Diamond prices can vary wildly depending on the characteristics of the stones. Some diamonds can cost tens of thousands of dollars, whereas others can be sold for several hundred dollars. Let’s take a closer look at how much different types of diamonds cost and learn more about what drives their prices.
What Determines the Price of a Diamond?
How much a diamond costs depends on its carat weight and quality, which is measured mainly by the stone’s color, clarity, and cut.
In general, the rarer a diamond’s characteristic, the more valuable it is.
For example, whiter diamonds are more expensive than those that have yellowish tints because it is rare to find a diamond that is perfectly or nearly colorless.
Similarly, clean-looking diamonds are harder to find than stones with visible flaws, and thus high-clarity stones sell at a premium.
Unlike color and clarity, cut is a diamond characteristic that is not natural – it refers to the proportions with which a stone is cut by a jeweler at the time it is polished.
There are proportions that are considered ideal for a round diamond, as they maximize its brilliance, and the closer a stone is to this benchmark, the more highly its cut is rated.
Carat is a measure of how much a diamond weighs, and one carat (1 ct) is equal to 200 milligrams. All else being equal, bigger diamonds cost more per carat as they are rarer.
In sum, the whiter, cleaner, bigger, and better-cut a diamond, the more expensive it is.
How Much Do Top-Quality Diamonds Cost?
Diamonds whose color, clarity, and cut are at the top of the grading scale can be very expensive.
For example, a 1-carat stone that has the best color (grade D), top clarity (grade IF), and a cut graded “Ideal” or “Excellent” can cost more than $20,000.
However, a similar stone but with a carat weight of about 0.70-0.75 carats can cost you around $7,000-$8,000. An even smaller stone of about 0.50 carats can be found for about $4,000.
You may be able to find a very decent-looking stone (F color, VVS2 clarity, Very Good cut) for about $2,000 for a 0.50-carat diamond; a diamond of the same quality but weighing around 1 carat would cost you in the $7,000-11,000 range.
Keep in mind that these prices and ranges can change over time, and a relatively small variation in a single quality characteristic can push the price up or down by hundreds of dollars.
How Cheap Are Low-Quality Diamonds?
Low-quality diamonds, i.e., stones with clarity graded I (Included) or lower, color with a grade lower than J, and a cut grade that is “Fair” or lower can be found for less than $1,000-$2,000 (for stones that weigh 1 carat or less).
You can find some pretty big stones in this quality range that are quite cheap, but it is doubtful whether such diamonds are worth the money.
Low-quality stones will usually look tinted and have visible flaws, and their brilliance will be very low due to their poor cut.
How Much Do Best-Value Diamonds Cost?
Diamonds that are the best value are stones that are not of the best color or clarity but still look fairly colorless and clean to the naked eye.
Someone untrained in gemology would have a hard time distinguishing between such a stone and one of the highest quality, unless the two diamonds are put next to each other.
As an example, a 1-carat diamond with SI2 clarity, J color, and a Very Good cut can look reasonably white and clean when viewed from the top, and would cost you around $4,000-$5,000.
A diamond of the same weight but slightly better quality (H-I color, VS2-SI1 clarity) can be found for $5,000-$7,000.
An even better 1-carat stone, with G color and VS1 clarity, would be around $7,000-$10,000.
However, it is doubtful whether it is worth it to go that high or even higher on the quality scale, as you might not be able to see a visible difference compared to stones with H-I color and clarity in the VS2-SI1 range.
Where to Buy Diamonds and Diamond Jewelry?
For diamond jewelry, we highly recommend James Allen because it shows real photos and videos for each diamond so you can take a 360-degree look at any stone before buying it.
For colored diamonds, we recommend Leibish & Co., which specializes in fancy color diamonds (use code JewelryNotes200 at checkout to get a 5% discount).