Choosing a carat weight for your oval diamond ring is a very personal choice, but there are certain weights that are more popular and coveted. If you’re considering a 1, 2, or 3 carat oval diamond, it’s important to be able to balance your budget, style, and expectations. In this guide, we’ll break down how carat weight affects oval diamond sizes, price, and setting, and our best tips for finding the perfect oval diamond ring.
Comparing 1, 2 and 3 Carat Oval Diamonds
What to Look for with Oval Diamonds + The Importance of Ratio
Oval diamonds have been growing in popularity for very good reasons. They are beautiful alternatives to round diamonds, offering a more affordable price without losing any of the sparkly brilliance. A unique shape with a classic and timeless feel, oval diamonds are a beautiful choice for a ring.
One particular reason oval diamonds are so desirable is their length to width ratio and increased surface area due to their shallower cut. This means they look bigger than other diamonds of the same carat weight. When it comes to how the ratio affects appearance, they’ll span from wider, squatter ovals to thinner, elongated ovals.
The length to width ratio for an oval cut generally spans from 1.34 to 1.42, and if you look hard enough, you may find shorter ratios like 1.28 and much more elongated ones like 1.6 or higher (also known as a moval cut - a cross between marquise and oval). An elongated oval will appear thin and long, almost like a marquise cut, and be closer to the 1.66 ratio. A wider oval will appear squatter and fuller, like a stretched out round cut, and be closer to the 1.3 ratio. An ideal ratio for oval diamonds is generally considered to be 1.4.
Ratio is an important aspect of how oval diamonds are priced on top of the standard considerations of the diamond 4Cs. If all else is equal, an oval diamond that is close to the ideal proportion of 1.40 will be priced higher than an oval diamond sitting nearer to either end of the ratio spectrum.
Although there is an ideal ratio for the industry, the variety of shapes and sizes of oval diamonds allows for making a personal choice about preference. As with other elongated shapes like pear, marquise and emerald, they will have a lengthening effect when on the hand. So for those with shorter or wider fingers, a more elongated oval diamond will create a lengthening look. Likewise, for those with longer or thinner fingers, a more rounded oval may be more appealing to not enhance the length.
1 Carat vs. 2 Carat Oval Diamonds
A 1 carat diamond ring is one of the most popular carat sizes for an engagement ring, and 1 carat oval diamonds are widely available. One carat is a standard carat size cut that is in high demand in the market, so you will always be able to find a variety of 1 carat oval diamonds from which to choose.
A 2 carat oval diamond will be a different story. As diamonds increase in size, they become more rare. This is simply because it is difficult to find diamond rough that is large and of such high quality throughout that during the cutting, a large quality diamond can be created.
The biggest difference between a 1 carat and 2 carat oval diamond when the 4Cs are equal will be the price. This is going to be the case with every diamond because they’re priced per carat with a bigger jump in price with each whole carat added. Doubling the carat size of a diamond will likely quadruple the cost depending on the quality of the diamond, if not more.
As with all diamonds, there are compromises you can make based on your priorities. For instance, a natural 1 carat oval, D color, VVS2 clarity diamond will go for around $6,500. To obtain a 2 carat diamond with the same budget, one would need to go down in quality to an M color, SI1 clarity, which would be a visibly colored diamond.
Below, compare a 2 carat, M color, SI1 clarity oval diamond and a 1 carat, D color, VVS2 clarity oval diamond (which is much too high in quality grade for most clients):
2 carat, M color, SI1 clarity oval diamond
1 carat, D color, VVS2 clarity oval diamond
In reality, for the majority of clients purchasing a natural 1 carat, F color, VS2 clarity oval diamond for the going rate of about $5,000, one would need to go much much lower in color and clarity to increase the size to 2 carat for the same price.
Perhaps a more realistic comparison would be a 1 carat, F color, VS2 clarity oval diamond versus a 1.2 carat, I color, SI1 clarity oval diamond. In this scenario, the quality difference isn’t so dramatic, and the I color, SI1 clarity is still acceptable to many clients especially if the diamond is being set into yellow or rose gold, and then the SI1 clarity is still considered eye clean.
Now these comparisons apply to natural diamonds. For lab grown diamonds, the price between a D/E color is only about 15-20% higher than an H color, which is why we always recommend the D to F color range when it comes to lab grown - because you visibly get much more in quality compared to the increase in cost.
Lastly, since carat size refers to the weight of the diamond and not its millimeter measurements, a 2 carat oval diamond will not measure twice the size of a 1 carat oval diamond. When moving up by a carat, the surface area - the visible top part of the diamond - will increase by about 50 percent.
2 Carat vs. 3 Carat Oval Diamonds
Just as with the case above, when you go up in carat size, the availability of a high quality oval diamond is going to sharply decrease and the rarity will go way up. These circumstances will always be reflected in the price. And even though a 3 carat oval diamond may be lower in quality than a 2 carat oval diamond it's compared against, the 3 carat will likely always cost more because there’s simply more diamond.
When making an investment of this kind with a 2 carat and especially a 3 carat oval diamond, a good cut is going to make all of the difference for how the diamond will look. A well-cut diamond will allow for optimum light reflection, making the most of every facet, sparkling from every angle and helping to disguise imperfections and any color.
Comparing the look of a 2 carat oval diamond and a 3 carat oval diamond does have a slightly different effect than seeing a 1 and 2 carat. A 3 carat oval diamond is a significant size on the hand. Also, because it’s much rarer, we simply aren’t used to seeing them as much, so they leave an even greater impression.
The cost of a diamond is calculated as price per carat. The price per carat also increases with each jump in whole weight. Price is established industry-wide through a consideration of carat, clarity and color together with the Rappaport List - an international benchmark used by dealers to establish accepted diamond prices in all major markets that’s updated weekly. But this is just the baseline starting point for understanding how carat size affects diamond prices.
Carat size will give you a ballpark for where you can expect a certain size diamond to fall on price. Then, all the other quality attributes including cut, color, and clarity are taken into consideration to reach a diamond’s price. So while carat size is a main indicator, the “overall look” of the diamond will be the final judgment for price.
When considering a 1, 2 or 3 carat oval diamond, certain features should hold more sway in your decision making to reach the best outcome. In all instances, a high quality cut is going to go a long way in elevating lesser quality attributes. A great cut can help diminish the appearance of imperfections or some color simply by allowing for maximum light reflection.
Following the cut, different people will have personal preferences about prioritizing color and clarity. Getting a better quality grade becomes more important the larger the carat size since there is just more diamond to be seen and thus more difficult to hide blemishes. Color is very difficult to distinguish by the naked eye between grades, but it can have a big impact on price, so this may be one attribute to compromise as a cost-saving move.
In general, we think brilliance and size are the two most important factors, and color and clarity are secondary. For Clarity, our minimum standard is an ‘eye clean’ stone, which means the diamond looks perfect to the naked eye. That being said, if one wishes to really stretch one’s budget for size, going lower than the ‘eye clean’ standard would not be obvious to someone looking from three feet away. For Color, we generally seek a ‘colorless’ diamond, and this benchmark changes depending on the color of your setting. Against a stark white platinum or white gold setting, subtle body color in the diamond is more obvious; therefore if your setting is in yellow or rose gold, you have more flexibility to choose a lower color diamond while still maintaining a ‘colorless’ standard.
Using Non-Full Carat Sizes to Your Advantage
Since full carat sizes are where major jumps in price are implemented, it’s often a good strategy to consider buying just shy of a carat. It is practically impossible to visually discern a size difference between a 1.90, 1.96 or 2 carat oval diamond. And by saving on the full carat size, you can opt for better quality grades in the smaller diamond without sacrificing on the size and making a quality investment.
Similar to buying just shy of a carat, purchasing at the quarter, half, or three-quarter carat sizes can have the same visual impact you were hoping for with the larger full carat size. Some people may find that a 1.50 carat oval diamond is the perfect size for their finger when before they had only wanted to consider a 2 carat. When you open your options to these considerations, there is substantial money that can be saved without sacrificing on the beauty of the oval diamond.
How to Maximize Appearance With Your Setting
There are certain surefire ways to set a diamond so that it will appear bigger. One of the most popular ways is through a halo setting. As you can see with our Dianara, a small ring of diamonds around the center stone not only adds sparkle, but also contributes to the interpretation of size.
Similar to what you accomplish with the look of a halo setting, using a three-stone setting will add additional sparkle as well as an increased look in size by drawing the eye outward along the band. We employ this look combined with a halo setting in our Alice.
Aside from adding more diamonds, there are also design techniques that will force the eye to view the stone as larger. A thinner band and thinner prongs that hold the stone in its setting will make the eye see the stone as larger in comparison. And a split band will draw the eye to the length of the oval, making it appear more substantial, as you can see with our Alisa.
At the end of the day, it’s hard to go wrong with a 1, 2 or 3 carat oval diamond when you approach finding your perfect stone with the preferences ideal to you and your budget. Our best advice is always to experience the stones in person and gain professional advice so you walk away with the diamond of your dreams!
Dianara: oval halo engagement ring
Alice: three stone halo oval diamond ring
Dierdra: Tapered band oval diamond ring
Alisa: split shank oval diamond ring