The Beginner’s Guide to Fancy Yellow Color Diamonds

When most people look at diamonds, they imagine the run-of-the-mill colorless stones. However, did you know that there are a huge variety of colors available to choose from?

Here’s a fact: the most popular fancy colored diamonds in the world are yellow diamonds. Not only are fancy yellow diamonds captivating to look at, they are also very affordable options for unique looking engagement rings.

loose fancy yellow color diamonds

Above: Beautiful natural yellow diamonds

Colorless diamonds are graded from D-Z. As you go down through the scale, the stones take on a stronger yellow or brownish hue. “Cape Diamonds,” the lightest shades of yellow diamonds, are stones that fall within the X-Y-Z range of the colorless scale and have strong yellow or brown hues.

colorless vs yellow diamonds

Above: A loose fancy yellow diamond next to a white diamond.

What Makes a Yellow Diamond Yellow?

Yellow diamonds exhibit their yellow colors due to the presence of nitrogen in the diamond’s chemical composition. Basically, the nitrogen atoms within the diamond’s crystal lattice cause blue light to be absorbed while allowing yellow wavelengths of light to be reflected into the observer’s eyes.

Depending on the amount of nitrogen in the diamond, various shades and hues of yellow will be displayed.

yellow diamond gia color chart

GIA diamond color chart depicting hue intensity and tone.

Understanding Color And Hues in Yellow Diamonds

Diamonds can appear in a wide array of colors in addition to their primary color. In nature, yellow diamonds can exist with a secondary color overtone of brown, orange, or green. Sometimes, they can even come in a mixture of 2 or 3 color overtones.

The most common secondary shades in fancy yellow diamonds are green and orange. Diamonds that exhibit the most vibrant yellow hues tend to be graded as Orangy Yellow in the labs.

In addition to the color hue, the intensity of the color is graded in the labs as well. The color intensities range from Fancy Light, Fancy, Fancy Intense, Fancy Vivid, Fancy Deep and Fancy Dark.

And if you are wondering, the most popular shades are Fancy Yellow and Fancy Intense Yellow stones. For people looking for something a little more extravagant, Fancy Vivid Yellow diamonds are great options to consider.

carat size comparison yellow diamonds

Comparing color intensities of fancy vivid yellow (far left) to a fancy light yellow (far right).

If you are interested to see the amazing colors of yellow diamonds in real life, check out Leibish & Co.’s entire range of yellow diamonds. Also, don’t forget to browse through their breathtaking selection of settings for these special stones.

The World’s Most Famous Yellow Diamonds

Did you know that some of the most extraordinary and famous diamonds in the world are yellow diamonds?

In the 1980’s, The Incomparable was found in its rough state weighing 890 carats. It was accidentally discovered in the Democratic Republic of Congo by a young girl who was playing in her uncle’s yard.

This gargantuan yellow rough was sold through a number of hands, before being bought by Donald Zale, of the Zale Corporation. Because of its unique shape, the rough stone was heavily studied for 4 years in order to perfect the approach of cutting it.

In 1984, the masterpiece(s) was finally revealed. From the fragments of cutting the rough stone, fourteen smaller satellite gems were obtained; the largest piece being a kite shape diamond weighing 15.66 carats.

most valuable necklace

The biggest piece of rough ultimately yielded a gem weighing 407.48 carats; making it the third largest diamond ever cut. This huge diamond was graded as an Internally Flawless stone with a Fancy Brownish-Yellow color.


Tiffany Yellow Diamond – The Canary Sings!

Another famous yellow diamond that made headlines is the Tiffany Yellow Diamond. In the rough form, the stone was a stunning canary-yellow octahedron weighing in at 287.42 carats.

After the meticulous design and careful polishing by master cutters, the rough diamond was transformed into a 128.54 carat cushion-cut brilliant. A total of 90 facets were polished with utmost precision; 48 on the pavilion, 40 on the crown, and including 2 on the table and culet.

the world famous tiffany diamond unset

The whopping 128.54 carat Tiffany diamond unset.

The legendary stone has been set onto a platinum necklace, which boasts 20 Lucida and 58 brilliant-cut diamonds, a total of over 120 carats. This impressive setting also features a sunray motif that radiates an aura of elegance.

the new designed tiffany setting

The Tiffany diamond set with over 120 carats of diamonds in a remarkable necklace.

Buying a Yellow Color Diamond Engagement Ring?

I have good news for you!

Contrary to popular belief, yellow diamonds are actually very affordable to the general public. They are the perfect induction for consumers to enter the world of colored diamonds without hefty price tags.

I also want to highlight the point that yellow diamonds are extremely versatile in jewelry design. However, if you want to bring out the best in a colored diamond, working with a jeweler like Leibish & Co. is highly recommended.

Here’s why…

When yellow diamonds are mounted into a piece of jewelry, the setting needs to be designed and handled such that the yellow color pops out as much as possible. In a nutshell, the nitty details matter.

yellow diamond rings for engagement proposals

Natural yellow diamond engagement rings created by Leibish.

When Leibish & Co. commissions an item, the shades of gold chosen for the yellow diamond jewelry piece will be based on what the customer is looking for and what complements the stone best.

One of their design specialties involves the use of yellow gold undercarriages to maximize the color of the mounted stone. (You can actually see this in the engagement ring examples above).

If you are looking for fine yellow diamond jewelry, I highly recommend Leibish & Co. They are a pioneer in the industry and offers a wide selection of loose yellow diamonds for various budgets.

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  1. Colin-
    June 10, 2016 at 9:39 am

    There are many stores on eBay offering loose yellow diamonds for sale at wholesale prices. How legit are they? They seem to be within my budget and look like real vendors with good feedback. I am looking to buy loose fancy yellow diamonds for investment purposes and I’ve seen very drastic differences in prices.

  2. Paul Gian-
    June 10, 2016 at 9:41 am

    Cheap yellow engagement rings like these are generally scams. Are they natural yellow diamonds? Have they been heat treated with processes that alter its natural color? Has the gemstone been clarity enhanced?

    The bottomline is, you should consider diamonds that are graded by GIA if you expect to receive a real diamond and one that’s not been tampered with by treatments. GIA protects YOU as a consumer and ensures that the diamond is accurately represented in its quality. Any slight difference in color hues makes a major difference in cost.

    The irony here is buying loose yellow diamonds for investment purposes. Let me clue you in and tell you that you will likely make a loss on your purchase even if you bought a GIA certified loose yellow diamond. Unless you are buying record breaking auction pieces, the retail markup will be more than enough to almost guarantee you lose money. And the fact that you are shopping at eBay tells me alot about your limited knowledge in this area.

  3. Kenny-
    October 10, 2018 at 4:27 pm

    I love Leibish’s website and they have a treasure trove collection of fancy color diamonds. Should I buy a loose fancy yellow diamond and get it mounted by another jeweller as Leibish don’t have the exact setting design I want or do you have any idea where else I can buy GIA certified yellow diamonds? Would you recommend a white gold or yellow gold setting?

  4. Paul Gian-
    October 12, 2018 at 1:41 am

    Leibish’s selection of yellow diamonds are somewhat unique because they own the diamonds in store and they have the experience and expertise to create great settings. Have you tried talking to them about tweaking or customizing a ring specifically to your needs? Leibish is pretty good at making settings that enhances the yellow color of the diamond. Whether it is white gold (which can make the diamond appear lighter in color) or yellow gold (which can help make the yellow diamond one intensity grade higher), it does take some skill to create the setting.

  5. Jan-
    April 12, 2021 at 3:02 pm

    Hi, Paul,

    I am interested in a pair of fancy yellow intense diamonds (.50ctw) available with Leibish & Co. The stones have been graded by Leibish’s in-house GIA gemologist and do not have the GIA reports.

    I wanted to ask your advice on whether you would purchase the diamonds with the in-house lab reports if you were a consumer, or would you pay to send the pair to GIA to be graded?

    Thank you for your time, and I look forward to your reply.

    ps – The yellow diamond ring you designed with Leibish & Co. for your wife for an anniversary gift is gorgeous!

  6. Paul Gian-
    April 16, 2021 at 3:34 am

    Do you have the links to the diamonds and the prices that are quoted? If this is any other retailer, I would generally warn against it but Leibish is a solid vendor. If the cost of the report is making up a significant portion of the costs, then it makes sense to skip that. From rough estimates, the cost of grading 2 fancy colored yellow diamonds will be about $100-$150 per stone depending on the type of details required. This is also not inclusive of shipping/handling fees that I assume you will be charged for the process. But if a peace of mind is what you need, then you should pay up for the grading fees or simply just buy diamonds that are already graded by GIA to begin with.

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