December 10, 2017

Yellow Diamond: What You Need to Know

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Thinking of a yellow diamond? Read this guide to learn what they are and how to buy the best fancy colored diamond.

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When you decide to propose to your girlfriend, you may feel a sigh of relief. It may feel like finally deciding to ask her to marry you is the toughest decision you'll have to make for a while.

Maybe you can breathe easy until it's time to buy your first home, for example, or to pick a name for your second child. (At this point in the relationship, you may want to wait to tell her about the bet you lost with your best friend in college, meaning he gets to pick a name for your first kid.)

However, decision time is far from over. After deciding to ask her to marry you, you still have another big decision to make regarding the engagement ring and the diamond inside it. For guys who don't have a lot of experience with fine jewelry - actually, probably zero experience - this represents a really tough decision. You want the perfect ring and the perfect diamond.

Unfortunately, when you go to a jewelry store, there aren't signs and arrows and flashing lights in the display case pointing to the perfect diamond. Instead, you're going to see dozens of rings and stones that all look pretty much the same to the untrained eye.

So let's give you at least a little basic training. We've put together an introductory guide to buying an engagement ring to give you some key information, so you're not completely lost in the jewelry store. And in this article, we're going to focus on the diamond, giving you some ideas about what's available to make your ring unique, such as colored diamonds and canary yellow diamonds.

The Perfect Diamond

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Regardless of what advertisers and marketers will tell you, the perfect diamond to meet the needs of every woman doesn't exist. Each person has his or her own idea of a perfect diamond.

Think of it like this: You may think Lynda Carter is the perfect Wonder Woman, while your buddy thinks Gal Gadot represents perfection. It doesn't mean either of you are wrong. It just means that your own personal feelings enter the thinking, causing you each to reach a different decision.

It's the same with the perfect diamond. Some women will want the traditional colorless diamond, while others may want something unique.

Tip: Pay attention to the jewelry your soon-to-be fiancée wears now. Does she like jewelry that matches what most people wear? Or does she seek out pieces that show off her unique tastes? And does she like color in her jewelry, particularly in stones?

If she likes colorful stones and she likes unique jewelry, you'll want to take a look at some colored diamonds, rather than only looking at the traditional colorless diamonds.

Color Diamond Basics

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If you have only a basic knowledge of diamonds, you may not know that you can purchase a diamond in almost any color. You're not limited to colorless diamonds. And these colors naturally occur in the diamonds; they're not added later. Colored diamonds are rarer than colorless diamonds.

Colors naturally found in diamonds include purple, pink, blue, and gray, among others. But the most common type of colored diamond is yellow, making up around 50% to 60% of all naturally colored diamonds. (Some jewelers refer to these yellow diamonds as canary diamonds or canary yellow diamonds.)

Some people really love the look of a yellow diamond, as it has a unique shine to it. Because yellow diamonds are the most common type of naturally colored diamond, a yellow diamond will cost less than a pink or purple diamond, although the ultimate cost depends in large part on the color intensity of the diamond.

Yellow Diamond Options

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Yellow and other colored diamonds are mined like any other type of diamond. However, the appearance of extra elements in the diamond create the colors in the diamond, rather than leaving the diamond colorless. Yellow diamonds contain a large number of nitrogen molecules, for example.

But just picking a natural yellow colored diamond is not enough. You also have to select the exact tint of yellow you want in the diamond.

  • Color Grade: Jewelers will give these diamonds a color rating, such as yellow, orange/yellow, or brown/yellow. Many naturally colored diamonds will have more than one rating, reflecting a secondary tint. The orange/yellow diamond technically has a natural yellow color with a slight orange tint, for example. Same for the brown/yellow diamond, which has a slight brown tint. A pure yellow diamond that has no secondary tint may be listed as canary yellow.

  • Intensity Grade: The intensity grade determines the strength of the color in the diamond. Common intensities for all naturally colored diamonds include terms like faint, light, fancy, fancy deep, and fancy vivid. The stronger the yellow color, the more expensive the colored diamond will be. Understand that with yellow diamonds, intensity grades like faint and light won't be offered by jewelers, because these grades actually fit on the color scale for colorless diamonds (which we'll discuss later).

If you're still confused, you can receive some help comparing different intensities and colors of yellow diamonds. The Gemological Institute of America grades and certifies the exact color and intensity of naturally colored diamonds. This gives you the ability to compare apples to apples, even if the diamonds are at different jewelers. When a jeweler is showing you a naturally colored diamond, you should be allowed to see the GIA certification at the same time.

And as we mentioned earlier, there is no perfect yellow diamond color or intensity on which everyone would agree. Look at several different colors and intensities of the natural yellow color to find the one that's most appealing to you ... or, we should say, most appealing to your fiancée through your eyes.

Tip: Yellow colored diamonds look especially good in halo settings. A ring of colorless diamonds around the yellow makes the color pop even more.

Finding the Right Price

If you want to purchase a naturally colored yellow diamond, you should be prepared to spend a bit more than a standard colorless diamond of a similar size. However, remember that the size, cut, and clarity of the natural yellow diamond affects its price too, just as it does with a colorless diamond, so the price of naturally yellow diamonds will be all over the spectrum, just like with colorless diamonds.

The more intense the yellow color is, the pricier the diamond will be. A fancy vivid yellow diamond will be a lot more expensive than a faint or light yellow stone.

For example:

As you can see, sometimes a yellow diamond with only a light tint is less expensive than a colorless diamond. But if the color is more vivid, then it will becomes pricier.

To find the best price on a natural color yellow diamond, you're going to need to spend some time shopping and comparing prices. Some jewelers just don't carry colored diamonds in large quantities, so your local jewelers may not have the size or cut you want on hand. However, they should be able to order a few that will meet your needs; you just have to ask.

You'll want to do some online shopping as well, looking for the yellow tint you want in the naturally colored diamond. Even if you choose not to buy the diamond online, this will give you a good idea of what you should pay, so you can negotiate with your local jeweler, if needed. Treat this transaction like you would when purchasing a vehicle, and don't be afraid to negotiate a lower price or to ask for a price match. Some jewelers won't budge on price, but many will. You have to ask, though.

One Final Note on Yellow Diamonds

Here's where some confusion can occur with yellow diamonds: When some people refer to a yellow diamond, they're actually referring to the color grade of a colorless diamond, rather than referring to a naturally colored diamond.

Jewelers grade colorless diamonds in a few different categories, including color, which uses a letter grade system. Think of this color rating as equal to the purity of the clear stone.

A perfectly clear diamond represents the rarest you'll find, receiving the highest grade of D. A colorless diamond with a yellowish tint will receive a lower letter grade, all the way down to Z. However, colorless diamonds graded lower than M rarely appear on the market for sale for engagement rings and other jewelry.

Colorless diamonds with a yellow tint are cheaper because they are more plentiful than clear colorless diamonds. This allows you to purchase a larger diamond, while remaining within your budget, so it's definitely an option worth considering. Some people really dislike the look of these yellowish diamonds, though. Others don't mind the slight tint, especially when they can purchase a much larger diamond for the same price.

If you're considering this option, just look at the diamond closely. Additionally, ask to see these yellowish clear diamonds in a temporary ring setting. The yellowish tint will look a little bit different when the stone is in a yellow gold, a rose gold, or a platinum setting than it will look when loose, out of a setting.

Tip: Most people will begin seeing a noticeable yellow tint on a diamond graded J or K or below. However, if you set it in a yellow gold or rose gold ring, it will appear whiter in comparison. A yellow-ish diamond in a yellow or rose gold ring will give the jewelry a warmer look overall.

Once you get close to Z on the color scale of a colorless diamond, you approach the world of naturally colored yellow diamonds, as we've been discussing. Some natural yellow diamonds that would receive a faint or light intensity grade instead appear on the color scale of a colorless diamond as W or Z, as we mentioned earlier. If you want this type of diamond, you'll probably have to ask to have it special ordered, as jewelers don't carry this grade commonly.

Ultimately, if you're talking to your jeweler about a yellow diamond, just make sure you're both clear on what you want: Either a diamond that is supposed to feature a natural yellow color, or a cheaper colorless diamond that has a yellowish tint.

Picking a naturally colored yellow diamond can be more than a little stressful for guys. After all, this is a risky decision. Selecting the colorless diamond that's traditionally found in an engagement ring is the safer choice, because it's normal. But if you go with a naturally yellow diamond, and it matches what she wants, your girl will be impressed with how in tune you are to her tastes. She may even say that you've picked the perfect diamond.

Where to Buy a Yellow Diamond

If the selection isn't good at your local jewelry stores, we recommend these online jewelers:

  • Leibish & Co. This is the first online jeweler specializing in natural colored diamonds. They have a large inventory of yellow diamonds (and other colors) in all shapes and sizes for all budgets. It also makes jewelry in order to showcase the beauty of colored diamonds.

  • James Allen. Already one of our favorite online jewelers, James Allen also has a large selection of colored diamonds. You can view each diamond in HD to hand-pick the one you like.

      James Allen

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      Shop for diamonds at James Allen, a CreditDonkey #1 recommended partner for the best online experience.

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