Yellow Diamonds

Understanding the valuation of Yellow Diamonds


Yellow diamonds are considerably more rare than colorless diamonds as we talked about in the Yellow Diamond - Color Guide page. Even so, for a number of reasons yellow diamonds are priced much more attractively than colorless diamonds for the most part with certain outstanding exceptions to this rule.


It is important to note that colorless diamonds base their value on the combination of weight, color and clarity and to a more obscure degree the quality of the proportioning or Cut Quality of the stone. Note: When references are made to Color and particularly to Clarity grading I am referring to GIA standard grading exclusively.


Yellow diamonds however base their value on weight and color and to a more obscure degree the quality of the proportioning or Cut of the stone (within the range of VVS1 - VS2 clarities, Internally Flawless yellow diamonds usually command small premiums because of the associated "bragging rights" of the Internally Flawless grade which by the way makes absolutely no difference whatsoever to the visual quality of the diamond).


So esentially the Clarity of a yellow diamond graded between IF-VS2 has little or no impact on the value of the diamond. This rule holds true for all natural fancy color diamonds.


However, yellow diamonds with a clarity grade of SI1 or lower should trade at a discount compared to the higher level clarity grades. How much lower will depend on the actual clarity grade, for example an eye clean SI1 will suffer just a small discount in value while an SI2 or an I1 with eye visible inclusions should be discounted substantially from the higher clarity grades.


The next thing to take into account is that there are various grades within the colorless diamond sceme and also within yellow diamonds. If we were to compare a Fancy Light Yellow diamond to a D color Internally Flawless colorless diamond the yellow diamond will seem very inexpensive. But this would be just one expression of both colorless and yellow diamond values and hardly a meaningful comparison to base any generalizations regarding price on as the Fancy Light Yellow diamond represents the most common and least expensive example of a yellow diamond while the D color Internally Flawless the most expensive form of the colorless diamond.


Radiant 2.12 Carat, Fancy Light Yellow, VVS2 Clarity, GIA Report, 61.4/64, No Fluorescence: $10,176
Price per carat $ 4,800


Emerald Cut 2.00 Carat, D Color, Internally Flawless Clarity, GIA Report, 67.9/69, No Fluorescence: $27,817
Price per carat $ 13,908


Round Brilliant 2.15 Carat, D Color, Internally Flawless Clarity, GIA Report 62.3/56, No Fluorescence: $70,867
Price per carat $32,961


Now the same Fancy Light Yellow Radiant cut compared to lower, more consumer friendly combinations of color and clarity:


Radiant 2.12 Carat, Fancy Light Yellow, VVS2 Clarity, GIA Report, 61.4/64, No Fluorescence: $10,176
Price per carat $ 4,800


Radiant 2.10 Carat, F Color, VS2 Clarity, GIA Report 68.5/68 EX/EX No Fluorescence: $20,880
Price per carat $ 9,942


Radiant 2.15 Carat, G Color, VS1 Clarity, GIA Report 68.5/68 EX/VG No Fluorescence: $20,585
Price per carat $ 9,574


Radiant 2.01 Carat, H Color, VS2 Clarity, GIA Report 71.0/78 EX/EX No Fluorescence: $14,155
Price per carat $ 7,042


As we increase the color grade of the yellow from Fancy Light Yellow to Fancy Yellow, Intense Yellow and Vivid Yellow the price of the yellow diamond increases and the gap between the values of the yellow diamond and the colorless diamond will become smaller and smaller.


Radiant 2.02 Carat, Fancy Yellow, VVS2 Clarity, 60.0/65, No Fluorescence: $15,271
Price per carat $7,560


Radiant 2.24 Carat, Intense Yellow, VS1 Clarity, 68.6/66, No Fluorescence: $26,208
Price per carat $11,700


Radiant 2.26 Carat, Vivid Yellow, VS1 Clarity, 68.3/67, Faint Fluorescence: $52,070
Price per carat $23,039



Certain shapes or cuts of diamonds are more rare than others in yellow diamonds and in fact in all fancy color diamonds. The most common shapes to find are the Radiant, Cushion and Oval shapes although in the case of the Oval finding a truly beautiful Oval can prove somewhat trying.


Far more rare in yellow diamonds are the Round Brilliant, Emerald and Princess cuts. The reason for this disparity in the availability of certain shapes is that the nature of these latter shapes does not lend itself very well to optimising the body color of a colored diamond. In fact the high Brilliance of the Round Brilliant and the step cut faceting of the Emerald cut actually subtract from the percieved color of the diamond in many cases. Since the intensity of the color is where virtually all the value of that diamond comes from, most diamond cutters will choose the Radiant or Cushion shapes the majority of the time.


However, in rare and outstanding cases when the rough diamond has a special quality, the rare Round Brilliant, Emerald or Princess may appear. You can expect to pay significant premiums for these shapes for any given color grade over similarly sized and colored Radiant or Cushion cuts.


Round Brilliant 1.81 Carat, Fancy Yellow, VVS2 Clarity, 64.0/56, Faint Fluorescence: $17,159


Radiant 1.81 Carat, Fancy Yellow, VVS2 Clarity, 60.7/69, No Fluorescence, $12,163



Below are some examples of seemingly similar yellow diamonds.

Fancy Light Yellow Diamond Fancy Yellow Diamond

1.49 Fancy Yellow Radiant

1.51 Fancy Yellow Radiant

Reading the specification of the accompanying GIA reports one would think that these two diamonds are virtually identical in quality and as it would naturally follow, also in price.

Both diamonds are graded as Fancy Yellow, have high Clarity grades, the proper sets of proportions that one would expect to see for a Radiant cut and both are Fluorescence free. However to a trained and experienced yellow diamond expert it is immediately and abundantly clear that one of these diamonds is superior to the other. While there is a small variation between the two Fancy Yellow colors it is the shape that makes a world of difference in this case.

The 1.49 is a beautifully shaped Radiant cut and the 1.51 is ...less than that. The problem with this 1.51 are the disproportionately large clipped corners, which give what should have been a Square Radiant cut, an Octogonal shape.

It is also interesting to note that the 1.51 was graded as Internally Flawless, a nice little feather in the cap for a yellow diamond and even so was still being offered at a discount from 1.49 (VS1) because of the shape. It might have seemed like a really good deal on paper...right up until you got a look at the actual diamond.

Intense Yellow Diamond Vivid Yellow Diamond
2.05 Fancy Yellow Radiant 2.17 Fancy Yellow Radiant


Once again we have two diamonds that are very similar on paper, both Radiant cuts, both Fancy yellow, high Clarity and no Fluorescence with good proportions. Should these two diamonds with similar characteristics sell for similar prices? The determining factor in the case of the 2.17 is of course the dark area in the middle of the Table. It is clearly darker than the rest of the stone and appears to be devoid of both color and brilliance. Yet the GIA report boldly declares that the Distribution (of color) is "Even" and there is no mention of this dark area.



The valuation of yellow diamonds is not as simple as just looking at the color and the size. There are many other factors that go into the valuation of each yellow diamond on a case by case basis. It is important to have a grading report which provides you with the basic technical information regarding the stone and gives you a ballpark approximation of what you can expect from this diamond but it is by no means an infallable source of absolute truth and each and every diamond should be considered based on it's actual visual characteristics.

The lesson to be taken from this is that the value or price of a yellow diamond is determined by a variety of factors beyond the defined characteristics from the grading report. Differences in the shape, the clarity, the proportioning and most importantly the color will have an effect on the value of a yellow diamond.

If you want a superior diamond with characteristics that are all at the top of the category you should be prepared to pay a little more for them. Like everything in life, and most things in life are not as well defined as a laboratory graded diamond, you get what you pay for.




Radiant and Cushion cuts are the most common cuts for yellow diamonds. These shapes easily lend themselves to create an optically balanced gemstone that maintains a saturate body color together with high levels of brilliance, fire and scintillation. Radiant and Cushion cut yellow diamonds are available in a variety of shapes that vary from perfect squares to long rectangles.

Oval and Pear Brilliants are also beautiful yellow diamond shapes but special attention must be paid to the proportioning in order to avoid 'bow-ties'.

Emerald and Asscher cuts are far less common than other shapes and will command high premiums.

Round Brilliant and Princess cuts do not easily retain body color. If an attractive diamond is produced in one of these shapes you can expect to pay high premiums for them.


Shop our inventory of natural GIA certified Yellow diamonds with our Yellow Diamond Search page.


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