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Three-Carat Diamond Guide: Prices & Tips

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Three to four carats is a dream size for many diamond aficionados. In this range, a well-cut diamond will provide great finger coverage and plenty of sparkle. Naturally, if you’re buying a three-carat diamond engagement ring, you need to find one that looks great. Our tips will help you get the best stone for your money.
By Addison Rice 4 minute read
3ct oval diamond ring - three-carat diamond guide

Simple and stunning, a three-carat oval diamond with baguette side stones will never go out of style. © DVA Fine Jewelry. Used with permission.

Three-Carat Diamond Price, Shape, and Size

Of course, you need to know how much you should expect to spend on a three-carat diamond. We compiled the following chart with face-up sizes and prices of diamonds with different shapes. These are based on G/H color, VS1/VS2 diamonds. Keep in mind, though, that there are less expensive diamonds with lower clarity and color grades that will still look great (and, of course, there are more expensive diamonds with higher color and clarity grades). The wide price range comes not only from the slight differences in color and clarity but also from cut quality. In fact, the lowest prices generally represent diamonds with poor performance or off shapes.

three-carat diamond prices and size chart - three-carat diamond guide

Three-carat diamond prices and face-up sizes vary widely.

As you can see, you can save a significant amount if you choose a fancy shape instead of a round. Indeed, at the three-carat mark, a fancy shape might look nicer on your finger than a large circle. Fancy shapes often have larger face-up sizes, too, making them appear even larger than rounds. Check out these rings with different shapes. Can you guess which diamond has the greatest carat weight?

These diamonds are all slightly over the three-carat mark, but at 3.31 cts, this one weighs the most. Images © James Allen. Used with permission.

If a three-carat diamond is out of your price range, check out our guide for two-carat diamonds, instead. Two carats can still make a large and beautiful engagement ring stone.

Always Look for the Best Cut

Even a poorly-cut three-carat diamond will have a lot of sparkle, but that doesn’t mean it’s worth your money. In fact, a smaller, well-cut diamond can cost less and perform better than a three-carat diamond. Ultimately, it’s performance that matters, and performance comes from cut quality.

Unfortunately, there’s no shortcut to finding a diamond with great performance. You’ll just need to look at videos of diamonds until you’ve found the one with the best sparkle in your price range. For example, compare the video of this princess-cut with mediocre performance to another with excellent performance. While they’ll both look big, the second one will make a bigger impression.

However, each diamond shape has different cut quality factors to consider. Read the guide for the shape of your choice to help you find a great performer.


Color in a Three-Carat Diamond

The larger the diamond, the more important the role of color in a stone’s quality. So, make sure to check a three-carat diamond for even a slight tint. Nevertheless, H or I color diamonds will still look white in a white gold or platinum setting. For rose gold or yellow gold rings, your diamond will still look great if you choose a lower color grade.

Check out these three-carat diamond engagement rings.

Images © James Allen. Used with permission.

As you can see, color grades aren’t great indicators of how your engagement ring will look. That’s because gemologists grade diamond color by looking at the body color from the side, not the diamond’s face-up appearance. So, some diamonds “face up” whiter than others, making color grades harder to distinguish from one another when the stones are set. Take our diamond color quiz and see for yourself.

Clarity in a Three-Carat Diamond

Because larger diamonds show inclusions more readily, try to choose a three-carat diamond with a high clarity grade. For example, flaws in a three-carat diamond with SI2 clarity may be easily seen. (In contrast, the same type of flaws in a one-carat diamond likely wouldn’t show at all). While a VS2 clarity diamond will be eye-clean, most SI1 and even some SI2 clarity diamonds will also appear flawless to the naked eye.

Eye-clean three-carat diamonds with lower clarity grades let you save thousands, so it’s a good idea to take a look at these. However, avoid any diamond with a large, dark inclusion in the center of the stone. These will certainly be visible in a three-carat diamond.

SI1 clarity cushion - three-carat diamond guide

This SI1 clarity three-carat diamond is borderline eye-clean. Some might not notice the crystal inclusions. However, if you’re detail-oriented and have great vision, you might see some specks when the stone is at arm’s length. Check out the video. © James Allen. Used with permission.

Where Should I Buy a Three-Carat Diamond Engagement Ring?

Before buying a three-carat diamond, you must see its color, clarity, and most importantly, performance. So, stick to sites with closeup videos of their diamonds.

That’s why we recommend using James Allen and Blue Nile. Both sites offer great prices on thousands of diamonds, giving you more choices for three-carat diamonds than other vendors. With their magnified videos, you’re able to clearly see clarity imperfections that would be invisible to the naked eye. You can more easily judge a diamond’s performance before you buy.

However, if you’re looking for service that’s more personal, consider designing a custom engagement ring with CustomMade. With their expertise, you’ll get a completely unique ring that’s perfectly suited to you. Plus, you won’t have to worry about buying a sub-par diamond.