The Diamond Pro

What’s the Average Diamond Engagement Ring Size?

By Michael Fried

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The average carat weight of an engagement ring diamond in the United States sits somewhere between 1.08 and 1.2 carats.

However, when it comes to diamonds, size isn’t everything. Instead of looking solely at the size of a diamond (or, more accurately, its carat weight), it’s best to look for a diamond with the right combination of cut, color, clarity and carat weight.

To get the highest quality diamond engagement ring for your budget, it’s important to shop from a trustworthy vendor like James Allen or Blue Nile. Both of these vendors offer excellent pricing, with a huge selection of high quality diamonds and settings for you to choose from.

Buying an engagement ring can be a stressful, difficult experience (although our guides can make it significantly easier). From cut and clarity to color and more, there are several factors you’ll need to keep in mind to make sure you get the highest quality ring for your budget.

J-VS2 Oval in Yellow Gold Solitaire Engagement Ring

One factor that people often worry about when buying an engagement ring is the size of the diamond. Thanks to the countless articles published every year about celebrity engagement rings, it’s easy to assume that the average diamond is far larger than it really is.

Below, we’ve looked at the data to determine how large (or more specifically, how heavy) the average diamond engagement ring is. We’ve also covered how you can get the best possible value on an engagement ring, helping you buy the highest quality ring within your budget.

How Large is the Average Diamond Engagement Ring?

There’s no single source that tracks the average diamond engagement ring size (after all, it’s not the type of question you can ask on the census). This means that the average is part of a range, rather than an exact number.

Depending on the data source, the average weight of an engagement ring center stone in the United States is between 1.08 and 1.2 carats.

According to a 2014 article in USA Today, it’s just over one carat for the center stone, with a two carat average weight for the entire ring (this weight takes into account any additional diamonds and gemstones, such as those used in a halo setting.)

Outside the US, diamond engagement rings are usually a lower carat weight. In the UK, the average is about 0.6 carats, while countries like Japan and China, which don’t have the same diamond culture as North America, have an even lower average carat weight.

Within the US, the average size can vary based on where you are in the country. In general, if you’re in a large city like New York or Los Angeles, you can expect to see a significantly larger average diamond size than in a smaller city.

Age also affects the average diamond size. While the national average is somewhere between 1.08 and 1.2 carats, millennials usually spend less on diamonds than older generations, making their average diamond carat weight lower.

Petite Micropavé Diamond Engagement Ring

In short, there’s no absolute average — instead, the diamonds used in engagement rings vary hugely in carat weight based on factors such as your age and location.

If you’re looking for an engagement ring that’s close to the average size, you’ll find our guide to one carat diamond rings helpful. It includes everything you’ll need to get the highest quality ring for your budget, as well as common diamond-buying mistakes you’ll want to avoid.

If you’re looking for a diamond ring that’s larger than average, we also have detailed guides to buying two carat and three-carat diamond rings.

How Much Should You Spend on an Engagement Ring?

Just like there’s no absolute average for diamond carat weight, there’s no exact amount that you should spend on a diamond engagement ring.

According to USA Today, couples reported spending an average of $5,598 on their engagement ring in 2014. Interestingly, the average engagement ring budget was $5,095 in 2011, indicating that couples are usually willing to spend more on rings when the economy is stronger.

While the average amount spent on a diamond engagement ring can be a useful statistic, it’s important to put it in context. Just like average carat weight, the average amount spent on an engagement ring can vary based on factors like location, age, and average income.

Instead of aiming for a diamond that’s larger than average, it’s best to focus on getting the best possible diamond for your budget. This means looking at your financial situation along with the needs of your fiancé-to-be, then working out how much you can afford to spend.

It’s also best to ignore any “rules” of budgeting for a diamond that you read in magazines or see in advertisements, such as setting aside a certain number of months worth of your salary for an engagement ring. Most of the time, these “rules” are created by marketers and jewelry brands.

Our guide to budgeting for an engagement ring covers this topic in more detail, with a variety of tips and tactics to help you buy a diamond ring that matches your fiancé-to-be’s tastes and your budget.

How to Get the Best Value Diamond For Your Budget

If you’re looking for a diamond that’s close to the average size, there are several techniques that you can use to get the highest quality diamond without going over your budget.

Buy Your Diamond From a Reputable Online Vendor

One of the best ways to save money on your engagement ring is to purchase both the diamond and the setting from a reputable online vendor, instead of shopping offline.

As we’ve covered before, brick and mortar stores have significant costs that affect the price of their diamonds. From rent to utilities, salaries and inventory costs, these costs add up quickly and have a real, noticeable impact on the amount you’ll pay for a diamond.

Round Cut Halo Engagement Ring in White Gold

Online vendors, on the other hand, don’t need to pay for rent in upmarket shopping districts or other major operating costs. This allows them to offer diamonds of equal or better quality for as much as 50% less than most brick and mortar jewelry stores.

We recommend buying from James Allen or Blue Nile. Both of these vendors sell high quality, GIA or AGS certified diamonds at the best prices in the industry. They also both have diverse selections, allowing you to easily choose a diamond and setting that fit within your budget.

Understand the Four Cs Before You Start Shopping

The four Cs — cut, color, clarity and carat — all play a role in determining how much you’ll spend for an engagement ring. Because of this, it’s important to understand how these factors affect a diamond before you choose a specific stone and setting.

While it’s easy to focus solely on carat weight, a diamond’s cut can have a greater impact on its appearance. For example, a large diamond with a Fair or Poor cut won’t look as impressive as a smaller, lighter carat weight diamond with a higher quality Excellent or Ideal cut.

Color and clarity also play important roles in the appearance of a diamond. While flawless color and clarity aren’t essential, a diamond should appear colorless and eye-clean when you view it in person.

As a general rule, it’s best to look for diamonds that have an Ideal or Excellent cut, as well as a clarity grade of VS1 or VS2. When it comes to color, it’s best to look for diamonds in the nearly colorless range of G to I, although this can vary based on the type of setting you choose.

A diamond with these specifications will look brilliant and impressive, especially under a direct source of light. It will also look clean to the eye, with no visible inclusions and a near-colorless appearance, all at a far lower cost than a completely flawless, colorless diamond.

Our guides to cut, color and clarity cover these three aspects of the four Cs, while our guide to carat weight puts the weight of a diamond in context as part of its overall appearance.

If You’re on a Budget, Consider a Yellow or Rose Gold Setting 

As we mentioned above, the optimal color grade for a diamond can vary depending on the type of setting you choose.

In general, the trick is to make sure that the diamond you choose looks colorless in comparison to the setting. With a metal like white gold or platinum, a diamond with a faint tint (for example, a J or K grade diamond) will usually look slightly yellow, even to the naked eye.

However, because metals like yellow and rose gold have a distinct, slightly darker color of their own, it’s okay to choose a diamond with a slightly poorer color grade.

Rose Gold Petite Engagement Ring with J Color Center Diamond

As we mentioned in our guide to diamond color, a round cut diamond with a color grade of K to M (indicating a faint yellow tint) can often look warm and beautiful in a yellow gold setting, even if it looks unimpressive when it’s set in a metal like white gold or platinum.

Buying a diamond with a K to M color grade and pairing it with a yellow or rose gold setting can help you save a significant amount of money. Because the yellow tone of the gold usually shows through the diamond on its own, there’s often no perceivable difference to your eye.

For example, this 1 carat VS2, K color, excellent cut round diamond from James Allen is priced at $3,330. Add this 14k yellow gold solitaire setting for $480 and the price for the complete ring is $3,810 — a significant amount less than the average engagement ring price of $6,351.

In comparison, this I color diamond from James Allen, which has almost identical specifications and comes from the same vendor, is priced at $4,330. By buying it, you’ll spend an extra $1,000 for a diamond that will likely still look slightly yellowish anyway due to the color of the setting.

In addition to the type of setting you choose, the cut of a diamond can affect which color grade offers the best value with the smallest effect on its appearance. Our diamond color guide goes into more detail on this, with recommended color grades for each cut and setting type.

In Conclusion

In the United States, the average engagement ring diamond is somewhere between 1.08 and 1.2 carats. However, as we’ve explained above, there are several factors beyond a diamond’s carat weight that affect how impressive and elegant it looks in an engagement ring.

Apply the techniques we’ve listed above you’ll be able to purchase the highest quality diamond for your budget. As always, you’ll get the best value from a trusted online diamond vendor such as James Allen or Blue Nile.

Need expert help choosing the right diamond and setting? Contact us and our diamond experts will help you find the best diamond for your budget.

About the author
Mike learned the diamond business from the ground-up at Leo Schachter Diamonds - one of the world's top diamond manufacturers. He has been recognized as a diamond industry expert by Time, PeopleMoney, The Daily Mirror, NerdWallet, The Times Herald, Yahoo Finance Australia, The Art of Charm, The Washington Diplomat, The Next Web, and more. See more
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