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Yellow Diamonds- Rare and Beautiful

Updated on June 9, 2012
Fancy yellow diamond
Fancy yellow diamond

Natural yellow diamonds

Yellow diamonds are the most common of all colored diamonds. Many people believe that yellow diamonds are less valuable than white diamonds- although this may be true for faintly colored yellow diamonds or off- white diamonds, intensely colored fancy yellow diamonds are actually very rare and extremely expensive.

Diamond connoisseurs have found fancy yellow diamonds to be very desirable, and have described them as being “optically warm”.

Depending on the concentration of nitrogen in the yellow diamond, different hues are produced. The tones of yellow diamonds vary from faint yellow to fancy intense yellow to vivid yellow. Like other colored diamonds, the more saturated the color, the more expensive the yellow diamond will be.

How do natural yellow diamonds get their color?

Natural yellow diamonds get their color when millions of carbon atoms are replaced by nitrogen atoms, while the diamond is being formed several miles beneath the earth’s surface. Although the structure of the diamond is not significantly altered, the clarity of the diamond is changed. The more nitrogen present within the diamond, the more intensely yellow the diamond will be.

Where do natural yellow diamonds come from?

Natural yellow diamonds come from South Africa, Brazil, Russia and India. Of these countries, South Africa is the main producer of fancy yellow diamonds (yellow diamonds with recognizably intense hues). As a matter of fact, the first authenticated diamond found in South Africa was the yellow Eureka. South Africa also produced the famous Tiffany diamond- a beautiful 287.42 carat canary- yellow diamond.

What determines the value of a natural yellow diamond?

Beautiful yellow diamonds exist in tones from light yellow to fancy intense to vivid yellow. The GIA recognizes nine color grades of yellow diamond. The fancy vivid diamonds are the rarest and most unique of the lot, and hence the most desired.

Yellow diamond grading
Yellow diamond grading


Which yellow diamonds are considered “canary- yellow” diamonds?

A natural yellow diamond is considered to be canary yellow in color when its hue is considered “purely yellow”- that is, when it is graded within the fancy yellow range (from fancy light yellow to fancy vivid yellow).

It is uncommon for canary yellow diamonds to be found in diamond mines. Yellow diamonds excavated from the mines are often not as vibrant in color as canary yellow diamonds, and therefore are not as valuable as the canary yellows either.

The most famous natural yellow diamond


The Tiffany Diamond
The Tiffany Diamond
Bird on a Rock by Jean Schlumberger featuring the Tiffany Diamond
Bird on a Rock by Jean Schlumberger featuring the Tiffany Diamond

The Tiffany Diamond

The Tiffany diamond is one of the largest, most famous yellow diamonds known today. The brilliant yellow stone was discovered in 1878 at the Kimberly mine in South Africa. In the rough, the stone was a beautiful canary-yellow octahedron weighing 287.42 (metric) carats.

Shortly after its discovery, the stone was purchased by Charles Tiffany of New York. One year subsequent to the purchase, Tiffany’s gemologist cut the diamond into a cushion shape of 128.54 carats with 90 facets- the cutting took place in Paris. The Tiffany diamond is classified as being Fancy Yellow- a very rare classification for yellow diamonds.

Since its existence, the Tiffany diamond has been worn by only two women. The first was Mrs. Sheldon Whitehouse, chairwoman of the Tiffany Ball in Newport, RI, who wore it in 1957; and Audrey Hepburn, who wore it in 1961 for publicity photos for the film Breakfast at Tiffany's.

Today, the beautiful fancy yellow gem can be seen on display on the ground floor of the Tiffany and Co. store in New York City.


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