Being able to visualize the size of a diamond is a true skill, and can take years of training to accurately learn how a diamond will look and feel as it relates to its cut, clarity, color, and carat weight (the 4Cs). So, when it comes to engagement ring shopping, finding the perfect ring can easily get overwhelming, especially if you're looking for something that's of quality and at an affordable price.
Even if you understand the basic foundations of a diamond, though, one question that still may come to mind is: How will the diamond look on my (or my partner's) hand? There's a vast majority of styles, shapes, and colors available today, and one size does not fit all when it comes to this precious stone. It may seem strange, but a two-carat ring may look larger than a three-carat ring depending on the specific cut a jeweler decides to make.
That's why, we tapped luxury jewelry designer and diamond expert, Stephanie Gottlieb, to help provide a visual guide on what diamonds look like from one to five carats. She also offers a few tips on how to visually enhance the size of a diamond without increasing your engagement ring budget.
Meet the Expert
Stephanie Gottlieb is a luxury jewelry designer and diamond expert known for her unique and bespoke pieces. She is the founder of the popcorn-cut diamond engagement ring (among other styles) and has created pieces for celebrities, including Britney Spears and Sam Asghari's wedding bands.
The Most Popular Diamond Cuts
In general, two key factors that affect the immediate appearance of a diamond are its cut and carat size. There are several ways to cut a stone (many jewelers tend to get creative), but in total, the most popular diamond cuts are round, emerald, oval, radiant, Asscher, cushion, princess, pear, heart, and marquise. Each cut is representative of a certain style and aesthetic, so it's important to understand how these shapes will look at different carat sizes. Gottlieb notes, "what’s most important is identifying the shape that feels best on your hand, and figuring out a size that feels appropriate for you."
"Round diamonds tend to feel consistently larger than other diamond shapes of the same carat weight. In sizes under one carat, you will find the most value in a round diamond," shares Gottlieb. Let that sink in! This diamond cut will give you a "bang for your buck" in terms of how it will look at first glance. Round cuts are a classic shape known to catch the light, which results in more sparkly and eye-catching pieces. Their shape also contributes to their versatility, making this style a great choice for most engagement ring settings.
Emerald-cut diamonds are stones that have a rectangular shape, cut corners, and large facets that lie parallel to each other. These diamonds are tremendously popular—with celebrities like Beyoncé and Victoria Beckham sporting this style—and are a great option for those who'd like to maximize the appearance of their engagement ring. As shown in the above visual, emerald-cut stones, ranging from one carat to five carats, will look significantly large on anyone's finger due to their elongated shape.
Similar to an emerald cut stone, an oval diamond is an eye-catching shape that is slightly elongated, and perfect for those with classic and timeless aesthetics. What's more, oval cuts don't adhere to standard dimensions, and each diamond will be unique and personal to suit your individual preferences. Some ovals can be long and thin, while others can be wide and short. As shown above, the proportions of the diamonds fluctuate as the carat size increases, so it's important to keep that in mind when deciding on the overall size and weight you'd like to have.
When it comes to non-traditional diamond shapes, Gottlieb is an expert. She's known for her unique diamond creations including the first-ever popcorn-cut diamond engagement ring. She also produces numerous heart, marquise, and pear-shaped diamonds, which are all popular cuts in many of her signature designs. According to the jeweler, "as the stones get larger, some of the more obscure cuts like the marquise and pear will have greater value for the purchaser. Both shapes tend to look much larger than others due to their elongated shapes."
How to Make a Diamond Appear Bigger
Now that you've fully seen the impact a cut has on the size of a diamond, your next step is to determine your budget and figure out how that will affect your stone of choice. Gottlieb advises that when it comes to budgeting for your engagement ring, it's important to hone in on one or two of the 4Cs that are most important to you. "If you’re willing to sacrifice a bit on the color and clarity, you will be able to allocate your budget on a larger carat weight. And vice versa, if the quality is very important to you, the dollars will be spent there and the size will be sacrificed," she shares.
However, we understand that not everyone is able to afford a ring over one or two carats, no matter how they've budgeted around the 4Cs. If you're looking for an affordable style, that looks expensive, your first course of action is to focus on diamonds with long dimensions. "For example, cushion cuts are known to have smaller measurements because the cut is generally deeper, so more of the carat weight is in the depth, rather than in the spread across the top of the stone," shares Gottlieb. "Marquise and pear shape diamonds look particularly large because their measurements are spread throughout the length of the shape."
Gottlieb also advises that bezel settings, halo designs, and three-stone rings are great options that allow a diamond to pop and appear bigger in an engagement ring. However, no matter the diamond route you choose to take, remember that an engagement ring is a celebration of love, and emphasis should be placed on its significance rather than the overall look.