Yellow Diamond vs White Diamond – Which is Better?

choose a yellow or a white diamond

Interactive video listings of yellow and white diamonds from James Allen.

When most people think of shopping for an engagement ring, they usually picture a colorless, white diamond that is full of sparkle and brilliance. In recent years, yellow diamond rings have also made a splash among celebrities and are fast gainly popularity with consumers.

So, is one better than the other? When comparing a yellow diamond vs a white diamond, what are the similarities and differences between them? How do you know what is the right pick for you?

In this article, we take a deep dive into the world of white and yellow diamonds to provide answers to these questions. You will also find out the things to take note of when buying a white or yellow diamond ring and the best places to shop for them.

What Are the Differences Between Yellow And White Diamonds?

comparison of diamonds with different color grades face down

White diamonds are graded face down for their color.

First of all, white diamonds are not really “white” but rather, they are “colorless” and are graded based on their lack of color. Most white diamonds have some hint of body color due to the presence of chemical impurities during their formation process.

White diamonds are graded on a scale of D to Z where D depicts a colorless appearance while Z denotes a light yellow tinge. In the market, most of the white diamonds sold are typically in the D to K color range where they are often perceived and marketed to be of “higher quality”.

Natural yellow diamonds can be found in a range of hues and saturation which are dependent on the amount of nitrogen present in its chemical structure. In the gemological lab, yellow diamonds are graded based on their color saturation into the following categories:

Faint
Very Light
Light
Fancy Light
Fancy
Fancy Intense
Fancy Vivid, Fancy Deep or Fancy Dark

yellow diamond gia color chart

Fancy color diamonds are graded face up and assessed for their color distribution.

Unlike white diamonds, higher saturation and more intense color are desired traits for fancy yellow diamonds. Besides the obvious color differences between white and yellow diamonds, the other difference I want to point out is that most fancy yellow diamonds are cut to fancy shapes instead of the popular round shape.

The reason behind this is that the color saturation of a diamond can be easier to manipulate in fancy shapes such as cushion cuts or radiant cuts. In contrast, white diamonds are cut into all types of shapes with the round brilliant cut being the most popular because of the fire and brilliance it displays.

Are Fancy Yellow Diamonds More Expensive Than White Diamonds?

The short answer is, it depends.

When it comes to prices, there are many factors that come into play to determine the value of a diamond. In general, the price of a diamond is largely determined by the 4Cs: cut, carat, clarity and color.

Within the white color range of D-Z, a D color diamond is obviously going to be more expensive than a K color diamond. Likewise, for fancy yellow diamonds, a fancy vivid intensity is rarer than a fancy light intensity and this creates a significant price difference between them.

Check out the price comparison chart of yellow diamonds vs white diamonds across different color ranges compiled below to get an idea of their price differences. For a fair comparison, I’ve kept the variables of the 4Cs like carat weight (1ct) and clarity (VS1) identical.

price comparison of yellow diamonds vs white diamonds which is more expensive

Price of yellow diamonds compared to white diamonds in the 1 carat size range.

Factors like hue and saturation will impact a yellow diamond’s value significantly. Basically, the price of a diamond boils down to one thing – rarity. In nature, fancy vivid yellow diamonds are rarer than white diamonds and the market values them at a higher price. This price difference will accentuate exponentially with higher carat sizes.

On the other hand, a fancy light yellow diamond will cost much less than a D colorless diamond or even a G near colorless diamond. So, it is a misconception to think that fancy color diamonds will always cost more than white colorless diamonds.

Insider tip: If a fancy vivid diamond is too expensive for your budget, you can save money with a fancy intense color diamond and still recreate a similar looking saturation with a complementary setting. For example, choosing a ring design that has yellow prongs can help accentuate the yellow hue of the diamond after it is mounted.

Which is Better For an Engagement Ring? A White or Yellow Diamond?

Over the years, I have bought numerous diamond rings for both my wife and for my own collection purposes.

If you are interested, you can read about the entire buying process and review of the cushion cut yellow diamond ring I bought. For white, colorless diamond rings, I’ve also documented the different purchases I had made recently in these links here and here.

 

  

The choice between a white or yellow diamond engagement ring is entirely subjective. However, I would say that white diamonds are more traditional and popular choices for engagement rings. Yellow diamond rings are more trendy and allow people with bold fashion sense to stand out from the crowd.

When it comes to appearances, white diamonds have better sparkle and brilliance because of the way they are cut. On the other hand, yellow diamonds are often cut to retain color saturation at the expense of brilliance.

If you aren’t sure which to buy, I would recommend buying a white color diamond ring as it is the safest bet to make. The best advice I can give you is to find out what the recipient wants and their personality before you start shopping. That will save you a lot of time and headaches during the buying process.

Can You Have The Best of Both Worlds?

For people who are trying to make a choice between a white or yellow diamond ring, what if I told you that you don’t have to? You don’t necessarily have to choose between one or the other because there are ring designs that incorporate both types of diamonds.

Check out some of my favorite white and yellow diamond engagement rings designs that enable you to enjoy the best of both worlds. If you are interested to view more details, simply click on the corresponding images below…double halo white gold yellow diamond rim with colorless center stone

A carefully crafted white and yellow double halo diamond ring that delivers a blinding sparkle to the viewer’s eyes. The color contrast created by the yellow gold metal and white gold metal gives the ring a distinct and alluring appearance.


perimeter out yellow halo diamond engagement ring with white center diamond

This halo ring showcases an open pave halo that is made of 18k yellow gold and mounted with fancy intense yellow diamonds. The outline of the white center diamond is accentuated with a beautiful bright yellow rim.


3 stone diamond ring design multi color yellow white pink

This multi-colored 3 stone diamond engagement ring features a fancy intense yellow cushion cut diamond that is flanked with colorless diamonds. The halos for each of the main diamonds are made of yellow gold and rose gold while being adorned by white and pink diamonds. This symbolic piece of jewelry is a masterpiece of art and creativity.


floral yellow oval diamond ring encased in white and yellow diamond halo

This impressive double halo floral ring design has a stunning oval center stone and 2 intricate halo rims that resemble the petals of a flower. This highly intricate ring design offers massive finger coverage and will definitely turn heads!

These striking designs are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what’s available. Check out Leibish and James Allen to browse through hundreds of breathtaking ring designs that range from simplistic to ultra-intricate styles.

Where to Buy a Yellow Diamond or White Diamond Ring?

gold prong encrusted halo with melees

I bought this cushion cut yellow diamond ring from Leibish recently for my wife.

Whether you are buying a white diamond or a yellow diamond, the bottom line is that you buy from a reliable vendor that offers transparent data and high quality videos like James Allen or Leibish. When dealing with fancy yellow diamonds, every diamond is unique and there can be variance even with a specific GIA color grade.

In my opinion, the best place to buy a yellow diamond ring is Leibish and Co. as they specialize in fancy color diamonds. Their expertise in making complementary settings that bring out the best in a fancy color diamond is impeccable.

On top of that, their loose diamond selection is massive and this allows you to cherry pick the best diamond for your needs and budget. This is in sharp contrast to local jewelers or non-specialized sellers with limited options in stock and may not even have the correct shape, color or size that you are looking for.

If you are looking for a white diamond ring, James Allen is an ideal place to browse for the perfect diamond ring of your choice. Their intuitive video listings allow you to see exactly what you are buying and their transparent business practice gives you complete peace of mind.

Which Would You Choose – A Yellow or White Diamond Ring?

loose gia certified si2 yellow diamond

See exactly what you are buying and shop risk-free with full confidence at James Allen.

Hopefully, this article has offered useful insights and provided you with a better idea of what white and yellow diamonds are. Both types of diamonds can be beautiful choices for an engagement ring and it really boils down to what you like best.

Pricewise, a fancy yellow diamond is pretty much on par with a white, colorless diamond and won’t break the bank. It is an affordable alternative compared to pink or red diamonds and can help you stand out from the crowd.

Remember, when you are shopping for a diamond, make sure that it is properly certified by GIA as it is an assurance that the stone is untreated and that the diamond’s quality has been accurately assessed.

Now, I want to hear from you. If you are given a choice between a yellow diamond vs a white diamond engagement ring, which would you choose and why? Leave a comment below and let me know your thoughts!

If you are shopping for a diamond ring, make sure you check out Leibish for their fancy yellow diamond selections and James Allen for thousands of GIA certified loose diamonds. Both are superb vendors that offer competitive pricing and high quality workmanship.

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11 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Betty-
    December 9, 2019 at 9:19 am

    Are yellow diamonds more expensive and worth more if they come with a GIA certificate or one that has an IGI certificate? I am quite surprised by the massive price differences when the jeweler quoted me 2 separate diamonds with similar specifications.

  2. Avatar
    Paul Gian-
    December 11, 2019 at 1:30 pm

    GIA certified diamonds are “worth more” and more expensive relative to other diamonds because they have been accurately assessed for their qualities. For fancy color diamonds, a GIA cert is mandatory if you want assurance that the diamond isn’t treated or enhanced in any manner. Whether a diamond is cheap or expensive is relative to what you are comparing it to. And one of the most common scams is that jewelers try to pass off an uncertified diamond as being equal in quality to another one with a GIA certificate and market it as offering better value for money when it really isn’t.

  3. Avatar
    Mcleen-
    April 22, 2020 at 4:11 am

    I am looking specifically for the differences in value between fancy yellow diamonds vs white diamonds which are graded as a fancy color by GIA as well. Which one would you recommend better as an investment and in terms of rarity, is a white diamond rarer than a yellow diamond?

  4. Avatar
    Paul Gian-
    April 25, 2020 at 11:06 am

    Most diamonds in the retail world are not investable even if it is a fancy color diamond because there’s usually too much of it to go around. Yes, you’ve read that right. Even if you have a 5ct yellow diamond or 4ct white diamond, these aren’t as rare as a lot of jewelers who are selling them claim.

    Unless you are buying an extremely large 20 ct or 10ct diamond with a rich history (i.e. some famous people previously owned it), diamonds are generally bad investments because of the retail prices you pay over the intrinsic value of the diamond and the fees involved when needing to sell the diamond.

    When we talk about rarity, I hesitate to give a general statement because the subtle details matter. For example, a fancy vivid yellow diamond is rarer than a fancy yellow diamond. A fancy white diamond would be rarer than the usual fancy yellow diamonds you commonly see around. A fancy vivid yellow canary diamond would be rarer than a white diamond. So, things are really relative to each other. If I would have to go for a choice, yellow diamonds are better buys because of the way they are formed. Fancy white diamonds are nothing more than heavily included diamonds that have very very very white inclusions spread out across the diamond.

  5. Avatar
    Matthew-
    August 7, 2020 at 11:35 am

    What are canary diamonds? Are they the same term to reference to a yellow diamond?

  6. Avatar
    Paul Gian-
    August 11, 2020 at 8:58 pm

    Canary diamonds are more of a marketing term used by sellers to label yellow diamonds with intense or vivid intensities. It is named after the yellow breasted bird because of the resemblance in color. Only a small subset of yellow diamonds have the correct hue and intensities to be called a canary diamond. For the record, I personally don’t like people using the term canary to market their diamonds because it opens up avenues for abuse.

  7. Avatar
    james wood-
    October 22, 2020 at 6:15 pm

    If buying a fancy yellow diamond is such a difficult task, won’t it be easier to work with a local jeweler with knowledge of it?

  8. Avatar
    Paul Gian-
    October 24, 2020 at 9:00 am

    You hit the nail on the head. If and that’s a BIG if you can find someone reliable who knows what they are doing with yellow diamonds. Most jewelers have poor knowledge when it comes to fancy color diamonds because they typically work with colorless diamonds. I recommend Leibish for good reasons and one of those is that the color of a yellow diamond is pretty difficult to assess for a layperson. You can’t simply rely on the GIA color grade because they exist as a range and within that range, you can find fancy yellow diamonds that are more saturated or lighter in color. You can find diamonds that look darker due to poor cut quality and contrast patterning. You need to be able to sieve out the better ones from the lousier ones. With Leibish, their videos and images provide clarity and you see exactly what you are getting. It’s also the depth of selection available that allows you to compare, choose the best and also the best-in-class workmanship they offer.

  9. Avatar
    Sophie-
    March 28, 2021 at 3:26 am

    Hi Paul, I’m deciding between 2 diamonds and would like to get your opinion on which might be
    1. the better value stone
    2. have better resell demand and value
    If you can give your thoughts, I would really appreciate your help.

    Both stones are beautiful and return light well but in different ways. Despite the GIA ratings, the color of both look similar. The Fancy Yellow stone is more yellow but not by much. The cost of the Fancy Yellow is 25% more than the Y-Z stone, and also faces up larger despite being .26ct smaller than the Y-Z stone. Here are the specs of each:

    Stone 1
    Square Cut Emerald
    Color: Y-Z
    Carat: 3.52ct (8.17×8.16×5.68)
    Clarity: VS1
    Polish & Symmetry: Excellent
    Culet: None
    Fluorescence: none

    Stone 2
    Square Cut Emerald
    Color: Fancy Brownish Yellow, Natural, Even
    Carat: 3.26ct (8.67×8.45×5.19)
    Clarity: VS2
    Polish & Symmetry: Very Good
    Culet: None
    Fluorescence: Strong Blue
    Cost: 25% more than the Y-Z stone

  10. Avatar
    Paul Gian-
    March 29, 2021 at 3:22 am

    These diamonds have poor resale value. If you are looking at them as investments, be prepared to LOSE a significant portion of money paid for these diamonds when you resell the stone. Without tangible data like videos or photographs taken in a controlled, neutral environment, I can’t comment much on the appearance of the diamonds. Based on the specifications that you listed, a fancy brownish yellow diamond will have a tint of brown in it and the Strong Blue fluorescence will affect the color of the diamond by “whitening” it. In a fancy color diamond, the hue and color are key priorities. That should be something to take in mind when making a selection.

  11. Avatar
    Sophie Wu-
    March 29, 2021 at 4:54 am

    Thanks for your quick response! It’s for my engagement ring, not for investment… But I was thinking that I might be able to “trade up” someday so wanted to get the more valuable and appealing stone. They both return light very well. The brownish yellow one is only slightly brown, not muddy (maybe a dark honey). The Y-Z one faces up like a fancy light yellow but unfortunately, the yellow is not consistent (at different angles, looks more white than yellow). I guess, thus the Y-Z rating vs fancy light yellow. Can I email you images of the stones so you can take a look and provide a more informed opinion?

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