Updated March 13, 2017

3 Carat Diamond Ring: How to Get the Perfect Engagement Ring

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Shopping for a 3 carat diamond engagement ring? Learn how much you can expect to pay and smart tips you need to know to get the best diamond for the money.

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. We're going to show you how to get the best 3 carat diamond for your budget. Consider reputable online retailers like Blue Nile and James Allen. These stores offer high-quality images and videos of their gems so shoppers know what they're getting.

In this guide, you'll learn:

Or jump down to these handy tools:

3 Carat Diamond Price Charts 3 Carat Diamond Calculator

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

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

How Much is a 3 Carat Diamond?

In general, you can expect to pay $40,000 - $50,000 for a good value 3 carat natural diamond. If you're okay with a lab diamond, you're looking at the $12,000 - $15,000 range.

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. If you're deciding between a 2 carat or 3 carat stone, check out our guide for 2 carat diamond ring.

A 3-carat stone can cost anywhere between $20,000 to $240,000. The price depends on the quality of the stone. Flawless and colorless 3-carat diamonds will cost many times more than diamonds with visible flaws and a yellow tint.

Let's look at a couple of real examples:

Screenshot from James Allen Website

The colorless, almost flawless diamond on the left costs close to 6 figures. But you don't need to spend anywhere near that to get a beautiful 3-carat diamond.

The diamond on the right represents a good balance. We recommend ideal cut, VS2 clarity, and color H for a sparkling, eye-clean, white looking diamond. It's unlikely that anyone will be able to tell the difference.

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.

Here are some prices to keep in mind for the most popular shapes:

What about looking for a 2.9 carat diamond? Usually, we recommend that if you're shopping for a 1-carat diamond, you can buy a 0.9 carat diamond to save a lot of money. But this isn't the case with 3 carat diamonds. You won't save much (if any at all) by trying to buy a 2.9 carat diamond. A lot of people are searching for 2.9 carat diamonds, and this raises the prices to be on par with full 3-carat diamonds.

3 Carat Diamond Price Charts

Here are detailed price charts of the current average retail price of 3-carat diamonds. Just click on the tabs for the shape you're looking for.

Round 3 Carat Diamond Prices

Princess 3 Carat Diamond Prices

Cushion 3 Carat Diamond Prices

Oval 3 Carat Diamond Prices

Emerald 3 Carat Diamond Prices

Asscher 3 Carat Diamond Prices

Pear 3 Carat Diamond Prices

Marquise 3 Carat Diamond Prices

Radiant 3 Carat Diamond Prices

Heart 3 Carat Diamond Prices


Fancy shape diamonds can cost as much as 40% less than a round diamond. Oval, asscher, and marquise cuts are pricier, but they are still as much as 15% less than a round diamond. Emerald and cushion cuts tend to be the least inexpensive. This may help you afford a 3-carat diamond on a smaller budget.

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.

3 Carat Diamond Price Calculator

Use this calculator to search for current prices of 3 carat diamonds on the market today.

Don't Get Ripped Off. Compare Diamond Prices

Natural vs Lab Created 3 Carat Diamonds

As you can see, a 3 carat diamond is quite a splurge. If you don't have the budget, opting for a lab created diamond is a more affordable way to get a large stone.

Lab diamonds are real diamonds with identical chemical and physical properties as those created from the earth. But because they're made in labs, lab diamonds are now up to 60% - 70% cheaper than natural mined diamonds.

Here are some real examples of natural vs lab 3-carat diamonds prices.*

Natural DiamondLab Diamond
3 carat round, H, VS2, Ideal$42,350$11,790
3 carat, round, G, VVS2, Ideal$55,560$14,180
3 carat, princess, G, VS1, Ideal$43,000$12,400
1 carat, cushion, F, VS2, Ideal$44,270$11,160

*Pricing information from in-stock diamonds on James Allen as of 10/29/21. James Allen is one of our favorite online diamond retailers. It offers competitive pricing and a large selection of certified diamonds.

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

Diamond Ring on Hand
Diamond Ring on Hand © CreditDonkey

The size also depends on the shape of the diamond. Some shapes appear larger even if they're the same carat weight. Here's how 3-carat diamonds of different shapes compare:

3 Carat Diamond - Size Illustrated
3 Carat Diamond - Size Illustrated © CreditDonkey

Round and asscher cuts tend to look the smallest. Elongated shapes like oval, marquise, pear, and emerald cuts are known for appearing larger.

Here are the surface areas of 3-carat diamonds of different shapes:

  • Round: 9.3 x 9.3 mm
  • Princess: 8 x 8 mm
  • Cushion: 9 x 8 mm
  • Oval: 11.5 x 7.5 mm
  • Emerald: 9.5 x 7 mm
  • Asscher: 8 x 8 mm
  • Pear: 11.5 x 7.5 mm
  • Marquise: 14 x 7 mm
  • Radiant: 8.5 x 7.5 mm
  • Heart: 9.4 x 9.4 mm

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.

Color for a 3 Carat Diamond

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 an H.

If you don't mind a warmer look or plan to set the diamond in a yellow gold band, then a J or K could look beautiful. Below is a H diamond set in platinum and a K diamond set in yellow gold. You can see that the warmer toned diamond looks great in a yellow gold band (and costs a lot less).

Screenshot from James Allen Website

Some people like to spend extra on a colorless diamond, which is great if you want to splurge. But unless someone's really scrutinizing your ring under a microscope, H diamonds look perfectly white.

Check out 360-degree videos of 3-carat diamonds to see what's right for you:

See: Best Diamond Color for Your Money

Clarity for a 3 Carat Diamond

Diamond Clarity Scale
Diamond Clarity Scale © CreditDonkey

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 photos.

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.

For emerald and asscher cut diamonds, we don't recommend going below VS1. These step cut diamonds have a large open table that reveals all flaws. So we suggest upgrading the clarity.

If you're shopping online for a 3-carat diamond (which can save you a lot), make sure you shop with a retailer that offers images of the actual diamond. James Allen offers HD 360-degree videos of every diamond in its collection. You can spin it around to see if you see any flaws.

Cut Quality for a 3 Carat Diamond

Cut is the most important factor. It's what makes a diamond brilliant and beautiful. Cut refers to the angles and proportions that affect how light is reflected back.

A well-cut diamond reflects almost all the light back. The diamond will be sparkly and bright, making it appear larger. On the other hand, a poorly cut diamond will "leak" light and appear dull.

Here are diamonds of different cut qualities. You can easily see that the better the cut, the more beautiful the diamond.

Screenshot from James Allen Website

With a showstopper like a 3-carat diamond, the last thing you want is a large stone that doesn't sparkle. So always get the best cut possible.

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.

Recommendations for a 3 Carat Diamond Ring

  • Round, princess, and cushion: Go for a color of H and clarity of VS2 for an eye-clean diamond that appears white. If your budget is a bit smaller, it's okay to go down to color I.

  • Oval, pear, and marquise: These shapes have elongated ends, which trap more color. We recommend you go up to G in color.

  • Emerald and asscher: These step-cuts have a large window straight into the depth of the diamond. Any flaws or color are more easily seen. We recommend you go up to clarity of VS1 and color G.

  • Yellow gold or rose gold band: You can afford to go for a warmer toned diamond to complement the band. You can go down to a K in color.

Lab Certification for 3 Carat Diamond

Lab certification is so important that it's often called the 5th C. A lab report verifies the quality of the diamond. So you know that you're getting what you paid for.

We recommend diamonds that are GIA or AGS certified. These two laboratories have the highest, most consistent grading standards.

While GIA and AGS certified diamonds are more expensive, this is an area you should not compromise on, especially for such a valuable stone.

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 sizable 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 large diamond more affordable.

  • Consider a lab created diamond. Lab created diamonds are identical to the ones mined from the Earth - just that the diamond creation process is sped up in a controlled lab environment. Besides being more eco-friendly, lab diamonds can cost as much as 70% less. A good quality 3-carat lab diamond costs around $10,000 - $15,000.

  • 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 $30k+ 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 a 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 an 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.

Write to Anna G at feedback@creditdonkey.com. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for our latest posts.

Note: This website 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. You do not have to use our links, but you help support CreditDonkey if you do.

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