How Much is a 5 Carat Diamond?

When Tom Cruise married Katie Holmes, he gave her a five-carat diamond ring. Inquiring minds have wanted to know how much it cost. We can’t tell you that because we don’t really know. The cost of a five-carat diamond can vary so greatly that there is no one answer to, “How much does a five-carat diamond cost?” Katie and Tom’s included.

While it’s a safe bet to say the Holmes/Cruise engagement ring came in somewhere near the high end of the range, five-carat diamonds can cost anywhere from $9,350 to $147,000 and that’s per carat. That price per carat depends on the quality of the diamond. We judge the quality of any diamond by using the 4C’s: carat, cut, color, and clarity.  We can’t get a rough estimate until the grades are in. The diamonds scoring the highest grades will be worth the most.

However, in recent years, there has been another determinant in the price of five-carat diamonds and that’s how they are made. No matter what the four C’s say, lab-created diamonds are about 30% to 40% cheaper than natural diamonds, primarily because they can be manufactured more easily and are more accessible than diamonds grown in the earth.  In this article, we will discuss:

  • How Natural, Five-Carat Diamonds are Produced
  • How Lab-Created Five-Carat Diamonds are Produced
  • Color of Five Carat Diamonds
  • Clarity of Five Carat Diamonds
  • Cut of Five Carat Diamonds
  • Side by Side Comparison: Lab Created Diamonds vs. Natural Diamonds: Which Is the Better Deal?

How Natural, Five-Carat Diamonds are Produced

Natural five-carat diamonds do not grow on trees, literally and metaphorically.  There are probably only a few hundred existing in the world today, and they grow in the earth, both factors affecting their bottom line.

Diamonds may be the hardest mineral on earth, but even they have a hard time withstanding the extreme conditions required for them to form. The formation of diamonds requires very high temperature and pressure. When diamonds are delivered to the earth’s surface by volcanic eruptions, the chance of them staying in perfect condition is zero. There is no such thing as a perfect diamond, although some come close. The closer the diamonds come to perfection, the more expensive they will be.  

The 4C’s are the measure of how much the diamonds deviate from or keep in perfect form. These are the standards that we judge natural diamonds by and how we determine their prices.

How Lab-Created Diamonds Are Produced

Another factor that drives up the price of natural diamonds is their rarity. Conditions conducive to diamond growth only occur in limited parts of the earth’s mantle. The critical temperature -pressure environments- are found in “diamond stability zones,” which are not present globally. The volcanic eruptions that bring them to the surface have never been witnessed by modern humans. The mere occurrence of a diamond is rare, and the chance that they emerge in perfect condition is even more so. Lab-created diamonds have solved both of these problems.

Lab-created diamonds grow in a kinder gentler environment, where the conditions for diamond growth can be easily produced. The CVD, (Chemical Vapor Deposition) method involves placing diamond seeds in a growth chamber using superheated gases instead of high pressure. New technologies make the conditions for diamond growth less limited and more efficient than the natural process. We’ll take a look at how that plays out in terms of diamond price.

Color of Five Carat Diamonds

When diamonds are formed under the earth, gases and impurities leak in, leaving a diamond with a slightly yellow color. Those with the least amount of color are considered the most valuable. While diamond color has a noticeable effect on the price of a diamond, it is not always so noticeable to the naked eye. The GIA Color Grading System is the final word on color grading. It helps consumers determine the color quality of their diamonds so they know what they are paying for.

Diamond color is graded by the GIA Color Grading System on a scale from D-Z. D represents a colorless diamond. As the alphabet goes up, so too does the amount of color in a diamond. D-F diamonds are those considered colorless and fetch the highest prices. As the diamonds increase to the letter Z, they begin to show a light yellow or brown. These are the least valuable and will be priced accordingly.  

Knowing the color grade of a five-carat diamond is one of the keys in determining its price.

In the case of lab-created diamonds, the technology is so advanced that even colorless diamonds can be manufactured cheaply and efficiently. Lab creation is another key to determining the price of a diamond, and with the frequency in which a colorless lab-created diamond can be produced, it can be priced more affordable than a natural one.

Clarity of Five Carat Diamonds

Clarity refers to the flaws or absence of flaws in a diamond. When natural diamonds form, the extreme conditions can mark its appearance, leaving internal (inclusions) or external (blemishes) birthmarks. Diamonds without these birthmarks are few and far between. In fact, there is no such thing as a perfect diamond, although there are some that come close.

The GIA Clarity Scale grades diamonds according to the number of imperfections, or flaws, that the diamond has and the degree to which it affects the diamond’s appearance. This also affects the price of a diamond.

When a diamond has no inclusions or blemishes visible under 10x magnification, the diamond is considered Flawless (FL). Flawless diamonds are the most valuable and the highest in price. Most diamonds fall into the VS (Very slightly included) or SI (slightly included) categories. Included diamonds (I) have obvious inclusions and can be found for a much lower rate.

Recent innovations in lab-created diamonds can make even flawless diamonds affordable. Today, Flawless, lab-created diamonds can be made so close to natural diamonds that even experienced jewelers have a hard time distinguishing one from another; the only difference visible to the human eye is the price. Flawless, lab-created diamonds can be found at a significantly lower price than their natural counterparts.

Cut of Five-Carat Diamonds

Although color and clarity are important in a diamond, a good cut can trump both of them. Cut is what gives the diamond its, “wow” factor. A well-cut diamond interacts with light to reflect the optimal amount of light to the viewer’s eye. Cut is what gives diamonds the sparkle and fire that they are so highly prized for.

The GIA Cut Grading System has five grades: Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair, and Poor. Excellent diamonds show an even contrast between light and dark, maximizing the balance of light. Poor cut diamonds have more areas of dullness and dark spots which cause the diamond to lack luster.

A well-cut diamond can not only increase the value of a diamond, but it can also actually hide flaws and color imperfections, which can compensate for low clarity and color grades. Some argue that cut is the most important, “C” in a diamond.

Side by Side Comparison: Lab-Created Diamonds vs. Natural Diamonds: Which is the better deal?

So, now that you have a little diamond education, it’s time to shop for your diamond. Luckily, we’ve given you a little sneak preview. Here’s an idea of what you will find when you compare a natural, five-carat diamond with a lab-created one.

In one corner, we have a five-carat, natural diamond from Ritani. Its color grade is G (near colorless)  Its clarity grade is VS1 (Very slightly included) its cut is Ideal. Overall, a fairly high-quality diamond.

In the other corner, we have a five-carat, lab-created diamond from Brilliant Earth.

Its color grade is D (colorless). Its clarity grade is VS1 (very slightly included.) It’s cut is super ideal. Another high-quality diamond, even a little higher in quality than the natural one.

The price? The natural diamond is $111,207. The lab created diamond is $78,660. In short, we have a hands-down winner when it comes to price and quality.

Would you be able to tell if Tom and Katie’s five-carat diamond was lab-created? Would you consider going lab-created on your five-carat diamond now that you know how much money it can save you?


Leave a Comment: