Ultimate Guide to Buying Yellow Diamonds: Tips & FAQ

Yellow diamonds symbolize everything colorless diamonds do and much more. They lend a mesmerizing luster to all varieties of jewelry, which is why many people want yellow diamonds for their wedding or engagement rings.

However, buying a yellow diamond is not the same as buying a colorless diamond. You can follow the buying guide for colorless diamonds while shopping for yellow diamonds, but there is a subtle difference.

If you are determined to buy a natural or a lab-grown yellow diamond, the following guide will be of great help to you.

Fancy Yellow Diamond

Yellow Diamonds – Know the Facts

Yellow diamonds are diamonds that have a pure and rich yellow color. They get their yellow color from the traces of nitrogen in their crystalline structure. Many are of the opinion that yellow diamonds are the loveliest yellow gems in the world because of their luster, fire, and brilliance.

As they are found in diamond mines all over the world, yellow diamonds are the second most commonly found fancy color diamonds. The most common fancy color diamonds are the brown ones.

Nitrogen plays a very important role in giving yellow diamonds their color. While colorless diamonds are made up of pure carbon, yellow diamonds have traces of nitrogen that absorb blue light and transmit yellow light. One nitrogen atom for every 100,000 carbon atoms in a diamond is sufficient to give the diamond its yellow color.

Yellow diamonds are commonly referred to as “canaries” and “capes.” People began calling them capes in the late nineteenth century because many of them were mined in South Africa’s Cape Province. Gemologists and jewelers also call them “canary” because of their yellow color. Some people also use the name “Zimmy” for yellow diamonds. But this name is used only for the extraordinarily bright yellow diamonds found in Sierra Leone’s Zimmy mine. Zimmy stones are so bright that make other yellow diamonds look almost colorless.

The Tiffany Yellow, the world’s largest yellow diamond, was mined in 1878 at Kimberley Mine in South Africa’s North Cape Province. A New York jeweler called Charles Tiffany, the founder of Tiffany and Company, purchased this 287.42 carat stone, and one of his jewelers gave the stone a unique cut that enhanced its beauty and brilliance. When the stone was cut, it weighed 128.54 carats.

Yellow diamonds are naturally available, but they can also be produced by subjecting brown diamonds to laboratory procedures such as High Temperature High Pressure (HTHP), irradiation, coating, and annealing. Lab-made yellow diamonds cost much lower than natural yellow diamonds.

Serious buyers, however, are not interested in treated yellow diamonds. They wanted to purchase the natural ones and are willing to pay any price for them. Simultaneously, there is also a section of the diamond buying population willing to purchase a treated stone because they to be proud owners of a yellow diamond, but are unable to afford a natural one.

Real or Natural Yellow Diamonds – How Nature Creates Yellow Diamonds


What are the 4Cs

All natural diamonds, and that includes natural yellow diamonds, are created in the depths of the earth. Usually, a volcanic eruption brings them to a depth that is easier to access. Natural fancy color diamonds are created in different parts of the world, but are commonly found in places where the trace elements responsible for their colors are found in greater quantities. For example, a large number of yellow diamonds were found in West Australia’s Ellendale mine.

Only 0.0001% of all the diamonds mined in the world are fancy color diamonds; and yellow diamonds are the second more commonly mined diamonds of them. Yellow diamonds are found in the mines of Central Africa, Canada, Australia, South Africa, India, Russia, Brazil, Borneo, Angola, Sierra Leone, and Democratic Republic of Congo.

Nature starts off by creating a colored diamond the same way it creates a colorless diamond. However, when the crystallization is taking place, traces of other elements get trapped in the midst of carbon atoms to give the diamond its rare color.

In case of yellow diamonds, nitrogen atoms arrange themselves in such a way with the carbon atoms so that they can easily absorb blue light and reflect yellow light. The way the nitrogen atoms are grouped within a diamond is responsible for the intensity of its yellow color.

Should You Buy Natural Yellow Diamonds?

The idea of presenting diamond engagement rings got popular only during the thirties and the forties. One of the major reasons for this could be De Beers’ aggressive advertisement campaigns. When people think of diamonds for engagement rings, they want the stone to natural.

Here are some reasons to present a natural diamond to your beloved:

  • Diamonds are really “forever.” They do not fade, lose their brilliance, or break.
  • They are the second toughest substances in the world.
  • They are extremely rare and valuable, just like your beloved.
  • Diamonds are symbols of everlasting love and romance.

Although the demand for colorless diamonds is still the highest at jewelry stores all over the world, many people have started experimenting with fancy color diamonds. A yellow diamond means all the above-mentioned and a lot more:

  • Yellow symbolizes wisdom and intellect.
  • Yellow is fun, cheerful, enlightening, and motivating.
  • Giving a yellow diamond to your beloved indicates that you greatly appreciate his/her zest for life and optimism.
  • Although diamonds are birthstones for April, yellow diamonds can easily replace November birthstones such as Topaz and Citrine as well as the yellow sapphire, which is September’s birthstone.

Treated Yellow Diamonds – How to Make Them in Labs

Reputed Gem Evaluation Labs

Diamonds are created in labs by reproducing the natural process of crystallizing carbon. The resulting stones are physically, chemically, and optically similar to the diamonds created in the depths of the earth. The biggest advantage of lab-grown diamonds is that they cost at least 10% lesser than mined diamonds.

Yellow diamonds are also created in labs, and just like natural yellow diamonds, treated yellow diamonds get their color from nitrogen. Treated yellow diamonds come in a wide range of shapes and sizes and hues ranging from light yellow to vivid yellow.

While growing yellow diamonds in a laboratory, the amount of nitrogen permitted to enter a diamond can be controlled to get a yellow diamond of the desired hue. If too much nitrogen is permitted to enter the diamond, the result will be a brown diamond.

Rough yellow diamonds need 5 – 6 days to grow. In case of lab-grown yellow diamonds, the nitrogen actually helps the diamond to grow fast. These rough stones are sufficient to cut yellow diamonds of 1 – 2 carat. Since most of the rough stones come in octahedral shapes, it is not possible to cut them into elongated shapes such as marquise, oval, and pear. So the most common shapes are princess, radiant, emerald, and Asscher.

Should You Buy Treated Yellow Diamonds?

Treated yellow diamonds are not made by nature, but they are definitely inspired by nature. The benefits of buying yellow diamonds grown in a lab are many.

We have listed some of them as follows:

  • Treated yellow diamonds are incredibly beautiful and you will hardly be able to tell that it does not come from the depths of the earth.
  • You can buy a larger stone without breaking your budget.
  • You can save anywhere in the range of 45% to 70% when you purchase a lab-grown yellow diamond.
  • Since growing yellow diamonds in a lab is easier, they cost much lower.
  • You can rest assured that the diamond is free of blood. No human rights have been violated while creating it.
  • You can also rest assured that you are not contributing to any harm to nature when you purchase a yellow diamond.

Natural Yellow Diamond Buying Guide for Serious Buyers

Guide to buying 2 carat diamond ring

Before you attempt to purchase a natural yellow diamond, you must be aware of the fact that natural fancy colored diamonds are very rare stones. The good news is that yellow diamonds are the second more commonly available fancy colored stones in the gem industry. In fact, yellow diamonds comprise 60% of fancy colored diamonds that are available. Looking at things from a different angle, only one out of every 16,500 carats of diamonds that are mined from within the earth are yellow diamonds. This clearly indicates that, although the second most common among fancy colored diamonds, yellow diamonds are still rare. Since they are rare, they are extremely valuable.

You must also be aware of the fact that finding a pure yellow natural diamond is easier said than done. This is because yellow diamonds come in different colors, and most of the time, you will find combinations of two or even three colors in a yellow diamond.

Yellow diamonds can be graded green yellow, orange yellow, and brown yellow. This means that the diamond’s dominant color is yellow with secondary colors of green, orange, and brown. While pure yellow diamonds are more expensive, diamonds with secondary hues cost much lesser.

Color Scale of Yellow Diamonds

Yellow diamonds range from pale yellow to vivid yellow. In a gem testing lab, they are graded as follows:

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

Sometimes, diamonds graded faint, very light, and light are collectively called cape diamonds as they were first mined in South Africa’s Cape Province. Intense yellow, deep yellow, and vivid yellow diamonds are very rare and priced high.

In addition to the 4Cs, a number of other factors have to be considered while pricing natural yellow diamonds. This is because they come in a wide range of hues and color combinations. For example, yellow diamond tinted brown are less expensive than yellow diamonds tinted orange.

The price of a yellow diamond goes up with the intensity of its color. Light yellow diamonds are the least expensive and cost almost as much as colorless diamonds. Intense yellow diamonds are the most popular and commonly called “canary diamonds” for their clear and pure hue. They cost anywhere in the range of 20% – 50% more than yellow diamonds of other hues.

Vivid yellow diamonds are the rarest of them all, costing two times more than intense yellow diamonds and three times more than light yellow diamonds. However, Zimmy diamonds, which are diamonds mined in Africa’s Zimmy mine, are the most expensive because of their exceptionally vivid yellow color.

If you want cut costs while buying a natural stone, we suggest going in for yellow diamonds with secondary colors. Orange yellow, brown yellow, and green yellow diamonds are the most commonly purchased. Comparing the prices of these impure diamonds is very difficult. Generally speaking, impure yellow diamonds that have the color of a rarer and more expensive diamond as their secondary colors cost more. For example, orange yellow diamonds and green yellow diamonds cost more than pure yellow diamonds.

The price, however, goes down if the impure yellow diamond has the color of a commonly found diamond as its secondary color. Thus, brown yellow diamonds are the cheapest of all pure yellow and impure yellow diamonds. In addition, the intensity of the mixed color also has a role to play in the pricing. For example, an intense orange yellow diamond is more expensive than a light orange yellow diamond.

Weight of yellow Diamonds

The price per carat of a yellow diamond increases with its weight. Thus the price per carat of a yellow diamond weighing one carat will be much more than the price per carat of a yellow diamond weighing just half a carat.

Clarity of Yellow Diamonds

The clarity chart of yellow diamonds is as follows:

  • Flawless (FL)
  • Internally Flawless (IF)
  • Very Very Slight Inclusions (VVS1 and VVS2)
  • Very Small Inclusions (VS1 and VS2)
  • Small Inclusions (SI1 and SI2)
  • Inclusions (I1 and I2)

Cut of Yellow Diamonds

The cut of a diamond is not synonymous with its shape. It refers more to how the make and quality of a stone is considered while cutting it into a particular shape. Yellow diamonds are cut not to maximize the intensity of their color, but to maximize their value.

Stay away from natural yellow diamonds cut badly just to minimize cost. Look for excellent symmetry and polish. Your yellow diamond must look good even if it means paying extra for it.

The most important C to consider while purchasing a natural yellow diamond is certificate. Never purchase a stone that does not have an accompanying certificate from a reputed gem testing laboratory. A natural yellow diamond’s certificate will give you all the important details about the diamond you want to buy.

Make sure that the certificate is from noted institutes such as the European Gemological Laboratory (EGL), International Gemological Institute (IGI), and Gemological Institute of America (GIA).

While purchasing a natural yellow diamond, you must note that fluorescence drastically reduces its price. This is because diamonds without fluorescence are considered pure and therefore rare and valuable. Also, fluorescence is usually blue in case of yellow diamonds and impacts its purity. While faint fluorescence reduces the cost by up to 10 percent, medium or strong fluorescence reduces the cost by up to 15% to 30%.

How Much Do Yellow Diamonds Cost?

Diamond price

A natural yellow diamond will cost you quite a bit. A radiant yellow diamond weighing 1 carat and featuring a clarity grade of VS2 costs around $5000 while a similar diamond with a clarity grade of SI1 costs $4,500 or lesser. Intense yellow diamonds cost 30% to 50% more while vivid yellow diamonds cost 100% more.

A lab made yellow diamond costs 75% lesser than a mined yellow diamond. Since yellow diamonds are the easiest to grow in a lab, they are the least expensive. You can get hold of a lab made yellow diamond for anywhere between $3000 and $5000 per carat. A natural yellow diamond of the same weight may cost anywhere between $10,000 and $50,000.

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