How Much is a 1 Carat Diamond?

What is the cost of a one carat diamond? Sounds like a simple question, but diamonds are complex, and there isn’t much simple about them, their cost included.

The short answer is that a natural one carat diamond can run anywhere between $1,500 and $12,000. If it sounds like a pretty big difference, that’s because it is. It’s why diamonds are so hard to evaluate. Their price doesn’t just depend on their size. There are a lot of quality factors that affect the price of the diamond as well.

While the price of a diamond is rather unpredictable, however, there is one thing you can be sure of: no matter how much the price of a natural one carat diamond is, a lab created diamond of the same quality will always be cheaper. A lab created, one-carat diamond ranges anywhere between $800 and $10,000. While you may be able to find a natural diamond at a comparable cost, the discrepancies will be apparent. In this article, we will discuss:

  • The 4Cs
  • Color of Lab Created and Natural 1.00 Carat Diamonds
  • Clarity of Lab Created and Natural 1.00 Carat Diamonds
  • Cut of Lab Created and Natural 1.00 Carat Diamonds
  • A Side by Side Comparison: Which is the Better Value?

The 4Cs

In diamond terms, the 4cs refer to the color, cut, clarity, and carat of a diamond. These are all factors in determining the value of a diamond. Since we already know our carat weight, we’ll skip that for now. In the meanwhile, let’s have a look at the other 3.

Color of Lab Created and Natural 1.00 Carat Diamonds

As the name suggests, color refers to the color of a diamond. Most of us think of diamonds as transparent, but in truth, many of them carry a slight yellow tinge, which makes them less valuable. The yellow tinge comes from the presence of nitrogen in a diamond. It seeps in while the diamond forms.

The GIA Color Grading Chart rates diamonds on a scale from D-Z. A diamond with a rating of D-F are colorless or near colorless, very rare and are worth the most.

G and H diamonds are near colorless, and in the right setting, may appear to be completely void of color. As the alphabet continues, the lower the color grade, the more noticeable the yellow hue, and the lower the price.

In the case of lab created diamonds, the growth occurs in a controlled environment. With new technologies, the nitrogen can be filtered out during the process rendering the diamond nearly colorless. Since lab created diamonds can be made so cheaply, a colorless one-carat, lab created diamond may be comparable in price to a one-carat, natural diamond yet of higher quality.

Clarity of Lab Created and Natural 1.00 Carat Diamonds

When diamonds are formed in the earth, they are subjected to extreme heat and pressure. As a result, many contain birthmarks or, “inclusions,” lowering the value of a diamond. Clarity refers to the degree of which these imperfections can be seen, and how they affect the angle of light going through the diamond. Diamonds with many inclusions tend to shine less and exhibit less brilliance.

The GIA rates diamond clarity on a scale from Flawless to Included. Flawless (FL) diamonds have no inclusions visible under 10x on the jeweler’s loupe. VVS 1 and 2 are the very very slightly included diamonds (VVS) and have very minor inclusions. VS are the very slightly included. Any diamonds that rates below this (SI, slightly included, or I, included) are considered undesirable and are often not seen on the commercial diamond market due to lack of consumer interest.  

As you may expect, the clarity of the diamond also affects the price, which is another reason why the cost of a one-carat diamond is so hard to pinpoint.

With the advances in the lab created growth method, diamonds can be treated to minimize flaws, making them virtually impossible to distinguish from their natural counterparts. Therefore, a flawless one-carat lab created diamond will cost far less than a natural diamond, further complicating matters.

Cut of Lab Created and Natural 1.00 Carat Diamond

Cut is sort of the great equalizer when it comes to diamonds. The right cut can hide a multitude of sins. If a diamond is cut correctly, the appearance of inclusions and yellowing can be made less obvious. Of the 4 Cs, it is the most difficult to analyze.

Although we usually associate a diamond cut with its shape (pear, marquise, round, princess, etc.), it actually has more to do with how well the facets interact with the light. A diamond with an even distribution of light and dark facets will exhibit the most brilliance, fire, and scintillation. These are the proportions associated with evaluating how well a diamond is cut.

The quality of a cut of a diamond also affects the cost, in both lab created and natural diamonds.

Side by Side Comparison: Which Is the Better Value?

In order to fully understand the difference in price between a one-carat and natural diamond, let’s look at a side by side comparison.

Take, for instance a one-carat, natural Blue Nile Diamond. It’s everything you would want in a diamond. Its round shaped, the cut is Ideal. It rates a VS1 in clarity and an E in color. The going price is $8,006. Blue Nile is a trustworthy company, and this is a fair price for a diamond of this quality.

However, now let’s look at a one carat Brilliant Earth Lab Created Diamond. It too is round in shape, it is GIA certified, the cut is Super Ideal, and the color is D. It rates higher than the Ritani in cut and color, yet the price is significantly lower. The lab created diamond will run you $5600.  That’s a savings of about 30% for a diamond of slightly higher quality. You’re not likely to find a natural diamond of this quality at this price.

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