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When you consider a diamond purchase, your first thoughts often run to the size and the carat weight. However, this could be the point at which you make a rookie error. There a number of points to consider, not least the fundamental and often misconstrued fact: carat weight doesn’t necessarily accurately indicate a diamond’s size. There are some basic physics coming in to play here: just because of diamond is heavier, and therefore comes with a higher carat weight, does not mean that it will actually look bigger. Diamond sizes on hands themselves require a more detailed understanding.
The overall look of a diamond is affected by many different things, far beyond the scope of this article, but definitely worth getting to grips with. However, one important factor is that the physical dimensions of the diamond look different according to how they are proportioned. This affects diamond size comparison. This means that cut, for example really matters to the final look in many ways, but crucially in terms of size. Therefore, the carat size on the finger may be the same, but with a shallower cut will look larger.
This is my main reason for urging you to not only consider the carat weight of a diamond, but the diamond sizes on hands. Theory versus practice.
However, it gets a little more complicated than this. It’s not a straightforward case of opting for a shallower diamond to maximize the look of the carat size on the finger. There is far more at stake in the cut of a diamond than this, and indeed, making the diamond look either too large or too small for its carat weight simply will show itself as a poor cut. You’ll compromise elsewhere, notably with the brilliance.
Diamonds are measured in carats whereby one carat is equivalent to 200mg. Larger diamonds, before being cut (rough) are considerably less common. Hence, prices increase notably according to carats.
Carat weight and cut are two of the 4 C’s you’ll hear me talking about frequently: carat; cut; color; clarity. In an ideal world you shouldn’t be compromising on any of these. However, in the real world, rarely is that the case. You often have to sacrifice one element to improve another. Where people tend to make that sacrifice is in an attempt to get best bang for their buck on carat size on finger, they jeopardize the quality of the cut. My advice is this: don’t ever sacrifice cut for size. It’s a fool’s game.
Hopefully you’re now understand some of the complexity here when it comes to diamond size comparison. However, if the carat size on the finger is important to you, as it is to many, there are some tricks and steps to help you achieve what you want.
We’ve established that you shouldn’t opt for a poorer cut. Out of the 4 C’s that should be non-negotiable. However, you can opt for an exceptional cut with a lower grade clarity rating, for example SI1-2. This way you’ll get a bigger diamond, excellent cut, and to the naked eye be unlikely to be able to tell the difference. The other one of the C’s you can play with is the color. Again, to the naked eye there’s very little difference between a G colored diamond compared with a D in the way they look in a ring.
Then there are some handy tricks of the eye we can use as well: This is when you want to consider the ring setting. A halo design, for example, whereby the center stone is ringed with smaller diamonds, elevates the mind’s belief of size. It makes the center diamond look bigger on the finger. Similarly, a more delicate setting with thinner shanks and metalworking will again make the diamond appear larger.
However, is bigger always better?
Whilst it’s easy to think bigger equals better this isn’t always true to terms of the wearer and the overall look. Not everyone can carry off wearing grandiose jewelry. On the other hand, larger hands will require larger jewelry in order for the diamonds not to be ‘lost’ or appear smaller. Therefore, you should not just consider how to maximize the look of the diamond, but whether you need or want to.
If you want to be sure of maximizing the size for the carat weight and cost then you can also play a numbers game. This is called ‘buying shy’. With diamond pricing, you’ll notice that prices increase at every 10th decimal mark on carat weights, e.g. 0.50 to 0.60. However, they really jump at the quarter marks, e.g. from 0.75 to 1.00. So, you want to be buying ‘just shy’ of the next jump in to get best bang for your buck. In this way, two stones may have comparable cut, color and clarity grades, yet be noticeably different values.