Big and Beautiful - A Buyers Guide For 5 Carat Diamonds
You want flashy. You want the bling. You want the neck-breaking head turns and ooh’s and aah’s- you want a 5 carat diamond. That’s the only answer to your diamond desires. Hopefully you’ve also seen the price tag and know that’s a (somehow) reasonable ask for your wallet. But with a diamond of that size, there's some things you must educate yourself with first, before you fork over the cash and end up with a bummer of a rock. Just because it's big, doesn’t mean it's always better (yes… contrary to most men’s beliefs. Us ladies know. Oh, we know…). We’re going to get into the nitty-gritty of these big-carat beauties and learn what to look for in a worthy one, and why they have the price-tag they do.
Note: Before you start reading expecting a short and sweet two-paragraph article on 5 carats, know this one has lots of info to it. It’s worth the time, I promise. You’re making a huge financial and emotional investment, so read on and you’ll learn all there is to know about finding your dream 5 carat.
Okay, cue theme-song music, let's go!
Whenever you are in the market for diamonds you always have to keep the 4C’s in mind - Cut, Clarity, Color and Carat. We already know what carat we’re in the market for, and with a diamond this large, clarity is really going to be the key ingredient we need to make sure is as perfect as we can control. Color is also going to play a big part because since it's a big stone, it will be easier to tell if the color is lower on the grading scale (more yellow than clear).
Key here is the lack of inclusions. Those are the dark, or smudgy cloudy spots in the diamond you can see and are a total bummer. In smaller diamonds, it's harder to see because, well, there's less diamond there to be included. Big, obvious specs of carbon trapped internally are going to show up as dark spots. There’s a long list of inclusions that can be possible but these are usually the most obvious of the bunch. There are also clouds (groups of tiny inclusions that cause a hazy appearance) and feathers (cracks internally in the stone). These are all on our list of what to NOT have front-and-center in our big 5 carat bff.
There are grades a diamond will receive for both clarity and color. This ranges from I3 (included to the third degree, i.e. lots of inclusions) to VS (very slight, usually these are mostly eye-clean, not too obvious inclusions) to IF (internally flawless, nothing but diamond in these guys, they are literally internally perfect). Internally flawless stones are very rare, and most veteran jewelers haven’t even had the chance to see one of these glorious gems in person.
Rule of thumb, even if the diamond has a clarity grade that’s not IF, as long as you can’t see the inclusions at first glance, or if they are hidden by other facet reflections (this is what eye-clean means) you’re good. This diamond is not going to be cheap and expecting to find one that is flawless is not impossible, but that price is going to sky-rocket because they are so rare. We’ll talk about sticker shock in a little bit, let's get into the fun stuff first!
So obviously here at Rare Carat, diamonds are what we do. So we’ll be using our awesome search tool to find some examples. We did a search for a RB (round brilliant in SI grade first to give you a good versus bad comparison.
These are great examples because the one on the left may have a carbon inclusion in the table, but there are more distracting feathers and twinning wisps on the one on the right. This is just to show you that a diamond may have the same clarity grade but one can be better than the other.
Here we have two RB's. On the left we have a VS1 included, and on the left is a flawless grade diamond. While technically the VS1 has a lower clarity grade than the flawless, you can't at first glance see anything. So this is where you can do some searching and find yourself a stone that is eye-clean but more affordable.
A giant Emerald (rectangle) cut diamond is what every girl needs. It screams art-deco vintage and has its own kind of class and elegance to it. It matches everything. This is an incredible cut for a 5 carat, however, it is sometimes not an easy task to find one that has a good clarity grade. The issue with emerald cut diamonds is the long, chiseled facets that create the breath-taking effect called “the hall of mirrors” which shows the facet reflections bouncing off each other into infinity it seems. Which is great and amazing, but this causes an inclusion present to be SUPER obvious.
Like showing up to a costume party as an inflatable T-rex… only to find out that the work party was just business casual… Like THAT kind of obvious.
These facets give you an almost totally unobstructed view into the diamond. If you’re looking for an emerald, you really need to spend the extra time and money finding one with a very good clarity grade. Heed my words of wisdom here people- don’t be T-rex guy.
Classy and understated but still a little fancy. This is a timeless cut that is great for a large 5 carat diamond. You’ll have great brilliance and fire (flashes of color) to be in awe of with an oval cut. Inclusions are not going to be quite as much of a pain as in an emerald, because of the way the facets are cut there is a lot of refraction (reflection) that diamond cutters can use to help hide them. That doesn’t mean an oval is the perfect cut for an imperfect stone, there are things we have to watch out for with them too.
There is an occurrence called the “bow-tie” effect. Now, this may sound classy and debonair, but sometimes it can be a bad distraction in an otherwise great diamond. This comes from how the stone is cut- there are more facets on the outer, skinner parts of the oval than in the very middle. This can create a shadow effect that looks like two triangles pointy-ends together in the middle that are darker than the rest of the stone. Due to the lack of facets, equaling less light refraction, causing the shadow. Science. While this is usually not too much of a deal, some diamonds have it more profoundly than others. And with a diamond this big, everything becomes more obvious.
Color is also something else you want to watch for - ovals are notorious for lower color grades to be more noticeable. So just keep that in mind. If you are setting the stone in yellow gold, a lower color grade is not going to be as distracting because your eye will already be drawn to the gold and not notice a non-white diamond.
Notice the very obvious color difference here. Now, this is a very dramatic comparison, and most of the time you won't go past a K color grade because it starts to become noticeable the farther you go.
Sassy, timeless and an overall just plain clean looking cut. A princess diamond will be a very sharp-cornered square, creating the very iconic cut. Similar to a RB or oval, this cut has tons of facets for inclusions to hide behind, however you gotta watch out for the table. That is the very top part of the diamond that lets you see directly into it. If there are any spots here, they will be very noticeable. Princess cuts have a larger table than some other cuts, so it's easier to see inclusions. Other than that these are pretty easy-going cuts, and it's not too hard to find a good one.
Next, we have the only fruit name-derived cut. While that may sound silly, this cut is nothing to be laughed at. It is stunning and impressive, a combo of a round brilliant and a marquise cut. If you have your heart set on a pear cut diamond, just be prepared for a little bit of searching, you might feel a little like Goldilocks.
Listen, I know you’re probably thinking “what does a little kid's bed-time story have to do with my dream diamond”? Well reader, glad you asked. You know the story - Goldilocks tried three beds - one was too soft, one was too hard, and one was juuuust right. Same with pear diamonds. Some are going to be too wide, some too skinny, and then you’ll find the one that makes your heart sing. There are ratios in diamond cutting and some people have different preferences than others. So with pears you just have to look to find the one that is just right.
So we’ve had our fun - we know just what to look for in our diamond. Now is the part that hurts just a little, but it will be so worth it when you see that dazzling diamond.
For most cuts (this number can vary a little bit depending on the cut, due to popularity or the facet cut) a 5 carat diamond with a clarity grade of SI2 we’re looking around $25-40k.
A VS2 comes in around $60-85k.
If that hasn’t sent your head spinning yet, hold on, an internally flawless grade, 5 carat diamond is going to be anywhere from $100 to 250k or more depending on cut, color and retailer.
If you have not researched much yet and these numbers are sending you into a tizzy, prepare yourself because they are going to be high. However, you can be very picky and really search for a cleaner, lower clarity grade to save some cash. You really don’t NEED a flawless diamond. There are lots that come really close and are just fine.
There's a few reasons as to why these prices are so high - one of the biggest is going to be because while diamonds are not actually that hard to find (surprised?), but finding one that is this large and also internally clean are not that easy to come by. So the bigger and cleaner they are, the more that price tag will skyrocket.
Another is because of salability, meaning how easy it is to actually get the diamond sold. Let's say the diamond cutter has a great 5 carat VS diamond, with a market value of $80,000, there’s not going to be a huge amount of consumers that could realistically afford that. So it may make sense to portion the rough (raw diamond before the faceting) into 3 diamonds that are smaller for $26k a piece. Much easier and quicker to sell.
Okay. Let's stop crying over those dollar signs and get our creative juices flowing. How are we going to set our 5 carat stunner? Well obviously in itself it's going to be incredible. And honestly, these are perfect for a classic solitaire setting. They don't have to be boring! There are lots of interesting settings that let the center diamond shine.
If you want a little extra bling, skip the halo - this will make the diamond seem overly large and a little gaudy - find a band with pave (small, closely set) diamonds. This will add some extra sparkle without overpowering the center stone itself.
Let's talk real quick though about hidden halos, these are A-MAZ-ING. Under the prongs that hold the diamond in place, there's a secret row (or two) of small, pave diamonds that add happiness and sparkle to a ring without stealing the show.
If you have a diamond this big you want to make sure it is secure and, if applicable, able to help prevent those corners from chipping. Obviously, the last thing we want is to lose or break our beloved diamond. Which brings us to the next point - insurance.
Our diamond is an investment, and so we need to treat it like one. Your ring goes everywhere with you, does everything you do. Imagine the heartbreak of losing or breaking your stone. The gut-wrenching feeling of seeing $100k accidentally fall down the sink - I don't even want to imagine. So you need to make sure you have insurance on this guy. You can purchase a policy that covers accidental loss or damage to help pay you out if the worst happens. It will cost you a pretty penny, but in reality it will be chump change compared to the cost of replacing the diamond.
And last but not least, my friend, you wanted a big head-turning diamond, and that’s what you got! Just prepare yourself, everyone will want to see and talk about it. You’re kind of a big deal now. So expect to be one...you deserve it!