Should you buy a 1 carat diamond engagement ring or splash out on 2 carats?

We compare the wow factor, size, sparkle and, most importantly, prices of 1 carat vs 2 carat diamonds.

The visual difference between a 1 carat diamond engagement ring and 2 carat diamond engagement ring

The celebrities flashing their huge rocks all over Instagram may not agree, but when it comes to diamond engagement rings, we're firmly of the belief that size isn't everything. If forced to choose between a smaller 1 carat diamond engagement ring with amazing colour and clarity and a larger 2 carat with less sparkle and more inclusions, I would always plump for the former.

Boost the wow factor

But if your budget allows, upping the carat weight of a good-quality diamond will dramatically increase the wow factor as well as the value of the ring. To illustrate this, we have placed pictures of a 1 carat diamond engagement ring and 2 carat diamond engagement ring side by side. While the 2 carat diamond doesn't look double the size, it will give off substantially more sparkle than its smaller sibling.

1 carat vs. 2 carat: weighing up the cost

Aura 2 carat diamond engagement ring
With the De Beers Aura 2 carat diamond ring, 50 per cent more of the diamond is visible than in a 1 carat version (£29,500).

It's true that doubling the size of the diamond will more than double the cost, but let's look at how the numbers stack up. According to David Marshall, managing and creative director of London's David Marshall jewellery, in terms of measurements, a 1 carat round brilliant-cut diamond is about 6.4mm in diameter, while a 2 carat round brilliant-cut diamond is around 8.1mm. That may not sound like a huge difference but, as David points out: "Although the stone is only 1.7mm bigger in diameter, when mounted into a ring, a 2 carat stone will have a much bigger visual effect."

If you look at the surface area, the 1 carat diamond engagement ring measures around 33mm2 compared to more than 52mm2 for the 2 carat diamond engagement ring. In other words, when flashing your ring, people will see 50% more diamond with the 2 carat diamond ring.

In terms of cost, David says that a 2 carat GIA-certified round brilliant diamond of G colour, VS1 clarity, with "Triple Excellent" grading for cut, polish and symmetry, would cost almost four times as much as a 1 carat diamond engagement ring of the same quality. "This is due to the fact that the larger stone is rare to find, especially when they are of such high quality," he explains.

Consider your diamond cut

1 carat diamond Tiffany setting engagement ring
The pure, clean lines of the Tiffany Setting diamond engagement ring shows the difference between a 1 carat diamond and 2 carat diamond (1ct rings are priced from £10,300 and 2ct from £33,000).

The size difference between a 1 carat and 2 carat diamond engagement ring is less noticeable for fancy-shaped diamond cuts such as the heart, marquise or pear, as the weight of the diamond is spread evenly over the whole surface. With flatter stones, like the cushion cut, there is a more marked visual difference - as you can see from the rings in our picture gallery. 

For any men out there who are baulking at the cost of a 2 carat diamond engagement ring, it is worth bearing in mind the current trend for upgrading engagement rings after a few years. If you can afford the initial outlay, you may find that it is actually more cost effective in the long run to opt for the larger gemstone from the start. 


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