While many of the basics of how to buy a diamond apply to all diamond types, they actually vary a bit among the different colours. Since yellow diamonds are the most commonly known among coloured diamonds, this guide will help you a lot to become a smart shopper.
What Are Yellow Diamonds?
You already know that white diamonds are graded from D to Z on the diamond colour scale. As the letter goes closer to Z, it means the diamond is less colourless and starts to be yellowish in tone. However, at a certain point, if you continue on “the colour scale”, diamond colour stop looking like a faded shade and instead becomes a beautiful yellow colour. This is the point when a diamond is considered to be yellow.
The cause of each colour is different. In terms of yellow diamonds, the reason is the existence of nitrogen molecules which absorb blue light.
Yellow diamonds are a family of colours on their own. That’s why when GIA (the Gemological Institute of America) grades a coloured diamond it states the exact colour description.
The most common colour combinations found in yellow diamonds are orange-yellow, brown yellow and green-yellow.
Are Yellow Diamonds Rare?
Natural coloured diamonds are extremely rare. In fact, only 1 out of 10,000 carats is a natural coloured diamond. However, within the niche of coloured diamonds yellows are the most common. They make up to 60% of the coloured diamonds. So it turns out that approximately 1 out of 16,500 carats that are mined is a yellow diamond.
Yellow Diamond Colour Scale
When grading coloured diamonds, besides determining the colour and colour combination, the colour is also graded for intensity.
The intensity scale of coloured diamonds goes as follows:
- Very Light
- Fancy Light
- Fancy Dark
- Fancy Deep
- Fancy Intense
- Fancy Vivid
In the case of yellow diamonds, there are no Faint, Very Light and Light varieties. Instead, these are referred to as cape diamonds (diamonds from the lower end of D-Z colour scale). The name originates from Cape Province in South Africa.
The first level in which a diamond is considered a fancy diamond is Fancy Light yellow. Among yellow diamonds, vivid yellows are the rarest and most sought after and priced accordingly.
Yellow Diamonds Pricing
When it comes to evaluating the price of a coloured diamond, it requires extreme expertise and it’s quite understandable. When grading yellow diamonds, the first thing you will look at is the colour. Since there are hundreds of colour combinations, the price differences between them are vast. For example, the existence of a brownish tint in a yellow diamond will reduce its price, while green or orange will increase it dramatically. Besides, the stronger the yellow colour, the higher the price.
Fancy Intense yellow diamonds, also known as Canary diamonds, are probably the most sought after yellows. Their yellow shade is very pure and the price is usually 25-50% more than for fancy yellows.
Fancy vivid yellow diamonds are even rarer and shine like very few diamonds. This makes them twice the price of an Intense Yellow and 3 times the price of a Fancy Yellow. There is a small group of vivid yellow diamonds that are even more valued. These are vivid yellow diamonds that come from Zimmi mine in Sierra Leone.
Cut, Clarity and Carat
The remaining 3 Cs have a similar effect like with white diamonds.
The price per carat of yellow diamonds will be much higher than the price per carat of a half-carat diamond, meaning that 2*0.50 ct diamonds cost less than 1*1 ct diamond. Try to multiply it by the actual price and you will see the difference.
Tips: The price per carat of a 0.50-carat yellow diamond is much higher than of a 0.45 carat. The same pricing works with other sizes, that’s why if you want to save some money (about 30%) better opt for a bit smaller size. No one will notice the difference in size by looking at the diamond with the naked eye.
Yellow diamonds are known to be found in nature with relatively high clarity grade. Keep in mind that SI1 or SI2 diamonds still appear “eye clean” and it’s a very good value for the money.
It’s commonly said that coloured diamonds are cut to maximize the colour. However, the fact is that they are cut to maximize their value. If the cutter needs to drop below 1.00 to 0.98 to maximize the colour, most likely he won’t. Even if it means that the diamond will be less symmetrical. Just keep in mind that an excellent cut might get a premium, so it’s safe to target somewhere in the middle.
Very good polish and symmetry are excellent in terms of yellow diamonds.
Cover image credit: Graff