Fancy Yellow Diamonds: What is their value?
When Seal presented Heidi Klum with a 10-carat canary yellow center diamond ring back in 2004, the world fell in love with the adorable couple – and Yellow diamonds. The price was estimated to be $150,000 at the time, which translates into a whopping $203,725 in today’s terms.
The ultimate investment
Some of the most famous diamonds in the world have a sunny disposition too. By looking more closely at them, we can get some sense of the value of yellow diamonds.
The Cora Sun Drop. In November 2011 the 110.3-carat Cora Sun Drop achieved a staggering price on auction in Geneva. The yellow diamond was mined into South Africa and then cut into a spectacular pear shape diamond. The sale brought in $10.9 million (nearly $12 million in today’s terms). That’s a cracking $100 thousand per carat!
The Allnatt Diamond. This South-African beauty weighed in at 101.29 carats, with a clarity grade of VS2. Although originally cut in the 1950s, it sold in May 1996 at Christies for $3 million ($5 million in today’s terms).
Yellow diamonds certainly come with a premium price tag, but exactly why? In one word: rarity. While yellow diamonds are the most common of all colored diamonds, they still aren’t too easy to come by. For every one carat of yellow diamonds available on the market, there are more than 16,500 carats of white diamonds at any time. Most are sourced from South African diamond mines, and certainly those with the most intense color are found on African soil.
One of the many factors affecting the price of a yellow diamond is the shade. Yellow diamonds (like all colored diamonds) come in a range of colors. These include brownish, orangey, greenish and more. Those with an off-yellow hue tend to be less rare than pure yellow diamonds, and therefore are not worth as much. Those that are pure yellow (with an intense shade) are called canary yellow, but they are still classified by the GIA in the color description as ‘fancy yellow’.
What makes them yellow?
Ready for a chemistry lesson? The yellow shade comes from nitrogen. When the diamond was forming millions of years ago, nitrogen atoms that were present caused blue light to absorb, which led to the yellow color. While the trace minerals affect the color, the pressure exerted to produce the diamonds and the radiation levels in the earth’s mantle layer also played a part in the final hue. That’s why practically no two yellow diamonds are the same. The brightness, fire and luster of the gems are partly what make them so sought after – and also the perfect choice for an engagement ring.
Heidi Klum’s engagement ring with yellow diamonds may have resparked our love for yellow diamonds, but in recent years some of our favourite stars have brought them to life in new cuts and designs. Some of the most inspiring examples include:
- J. Lo. gave birth to her twins in 2008 and Marc Anthony gave her the ultimate ‘pushing present’ to mark the moment. The custom yellow diamond ring was valued at $2.8 million.
- Iggy Azalea’s fiancé, Nick Young designed her yellow diamond engagement ring. The bold yellow diamond engagement ring is valued at $500,000 and consists of an 8.15 carat cushion cut fancy intense yellow diamond. The sparkler is surrounded by 2.28 carats of white diamonds. We love that the gems are set on a band of 18-carat white gold, which illuminates the unique piece.
Picking a shade
The value of a natural yellow diamond is based on the intensity of the shade. Ideally, you want a diamond where the yellow tone is more intense or noticeable. Let’s look at the rating scale in a little detail to explain why. When we refer to the GIA scale, a grade of ‘D’ or ‘colorless’ is the highest grade. Any trace of color (including yellow, brown or gray) will leave it with a lower color grade on the D-to-Z scale.
Below grade ‘Z’ we find yellow diamonds, which are not only rare, but also desirable. They are graded based on the strength and quality of their color. The GIA scale grades them as follows: Fancy Light, Fancy, Fancy Intense, Fancy Dark, Fancy Deep or Fancy Vivid.
So, in terms of value, think of it like this. Fancy Light Yellow diamonds are similar in value to a I Color white diamond. For example, a 1.01 Carats Fancy Light Yellow, VS2 Clarity Radiant Cut yellow diamond would cost about $4,000 while a similar 1.03 Carats, I Color, VS2 Clarity Radiant Cut diamond would cost the same.
Getting the best out of your purchase
Apart from establishing whether or not the yellow diamond ring is natural or not, what else do you need to ask your jeweller?
What’s the price?
Everyone has a budget to work with (even celebrities), so don’t feel awkward to ask for a ballpark figure. Again, price is based on rarity. A GIA study on yellow diamonds showed that at the time 46% of yellow diamonds they graded were fancy, 21% were fancy light, 24% were intense, 3% were deep and dark and 6% were vivid.
The price for a 1-carat good quality Intense Yellow diamond ranges between $6,500 and $8,000. A fancy light yellow diamond is good value at about $3,500 per carat. Fancy yellow diamonds (the next step up) range between $4,500 and $5,000 per carat. Fancy vivid diamonds, which are very rare, can cost up to $18,000 per carat.
Does it have secondary color?
As discussed, some yellow diamonds have secondary colors (they are called ‘impure’ diamonds). These color combinations include orange yellow, green yellow and brown yellow. It terms of value, the more rare the secondary color is, the more expensive the jewel will be. Those that are graded as brownish yellow or brown yellow diamonds are the most affordable as they are the most common. Intense orange yellow is more expensive than fancy orange yellow.
What are the cut, clarity and carat?
As with white diamonds, the 3Cs have a similar effect on the price. In short, the higher the carat weight, the more valuable it will be. Most yellow diamonds have a naturally high clarity grading. A good quality jewel should have a VS clarity and higher. In terms of the cut, look for good symmetry and polish. The cut of a yellow diamond also impacts on the value. The most affordable is the marquise cut followed by cushion, radiant and oval (all similar) and finally round cut. Another feature to check out is the florescence. A faint fluorescence can affect the value slightly negatively, but because yellow diamonds are so rare it’s negligible.
Buy a certified yellow diamond
Every yellow diamond from the Shimansky Fancy Yellow Diamond Collection comes with a certificate confirming the attributes of the diamond and that it is verified natural by Gemological Institute of America. All gems sold by Shimansky Diamonds are also conflict free. Book an appointment today.