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What is a Yellow Diamond? Everything You Need to Know

by Sophia Huxley
Posted July 23, 2021

Last updated on January 24, 2022

Colorful diamonds are a fun, exciting way to make diamond jewelry, or engagement ring, more personal! The allure of a yellow diamond in comparison to white is often too tempting, but many are scared off of colorful stone choices due to their complex nature. It is hard to know where to start when buying fancy colored diamonds. To help you out, we’ve compiled some information to help you start looking. 

First of all, there is a lot to a diamond being a yellow diamond, and even gemologists have to be highly trained to grade them properly. All of Clean Origin’s fancy colored stones are graded by the International Gemological Institute (IGI). These diamonds fall outside of the usual D-to-Z range and require special grading to account for the vibrancy of color as a positive factor.

Color Matters for Yellow Diamonds

Whereas light yellow diamonds are not as desirable for some, deep yellow or bright white diamonds are fan favorites. Because of this, they cannot be graded against each other on the same scale. Keep in mind that these diamonds, due to their vibrant color, are best shown off in non-round cuts.

You will have a hard time finding a round cut yellow diamond, because they show a more gorgeous face-up color in other cuts, such as pear, marquise, and heart shapes. Be aware that these diamonds can look darker when set too, so try to compare your raw diamond in a setting versus out of one to make sure it is a perfect fit!  

Fancy-colored diamonds, depending on shade and size, were quite rare before lab-grown diamonds became available. They are often lauded for their distinctive beauty and are a wonderfully unique choice for jewelry.

Lab-Grown Yellow Diamonds

Interestingly, some of the gorgeous colorful diamonds available start out yellow and are irradiated to change the color. Alternatively, some colored diamonds are naturally occurring or made perfectly in a lab.

Yellow diamonds are created through high levels of nitrogen in the jewel and are often preferred for their natural warmth. Yellow diamonds can come with orange, brown, or even green tints in them, adding to their eye-catching qualities. They are considered natural fancy colored diamonds. True yellow diamonds are quite rare, but some diamonds turn yellow with age or are enhanced by man to get the vibrant hue. 

Types of Yellow Diamonds

Yellow diamonds that fall into the lower end of the D-to-Z color grading are referred to as cape diamonds and are the more affordable yellow diamonds on the market. True yellow diamonds, which means they are darker than the usual D-to-Z range, are graded as fancy and tend to get more expensive the more vivid they are.

Yellow Diamonds Fall Into One of These Six Categories:

Fancy Light Yellow Diamond

Fancy Yellow Diamond

Fancy Dark Yellow Diamond

Fancy Deep Yellow Diamond

Fancy Intense Yellow Diamond

Fancy Vivid Yellow Diamond, also known as a canary diamond

These categories, ranging from fancy light yellow diamond to fancy vivid yellow diamond reflect the intensity of the yellow within the stone in a positive way, with the darker more fancy intense level diamonds being prized.

A large carat fancy yellow diamond can be quite expensive, as well as rare, but makes for a stunning color in an engagement ring or other jewelry. Below is a description of each of the above categories.

Fancy Light Yellow Diamond

A fancy light yellow diamond will be the least intense yellow color of the various carat fancy yellow diamonds. These diamonds will not look like tinted colorless diamonds, they will still very much appear purposefully yellow. They are a great engagement ring option and will be a less expensive option while still very much on the yellow color scale.

Fancy Yellow Diamond

A fancy yellow diamond is a step darker than a fancy light yellow diamond, but definitely still on the lighter end of the color scale. These diamonds will be valued higher per carat fancy yellow diamond compared to a fancy light yellow diamond as well due to the strength of color.

Fancy Dark Yellow Diamond

Per carat, fancy yellow diamonds really vary in cost, but once we get to fancy dark yellow on the color scale, we move into higher price smaller carat options usually. Finding a mined from the earth fancy dark yellow diamond, fancy deep yellow diamond, or fancy intense yellow diamond, or a fancy vivid yellow diamond is fairly rare.

When discovered they used to be reserved for those who could afford to outbid others for them. Now with lab-grown options, pricing is a lot fairer, but still definitely higher than some options. Generally, per carat, fancy color diamonds are still more expensive and harder to get a hold of.

Fancy Deep Yellow Diamond

Fancy color diamonds in the fancy deep yellow diamond category are a full yellow tone, with some undertone possibilities such as brownish-yellow, orange, and greenish. Fancy colored diamonds of all hues can have tones to them, and the GIA includes such factors in its color scale grading.

Fancy Intense Yellow Diamond

The second deepest color rating, a fancy intense yellow diamond of a significant carat weight can cost quite a lot. In fact, a GIA study showed them ranging from $6,500 per carat to $8,000 per carat. Keep in mind, these are mined prices so are inflated compared to lab-grown categories of fancy color diamonds.

Rings with a mined fancy intense yellow diamond are a fairly expensive investment that looks, and atomically are, the same as lab-grown options. If you want a brilliant yellow, start your search at fancy intense yellow diamonds.

Fancy Vivid Yellow Diamond

Also known as a canary diamond, a fancy vivid yellow diamond is the most intense yellow diamond you can get. In terms of fancy color diamonds in general, these are rare, expensive gems that feature unique colorings. Some have greenish, brown, orange, or brownish yellow tints to them which will decrease the price as pure yellow diamonds hold more value.

In order to mitigate cost, it is important to consider the preferred tones in your diamond, as well as your general max cost so you can pick which color rating you want to shop within. With Clean Origin jewelry, you can shop a wider array of these fancy color diamond categories by going lab-grown.

Are Yellow Diamonds Rare or Expensive?

Yes and no! A yellow diamond with vivid, intense coloring can be incredibly rare and expensive! Meanwhile, a lighter yellow diamond will tend to be cheaper and depending on the shade can even pass for white to the average eye.

Fancy color diamonds, in general, vary in price depending on their fancy color rating as well as their clarity, shape, and other factors. The GIA rates each yellow diamond, noting whether it is relatively colorless or if it has brownish undertones, or even orange options.

How Is the Value of a Yellow Diamond Determined?

The undertone of fancy color diamonds can be a very important part of determining their value. True yellow diamonds can be valued more highly than some with light yellow undertones. However, regardless of general value, some people prefer orange or brownish undertones in their yellow ring because it does interesting things to the color of the yellow diamond.

Fancy Vivid graded yellow diamonds, also known as canary diamonds, tend to be the most expensive and sought after of the yellow diamond grades. Depending on size, the intensity of coloring, and grade of diamond, yellow diamonds can be an expensive rarity or a cost-effective gift.

Personal preference reigns when it comes to the discernable value of these diamonds. The average person will struggle to grade them, so they are more of a fun personalization option than a ring budget announcement as you move into more intense coloring.

How Are Yellow Lab Diamonds Created?

Lab-grown diamonds are made in a fascinating process, and one of the parts is deciding if the diamond will be fancy colored or not. If it is determined that it should be a yellow diamond then the lab introduces nitrogen during the growth process, which gives these diamonds their yellow hue. The more nitrogen introduced, the more vibrant the color is!

Trace elements and chemicals help create fancy colored diamonds naturally, but the lab growth process allows us to leverage those elements to create purposefully brilliant stones. Rather than guess at what hue the diamond will have, it is becoming an exact science to creating high-value stones like canary diamonds in a lab.

As lab growing gets more and more popular, these gorgeous diamonds become more accessible for everyday wear and become an even more exciting personal touch to people’s engagement rings.

Lab-Grown vs. Mined Yellow Diamonds

Mined vivid and intense yellow diamonds are rare, and as a result, are often highly valued. Before lab growing, people had to wait for someone to unearth their future diamond. The time spent waiting for a yellow diamond to come out of the ground, combined with mining costs, and controlled trade of these stones skyrocketed the price of them as well.

The rarity of yellow diamonds makes them highly sought after, which feeds into unsustainable, conflict-riddled diamond practices. Luckily, lab grown yellow diamonds can be made at any color grade!

It is not often that D-to-Z graded yellow diamonds are called for, so lab-grown yellow diamonds are often intense, expensive stones made sustainably and on-demand for clients. No one has the time to waste waiting for a canary diamond to be mined, so many prefer to lab grow. With the ability to design your diamond with less wait time at a lower price, it is a wonder people still buy mined fancy colored diamonds at all!

Lab-grown diamonds are identical to mined diamonds, to the point where they are impossible for gem specialists to tell the difference. Interestingly, higher graded lab-grown diamonds are often priced a lot lower because of the accessibility of the technology, which leads people to believe that lab-grown diamonds are often much better quality.

Save Money With Lab-Grown

This means that lab grown diamonds can be more brilliant and bright yellow stones overall without breaking the bank. A high-quality stone can be made uniquely for individual wedding bands, earrings, necklaces, and other jewelry pieces, which decreases stone waste and increases satisfaction with the final product. 

What Cut Should a Yellow Diamond Be?

Yellow fancy color diamonds reflect differently than a colorless or white diamond. Because of this, the cut and shape choices are very important!

While the general favorite cut of a white diamond or colorless diamond is round, you will rarely find a fancy yellow color diamond in that cut. Fancy cuts go well with fancy color diamonds, so you will see fancy yellow diamonds cushion cut, oval cut, emerald cut, and even heart cut.

When looking at fancy color yellow diamonds loose, make sure to consider a fancy cut so that you get the most sparkle out of the stone. Oval-cut yellow diamonds are a modern fan favorite, and fancy yellow cushion cut diamonds were very popular in vintage jewelry. A fancy yellow diamond ring will look its best under candlelight or natural light and in a fancy cut. Fancy color diamonds, in general, require nontraditional cuts to make them shine, and you would be pressed to find many round-cut canary diamonds for that reason.

Clean Origin’s Selection of Color Diamonds

Clean Origin provides a variety of fancy colored diamonds, ranging from pink to yellow to blue. We run the gambit from fancy vivid graded options to fancy light, that way there is a stone to match every color scheme and personal style. There are also tonal options within our site, so those looking for more orange, brown, or green in their stone can find it easily.

The eye-catching nature of a fancy-colored diamond is not lost on us, so we try to provide many high-quality options. Our quality gems speak for themselves, with competitive gradings, professional cuts, and brilliant colors. Diamonds a fourth of the weight of a carat fancy yellow lab-grown diamond, and of lesser clarity than the compared lab-grown option, are priced similarly to our gorgeous, sustainable diamonds.

By sourcing 100% lab-grown diamonds, Clean Origin is able to provide better quality, rare diamonds at a much lower price, as well as remain committed to sustainable, equitable diamond practices. We prefer our jewelry to be set apart from the murky ethics of the natural diamond supply chain. No longer do you have to wait for a canary diamond to be found, instead, one can be made just for you.