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Yellow Diamond – Your Ultimate Guide to an Affordable Colored Diamond

Yellow diamond engagement ring closeup

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Of all the colored diamond varieties, yellow diamonds remain the most common and most affordable. They make for stunning engagement rings, especially when paired with the right ring setting. Let’s take a look at everything you nee to know to buy a yellow diamond engagement ring.

Are yellow diamonds in style?

Carrie Underwood wearing yellow diamond ring

Carrie Underwood with her yellow diamond engagement ring

In a word – yes. Yellow diamonds are perfect for a non-traditional bride who wants a unique engagement ring. They’re also perfect if you’ve always wanted a rare colored diamond that’s still within a reasonable budget.

While colored diamonds are always in style, they usually get “truly in style” when a celebrity is spotted wearing them on an event somewhere. Yellow diamonds have been very popular among celebrities, with the likes of Jennifer Lopez, Carrie Underwood, Nicki Minaj and Kelly Clarkson sporting gorgeous, inspiration yellow diamond engagement rings.

The diamond color scale

Diamond color grading chart

If you’re familiar with the D-Z alphabetical white diamonds color scale that’s used in the jewelry world you probably know that the “colorless” diamonds in it are the most expensive. Going by that you’d assume that colored diamonds are cheap and undesirable – that’s not the case.

Faint colored hues in white diamonds may be considered poor quality, but that’s because they are faint and serve only to ruin the clear white color of white diamonds. When these color hues are much more intense, however, then we’re not talking about a white diamond at all – then we’ve entered the realm of natural fancy color diamonds. These are extremely rare and valuable. These go beyond the Z grade of the color scale to the other end of the spectrum.

According to most estimates, about one out of every 10,000 diamond carats is a true “natural color diamond”. And since, in the diamond trade as in any other trade, rarity means value, natural colored diamonds are extremely valuable.

What are yellow diamonds and how do they get their color?

Pear shape yellow diamond

See more yellow diamonds here

There are many different colors a natural diamond can come in – yellow, orange, brown, blue, green, pink or purple, and even the extremely rare red diamond. Of all those colors yellow is actually the most common one – about 60% of all natural fancy color diamonds are yellow diamonds. This may sound like a lot but considering how rare colored diamonds are as a whole, 60% of “very rare” is still “very rare”.

You might be wondering:

What are yellow diamonds and why are they yellow? Isn’t white the natural color for diamonds?

Yes, clear white is the default color for a diamond. Like all colored diamonds, yellow diamonds owe their color to the presence of certain inclusions, namely the presence of nitrogen molecules. The intensity of the yellow coloring in the diamond is determined by the amount of nitrogen in the diamond.

When the amount of nitrogen in the diamond is insignificant, the stone will not be yellow enough to be considered “a colored diamond” and is just a white diamond with some undesirable yellow hues. When there’s an abundance of nitrogen molecules in a diamond, however, it will have a rich and clear yellow color.

The different intensity levels of yellow diamond color

All colored diamonds are valuable and sought after but the more intense the color is, the more valuable and beautiful. Similar to the D-Z white diamond color scale, there is a color scale for colored diamonds as well. It goes like this:

Faint, Very Light, Light, Fancy Light, Fancy, Fancy Dark, Fancy Intense, Fancy Vivid, Fancy Deep

Of those 9 grades, the first 3 are actually part of the D-Z white diamond color scale which is why many people don’t even consider them to be fancy colored diamonds at all. Everything from Fancy Light onward, however, is a natural fancy color diamond and is considered extremely valuable. The difference between these grades can be quite stunning as these Fancy Light and Fancy Intense yellow diamonds demonstrate.

It should also be considered that most colored diamonds aren’t really single-color stones but can exhibit up to two or three other hues. The most common combinations for a yellow diamond are brown-yellow, orange-yellow, and green-yellow. Of those three variants, brown-yellows are the least desirable and less valuable, while orange-yellow and green-yellow are significantly rarer, more beautiful, and more sought after.

Additionally, there’s a difference between a green-yellow diamond and a yellow-green diamond – the second color in each pair is actually the dominant one and the first one is the secondary tone.  Of course, there are pure yellow diamonds as well – these are called canary diamonds or canary yellows.

Yellow diamonds and Cut, Color and Clarity

If you check the Search Filter for a yellow diamond, as seen here, you’ll notice that the diamonds are filtered by shape, intensity and carat – clarity doesn’t feature in this, as it isn’t considered significant. When it comes to yellow diamonds, the 4Cs (color, cut, clarity and carat weight) have different significance than they do for colorless diamonds. For white colorless diamonds Cut and Clarity are very important and are arguably more vital than Color, in colored diamonds Cut and Clarity take a back seat and the Color becomes the most noticeable feature of the stone.

The Cut in colorless diamonds is largely subservient to the Color – the goal of a colored diamond’s Cut is to maximize the depth and saturation of the color, as well as its brilliance and fire. Round cuts are quite popular for yellow diamonds as they are for colorless diamonds precisely because they excel at maximizing the stone’s brilliance and fire and most people go for them because of the traditional round shape.

However, the best option for colored diamonds are shapes that retain color. These include radiant cuts are an excellent option for yellow diamonds as well, as they tend to retain color. Some other popular cuts include pear, marquise, emerald, cushion and oval. 

Cushion cut diamond yellow diamond

Check price here

Clarity is not as important for colored diamonds as it is for colorless. Because of the rarity of these stones, a few inclusions will not bring down the overall value of a rare stone much. Also, the color of the stone tends to hide inclusions, masking them from being visible. The diamond featured above has very visible inclusions, but this hasn’t dragged its price down. If this inclusion were on a colorless diamond, the stone would be considered a bad buy.

Yellow diamond rarity and value

While yellow diamonds may be the most common out of all colored diamonds, they are still relatively rare compared to colorless diamonds to be considered extremely valuable and expensive.

Especially canary, green-yellow or orange-yellow diamond with high color saturation (Fancy Dark and above) are considered very valuable and highly sought after.

Best ring designs for yellow diamonds

Yellow diamonds are very versatile and pair well with other gemstones. They’re ideal as engagement rings, but also work beautifully as side stones for other gemstones or as eternity rings. Another benefit is that you don’t need a large yellow diamond to make a stunning, statement ring. A smaller sized stone can still make for a very dramatic ring design, as long as it’s crafted expertly.  

Here are some stunning examples of yellow diamond rings:

Halo setting engagement ring with yellow diamond

Platinum and Yellow Gold Yellow Diamond Halo Ring by Leibish. Check price here.

Yellow diamond as side stone in emerald ring

Yellow Diamond Side Stone Emerald Ring by Leibish. Check price here.

Natural leaf design yellow diamond engagement ring

Yellow Diamond with Leaf Design by Abhika Jewels. Check price here.

There are three main design options when it comes to creating a yellow diamond engagement ring:

1- Make sure that the ring’s metal, setting, and side stones all contrast with the color of the center stone – in this case, yellow – so that it stands out as much as possible. This is the most common approach. In this case, you’d typically use white gold or platinum for the ring and the setting together with white side diamonds, like this halo yellow diamond ring.

2- Match the color of the ring’s metal, setting, and side stones with the color of the diamond. In this case, you’d go for yellow gold, like this side stone yellow diamond ring .

3- Go in entirely different direction, combining metals and gemstones to create a custom look. This gives you more design options. The most soothing and matching color to go with yellow is green. Some other excellent options include orange and purple.  

Best alternatives for yellow diamonds

If a yellow diamond is beyond your budget, there are more affordable alternatives to natural yellow diamonds. Here are some suggestions:

Synthetic yellow diamond

Just like there are synthetic colorless diamonds, there are synthetic colored diamonds as well. Physically they are the exact same thing as the natural stone – they are just grown artificially. The science behind synthetic diamonds has made quite a few huge strides in recent years and modern synthetic diamonds are virtually indistinguishable from their natural counterparts, except the fact that their synthetic status is engraved in them.

Of course, because they are not as rare as natural colored diamonds, synthetic diamonds are not as “prestigious” and are much more affordable. So, if you don’t care about the arbitrary prestige that comes with natural diamonds, you can save a lot of money with a gorgeous synthetic yellow diamond.

Etsy is a very good place to find lab-created diamonds.

Gemstones that look like yellow diamonds

There are quite a lot of yellow gemstones to choose from if you’re looking for an alternative to the expensive yellow diamond but few can match it visually.

Golden Beryl (Heliodor), yellow sapphires, and yellow garnets do come close to rivaling the yellow diamond’s beauty and stature:

1- Yellow sapphires, like these stones, are valuable, quite hard (9 out of 10 on the Mohs scale), and are outright gorgeous when their color is saturated enough.

Yellow sapphire ring

Yellow Sapphire ring by Bespoke by Joy. Check price here.

2- Yellow garnets are very rare and hard to come by. They have excellent fire and are often eye-clean. They are softer, however (6.5-7 out of 10 on the Mohs scale) so you’ll need to protect them from scratches.

3- Golden beryl is more of an alternative to yellow sapphire than to yellow diamonds but it’s an excellent yellow gemstone, sharing the same mineral family as morganite, emerald and aquamarine. It’s less expensive than sapphires and diamonds, and it’s more affordable than other beryl colors. It usually goes through irradiation to enhance its color, and it sits at 7.5 to 8 out of 10 on the Mohs scale. Still, it is a gorgeous and transparent yellow gemstone that’d make a good everyday alternative to diamonds and sapphires.

Golden beryl ring

Golden Beryl ring by Oh My Christine. See it here.

Other yellow gemstones like yellow topaz, yellow tourmaline, citrine, yellow chrysoberyl are less valuable and durable, and are intended more for everyday inexpensive jewelry than as an alternative to one of the rarest and most expensive gemstones on Earth.

Where to Buy High Quality Yellow Diamonds?

When looking for yellow diamonds, always check for the certificate of authenticity whether the stone is mined or lab-created. Ensure that you view the actual stone either in person or via HD videos and images with magnification tools to help you carefully examine the stone.

We recommend searching on the following sites:

James Allan

James Allen has a stunning range of natural yellow diamonds and allow you to view each stone from all angles using their ground-breaking Diamond Display Technology. They also have Diamond Experts on hand to help you through the process.

Blue Nile

Blue Nile’s collection of natural yellow diamonds is competitively priced and extensive. They’re known for their quality and great customer service.  In addition to 360-degree video, they also provide clear images of the setting from all angles.


Etsy has a wide range of natural and synthetic yellow diamonds, including some from highly reputable stores like this. Always vet each individual retailer on Etsy prior to purchase, to ensure that you’re dealing with a highly reputable, trustworthy vendor.