Fancy Yellow Diamonds breathtaking beauty, bright shine, warm color, and the fact that they are rare but affordable for most people make them the coveted engagement ring, the ideal diamond.
Natural Yellow Diamond: How To Identify And Select The Right Yellow Diamonds?
NATURAL YELLOW DIAMONDS: HOW ARE THEY FORMED?
Like all natural diamonds, natural yellow diamonds are formed in a long and fascinating process in the belly of the earth. Just as challenges and difficulties toughen us and make us stronger in our own lives, the world’s most mesmerizing diamonds too are subjected to harsh conditions of 1,000 to 2,000 degrees centigrade combined with tremendous pressure at a depth of 150-200 km below the Earth’s mantle, in a continuous process spanning over millions and billions of years. All this results in the formation of a rare & beautiful crystal with unique qualities, such as a natural shine, high penetration of light, extraordinary strength and toughness, all of which making its cost skyrocket.
The yellow diamond actually gets its distinct color by ‘sullying’ the pure carbon mineral crystal with nitrogen molecules. The nitrogen molecules linked to the carbon molecules generate a yellow tint of various intensities and shades, in hundreds of potential combinations that often differ depending on the origin of the diamond and the chemistry that occurred during its formation.
FANCY YELLOW DIAMOND: DEFINING THE COLOR
According to Gemological Institutes, the characteristics of a diamond are not obvious or simple to determine. In fact, it takes careful and professional work reserved for specialists who can detect and distinguish the seemingly minute differences that make each diamond special and unique, with its own features, story and pricing.
The diamond’s characteristics are defined by four main criteria called the 4 C’S – Color, Carat, Clarity & Cut, which serve as parameters for identifying and cataloguing diamonds (including white diamonds) based on predetermined metrics and scales, and are specified in the diamond certificate. In the niche of fancy colored diamonds, the most important parameter is the color because it has the most impact on the diamond’s rarity and therefor its pricing. To explain the effect of the 4 C’S on the definition and pricing of yellow diamonds, we will start with the color parameter.
DEFINING THE YELLOW DIAMOND’S COLOR BASED ON THREE MAIN CRITERIONS:
The color parameter alone, despite being only 1 out of the 4 Cs, consists of three main grading scales: Hue, saturation, and tone. The effect of these parameters on the diamond’s definition and pricing is key and important, since the factor that most influences a diamond’s price is its color. Subsequently, there are hundreds of combinations of yellow diamonds and the price range is vast. For example, a brownish tint will reduce the value of a yellow diamond, while a green, orange, or gray tint will significantly increase its value. Even without any additional tint, the stronger the color intensity, the higher the diamond’s value.
Hue – The diamond’s primary color (yellow in this case), with a total of 27 defined colors, some of which consist of a combination of two colors put together, like Orange Yellow. Color combinations represent a primary hue and secondary hue (Modifying Color & overtone) – when a diamond has more than one color, it’s very important to remember that the order in which they appear is crucial – the last color is actually the primary hue and the previous colors represent the secondary hue. But in addition to the order of the colors, the way they are mentioned in the certificate is equally important with respect to the presence of the overtone in the diamond.
For example, Greenish Yellow is a diamond whose primary hue is yellow (75%), while the secondary and relatively scarcer hue is green, with only 25%. However, the label “Green Yellow” indicates a more balanced division between the two hues, with yellow remaining the primary hue with 60% and the green being the secondary hue with a noticeable presence of 40%.
Saturation – The definition of saturation in yellow diamonds and fancy colored diamonds in general is manifested through the color’s intensity, presence, and strength. The color intensity scale begins with bright pastel colors and ranges up to live, dark and deep colors. The intensity scale of yellow diamonds is divided into 9 levels as follows: faint, very light, light, fancy light, fancy, fancy intense, fancy dark, fancy vivid, fancy deep.
Tone – The tone represents the brightness or darkness level of the color or shade. The scale begins with “faint” and gradually reaches higher darkness levels, essentially merging slowly with the intensity scale.
Another factor worth considering when buying a yellow diamond is the distribution of color within the diamond. Here, it is binary only: Even & Uneven.
APPEARANCE OF YELLOW DIAMONDS IN THE WHITE DIAMOND SCALE
Unlike fancy colored diamonds, the color of white diamonds (colorless) is examined with a standard color scale of the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), which measures and rates the presence or absence of color in the diamond’s crystal, whereas the less color there is the more expensive it becomes. This because most white diamond have a light shade of yellow or brown while white diamonds with no tint whatsoever are considered rarer.
Grades D, E, and F indicate a ‘purer’ colorless diamond compared to diamonds graded K-M and N-R, which have a slight shade of ‘pale yellow’ or ‘very light yellow’ and are therefore not as valuable.
The color intensity scale for the classic yellow diamond (included in the fancy colored diamond category) begins with grade “S” on the white diamond scale, where the yellow shade becomes noticeable and rarer, and the stronger the color the higher the diamond’s value. Although the color scale is not the official gauge for measuring fancy colored diamonds, the area of overlap between the color scale of white diamonds and the intensity scale of fancy colored diamonds enables us to observe the mobility in rarity and pricing of diamonds across the scales.
YELLOW DIAMOND PRICING: CARAT, CLARITY & CUT
Apart from the color definition, which constitutes the central and the most significant aspect when pricing natural yellow diamonds, there are three other criterions that apply to white diamonds as well – three of the four C’s: Carat, Clarity & Cut, which as well influence the pricing of yellow diamonds.
Carat – The carat parameter refers to the diamond’s weight. 1 carat is defined as about 0.2 grams, or 100 points. In general, pricing by carats increases the price of heavier diamonds compared to smaller diamonds with the same values of clarity or shade.
For example, a fancy yellow diamond weighing one carat will cost around $4000-$5000, while 100 identical fancy yellow diamonds with the same clarity, weighing 0.01 carats each and together comprising a whole carat – will cost together about $900-$1,000. In the case of rarer fancy colored diamonds the differences might be much greater.
Clarity – While most of us can identify a diamond’s color and assess its size by merely looking at it (assuming we have a basic understanding of diamonds), the clarity parameter is an area reserved for the professional diamond experts and gemologists institutes that are able to detect the smallest flaws, even those that are invisible to the human eye, and grade the diamond according to its level of internal clarity.
The GIA’s clarity scale is divided into 11 levels that are then divided into 6 groups. Compared to the slight difference in prices between each grade level, the price differences between each group are more significant. Yellow diamonds are known for their relatively natural clarity and therefore can be found in high clarity grades of the VS group and above.
Diamond clarity grades, according to the GIA:
IF, VVS1, VVS2, VS1, VS2, SI1, SI2, SI3, I1, I2, I3.
FL – Flawless
IF – Internally Flawless
VVS1/VVS2 – Very, Very Slightly Included
VS1/VS2 – Very Slightly Included
SI1/SI2 – Slightly Included
I1/I2 /I3 – Included
FL is the highest clarity grade and refers to flawless diamonds, whereas I3 is the final and lowest grade that refers to diamonds with visible inclusions.
Cut – Although many believe that Cut and Shape are two terms that refer the same parameter, they are actually two separate features that reflect different yet complementary parameters.
This term refers to the way in which the diamond polisher cuts the diamond shape and whether the level of a diamond’s cut, polish, and symmetry is high, medium or low. Prices do not vary drastically between average cuts, but rather between poor and excellent cuts.
A good cut will highlight everything that raises the diamond’s value, be it the right shape for the color, the right size, the polish that brings out the sparkling shine, symmetry, and so on.
It isn’t absolutely necessary to insist on the best cut, but it is recommended not to settle for a poor cut that renders the diamond lifeless and lowers its value.
Shape – Although it is not one of the 4 C’s, the shape the diamond is cut into can affect the way light penetrates the diamond, and accordingly, affect its hue. For example, when white diamonds with a minor yellow tint, which are naturally graded from D to Z on the white diamond scale, are cut into the proper shape (usually Radiant), they can acquire a more yellow tint when looking at them from above, and their price per carat will rise accordingly.
Other shapes: Cushion, Pear, Oval, Heart, Round, Marquise, Emerald, Princess and more.
ARE YELLOW DIAMONDS RARE?
The answer to this question lies in the following figure: for every single carat of fancy colored diamond there are 10,000 carats of white diamond. The rarity of all diamonds in the colored diamond spectrum is unquestionable and this raises the appeal of these beautiful diamond crystals in inverse proportion to their numbers in the market – the rarer the diamond, the higher the demand for it and the higher its price.
Yellow diamonds are the most common of all colored diamonds, constituting nearly 60% of this category, with an estimated ratio of one carat of yellow diamond for every 16,500 carats of white diamond. However, each diamond is different and its values are what determine its rarity – usually the weak tints are less rare, whereas yellow diamonds with strong hue and saturation are considered very rare, such as the Fancy Vivid Yellow diamond.
So even though they’re not as rare as green, blue, orange, or red diamonds, yellow diamonds are still considered rare, while some yellow diamonds are even rarer due to their unique and stronger color.