Updated March 13, 2017

3 Carat Diamond Ring: Perfect Ring Without Overpaying

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Shopping for a 3-carat diamond engagement ring? Learn how much you can expect to pay and the tips you should use so you don't get ripped off.

A 3-carat diamond is the ultimate showstopper. And as long as you know what you're doing when buying one, you can end up with a diamond truly the center of attention in any room.

That's where we can help.

In this guide, you'll learn:

Where is the Best Place to Buy a 3 Carat Diamond Ring?

ForDiamond Retailer
Best Place to Buy OnlineJames Allen
Best Diamond CutWhiteflash
Biggest SelectionBlue Nile


First, you should understand that the price per carat increases exponentially. A 3-carat diamond is not simply three times the price of a 1-carat diamond. It's more like 10 times the price.

Diamond Price vs Carat
Diamond Price vs Carat © CreditDonkey

This is because it's extremely rare to find a piece of rough material good enough to be cut into a 3-carat diamond.

That means a 3-carat stone can cost anywhere between $20,000 to $240,000.

The ridiculously huge range is due to the fact that the price is dependent on the quality of the stone. Almost flawless and colorless 3-carat diamonds will be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars range. Diamonds with visible flaws and a yellow tint will be on the lower end of the spectrum.

Did you know? Only about 1 out of every 7 million diamonds are completely flawless and colorless. Most diamonds used for jewelry are in the "near colorless" and "slightly - very slightly included" ranges. This is completely fine because you cannot see slight tints of color or flaws with the naked eye.

The good news is that you don't have to spend anywhere near $240,000 to get a perfectly fine rock.

For a 3-carat diamond with VS2 clarity (see why we recommend VS2), H color (see why we recommend H color), and an ideal cut, here are some prices to keep in mind for various shapes:

For example, consider this beautiful, eye-clean, ideal cut, 3-carat, VS2 diamond with color H. It goes for around $45,000. This is a great value for a diamond that appears flawless. It's only a fraction of the price of a $240,000 flawless, colorless diamond. And nobody will be able to tell the difference.

For a more detailed pricing list, we put together the following chart. This chart shows the price ranges of a 3-carat, ideal cut, round diamond.

3 Carat Diamond Round - Ideal Cut


The shape of the diamond matters, too. Round, brilliant diamonds are always the priciest as the roughest material is lost in their making. Fancy shapes can cost as much as 40% less.

Did you know? About 50% of the rough is lost when cutting a diamond. It is estimated that about a 3-carat rough is needed to make an ideal-cut, 1-carat round diamond. Just imagine how large the rough needs to be to be cut into a perfect 3-carat diamond.

To contrast round diamonds, here's the price chart for fancy shaped diamonds.

3 Carat Diamond - Fancy Shaped


It also depends on which shape you choose. Asscher, marquise, and oval tend to be on the higher end pricewise, while emerald and cushion tend to be the least inexpensive. This is a great thing to keep in mind if you are intent on purchasing a 3-carat diamond on a smaller budget.

Considering a fancy cut diamond? Princess and cushion cut diamonds are the most popular fancy shapes. And they cost as much as 35% less than a round diamond. Oval diamonds are pricier, but they are still as much as 15% less than a round diamond.


A 3-carat diamond can cost almost 10x more than a 1-carat diamond of the same specs. But its surface area is really just about double the size - 69.4mm2 for 3-carat vs. 33.2mm2 for 1-carat.

Here's an illustration to show how a 3-carat diamond looks compared to other carat weights:

(Click Image to Enlarge)
Round Diamond Carat Size Chart
Round Diamond Carat Size Chart © CreditDonkey

And here's how 3-carat diamonds of different shapes compare:

(Click Image to Enlarge)
3 Carat Diamond - Size Illustrated
3 Carat Diamond - Size Illustrated © CreditDonkey

Even though these are all 3 carats, you can see that they don't all look like the same size. Round and asscher cuts are notorious for looking the smallest, while marquise, pear, and emerald cuts are known for appearing larger.

Tip: A 3-carat diamond is meant to be a statement piece. So it's best to show it off in a simple solitaire setting. This allows the stone to be the center of attention without any other distractions.


Buying a 3-carat diamond can be tricky. Because they are larger, it's easier to see flaws and slight tints. But don't worry, this doesn't mean you need to splurge for a colorless and flawless rock.

Here are some tips to get the best value for your 3-carat diamond:

  • Cut is the most important: Always put whatever money you have into the best cut possible. Cut is what makes a diamond brilliant and beautiful. If you have a certain budget, go down in color and clarity as much as you can before you consider going down in cut. (Or consider a smaller diamond or a different shape that looks larger.)

    In other words, do not sacrifice cut just to meet this 3-carat mark. For a rock this large, the last thing you want is one that doesn't sparkle.

    Related: Why Cut Is the Most Important of the 4Cs

    Request to see Idealscope and/or ASET images of the diamonds. This is the only way to be sure of the light performance of the diamond. Whiteflash provides Idealscope images for all their in-house diamonds, and James Allen will provide up to three upon request.

  • Color: Larger diamonds reveal tints of color more easily. But it doesn't mean you need to splurge for a colorless diamond. If you prefer an icy white look to your jewelry, we recommend that you don't go below a G (or an H if you're not too color sensitive). If you don't mind a warmer look or plan to set the diamond in a yellow gold band, then an I or J could look beautiful.

    See: Best Diamond Color for Your Money

  • Clarity: Larger diamonds also show more flaws as their facets are larger. So, it becomes even more important to make sure that it's eye-clean. Usually, we recommend VS1 clarity to be on the safe side if you're buying from an online store without viewing Idealscope and/or ASET images first. But in reality, you can go down to VS2 if you are able to see actual photos/videos of the diamond to verify that it's eye-clean.

    If you are considering a 3 carat diamond, remember to make sure the diamond is GIA or AGS certified. Both laboratories have high consistent standards. While GIA and AGS certified diamonds are more expensive, this is an area you should not compromise on.

Shop Online for the Best Value and Selection

To truly get the best deal on a 3-carat diamond, we recommend that you shop online. 3-carat diamonds are very rare. We can pretty much guarantee that your local jeweler will not have a ton in their collection. You may be stuck with just one or two choices, and neither may be within your budget or preferred specs.

On the other hand, online stores have a much bigger selection. You'll have so many more options to choose from, so you can pick one with the characteristics you want. For example, currently on James Allen, there are over 200 ideal cut 3-carat round diamonds with color H+ and clarity VS2+.

Our favorite online store is James Allen. They have a sizeable selection of 3-carat diamonds at all price ranges, specs, and shapes. The best part is their 360-degree HD videos for every diamond in their collection. You can spin them around to pick the one that appears eye-clean.

What If You Don't Have the Budget?

Ok so maybe you wanted to get your sweetie the large rock of her dreams, but realized it's not quite financially feasible. Here are some suggestions to make a diamond appear large on a smaller budget.

  • Use a halo setting. The halo setting is best for making a splash with less money. It has a ring of small diamonds around the center stone, so from far away, it looks like one big diamond. A halo can add 2mm width to the overall diameter, so this means that a 1.5-carat diamond with a halo can have the same surface area as a 3-carat diamond. Compared to the $35k+ cost of a 3-carat diamond, a 1.5-carat diamond costs around $10k.

    If your budget is even smaller, you can do a double halo, like the ring from James Allen below. This adds even more width. You can now go down to just a 1-carat diamond. A 1-carat diamond will cost around $5,000 - $6,000 and then add in $2,100 for this ring. And you can get a large looking ring on a small budget.

    Double Halo Diamond Engagement Ring
    Double Halo Diamond Engagement Ring via James Allen

    Warning: Before you go this route, make sure your girl will appreciate this style. Make sure she's the type of girl who loves showing off flashy jewelry, as some girls may think this is too over the top.

  • Go for a cluster ring. A bunch of smaller diamonds is a lot cheaper than one single large diamond. A cluster setting is when a bunch of small diamonds are placed together to give the appearance of one diamond. This style looks especially good with vintage designs.

  • Look into three stone rings. Certain three stone designs also give a ring major bling. You can choose a setting that comes to total of 3 carats. For example, you can get a 1.5-carat center, with two 0.75-carat diamonds on either side. You can even get a three stone design with a halo around it, which means you can do a even smaller center.

    The three stones represent the past, present, and future of the relationship. This setting is good for the sentimental girl.

    3 Stone Diamond Engagement Ring
    3 Stone Diamond Engagement Ring via James Allen

Bottom Line

We hope this guide gave you an idea of what you can expect to pay for a 3-carat diamond. Before you start shopping, make sure you understand how diamonds are priced. This way, you don't overpay for features that you cannot even see. Our beginner's guide to best value explains more about what to look for and what you can "go cheap" on.

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are those of the author's alone. Please support CreditDonkey on our mission to help you make savvy financial decisions. Our free online service is made possible through financial relationships with some of the products and services mentioned on this site. We may receive compensation if you shop through links in our content.

More from CreditDonkey:

Diamond Prices

Princess Diamond Carat Size Chart

2 Carat Diamond

Round Diamond Carat Size Chart

Diamond Size Chart

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