Yellow Diamonds set in Yellow Diamond Rings are one of the most popular colours known to the general public besides white or colourless. Natural Fancy yellow coloured diamonds come in various different intensites: light Yellow, fancy light Yellow, fancy Yellow, fancy intense Yellow and fancy vivid Yellow. with increasing prices with the higher intensity colours. Canary Yellow is another name used to often describe a fancy intense yellow diamond.
Some of the yellows with higher intensity of colour (e.g. Fancy Vivid Yellows) are as rare as the pinks and blues and the rarity will usually be reflected in the astronomical price that they can command!
Although faint yellow in white diamonds is seen as undesirable, fancy intense yellow is highly prized and sought after. Although India produced some yellows in the 16th and 17th centuries, South Africa today is one of the main producers of these natural coloured gems. The first authenticated diamond found in South Africa was the 10.73 yellow Eureka. By the early 20th century, South Africa had also produced the 128.51 Tiffany, the 130 carat Colenso, the 228.50 DeBeers,and the 205.07 Red Cross.
In 1996 at Christie’s, a 8.45 fancy vivid yellow sold for $684,500! Today, you can buy yellows in various shades from lemon yellow to taxicab yellow. The best pure yellow or orangish yellow will be called “fancy intense” or “fancy vivid” yellow on the Gemmological Institute of America (GIA) grading report. These diamonds are very rare and expensive. Slightly below these stones are the fancy yellows. These stones are more affordable but still quite yellow.
The prices of all coloured diamonds depend on the saturation of colour. But there are also secondary colours or ‘qualifiers’ that are not even part of the normal diamond colour grade scale, but do make the pricing even more complicated. Qualifiers like yellowish-brown, fancy orange-brown yellow for instance.
The word ‘fancy’ on any GIA report usually equals premium pricing, by the way. The GIA colour grades (W-X and Y-Z) are more affordable but still distinctly yellow, particularly once set. There are several colour grades that can be assigned to a Fancy Yellow diamond and the differences can be a bit confusing. The example chart above should help illustrate some of the differences. Do note though that the colours you see may not be an exact representation as monitors display colours differently.
Common names for yellow diamonds include canary, cape, daffodil, lemon, autumn, golden, manila, chartreuse, saffron etc. The yellow diamond rough is mined in South Africa, Brazil, Russia and India.
Why are Diamonds Yellow?
The abundance of Nitrogen during a diamonds formation is one of the main contributors to the diamond being Yellow in appearance. It occurs in higher concentrations than any other element. The secondary colours for yellow diamonds include orange, green, brown, grey and even olive.
Natural diamonds that have been treated and artifically enhanced diamonds, closely resembles the natural yellow and is not easy to detect by eye. They need to be analyzed using infrared spectroscope.