Yellow Diamonds: Differences in Grades & Value

Many buyers associate diamonds with icy, colorless clarity, but in fact, diamonds can come in many colors, including pink and blue. One color that has seen some popularity in recent years is the yellow diamond.

Yellow diamonds, sometimes called canary diamonds, are always created by one of two things — the color may be either introduced artificially or found in nature. Natural yellow diamonds get their color from the presence of nitrogen molecules.

Is a Yellow Diamond Rare?

White diamonds are graded from D to Z in terms of purity of color. As they get closer to Z, they take on a yellow hue due to imperfections and decrease in value. Once natural diamonds are completely out of this range, they can take on a deep, rich color and their beauty becomes sublime. These diamonds are referred to as “fancy colored.”

Only a small percentage of mined diamonds have a deep, true color. Of these, the majority are yellow. Therefore, while natural yellow diamonds are still very rare, they are much easier to find on the market compared to other fancy colored diamonds.

What are the Different Grades of Yellow Diamonds?

When the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) grades a yellow diamond, they give the exact color and vividness. The different “color grades” of a yellow diamond include Orange Yellow, Brown Yellow, Green Yellow, and some less common color combinations. Usually, the GIA lists the most prominent color last—e.g. a brown yellow diamond is a yellow diamond with some brown tones.

Yellow diamonds are also ranked by vividness, from fancy light to fancy vivid. A diamond may be graded as green yellow and fancy light, meaning it’s a yellow diamond with green hues and is relatively lighter in color. The worth of a yellow diamond changes dramatically depending on its GIA color grade and vividness. For example, a fancy vivid yellow diamond is worth more per carat than fancy light. Learn more about how saturation affects diamond value.

Graff 15.01ct Fancy Light Yellow Diamond Ring

Graff 15.01ct Fancy Light Yellow Diamond Ring. Lot 121, Magnificent Jewels.

What Is the Average Value of a Yellow Diamond?

The worth of a yellow diamond varies widely depending on several factors, including:

  • Clarity: Yellow diamonds, like all diamonds, vary in clarity from “FL” for flawless, the most valuable, down to I2, the most included of diamonds.
  • Cut: A cut with high polish and good symmetry will make for a valuable diamond. In general, diamonds can be cut and re-cut to maximize value. Occasionally, diamonds may be cut to improve or accentuate its clarity, and that cut will increase the value of the diamond, compared to its original characteristics.
  • Carat: As with any diamond, the value of a yellow diamond grows with total carat weight.
  • Fluorescence: Fluorescence refers to whether a diamond emits a glow under UV light. In yellow diamonds, significant fluorescence reduces the value.
  • Nature: Of course, natural yellow diamonds are worth much more than lab-grown diamonds or any diamond artificially made to appear yellow.
  • Origin: Some yellow diamonds are especially prized. For example, vivid-grade yellow diamonds from Africa’s Zimmy mine are known for their color and are especially in demand, making their value higher than similarly graded diamonds from different regions.

The only way to truly know the value of a yellow diamond is to seek a professional appraisal. FORTUNA® is an online and live auction house offering free, unbiased valuations, with no obligation to sell. Be sure to look up our upcoming auctions if you’re looking for that perfect canary diamond.