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All you need to know about yellow diamonds

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If your heart is set on a fancy colored diamond, a yellow diamond will be one of your best options . Colored diamonds can be extremely expensive and rare, making them beyond the reach of the average buyer. However, yellow diamonds happen to be the most common and most affordable of all colored diamonds. Currently, these gemstones, also known as Canary Yellow Diamonds, are among the most popular colored diamonds on the market.

Yellow diamonds are one of the top choices when it comes to engagement. The stone’s reputation as an ideal engagement ring choice has been fueled by a host of celebrities, including Adele, Carrie Underwood and Paris Hilton, flaunting yellow diamond engagement rings.

Here’s what you need to know about these famous diamonds before you buy.

A common Colored Diamond

Yellow diamonds are affordable as opposed to other colored diamonds because they are far more common.  For example, on the James Allen website, there are currently 4,741 yellow diamonds listed.

True, in comparison to their inventory of over 100,000 white diamonds, this is hardly noteworthy, but compare that to the 21 blue diamonds they have or the 0 red diamonds at the time of writing this article, and you begin to appreciate how common yellow diamonds are.

Yellow diamond Colors

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

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. The higher the tint, the lower the value of the diamond.

Diamond color chart from perfect colorless to noticeable color

GIA Color Scale for Colorless Diamonds

fancy vivid yellow diamond

A stunning Fancy Vivid Yellow Asscher cut yellow diamond from Leibish. Find this diamond here

So on either end you have the priciest stones, with colorless stones having no yellow tint whatsoever while Fancy Vivid Yellow is intense and fully saturated.

Grading Yellow diamond Colors

Most colored diamonds have a primary color. In the case of yellow diamonds, the primary color is obviously yellow. 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. If a yellow diamond has a brownish tint, it can drop in value. On the other hand, if touched with greenish or orangey tints, the overall value of the stone generally tends to increase, all else being equal.

greenish yellow diamond

Find this diamond here.

orange yellow diamond

Find this diamond here.

It is easy to see why. Green and orange are rarer and more expensive diamond colors than brown and this adds to the value. Also, many people prefer the appearance of yellow with modifying green and orange colors. This is not to say that yellow-brown diamonds are a bad choice. In fact, you can find beautiful yellow stones with brown tints at very good prices. For example, this marquise cut fancy brown yellow diamond is over 2 carats but is reasonably priced compared to other types of fancy colored diamonds.

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 and the color/s of the stone.

Here are three examples.

These three images have been taken from Leibish.com, a well-known and highly reputable vendor for colored diamonds. From left to right, Fancy Intense Green Yellow, Fancy Deep Orange Yellow and Fancy Deep Brown Yellow
Yellow diamond with different secondary hues

Besides identifying the tones, yellow diamonds are also graded for their intensity which could fall under the following: Faint, Very Light, Light, Fancy Light, Fancy Dark, Fancy Deep, Fancy Intense, and Fancy Vivid. Faint and Very Light are very similar to color grades XYZ on the white diamond color chart.

Evaluating a Yellow Diamond

As with colorless diamonds, the 4Cs play a big role when evaluating yellow diamonds. You can get smart with the combinations and play around with them, to find a stone that gives you the best value.

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 ones – which happen to be the 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.

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. As you may well know, 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 none fluorescence levels.

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. Here is an example of a highly included yellow diamond that still commands a high price.

The trick when buying a yellow diamonds is just to make sure that your yellow diamond is eye-clean, containing no visible inclusions. There may be inclusions in the stone, but as long as they can’t be seen then it really isn’t a problem.

Yellow Diamond Carat Weight 

Carat weight significantly affects the price which often exponentially 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. Remember that refers to weight and not to size.

If you want to get the best value for your money, choose diamonds that are just under standard weights, like 1 carat and 2 carat stones. You can buy a stone just under 1 carat with hardly any noticeable difference in appearance but with a big difference in price.

Yellow Diamond Cut

You may have heard that cut is the most important factor in a diamond and that it is maximized to bring out the brilliance of the stone. That is true for white diamonds but not so for colored.

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

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 you can find a yellow diamond of very good quality for about $3000. With yellow diamonds, you are more likely to find a stone that suits your budget than you would be for most other colored diamond varieties.

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

Compare the flawless, D color diamond below with the light yellow and fancy vivid yellow diamonds. The price differences are interesting to note.

perfect colorless diamond

Flawless, D color grade 1.03 carat diamond. See this diamond here.

light yellow diamond

Light yellow, 1.25 carat diamond. See this diamond here.

Round yellow diamond

Fancy vivid yellow 1.02 carat diamond. See this diamond here.

Canary Yellow Diamonds in engagement rings

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

Designs and settings

There are numerous ways to maximize the appearance of the stone you choose, mainly by choosing the settings and design of the ring wisely. For more information read our guide on settings and styles of engagement ring.

There are two main ways you can enhance the color of the yellow diamond in an engagement ring. One way is to set it in silver-colored metals, perhaps with a surrounding of white diamonds. The contrast of the yellow against the silver/white will really bring out the color of your stone. However, if the yellow diamond is on the smaller side, this halo may emphasize this fact. Currently, this is the trending style for yellow diamond mounting.

These rings, from Leibish.com, show stunning yellow diamonds mounted in white gold settings.

fancy yellow diamond engagement ring

Fancy yellow 1.35 carat oval diamond engagement ring. See this ring here.

cushion cut yellow diamond engagement ring

Fancy yellow 1.60 carat cushion cut with diamond halo. See this ring here.

Yellow diamond in pave setting

Fancy yellow cushion diamond with pave band. See this ring here.

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.

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.

See this ring here.

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?

Now, if your budget still won’t make the cut, there is a way around that. You can choose a synthetic yellow diamond. First of all, let me clarify that synthetic diamonds are not FAKE diamonds, as many shoppers so wrongly believe. They ARE diamonds, just lab-created, man-made diamonds formed through artificial processes, as opposed to natural diamonds created through geological processes.

Creating a lab diamond

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. So to repeat, this is a real diamond, optically and chemically identical to mined diamonds. The only difference is that it was created in a lab.

Price of lab diamonds

Yellow lab-grown diamonds are significantly cheaper than their mined equivalent, and can be a wise move if you want to budget. 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.

An environmentally friendly-choice

Apart from the monetary aspect, synthetic diamonds are conflict-free. Because they are created in laboratories, no harm is inflicted to the environment by way of soil pollution or excessive emission of carbon and other greenhouse gases. So if you are someone who values the environment, a lab-diamond might be ideal for you.

Enhanced Yellow Diamonds

Another cheaper 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. The best part is that you get the stone you want at a fraction of the price. Note that in terms of investment, enhanced and lab-created stones are not as valuable as a mined diamond.

Where to Buy 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.

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 passes all your checks.  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.  Also check the after-sales policies, especially the returns policy.

The industry leader for fancy colored diamonds in the e-commerce sphere is Leibish.com. They provide high quality, exclusive jewelry and colored diamonds ranging in price from a few hundred dollars to several million. Their customer service and after-sales policies are excellent.

James Allen is another great option, especially for more budget friendly colored diamonds. With their Diamond Display Technology, it’s the next best thing to actually seeing the diamond in person.

Read our in-depth review of James Allen and Leibish. Also check out our quick comparison of the Top Online Engagement Ring Retailers for more information.

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