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Ultimate guide to

Fancy Yellow Diamonds

What are Yellow Diamonds?

Natural yellow diamonds, also known as canary diamonds, belong to the group of rare Fancy Coloured Diamonds. Due to their exceptional appearance and relatively attractive price, they are one of the most popular coloured diamonds. Their subtle, yet bright appearance creates an unusually warm aura, thanks to which, based on statistics, they find many followers.

Like the rest of the coloured diamonds, yellow brilliants can also be the perfect alternative to a classic colourless diamond engagement ring. They are especially unique because the presence of diamonds in fancy colours ranges from 0.1% to 0.01% of colourless diamonds. This option would be an interesting, yet still elegant choice, that would’ve surely stolen the heart of the beloved one.

The origin of Yellow Diamonds

Unpolished natural yellow diamond
Every diamond, whether coloured or colourless, is composed of carbon atoms held in its crystal lattice. Diamond, which consists only of carbon atoms is colourless, but when another chemical element substitutes for carbon and changes the structure, it causes the diamond to selectively transmit a specific colour.

In the case of the Yellow colour, the chemical element that affects its transmission is nitrogen. Even the smallest amounts of nitrogen in the diamond’s crystal lattice causes the diamond to turn yellow. The higher the ratio of nitrogen content to carbon content, the more pronounced the colour is. Nitrogen is the most common chemical element present in diamonds, which translates into an equally frequent occurrence of yellow diamonds on the market. Yellow diamonds account for about 75% of the extraction of fancy coloured diamonds.

Isn't yellow hue in diamonds a bad thing?

Yellow diamonds may sometimes be confused with colourless diamonds, which fall closer to “Z” on the colour scale. The cause of that misconception is both a reduction of transparency and occurrence of yellow tint in colourless diamonds, which become stronger, when a diamond is closer to said category. Such diamonds are considered less valuable. To read more on the classification of colourless diamonds visit The 4Cs of Diamonds.

However, if we go further on the colourless diamonds’ colour scale, we’ll get a beautiful, pure colour. That’s where a Fancy Yellow colour scale starts, which influences the diamond’s value gain. Such diamond isn’t classified as a colourless diamond anymore, but a Fancy coloured diamond, while its price is based on a completely different scale than in the case of colourless diamonds.

Colour intensity of Yellow diamonds

Fancy Yellow Diamonds with various overtones
Yellow diamonds' hue is never the same; various factors affect their appearance, including tone and saturation. That can result in a yellow diamond that presents both delicate and highly luminous or dazzling. As mentioned in the "The origin of Yellow Diamonds" paragraph, the vividness of the colour varies based on the nitrogen content in the diamond's crystal lattice.

With the colourless diamonds having their own colour scale, coloured diamonds, on the other hand, are classified according to the level of colour intensity.

Fancy yellow diamond hue intensity scale:

•    Fancy Light Yellow
•    Fancy Yellow
•    Fancy Intense Yellow
•    Fancy Vivid Yellow
•    Fancy Deep Yellow
•    Fancy Dark Yellow

The general rule regarding the relation of value and intensity is quite simple. The higher the saturation and clarity of the diamond's colour, the more expensive and desirable it is. The hue of Fancy Vivid intensity is, therefore, the most valuable. Such diamonds are also the rarest. According to the principle, a Fancy Vivid Yellow diamond would be the most valuable by emitting an exceptionally radiant colour.

Fancy Yellow Diamond Halo Ring
Monamica ring with a Fancy Deep Yellow centre diamond and surrounding Fancy Vivid Yellow diamonds.

However, not all fancy colours have a full scale of intensity. Some hues are found only in some parts of the intensity levels. An example of this is yellow diamonds, which come in a range of colour intensities from Fancy Light to Fancy Vivid. Those with Faint, Very Light or Light hue intensity don’t exist. That’s because those kinds of diamonds are classified as colourless. Thus, diamonds with a yellow tint and of Faint, Very Light or Light intensity are actually colourless diamonds that fall at the end of the D-Z colour scale.

Determining the colour intensity is not an easy task. That’s because diamond colour creation isn’t dictated by specific rules, but is rather a completely natural occurrence. None of the intensity levels represents a particular hue because no coloured diamond is identical. The boundaries between the individual levels are very fluid and, for example, a Fancy Light Greenish Yellow diamond may look more like a Fancy Intense Greenish Yellow diamond than a Fancy Light Orange Yellow diamond.

There are diamonds on the market that are sold as Fancy Yellow, when in fact their colour falls at the end of the D-Z colourless diamonds’ colour scale. That’s why it’s so important, that a diamond purchased as loose or in jewellery is certified by one of the main gemological institutes – Gemological Institute of America (GIA), International Gemological Institute (IGI) or HRD Antwerp.

Yellow diamonds prices

Wholesale price of a yellow diamond with good specifications ranges from about $ 2,500* per carat to about $ 10,000* per carat (price refers to a diamond of 0.50 Ct weight, VS clarity, no complementary hues, cushion shape, good cut/polish/symmetry, and no fluorescence). The fact that yellow diamonds belong to the group of more popular coloured diamonds results in quite attractive prices compared to other colours.

The prices of coloured diamonds depend primarily on the intensity of the colour, and additional parameters such as clarity, shape, cut or fluorescence. Based on these specifications, the better a diamond's grade, the higher its value is.

Average yellow diamonds price ranges with the specifications:

•    Clarity: VS
•    Shape: Cushion
•    Cut: Good
•    Polish/symmetry: Very good
•    Complementary hue: None
•    Fluorescence: None

Yellow diamonds prices
All prices are per 1 carat – to get an actual diamond’s price, multiply the given price by the carat weight

Fancy coloured diamonds are a bit more difficult to grade than colourless diamonds. Yellow diamonds, just like other fancy coloured diamonds, are also assessed based on personal taste regarding the appearance of a given diamond. If a diamond has poor specifications but is considered exceptionally beautiful, the price will be higher than the average diamond of identical specifications.

*price refers to a diamond of 0.50 Ct weight, VS clarity, no complementary hues, cushion shape, good cut/polish/symmetry, and no fluorescence

Are yellow diamonds more expensive than colourless diamonds?

Colourless and yellow diamonds
Yellow diamonds are the most frequently compared coloured diamonds to colourless diamonds. The reason for that is not only their similar origin but also their price. Yellow diamonds, as one of the most popular diamond colours, are also the more affordable ones, which, when comparing them with colourless diamonds, can highlight some dependencies. The table below shows example prices of colourless diamonds.


•    Clarity: VS 1
•    Shape: Cushion
•    Cut/polish/symmetry: Very good
•    Fluorescence: None

Ceny bezbarwnych diamentów
Comparing the prices of yellow and colourless diamonds, we can notice that with the lower-weight diamonds of 0.50 Ct, the prices of both types of diamonds are very similar. Thus, the price of a colourless G colour diamond ($ 3,300) falls in the range of a Fancy Light Yellow diamond ($ 2,750 – $ 3,450), while a D colour diamond ($ 4,100) has the same price as a Fancy Yellow diamond ($ 3,450 – $ 5,100).

When it comes to diamonds of 1 Ct weight, colourless G colour diamond ($ 7,300) is in the Fancy Deep Yellow diamond price range ($ 6,550 – $ 7,300), while a colour D diamond ($ 9,400) is equivalent to a Fancy Intense Yellow diamond ($ 8,000 – $ 14,700).

However, as for the largest analysed 2 Ct diamond, both of the colourless G ($ 14,100) and D colour ($ 21,400) diamonds fit in the Fancy Intense Yellow diamond price range ($ 13,700 – $ 25,000).

Based on the presented data, the conclusions are as follows:

•    Larger price differences occur for smaller diamonds – yellow diamonds with a higher hue intensity level are much more expensive than colourless diamonds.
•    Yellow diamonds of higher weight and lower intensity are cheaper than colourless diamonds of the same weight.
•    The higher the weight of the diamond, the more profitable a yellow diamond with weaker intensity is.

Complementary hues of Yellow diamonds

Fancy colours, including yellow, are also often mixed with other hues. Such a hue is defined as a complementary hue or a secondary colour. In the case of a yellow hue, the most common secondary colours are brown, green and orange. The colour's name is created by combining all of the hues, while the more dominant a given hue is, the further it is put in the name. So, a yellow diamond mixed with orange would be called a Fancy Orange Yellow diamond. Complementary hues, just as dominant hues, have various intensity levels and are described accordingly. If the beforementioned orange were less noticeable, the colour would be named Fancy Orangy Yellow. To read more on Fancy Colour grading visit Fancy Coloured Diamonds.

Despite the often interesting appearance and unique colour, it's customary to think that coloured diamonds that do not contain complementary hues are more expensive than those having one or more secondary colours. This is because they are less common in nature thus, the amount of this kind of diamonds on the market is lower, which results in a higher price. That's, of course, the general rule and each diamond is priced individually anyway. Moreover, when the secondary colour is rarer and more desirable than the dominant hue, the price is increased - for example, Fancy Orange Yellow diamond will be more expensive than Fancy Yellow diamond because orange diamonds are less common and more valuable than yellow diamonds.

Yellow diamonds in engagement rings

A ring's appearance is greatly influenced not only by the diamond itself but also by the diamond's setting. It is responsible for the overall perception of the ring's aesthetics and is most often the first decision we make after deciding on the purchase.

The settings are made from various types of metal, such as white, yellow or rose gold. Each of those gives a distinct look to the ring and accentuates its different features.
Fancy yellow diamond ring in white gold
White gold gives a sort of contrast between the warmth of the diamond and the coolness of the white gold. This combination is a classic and subtle match, perfectly fitting both warm and cool skin tones.

Fancy yellow diamond ring in yellow gold
Yellow gold beautifully accentuates the yellow colour of the diamond, enhancing it and emphasizing its brilliance. The combination of a yellow diamond with yellow gold gives it a sublime, elegant look, thus providing it with extraordinary timelessness.

Fancy yellow diamond ring in rose gold
Rose gold fits perfectly with yellow diamonds that have secondary hues. That way, the rose gold causes the diamond to shimmer into various colours. Rose gold also creates a delicate, youthful look, translating into its subtlety.

Famous Natural Yellow Diamonds

Embed from Getty Images
•    The Cora Sun-Drop Diamond
This yellow diamond is one of the most beautiful and largest yellow diamonds. It weighs 110.3 Ct and its origin goes back to a mine in South Africa in 2010. Research shows that the diamond was formed from 1 to 3 billion years ago. In 2011, it was sold at the Sotheby's auction in Geneva for over $ 10.9 million, setting a record at the time. The intensity of its colour is classified as Fancy Vivid, making it extremely rare and valuable.

•    The Kimberley Octahedral
It is the largest naturally formed octahedral diamond found in the world, mined at one of the mines in Kimberley, Africa (1972). It's also called Diamond 616, which refers to its incredible carat weight. Being a rough diamond, the official grading of coloured diamonds doesn't apply in this case.

•    The Florentine Diamond
The Florentine Diamond, also known as the Tuscan Diamond, is by far the most fascinating one due to its missing status. This 137.27 Ct diamond had been handed over from king to king when it was eventually lost by Charles the Bold during the Battle of Morat. It was then reportedly found by a foot soldier, who sold it for 2 francs, thinking it was glass. Since then, its whereabouts remain unknown.

•    The Incomparable Diamond
The Incomparable Diamond was found in the Congo by a young girl playing in a pile of rubble. Before the cutting, it weighed 890 Ct. The family then sold it to a jeweller, who later cut it into a 407.78 Ct triangle-shaped diamond. This extraordinary diamond is named the largest diamond of IF clarity and the third largest cut diamond in the world.

•    The Tiffany Yellow Diamond
The Tiffany Yellow Diamond is one of the largest yellow diamonds in history, which original weight was 287.42 Ct. It was found in 1878 in the Kimberley mine, where it was later cut into a cushion shape, changing its weight to 128.54 Ct. It has 24 more facets than the traditional cut (82 facets in total), maximizing its brilliance. Nowadays, it can be found in the Tiffany & Co. flagship store in New York.
Fancy Yellow Diamond ring in black gold

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