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.
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.
Above: A loose fancy yellow diamond next to a white diamond.
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.
GIA diamond color chart depicting hue intensity and tone.
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.
Comparing color intensities of fancy vivid yellow (far left) to a fancy light yellow (far right).
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.
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.
Colored diamonds are very rare in nature. Only 1 out of 10,000 carats of mined rough diamonds is a gem quality fancy color diamond. It is estimated that yellow diamonds make up about 60% of the colored stones in today’s market.
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 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 Tiffany diamond set with over 120 carats of diamonds in a remarkable necklace.
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.
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.
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).