Diamond Price Guide: How Diamonds Are Priced
When it comes to choosing a diamond, the budget will be the driving factor in your decision. It may be
tempting to go straight for the top grades or largest carat weight that your bank balance will allow,
but it’s not always that simple. At a first glance, diamond prices might seem completely random to
first-time buyers, but as this guide will help you better navigate and understand. For novices, we
recommend a head-to-toe read, but using the interactive contents table below to skip to the
relevant areas will help in a pinch.
- What is the Price of a Diamond?
- Diamond Prices and Carat Weight
- Diamond Price Per Carat
- How to Calculate Diamond Price
- Diamond Prices and Color
- Diamond Price and Clarity
- Diamond Price and Cut
- Diamond Price by Shape
- Diamond Price and Grading
- Market Factors
- Is the Price of Diamonds Going Down?
- What is the Pricescope Price Chart?
- 3 Tips for Diamond Buying Success
Choosing a diamond is a delicate balancing act of beauty and budget and asking what is the price of a diamond, is a little like asking how long is a piece of string. It all depends! But it is not a mystery. Like other markets, the diamond market is essentially rational. As the saying goes, ‘you get what you pay for’. The challenge is understanding exactly what you are getting for the price you’re being asked to pay! As you will discover, diamond prices are determined by a variety of factors, but let’s focus on the ones you should care about; the rarity and quality factors of the 4 C’s – Cut, Color, Clarity, and Carat. We will also explore a little beyond this into the macroeconomic factors (just to show off a bit) but also to give you a complete picture of how we arrive at a diamond price. The ultimate goal is to get a beautiful diamond that is within your budget. Read on, arm yourself with knowledge, and become an astute diamond shopper!
The most basic diamond rarity factor is size (carat). Nature produces far more smaller diamonds than it does large diamonds. As such, diamonds get exponentially more expensive as they get bigger, all other factors being equal. Sounds simple enough…but let’s look a little deeper.
As carat weight (and rarity) increases, so does the price. But it is not a linear relationship. As carat weight increases, so does the price per carat which has a compounding impact on the total price. For instance, a 1.00ct round ideal cut hearts and arrows diamond might be $7,900 per carat, making the total price $7,900. But a 2.00 carat of the same quality might instead be $13,000 per carat or $27,000 total. Instead of being double in total cost the 2.00ct diamond is more than three times the price!
To complicate matters a bit more, price per carat tends to jump at certain ‘magic marks’ along the size continuum, for example at 1.00 ct mark; a difference of over $1,100 for that extra .02 carats, an imperceptible visual size difference. It is common for value shoppers to look for diamonds just under the magic marks of (e.g. just below .50 ct, .75 ct, 1.00 ct etc).
Knowing current market prices is important, whether you’re looking to buy or sell. So, with that in mind, let’s look at one of the most asked questions by diamond buyers the world over; how much is a 1 ct diamond?
The price of a 1-carat diamond is, of course, completely dependant upon multiple influencing factors (quality, certification etc). Fortunately, PriceScope hosts a select group of vetted diamond vendors who list their diamonds for sale on the system. It also provides data on diamond pricing! PriceScope has been tracking pricing on thousands of diamonds listed on the system since 2007, so while we cannot give a definitive answer to ‘how much is a 1-carat diamond’ we can give you tangible data and average prices for 1-carat diamonds and all other carat weights! (All averages given are based on: GIA certified diamonds from D-K, SI2-FL, Good-Ideal).
A 1-carat diamond is a beautiful (and very popular) weight for an engagement ring – the price range for a 1 carat round brilliant diamond is anywhere from $2,000 – $20,000. Take it slap bang in the middle for an H-VS1 1 carat diamond and the average price is $6,597.
The average price range for a 2 carat round brilliant diamond is between $9,800 – $64,500. Notice the jump between 1 and 2-carat diamond prices? That’s because the price per carat has increased. A gorgeous G-VS2 2 carat princess cut diamond is sure to strike a stunning balance between beauty and budget.
A bold and beautiful 3-carat diamond? Go on then! The price range for round brilliant 3-carat diamonds is between $20,000 – $100,000. Remember these ranges are a rough guide; you will find 3-carat diamonds that fall below and above these markers – consult the price chart for a closer look at 3-carat diamond prices and how shape and quality impact upon them.
Now we’re getting serious! A 4-carat diamond could cost you anywhere from $39,000 – $163,000. Pay close attention to the 4C’s and you can hit the sweet spot of budget and beauty – even on a diamond of such considerable size.
In the diamond trade, calculating diamond price is achieved as follows:
Cost = Carat Weight x Diamond Price Per Carat
Using this, an approximate diamond wholesale price is calculated. A pricing guide that has served as the foundation of diamond pricing in the trade since the 1970s is called the Rappaport List. It is a weekly publication with a chart that shows asking prices for polished diamonds in the trade broken down by size, color, and clarity.
The prices listed are prices per carat in increments of $100. This information was once reserved for members of the diamond trade but now, anyone can receive the weekly pricelist for a one-off payment of $50.
To understand the diamond price calculation, see the example below. We use the table to find the wholesale asking price of a .93ct H VS2 round brilliant. We go to the appropriate cell in the table (above) and see the diamond lists for 54 ($100s). We multiply the price per carat by the carat weight of the stone and we come up with:
0.93 x $5400 = $5,022
A 1.34ct G VS1 would calculate this way:
1.34 x $8400 = $11,256
It is important to understand that these figures have very little bearing on the market value of a diamond and therefore are generally treated by buyers as a point of interest rather than a consumer tool. In most cases, actual trading prices will be lower (discounted from the list), but in some cases, there might be a premium added to the list price. Cut quality and grading lab are both major factors in determining the actual trading price.
|TOP TIP: USING PRICE PER CARAT TO COMPARE LOOSE DIAMONDS
If you’re using price per carat as the foundation of your search, make sure you follow these tips:
What you need to know: Although it may sound complex, essentially a bigger carat weight = a more expensive diamond and magic weights cause the price to jump. Remember that there are multiple other factors left to look at; balancing the remaining 4C’s and choosing a good vendor will also allow you to play with diamond pricing and make it work for your budget. Read our complete guide to diamond carat weight for a closer look.
The color grading scale reflects extremely slight differences in body color. Perfectly colorless “D” color is the rarest (not including fancy colors) and commands the top price, all other factors being equal. But the colorless group consists of three colors – D, E, and F. To most people they are indistinguishable from one another. The next four color grades are known as ‘near colorless’ because they do not present as having color. That is, to the casual observer they look very much like colorless diamonds.
What you need to know: Colorless diamonds (D-F) are rarer, thus command higher prices. The difference in diamond price between color grades can be vast, with little optical benefits; it is important to observe color on a stone to stone basis. Ultimately, color comes down to what you find desirable and what works for your budget. Read our complete guide to diamond color for an in-depth look at this intriguing quality factor.
|You can use our PriceScope Price Charts to compare colour quality along with all other diamond characteristics and diamond prices. Clicking on any price on the chart will lead you to another page, which displays every diamond we offer in your chosen carat weight, along with color and clarity selections and individual prices, updated daily. A simple step towards narrowing down selections and understanding diamond price on a comparison basis.|
A flawless diamond is the rarest in terms of clarity, and commands the top price when all other factors are equal. But the FL designation simply means that there are no inclusions or blemishes visible to an experienced diamond grader under 10x magnification. At 15x or 20x there may be something visible in a “flawless” diamond. Below FL there are 4 clarity grades that are indistinguishable to the naked eye (IF, VVS1, VVS2, VS1). Each lower clarity grade means a lower diamond price without sacrificing anything but rarity! In most cases VS2 and often SI1 fall into this same category.
What you need to know: Look for eye clean diamonds using high-res imaging or a jeweller’s loupe. You can read our complete guide to diamond clarity for an in-depth explanation.
Cut quality is a very important factor in diamond pricing and also the biggest determining factor in a diamond’s overall optical performance and beauty. Diamonds have traditionally been cut with a philosophy of retaining as much weight as possible rather than for maximizing their light performance. This targets the emotional aspect of buying a diamond (and hitting the magic weights) – great for shady jewellers who want to pedal big, subpar diamonds, but not so great for buyers. However, some cutters are approaching the craft differently and are willing to sacrifice some weight to make the best possible diamond. Naturally these diamonds command a higher price.
Diamond enthusiasts in the PriceScope community favour modern cut quality analysis with a heavy emphasis on advanced imaging to be able to detect any issues with light performance. Diamonds that have been through the AGSL ray tracing regimen and have achieved a grade of Ideal are highly regarded, as are GIA Triple Ex presented with ASET and Ideal Scope images to verify actual light performance and facet precision.
What you need to know: While other quality factors offer flexibility for your budget, cut should not be compromised. Precision cutting adds a premium to the price versus a generic diamond with unproven optics, but this premium is well warranted in terms of the value associated with getting the most beautiful diamond possible in a given budget. Read our full diamond cut guide for a detailed look.
TOP TIP: QUALITY VS RARITY
The price of a diamond can be split into two value factors: quality and rarity. From the average buyer’s perspective (as oppose to collectors), quality trumps rarity every time. Diamond prices are essentially predicated on rarity factors, but a D grade diamond (rarity) can be indistinguishable from a G (quality). If you just want the rarest diamond for your budget that is easy; just buy the biggest D FL diamond you can afford! But if you want the best value without compromising beauty, separating rarity and quality is the first step.
Don’t overspend on grades that simply cannot be appreciated by eye. A well-cut diamond several steps down the grading scale in terms of color and clarity can be visually indistinguishable from a D FL – less rare but just as beautiful and a better price.
Not to be confused with cut, shape refers to the outline – quite literally, the shape you see when viewing the diamond from above (for example, an oval shape, a heart shape etc). For fancy cuts, the demand is generally lower VS round brilliants and thus they tend to demand lower prices.
To view the average and lowest prices for each diamond shape, simply click on the shape that interests you.
What you need to know: It can be more difficult to scrutinise fancy cuts; personal preference is likely to play a big part in your choice should you stray beyond the classic round brilliant. Your best bet is to read our complete guide to diamond shapes and refer to our Price Charts. Selecting less popular shapes can be a great way to pull back budget (providing you love them, of course).
In the modern marketplace, most diamonds of significant cost are accompanied by a laboratory grading report. But not all laboratories are the same in their thoroughness or grading accuracy, and this has a bearing on the prices of the diamonds offered. Two of the most reliable laboratories in the world are the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and the American Gem Society Laboratories (AGSL). The cost to have a diamond certified by the GIA or AGLS is reasonable and the best vendors will happily pay this to demonstrate their commitment to consumer transparency. To provide maximum accuracy to our visitors, Pricescope only lists diamonds with reports from GIA and AGSL.
What you need to know: A grading report is essential. In terms of diamond price, it tells you the precise attributes of your diamond and lets you know exactly what you are paying for. There is a misconception among first time buyers that AGSL and GIA diamonds are ‘more expensive’ – this is not true. Any diamond can be submitted to these labs for grading – the difference in price between top tier and lower tier labs is down to the level of analysis. Lenient grades from subpar labs can make you think you’re getting a bargain when really, you’re paying over the odds for a diamond where the true quality is unknown. A reliable diamond report has a positive impact on diamond price! Read more about diamond certification in our guide to diamond grading.
Time to brush up on your economics! Diamond prices are determined by supply and demand in the same way prices for just about everything in a free market is determined. Both supply and demand are subject to many influences.
- Rough diamonds are mined only in a relatively few places on Earth. As many mine sources have been gradually depleted over time and new discoveries have not kept pace, pressure on supply has increased.
- Supply can be intentionally restricted by miners who shut down mines when prices are low, thereby saving costs and not selling their product at abnormally low prices. But mines also have fixed costs and can only afford to hold back production for a limited time.
- Supply is also affected by global events. We have seen a striking example of that in the COVID pandemic which has disrupted everything from mining, to cutting factories, and retail jewelry stores.
- The health of the global economy is a significant factor in the demand for diamonds. Diamonds are a global product treasured by people in virtually every corner of the world. Demand in the major economies (United States, the EU, China and India) has the greatest impact on overall demand.
- Demand is also driven by societal tastes and preferences with new products in the marketplace competing with diamonds for the consumer dollar. Over the last several years diamonds have had significant competition from things like electronics and travel.
- Demand is also propelled by advertising and promotion. Large upstream diamond entities such as mining companies (including DeBeers and others) spend millions of dollars promoting diamonds and diamond jewelry. And retailers do the same downstream, creating interest and desire for diamonds in the consumer market.
The informative, interactive chart below shows diamond price trends over time broken down by size range. Many people ask – is the price of diamonds going down or up? With this chart you can answer that question with a real-time sense of the market. You can select the diamond shape you are interested in learning about from the drop-down box and price data from the system will automatically populate the graph.
The diamond price chart to the left shows price changes for loose diamonds since 2007 for D-I color VVS2-SI2 clarity in several carat ranges from Pricescope diamond comparison listings.
The table above gives you a quick read on size ranges that have recently changed price giving you an up-to-date view of market trends.
» Click to see a larger monthly view of the diamond price chart. Update 9/1/2020.
So, you’ve scrutinised your diamonds, balanced the four c’s, considered diamond price and finally made your purchase. Hopefully you’ll treasure it for the years to come. But those of you looking ahead may be asking yourself, why is diamond resale value so low?
Fortunately, our community of experts have several informative discussions regarding diamond re-sale value and what you can expect should you choose to sell. Our tip is to look for vendors with a strong buy-back or upgrade policy – this offers more assurance than gambling with the second hand market.
If you’re feeling a tad frazzled by your diamond price education, let us offer a little light relief for bewildered diamond buyers. PriceScope has been one of the most important community websites for information and discussion about diamonds for decades. Visitors to the site can get expert guidance from their more experienced peers and can ask questions through our forum of seasoned trade professionals about all things related to diamonds and diamond price. Better still, we host trusted vendors who listed their for-sale diamonds on our site – over the years we have collected and analysed the prices of thousands of diamonds and therefore can offer accurate diamond price data.
Those Diamond Price Charts that we keep mentioning? Well, they allow you to instantly undergo a real diamond search complete with real diamond prices. This user-friendly tool will prove invaluable in your hunt for the perfect diamond, allowing for quick comparisons and easy assessment of average and lowest prices for diamonds. We are here to help!
Diamond pricing is a lengthy subject and with so many factors each playing their part, it’s easy to lose sight of what truly matters to you as a buyer. These three steps serve as a simple tick list, ensuring the best diamond for the best price.
- Quality – Our in-depth guides to cut, color, clarity and carat weight will give you a complete understanding of diamond quality factors. The 4C’s can have a big impact on diamond price, so understanding exactly what you are looking for is the first step towards diamond buying success.
- Certification – The 4C’s have little bearing without a top tier certificate to back them up! Choose GIA or AGSL for accurate, reliable diamond reports.
- Price Charts – our price charts and diamond search are the modern equivalent of shopping around. Vetted, trusted diamond merchants, thousands of diamonds and easy comparison of diamond prices. PriceScope provides guidance from a robust community of diamond enthusiasts and experts on the PriceScope forums; you are sure to hit a home run with your next diamond purchase.