From deep golden hues to sunny colors, yellow gemstones evoke feelings of warmth, happiness and optimism. However, not all of them are created equal. While some yellow gemstones are durable enough for engagement rings, others are softer and should be saved for special occasions.
In this article, we’ve rounded up a list of fifteen most popular yellow gemstones worth adding to your jewelry collection.
- Yellow Gemstones List
- Assessing the Color and Quality of Yellow Gemstones
- Which Yellow Gemstone Is Right for Me?
- Wrapping Up
Yellow Gemstones List
Mini Citrine Earrings by Blue Nile. See them here.
A pale yellow to brownish orange variety of quartz, citrine is commonly confused with topaz since the two look similar in appearance. However, naturally occurring citrines are rare in nature so most of the citrine gemstones available on the market are synthetic or treated.
These are typically created by heating purple amethyst quartz, which is a less valuable gem, to give off the sunny hues of citrine. The finest citrine gemstone has a saturated yellow to reddish orange color without any brownish tints.
In jewelry design, citrine can be found in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, including unusual cuts and carvings. Ranking 7 on the Mohs scale, it’s tough enough to be used in most types of jewelry, but should be treated with care to prevent scratching. Citrine is the birthstone of November and the 13th wedding anniversary gemstone.
Yellow Topaz Ring by Marvin Scott Jewelers. See it here.
Another popular November birthstone, topaz can be found in a wide range of colors, including golden and yellow hues that are abundant and inexpensive. This gemstone got its name from the Sanskrit word ‘tapas’, which means ‘fire’, which is most likely a reference to its beautiful fiery color. ‘Sherry topaz’ has a yellowish brown color and is often referred to as ‘precious topaz’ to set it apart from the less expensive citrine.
Yellow topaz tends to have no inclusions that are visible to the naked eye. Its elongated crystal shape makes it easy for jewelers to cut this gemstone into oval and pear shapes. With a hardness of 8 on Mohs’ scale, yellow topaz is more resistant to scratches than citrine, but more prone to chipping due to its cleavage. Always opt for a protective setting when having this stone on rings and bracelets.
Yellow Radiant Cut Diamond by Blue Nile. See it here.
Also known as ‘cape diamonds’, yellow diamonds were first discovered in Cape Province, South Africa, back in the late 1860s. The diamond’s yellow color is caused by the presence of nitrogen in the crystal and some are even found in bright canary shades. Canary yellow diamonds are highly valued for their saturated color and are usually more expensive than white diamonds. However, they remain the most affordable of all colored diamonds.
The finest color for yellow diamonds is ‘Fancy Vivid’, which is rare, quite expensive and vivid like its name. Diamonds in this color are the most desirable and valuable and any yellowish tint other than Fancy Vivid reduces the price of the stone considerably. Yellow diamond, together with the traditional colorless diamond, is the birthstone for the month of April.
Sapphire Eternity Ring by Blue Nile. See it here.
While blue is the most popular color of sapphire, this gemstone is also found in other colors such as yellow. As with all sapphires, the color determines its value, so opt for a yellow to orange-yellow stone with vivid saturation. The more intense and uniform its color is the more valuable the gem. The plus side to yellow sapphire is that it’s less expensive than the blue and pink varieties. In the trade, they’re commonly referred to as fancy sapphires.
Sapphires are a durable stone designated as a birthstone for September. It’s relatively hard, ranking at 9 on the Mohs scale and is said to be tougher than diamonds due to their composition. If yellow diamonds are out of your budget, yellow sapphires are a great choice for everyday jewelry and rings.
Halo Engagement Ring by Jetflair. See it here.
Garnet is a group of minerals with many different varieties. Some of the most popular yellow garnet varieties include the following:
- Topazolite – A yellow to golden yellow variety of andradite garnet.
- Hessonite – A yellow-hued variety of grossular garnet.
- Mali Garnet – A blend of andradite and grossular, valued for its stunning color and brilliance.
Depending on the type of yellow garnet, the hardness of the stone typically ranges from 6.5 to 7.5 on the Mohs scale. This means that it’s durable enough for all types of jewelry, from rings to bracelets and earrings. These gems are the birthstone of January and make beautiful, inexpensive jewelry stones.
Oval Cut Yellow Tourmaline by Valentina NYC Jewelry. See it here.
One of the rarest and most popular of all tourmaline, yellow tourmaline comes in a variety of shades that range from gold to canary. It’s said that fine traces of magnesium are responsible for the electrifying yellow color of the gem. Most of these stones are treated to eliminate their brownish tint, resulting to fresh, spring-like yellow hue.
With the hardness of 7 to 7.5, this gemstone is durable for everyday wear. The birthstone for the month of October, yellow tourmaline is extremely rare and finding one of these stones at brick and mortar store is nearly impossible. Most natural yellow tourmaline stones are also included and expensive due to their rarity.
Faceted Opal Ring by Primrose Feather. See it here.
Another lovely October birthstone, opal has often been compared to fireworks, galaxies and volcanoes throughout history. Its name is derived from the Greek term ‘opallios’ which means ‘to see a change in color’. However, there are different varieties of opals—and not all of them display flashing rainbow colors.
The name ‘fire opal’ is a reference to the color of opal, ranging from yellow to red. It may be transparent or translucent and usually doesn’t show play-of-color. In the trade, it’s often referred to as ‘Mexican opal’, since Mexico is the leading source of this gemstone.
Fire opal has a poor to fair toughness, with a 5 to 6.5 rating on the Mohs scale. It makes for stunning jewelry, but can scratch easily, so you’d need to take extra care of it to keep it lasting longer.
Yellow Zircon by Haute Kraftsmen. See it here.
Not to be confused with cubic zirconia, zircon is a natural gemstone with excellent brilliance and sparkle. It was widely used as a less expensive alternative to diamonds in the 19th century since the two stones look alike. Many scholars believe that zircon got its name from the Persian word ‘zargun’ that means ‘gold colored’, while others speculate that it was derived from the Arabic term ‘zarkun’, which means ‘vermilion’ or ‘cinnabar’.
The birthstone for December, Zircon can be found in yellow shades from vivid yellow to golden brown hues. It’s resistant to scratching, but it’s also a very brittle stone which means it can break if dealt a hard blow. Ranking 6 to 7.5 on the Mohs scale, it remains a fairly durable stone for all types of jewelry as long as proper care is given.
Golden South Sea Pearls
Golden South Sea Pearl Brooch by Sebian Jewelry. See it here.
South Sea pearls in golden hues and large sizes rarely occur in nature which is why they’re quite expensive. Because of this reason, many of the south sea pearls on the market are synthetic stones specially treated with heat to make them more available. You can find them in cream, silver, or gold tones and some display the iridescent phenomenon known as orient. Pearls are a regarded the June’s birthstone, together with moonstone and alexandrite.
Unlike other gems, the value of a pearl is determined by a mix of factors from size to shape, color, luster, surface and nacre. Generally, the larger and rarer the pearl, the more valuable it is, especially if it’s symmetrical. With the hardness of 2.5, on Mohs’ scale, meaning that it’s very soft, yellow pearl isn’t recommended for engagement rings, but it’ll look stunning in earrings and necklaces.
Heliodor (Golden Beryl)
Heliodor & Diamond Bracelet by Amy’s Jewelry N Gems. See it here.
The emerald’s less famous sibling, heliodor is a variety of golden beryl with a highly saturated color. Its name comes from the Greek terms ‘helios’ and ‘doron’ that mean ‘sun’ and ‘gift’ respectively. It’s regarded as a ‘gift from the sun’ because of its yellow, golden-yellow, or greenish yellow color caused by small amounts of iron in its composition.
Most of the time, these gemstones are treated to improve their yellow color and in rare instances, they display the cat’s eye phenomenon, also known as chatoyancy. In the Mohs scale of hardness, heliodor ranks 7.5 to 8, which makes it resistant to abrasion and suitable for various types of jewelry including engagement rings. If you’re after a yellow gemstone, heliodor can be a great alternative to yellow sapphires and diamonds.
Cat’s Eye Chrysoberyl Necklace by Ellis Antiques. See it here.
The name ‘chrysoberyl’ is derived from the Greek word ‘chrysos’ meaning ‘golden’ and ‘beryllos’, which is a reference to the yellowish-green color of a certain. On contrary to popular belief, not all chrysoberyls display a cat’s eye effect. Translucent to transparent chrysoberyl is stunning for jewelry but remember to go for those with a bright yellow or yellow-green color, as these are the most desirable.
Yellow chrysoberyl has a hardness of 8.5, making it one of the toughest gemstones for jewelry. It’s an ideal stone for engagement rings since it requires no special care and is perfect for daily wear. While chatoyant chrysoberyls are polished into cabochons, some are faceted to show off their brilliance. The plus side of yellow chrysoberyl is that it’s very common in the market and isn’t very expensive.
Baltic Amber Necklace and Bracelet Set by Amber Design. See it here.
The word amber means ‘brownish yellow’, referring to the gorgeous color of this gemstone but it’s also available in many other colors. Millions of years ago, it acted as a sticky trap for insects, countless plants, and even larger animals like snails, lizards and scorpions, which eventually hardened and fossilized.
Usually, inclusions can reduce the value of a gemstone considerably, but not in the case of amber. In fact, amber with plant or insect inclusions is regarded far more valuable than those without. If the said animal inclusions are preserved intact, amber can be very valuable. Transparent amber without inclusions is also more desirable than cloudy stones.
Amber is often fashioned into a variety of shapes, cabochons and free-form beads, but rarely faceted. Since it’s a lightweight gemstone, it can be incorporated in statement jewelry pieces. Although yellow amber is popular since it’s more affordable than golden and reddish varieties, its hardness falls between 2 and 2.5 on Moh’s scale which means it isn’t tough enough for all jewelry types.
Yellow Jade Pendant by Treasured Jade Garden. See it here.
Yellow jade is one of the rarest types of jade, often regarded to be more valuable than green jade. It can be translucent to opaque with yellow shades ranging from pale lemon to dark gold. Generally, jadeite can be semi-transparent to opaque with a colored oil appearance and a smooth texture, while nephrite is always opaque.
Both types of yellow jade are tough enough for jewelry use, since jadeite has the hardness of 6.5 to 7 and nephrite ranks 6 to 6.5 on the Mohs scale. They’re resistant to chipping but should be taken care properly to avoid scratching.
Yellow Sphene (Titanite)
Sphene Gemstone by Shaxain Gemstones. See it here.
Also known as titanite, sphene is recognized for its fire that can actually outshine a diamond. The gemstone’s name is derived from the Greek term ‘sphenos’ which means ‘wedge’, since it has wedge-shaped crystals. On the other hand, titanite refers to its titanium content.
The typical color range of sphene is yellow, orange, brown, and green, while it also has color zoning and inclusions. With its hardness of 5 to 5.5 and distinct cleavage, the gemstone is less durable than many popular gems, though it makes for stunning jewelry.
Natural Loose Spodumene by Gems Expert. See it here.
While its most popular varieties are pink kunzite and green hiddenite, spodumene is also found in yellow hues. Its name comes from the Greek term ‘spodumenos’ that translates as ‘burnt to ashes’. ‘Triphane’ or yellow spodumenes are often sourced from Brazil and Afghanistan, of which the latter produces gemstones with the strongest color.
Spodumene is relatively hard, ranking at 6.5 to 7 on Mohs’ scale and it has a perfect cleavage (the tendency of a gem to split when struck). It’s one of the most affordable yellow stones you can get, but it needs special care. It’s sensitive to heat and will likely fracture with small impacts, not to mention its color fades in sunlight.
Assessing the Color and Quality of Yellow Gemstones
Color is the most important factor in determining the quality of yellow gemstones along with saturation, hue and tone. As a rule of thumb, the pure yellow color is the most desirable. Secondary hues may vary in each stone, but orange hues are preferable, bringing out the beauty in golden colors.
Green tints are perceived undesirable, while brownish colors can be appealing for those who love an autumnal palette. It’s best to avoid stones that are too light since they may appear to be off-white instead of yellow.
Yellow citrine gemstones with slight inclusions by Sage Stone Beads. See them here.
When it comes to clarity of yellow gems, opt for the highest grade possible, since imperfections are more visible in lighter-colored stones. Avoid ones with dark inclusions, which affect the appearance of the gemstone. We we’ve mentioned earlier, Amber is an exemption since inclusions such as plants, insects, and animals make it more valuable.
Which Yellow Gemstone Is Right for Me?
When shopping for yellow gemstones, you’ll surely come across citrine, topaz, sapphire, garnet and tourmaline. If you’re looking for a durable and affordable stone made to last, yellow diamonds are an excellent option.
It’s also important to take the durability of the gemstone into consideration. Some yellow gems are more resistant to scratches and suitable for daily wear, whereas others are too soft or very brittle and can only be worn occasionally. Your best options are yellow diamonds, sapphires, citrine, jade, garnet, tourmaline and golden beryl.
If you’re choosing a yellow gemstone for engagement rings, you might want to avoid pearls, amber and opal that’ll likely develop scratches over time. Some stones, like Zircon, are brittle while yellow topaz and spodumene are prone to chipping. However, don’t be discouraged because there’s always something for everything since stones that aren’t suitable for one type of jewelry will be perfect for another type.
Yellow gemstones are a great way of adding a burst of color to even the simplest outfit, spicing up your look. If you’re looking for a yellow gemstone that looks great and will still suit a limited budget, there are many affordable options for you to try. Good luck and enjoy shopping for your very own yellow gemstone!