring setting up to $1500
  • You can go over any diamond with an expert
  • They carry GIA and AGS certified diamonds
  • They have an easy-to-use comparison tool
  • They have advanced filters to narrow your diamond grades past the 4Cs
  • You can further modify your ring setting using the Design Suite
  • You can see your diamond’s clarity 30x magnification
  • You have a 360˚ view of your ring setting

All of their 3 carat diamond engagement rings come with a free lifetime warranty. Similar warranties from other companies can cost.

You don’t have to take my word for it. Their 24/7 customer service is highly-praised.  They’re all over customer review sites like Pricescope, the Better Business Bureau, Trustpilot, and Reddit. They have their own account on Reddit and are very active with it. They offer diamond advice and thank customers.

 

My Personal Tips and Recommendations

Diamond prices aren’t a one-size-fits-all. The cost of 3 carat diamond is between 22,000 and 100,000.

For a high-quality diamond, you need to have sufficient diamond grades for its size. These are my recommended grades for 3 carat diamond.

Cut Clarity Color
Excellent or Ideal for round

Very Good-Ideal for other shapes

SI1 (Slightly Included range) H (Near-colorless range)

Fancy diamond shapes don’t have official cut grades. Many online retailers choose to have them to sort their quality. You should eyeball the shape to make sure it’s even all around alongside. Do this in addition to making sure it has the right length-to-width ratio.

As promised, here’s a recap with some extra tidbits to help you save a little.

  • Buy a 3 carat diamond online from a retailer like James Allen. Their large inventory of 3 carat diamonds helps you adjust grades and compare to save.
  • Use a 360˚ viewer to look for the best clarity. You can find eye-clean diamonds in SI clarity grades if you look hard enough.
  • Don’t always go for the “dream sizes”. You could save $100-$300 by choosing carat points that are within a 3 carat diamond or a few below, like 2.96 carats.
  • Avoid round cut diamonds because they’re the most expensive.
  • Choose a cushion cut because they’re the least expensive of the diamond shapes
  • Buy from an online retailer with a good and easy return policy
  • Buy GIA or AGS grading reports for natural diamonds. For 3 carat lab grown diamonds, IGI, GCAL, and HRD are acceptable too.
  • Choose a diamond with the ideal length-to-width ratio for its shape. You don’t want to be paying for extra carat weight you can’t see.
  • Choose a simple but classic solitaire ring setting that’ll make your 3 carat diamond the star of the show.
  • Choose 14K gold for your ring setting instead of 18K. Higher carat gold is softer, so it damages easier. Sterling silver is less expensive, but I don’t recommend it for engagement rings.

 

Related Questions

What is diamond fluorescence?

Some diamonds may have fluorescence. On a grading report, your diamond’s fluorescence is noted as:

  • None
  • Faint
  • Medium
  • Strong
  • Very Strong

With Very Strong fluorescence, you might notice blue light reflecting out of it. It may have a slight glow under UV lights. It happens in bright sunlight as well. It’ll be just a slight glow.

Fluorescence is common. According to the Gemological Institute of America, about 25-35% of all diamonds have some intensity of it. Most of the time, you can’t tell. Only around 10% actually have a noticeable glow.

It doesn’t damage the diamond. I don’t mind fluorescence. I feel like it makes the diamond appear whiter. That’s a plus for those buying lower color grades. It seems to make the diamond cool toned rather than warm.

Fluorescence isn’t considered a valuable quality since diamonds are prized for their white light. Diamonds with strong fluorescence can be around $100-300 less expensive.

Do I need a grading report for my 3 carat diamond?

You shouldn’t buy a center diamond if it doesn’t come with a grading report. Many popular chain retailers have uncertified rings. They sell them for more than they’re worth.  Uncertified diamonds are less expensive than certified diamonds.

Diamond certifications and grading reports are important. It lets you know that you are buying a diamond with accurate grades. Some labs have looser grading.

The best reports come from the GIA and AGS. They’re the most trusted authorities of diamond jewelry in the world. Less reliable labs may say their diamond has VS1 clarity. The GIA may score it as SI1 quality. You paid for VS1, but according to the top authority, you paid more for less.

If you’re going to shell out the cost, you want to make sure it has the best value.

Grading reports help you see if a diamond is real. I’ve heard of faked reports, but I’ve never seen them. You should verify a diamond’s report number with the lab’s website.

How much should I spend on a diamond?

People used to say you needed to spend around 3 months worth of your salary. According to Brides Magazine, the average was $3756 in 2020. The Knot did a study showing their average as $5,500.

They showed that about 25% of the people polled spent between $1000-3000. About 11% of them spent less than $1000.

More and more people are choosing lab grown diamonds over natural diamonds. They’re 20-40% less expensive than a natural diamond of the same grades. That’s why the average was double in 2018.

The amount spent on engagement rings changes with the buyer’s values. There’s no right cost, just the cost that is right for you.

Carl Jones

Carl A. Jones is a GIA Graduate Gemologist (GIA GG) and the lead writer behind the Diamond Insider. He specializes in writing about tips, reviews, and advice for buying Diamond Jewelry. He has decades of experience and a wealth of knowledge about diamonds, and he is here to share that knowledge with you.

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