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:

Fun fact: Are you shopping for a 3-carat diamond ring for your sweetie? She'll be among the ranks of celebrities such as Katherine Heigl, Megan Fox, and Katy Perry, who have all sported 3-carat sparklers.

HOW MUCH DOES A 3 CARAT DIAMOND COST?

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.

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

F/IFVVS1VVS2VS1VS2SI1SI2
D$170-$240k$100-150k$80-120k$70-$100k$60-$80k$40-$65k$30-$40k
E$100-130k$90-$120k$70-$90k$60-$100k$50-$80k$40-$55k$30-$40k
F$95-130k$90-$100k$70-$90k$55-$75k$50-$65k$35-$50k$25-$35k
G$75-$85k$65-$80k$60-$80k$50-$75k$45-$65k$35-$50k$25-$35k
H$60-$80k$50-$60k$50-$60k$45-$60k$40-$55k$25-$40k$20-$35k
I$50-$70k$40-$55k$35-$45k$35-$45k$30-$45k$25-$35k$20-$30k
J$35-40k$30-$40k$30-$40k$30-$35k$25-$35k$20-$35k$20-$30k

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

IFVVS1VVS2VS1VS2SI1SI2
D$100-$140k$70-$110k$70-90k$55-80k$45-70k$35-$50k$25-$35k
E$80-$95k$70-$90k$70-$90k$45-80k$40-55k$30-45k$25-$35k
F$60-80k$50-80k$50-80k$45-70k$40-55k$30-45k$20-$35k
G$45-$65k$45-$65k$40-$60k$40-55k$30-$45k$27-$40k$20-$30k
H$35-$60k$35-$60k$30-$60k$30-$50k$30-$45k$25-35k$20-$30k
I$30-$40k$30-$40k$30-$40k$25-$35k$25-$30k$20-$30k$20-$25k
J$25-$35k$25-$30k$20-$30k$20-$30k$17-$25k$15-$25k$15-$20k

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.

HOW BIG IS A 3 CARAT 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.

TIPS FOR SHOPPING FOR A 3 CARAT DIAMOND

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: 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. Online stores have a much bigger selection. You'll have so many more options to choose from, so you can pick one with all the qualities you want.

    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.

CONCLUSION

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.

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Diamond Prices

Princess Diamond Carat Size Chart

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Round Diamond Carat Size Chart

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