There is a lot written about choosing white diamonds, but what should you do when you are looking to buy a yellow diamond. Let’s see what fancy yellow diamonds are and how you should evaluate them.
What Are Yellow Diamonds?
Yellow diamonds are among the most popular fancy-color stones. Diamonds with an intense yellow hue are sometimes also called canary diamonds.
The color of yellow diamonds is caused by nitrogen impurities present in the stone’s crystal structure.
Yellow diamonds often have secondary undertones such as brown, orange, and green.
Along with brown diamonds, yellow diamonds are among the most common naturally colored diamonds.
Fancy yellow diamonds are not to be confused with white diamonds that have yellowish tints.
The color of the latter is graded with letters from D to Z, whereas fancy-color diamonds are stones whose hue is much stronger than Z-grade color.
Most important, whereas the value of yellowish white diamonds decreases with the intensity of their yellow tints, the reverse is true for fancy yellow diamonds: The more vivid their yellow color, the more valuable they are.
Evaluating Yellow Diamonds
The value of yellow diamonds is mostly determined by their color (this is also the case with all fancy-color diamonds).
Clarity, carat, and cut also play an important role, but not to the extent they affect the value of regular white diamonds.
The evaluation of yellow diamonds’ color is based on three main components: hue, saturation, and tone.
Hue refers to the primary color of the stone, and rarer hues are more expensive. For example, blue diamonds are very rare and therefore quite costly.
Yellow diamonds, however, do not get much of a premium because of their color, as yellow is among the most common hues in fancy stones.
Secondary hues can increase or diminish the value of a diamond depending on whether the particular undertone is rare and whether it underscores or detracts from the primary hue.
For example, yellow diamonds with brownish secondary hues cost less, while those with orange undertones are considered more valuable.
Saturation is the level of intensity of a diamond’s primary color. In general, more vivid colors command higher prices. So, diamonds with an intense yellow hue will be more valuable than stones with paler colors.
Tone is a characteristic describing how dark the hue of a diamond is. The most valuable yellow stones have a tone that underscores their main hue, i.e., they are not too light or too dark.
Color distribution is a secondary characteristic of fancy-color diamonds that is not unimportant. It refers to how even the diamond’s color is throughout the stone.
Thus, yellow diamonds whose color is relatively even will be more valuable than those that have a more patchy appearance.
The grades commonly used to describe fancy yellow diamonds are as follows: Faint Yellow, Very Light Yellow, Light Yellow, Fancy Light Yellow, Fancy Yellow, Fancy Intense Yellow, Fancy Vivid Yellow, Fancy Dark Yellow, and Fancy Deep Yellow.
The clarity of yellow diamonds is graded using the same scale as that used for white diamonds. Generally, the fewer flaws there are in the stone, the higher its clarity grade and the more valuable the diamond is.
Clarity is not as important for the value of fancy-color diamonds, though, and one of the reasons for this is that the chemical impurities making a stone colored also cause its flaws to be less visible.
When shopping for yellow diamonds, look for eye-clean stones. That is, pick diamonds that do not have flaws visible with the naked eye.
There is no need to go for the highest clarity grade because the difference between such stones and lower-clarity eye-clean ones is not visible without magnification (but the price differences are quite tangible).
Deciding on Carat
The carat of a yellow diamond is an important determinant of its price.
It is well known that bigger diamonds cost more; however, it is worth noting that higher-carat colored stones cost disproportionately more than smaller ones.
The main reason for this is that larger diamonds are much rarer, and therefore, a 2-carat yellow stone will be more than twice as expensive as a similar 1-carat diamond.
Keep that in mind when choosing carat, and decide for yourself how much more money you are willing to pay for any additional carats.
When it comes to colored diamonds, cut is not as important as it is for white stones.
While regular colorless diamonds are cut to maximize their brilliance, fancy-color diamonds are cut to maximize color. This is why the ideal cut proportions used to grade white diamonds are not applicable to yellow diamonds.
For that reason, you should choose such stones on their color characteristics first.
Once you’ve narrowed down your options, you can use cut as a secondary characteristic to make your final decision.