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How Big is a One Carat Diamond?

How Big is a One Carat Diamond?

Are you shopping for a shiny 1 carat diamond engagement ring? Maybe you’re just buying someone a nice present because, well, they’re the kind of person that deserves it and you’re the kind of person that knows how to buy great presents? Whatever the reason, there’s a particular question in diamond buying which can often cause confusion. Just how big is a one carat diamond?

One Carat in Size?

The question of how big a one-carat diamond is, doesn’t have a straightforward answer. The truth is, it can vary! Sorry if you wanted something more definitive! Let’s explain the reasons though. The clue is at least partly in the name. What is a carat exactly?

The original source of the word ‘carat’ is derived from the carob seed. In ancient times, the carob seed was used as a standard measurement of weight as they were thought to provide a near uniform unit of measurement! An interesting fact to be sure, but how does it help us? Well, in the world of diamonds carat is a word which refers to the mass of the stone. One carat in weight is equal to 0.2 grams (about the same as a paperclip). This means that a one-carat diamond is a diamond which weighs 0.2 grams. Easy enough then, carat is a measurement of weight. But size is really a question of the dimensions of the stone, not the weight. If the carat weight can’t give us any clues, what else might influence the size of our shiny diamond?

We’ve talked about the Four C’s before. We won’t recap too heavily (and you can learn a great deal in our diamond buying guide if you’re really stuck). They are Cut, Colour, Clarity and Carat Weight. While carat weight is an important factor when choosing your diamond, it’s only one of two C’s which will dictate the actual size of your stone. When buying a 1 carat diamond from Quality Diamonds or any other properly certified diamond seller, you know that diamond will weigh 0.2 grams. However, it is the cut of the diamond itself which will most influence the size of the sparkling end product.

Cutting the Carat

Diamonds are not simply cut from preference, but influenced by the years of professional knowledge gained by expert diamond cutters. A diamond cutter must carefully study the stone itself, considering the size, shape and even the particular flaws within each individual rough gem to decide on the best cut. After meticulously assessing each diamond and carefully rendering it into the most suitable shape, the end product becomes one of those exquisite, sparkling gems which spring to mind at the mere mention of the word diamond.

This is where the variation in size can come in. It is the proportions of the finished diamond that dictate the size. After all, when we talk about the size of a diamond, we’re really talking about the size of the bit you can see – the top part of the diamond (known as the crown) which sits above the setting in a ring or piece of jewellery. We can measure the diameter of a Round Brilliant diamond or the length and width of a rectangular diamond such as an Emerald Cut diamond.

These dimensions rely on the underlying cut. Imagine two diamonds – both weight 1 carat and both are Round Brilliants. The first diamond has a very deep cut, meaning the diamond is taller than it is wide. Most of the weight of this diamond is in the base, where you can’t see it. The second diamond has a very shallow cut, meaning the base of the diamond is very small, so most of the weight of this diamond will be in the top – resulting in a larger diamond.

Does this mean you should opt for a shallow cut diamond to maximise the size? You could do that, yes. But we wouldn’t recommend it. A very shallow cut diamond gives poor light performance so you would be sacrificing sparkle for size.

However, imagine a third diamond – one that is neither too deep nor too shallow. This is where you find the sweet spot – a diamond that gives you the best sparkle at the best size. Of course, if you’re sneaky, you might like to search for a diamond which is almost perfectly proportioned and maybe just a teensy-weensy bit shallow to get the size up a bit. But bear in mind the difference would be mere fractions of a millimetre.

What Size are the Different Shapes of Diamond?

The popularity of diamond shapes has varied throughout history. The most iconic - and most popular in modern times - is the fabulous Round Brilliant. This simple but beautiful shape renders the diamond crown into a circle, designed to maximise the brilliance and fire of the diamond. A perfectly proportioned Excellent Cut 1-carat Round Brilliant diamond should be around 6.5 mm in diameter.

Perhaps the next most popular would be the distinctive Princess Cut diamond. These straight-edged beauties are traditionally cut to a square shape, although can sometimes be a little more rectangular. Unlike a Round Brilliant, the Princess Cut is designed to additionally show off the distinctive colours of the diamond in each corner. An Excellent one-carat Princess Cut will measure approximately 5.5 mm x 5.5 mm.

Next let’s look at the Pear Cut. This teardrop style remains popular for how it really brings out the brilliance of a diamond. It’s particularly important with this cut to look for symmetry in the stone. In the case of an Excellent cut one carat Pear Cut diamond the dimensions will be roughly 8.6 mm x 5.6 mm.

Next the Cushion Cut. These round-edged diamonds mirror the shape of a cushion and offer the most variation in their cutting style, rather than displaying truly standard and uniform lines. This cut tends to exhibit larger facets than alternative cuts, bringing out a diamond’s natural fire and brilliance. Be aware it can also lead to highlighting any inclusions or flaws in the diamond more prominently. The unique variations in Cushion Cut diamonds make them harder to classify, but an approximate guide of 6.1 mm by 5.1 mm won’t be far wrong.

Finally, the Marquise diamond. This particular shape is uniquely suited to maximise the visible size of the diamond itself. If you’re looking for a 1-carat diamond with the desire of making it look as large as possible, this may be the cut for you. Its unique, elongated shape creates the impression of a much larger stone. Carat for carat, the Marquise has one of the greatest crown surface areas of any diamond shape. A standard one-carat Marquise would have dimensions of around 10 mm to 5.3 mm.

The Size of a One Carat Diamond

While this article can’t deliver a definitive answer to the question of how big a 1 carat diamond is, it hopefully offers some guidelines to inform you. The size of a one carat diamond can vary greatly depending on the cut, and the shape, as I’m sure you can see above. Ultimately, however, it’s the quality of the stone which should inform your decision and not simply the size of the diamond itself. First and foremost, a diamond exists to shine and be beautiful.

If, however, you are intent on a choice of diamond to maximise its size, the marquise diamond offers the largest crown surface area carat for carat. If you just want something stunning to grace a piece of jewellery, then a truly informed decision should look to those Four little C’s. Whichever diamond you choose, as long as you love it, you can be sure you’ve got the right one.