Jewelry Guide

Buying a Yellow (Canary) Diamond – 9 Things to Know

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Colored diamonds can be extremely expensive and rare, putting them beyond the reach of the average buyer. However, yellow diamonds, also called Canary diamonds, are the most common and affordable. If your heart is set on a fancy colored diamond, a yellow diamond will be one of your best options.

Reasons to buy yellow diamonds

How Abundant are Yellow Diamonds?

Yellow diamonds list
James Allen offers over 4000 yellow diamonds starting at $380. See more here.

Yellow diamonds the most common of all colored diamonds, which make them easily available and relatively affordable.  They make up around 60% of all colored diamonds.

How Do Yellow Diamonds Get Their Colors?

 Yellow diamonds get their color through the presence of nitrogen during the formation of the stone. This alters the structure of the carbon atoms, and the way light is absorbed, causing a change in the diamond’s hue.

The carbon atoms become arranged in such a way that blue light is absorbed, resulting in a yellowish hue. This is the same way that orange diamonds get their color too. 

Diamond color chart from perfect colorless to noticeable color
GIA Color Scale for Colorless Diamonds

If you are familiar with the color scale of colorless diamonds, you will know that the chart runs from D to Z. Color grade D is on the colorless end but as the chart advances, the tint of the diamond gets progressively more yellow, reducing the value of the diamond.

However, once the diamonds become saturated with yellow, to the point where it’s the dominant color, their value increases again.

On either end of the color scale, you have the priciest stones, with colorless stones having no yellow tint whatsoever, and with Fancy Vivid Yellow being intense and fully saturated.

How Are Yellow Diamonds Graded?

Yellow diamonds
A fancy vivid yellow diamond by James Allen. See more here.

When you receive a grading report for a yellow diamond, you will see that the stone is described using a combination of the intensity level of the hue and the color/s of the stone.

For example, the following three stones are graded as follows:

Yellow diamond with different secondary hues


From left to right, Fancy Intense Green YellowFancy Deep Orange Yellow and Fancy Deep Brown Yellow

Besides identifying the tones, yellow diamonds are also graded for their intensity which could fall under the following categories: 

  • Faint
  • Very Light
  • Light
  • Fancy Light
  • Fancy Dark
  • Fancy Deep
  • Fancy Intense
  • Fancy Vivid

Faint and Very Light are similar to color grades XYZ on the white diamond color chart.

Most colored diamonds have a primary color. In the case of yellow diamonds, the primary color is obviously yellow. However, the primary color is often modified by secondary colors, which can drastically alter the value of the diamond.

The most common secondary colors for canary yellow diamonds are brown, green, and orange. Brown tints can reduce a yellow diamond’s value, while orange and green are more desirable and can increase the stone’s value. This is because green and orange are rarer and more expensive diamond colors.

Evaluating a Yellow Diamond

Yellow diamond earrings
Yellow diamond earrings by Blue Nile. See them here.

As with colorless diamonds, the 4Cs play a big role when evaluating yellow diamonds.

Yellow Diamond Color

When it comes colored diamonds, color and intensity are critical aspects. The higher the intensity level (i.e. the stronger the yellow color), the more expensive the diamond will be.

Price, as a rule of thumb, is very much dictated by supply and demand. The rarest varieties – which are Fancy Vivid Yellow Diamonds – are also the most desired, making them the priciest.

You can maximize the color of the diamond by the settings and design you choose for it.

Yellow Diamond Clarity

 Clarity is not as important for colored diamonds as it is for colorless, simply because the color of the stone tends to hide flaws.

What may be a glaring flaw on a transparent diamond might hardly be noticeable on a yellow diamond. Also, with some colored diamonds being so rare, there would be no gem-worthy diamonds at all if the market were picky about inclusions. 

The trick when buying a yellow diamond is to make sure that your yellow diamond is eye-clean, containing no visible inclusions. If there are inclusions, ensure that they are in strategic locations that could be hidden by a clever setting.

Yellow Diamond Carat Weight 

Carat weight significantly affects the price which increases along with the weight of the yellow diamond. This means that a slight difference in carat could mean a huge spike in price. A single 1 carat diamond will be much more expensive than two .50 carat diamonds.

If you want to get the best value for your money, choose diamonds that are just under standard weights. You can buy a stone just under 1 carat with hardly any noticeable difference in appearance but with a possibly noticeable difference in price.

Yellow Diamond Cut

In a yellow colored diamond, the quality of the cut helps to bring out the best color of the stone rather than the brilliance.

JamesAllen Engagement Rings

For this purpose, fancy shapes generally complement colored diamonds beautifully. Shapes such as radiant, cushion, marquise, pear or Asscher tend to bring out the best color of the stone.

The Impact of Fluorescence on Yellow Diamonds

Fluorescence in diamonds manifests itself as a blue color when exposed to UV light. Blue and yellow are complementary colors, meaning they are positioned opposite each other on the color wheel.

Mixing complementary colors (yellow and blue in this case) yields a neutral color. Applying this knowledge to the yellow diamond scenario, this means that if the diamond has strong fluorescence, it will look dull under UV light. Try to buy a stone with minimal to no fluorescence.

How Affordable Are Canary Yellow Diamonds?

Compared to other colored diamonds such as blue, red, and green, yellow diamonds are quite affordable. To put this into perspective, a red diamond often sells at about $100,000 per carat but yellow diamonds of very good quality can retail for as low as $3000.

Most yellow diamonds on the lower end of the intensity chart are generally less expensive than colorless diamonds. But a high-quality Fancy Vivid Yellow can be much higher in price than a similar colorless diamond.

perfect colorless diamond
light yellow diamond
Round yellow diamond
Fancy vivid yellow 1.02 carat diamond. See this diamond here.

Compare the flawless, D color diamond above with the light yellow and fancy vivid yellow diamonds, for an idea of how the saturation of the stone impacts the price.

Are Canary Yellow Diamonds a Good Idea for Engagement Rings?

Yellow diamonds are gorgeous as the centerpiece of engagement rings. On the color spectrum, yellow is the hue that captures our attention the most.

From a color psychology standpoint, there are so many positive things that yellow symbolizes, including freshness, happiness, honor, loyalty, and enlightenment – all perfect traits of a relationship ready to begin a new chapter.

The right setting and ring design can maximize the appearance of the yellow diamond you choose. There are two main ways you can enhance the color of the yellow diamond in an engagement ring.

Among the most popular settings for yellow diamonds are halo, pave, shank, and split shank. However, if you prefer a less showy ring, yellow diamonds look beautiful even with simple solitaire settings.

Yellow Diamond in White Metals

Yellow diamond white halo ring
hite gold halo setting by James Allen. See it here.

One way is to set it in white metals, perhaps with a surrounding of white diamonds. The contrast of the yellow against the white metal will really bring out the color of your stone. However, if the yellow diamond is on the smaller side, the halo may emphasize this fact.

Yellow Diamond In Yellow Gold

Another great option is to have the yellow diamond mounted on yellow gold with the stone surrounded by smaller colorless or yellow diamonds. This can enhance the color and make the stone appear larger. Of course, personal preference will dictate which suits you best.

Yellow Diamond in Yellow Gold Basket

Another factor that can make a huge difference in enhancing the yellow color of a diamond is to use a yellow gold basket for the mounting.

Regardless of the metal you choose for the ring, if the yellow diamond is mounted in a yellow gold box, this will make the diamond appear more saturated.

The bright yellow color of the gold will act as a background for the diamond, intensifying its color. If done right, this basket trick can take the diamond a few grades higher on the intensity scale. Bear in mind that a bezel setting would also work in this case.

What Are Synthetic Yellow Diamonds?

Synthetic yellow diamonds
Synthetic diamonds by Brilliant Earth. See more here.

Now, if your budget still won’t make the cut, there is a way around that. You can choose a synthetic yellow diamond.

Synthetic diamonds are not fake diamonds, as many shoppers wrongly believe. They are diamonds, just lab-created, man-made diamonds formed through artificial processes, as opposed to natural diamonds created through geological processes.

How Lab-Grown Yellow Diamonds are Created

In the same way that naturally grown yellow diamonds attribute their color to nitrogen, lab-grown diamonds also get their color from nitrogen impurities. However, the color in synthetic yellow diamonds can be selected and adjusted by controlling the amount of nitrogen in the growing process.

Lab-Grown Yellow Diamond Price

Yellow lab-grown diamonds are significantly lower in price than their mined equivalent. Synthetic yellow diamonds are the easiest colors to grow, and as a result, are the least expensive as well. You can save up to about 70%, making them quite affordable. Again, affordable in this context, is relative.

Lab-Grown Yellow Diamond and Sustainability

Apart from the monetary aspect, synthetic diamonds are conflict-free. Because they are created in laboratories, minimal harm is inflicted on the environment by way of soil pollution or excessive emissions of carbon and other greenhouse gases. So, if you are someone who values the environment, a lab-diamond might be ideal for you.

What are Enhanced Yellow Diamonds?

Another less expensive alternative is to purchase an enhanced yellow diamond. These diamonds are created by taking a colorless diamond and subjecting it to various treatments that cause it to acquire a yellowish hue.

You can find them in many sizes and shades and are often a fraction of the price of their genuine counterparts. Note that in terms of investment, enhanced and lab-created stones are not as valuable as a mined yellow diamond.

Where Should I Buy Yellow Diamonds Online?

Purchasing something as valuable as a diamond can be daunting, especially when doing this online. The most important factors to consider is the reputation of your online vendor and their after sales policies.

Choose a professional retailer who provide high quality photos and videos that will allow you to inspect your diamond closely and make an informed choice.  Ask for certification and make sure that the certifying lab is recognized – such as GIA, AGS, and EGL. Prior to buying, ensure that your diamond is eye-clean and has the color you’re looking for.  Also check the after-sales policies, especially the returns policy.

James Allen: A giant in the online diamond space, James Allen offers an impressive collection of yellow diamonds at reasonable prices. As you can design your own ring by selecting one of their high-quality settings, you have more control over the end result. Their customer service, Diamond Display Technology and after sales policies are second to none.

Blue Nile: Ideal if you’re looking for yellow diamond jewelry, Blue Nile also offers a wide selection of loose yellow diamonds. Blue Nile is known for being one of the first to start selling diamonds online back in the late 1990s, and still continues to be a leader in the space.

Brilliant Earth: For synthetic diamonds, Brilliant Earth is the place to go. The company is known for their commitment to sourcing their metals and gemstones ethically. They offer great customer service and will assist you throughout the buying process.

Etsy: We recommend Etsy for catering to a wide variety of styles and budgets – including stunning antique pieces and synthetic and enhanced yellow diamonds. As each retailer has their own polices, it’s best to take each listing on a case-by-case basis and do your due diligence.

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