Buying a Natural Yellow Diamond or Natural Colored Diamond

Anne Moss Rogers

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Colored diamonds are fun!

Do you want a purple people eater diamond or a diamond from Mars? What about an Orange Crush, a Cotton Candy Pink or a Heart with the Blues? These aren’t official names from the GIA, but colored diamonds are so different than mainstream diamonds and each other, they deserve names. They have personality and pizzazz and those who own them typically do, too.

I want a canary

Canary is a bird. In the trade, no one calls yellow diamonds canaries. Although if you were to call up and ask for one, we’d know what you’re talking about. Since you will be a really super sophisticated colored diamond shopper after reading this helpful guide, you’ll have to drop the pedestrian term, “canary”. That diamond adjective is now officially “beneath” you. They are Natural Fancy Colored Diamonds. A yellow is Natural Fancy Yellow Diamond. You may repeat your new vocabulary words while I pause right here.

In the trade there are gradations of color like Y-Z Yellow or Vivid Yellow. Occasionally, I am moved to name one just because they are flat out fun to look at, play with and own. And they inspire me to break out of the mold and do a jig, sigh or just say “Holy Cow Batman. ” Oh, we do use the Canary phrase on the website since that’s what consumers know.

What’s so different about buying colored diamonds?

A whole lot. If you thought buying a white diamond was complicated, the water gets even murkier with the colored diamonds. Not that we want murky colored diamonds. But that’s what this guide will help you sort out. It won’t make you an expert overnight but it will help you shop for and find a colored diamond you can love and one that fits your pocketbook. We will refer to yellows most of the time since they are what more people are familiar with.

Cut is King

As in colorless diamonds, a great cut is essential to the appearance, and value of a Natural Fancy Colored diamond. Cut does not mean shape. It’s the faceting, it’s the whole operation of taking the rough and creating a finished diamond.

Cut is a very important factor in buying both natural colored and white/colorless diamonds. It is paramount. What you see on top is typically due to faceting on the bottom. It can hide flaws, make a white look whiter. It amplifies the body color of a colored diamond. Cut can make a diamonds more interesting, more dramatic or more antique looking. It can mean the difference between a diamond that sparkles like a constellation and one that is as lifeless a lump on a log.

What is the BEST instrument for determining a good cut. Your eyes. There are no meters or scopes that will reliably tell you what looking at a colored diamond will tell you. It either speaks to you, or it doesn’t. If you don’t feel you can’t choose a good cut due to the fact that you can’t really find that many of them, rely on a good dealer. A colored diamond dealer has seen thousands. This is the person who can find a killer cut.

Those who cut colored rough are typically the best in the business. A vivid is rare. It’s even rarer to find a vivid that is poorly cut. No owner of a cutting business is going to let his/her precious vivid rough be slashed about by some novice who has no appreciation for art and precision.

With Colored Diamonds, Clarity is not as important as Saturation of Color

In fact, there are GIA Reports for colored diamonds that don’t even mention the clarity. There are vivid yellow diamonds that are I1 by our estimated grade that cost more than your car. And they aren’t even 3 carats! Many inclusions are completely enveloped into the colored flashes. In other words, it’s harder to make out an inclusion in a colored diamond than it is in a colorless one, particularly with the naked eye.

Yellow Diamond Grading Scale

The prices of colored diamonds depend on the saturation of color. Yellow diamonds are graded face up. White diamonds are graded face down. The GIA assigns a grade and pricing depends on the color, the cut, the clarity and the carat weight.

The wide variations on this theoretical guide are due to the range of colors within each of these grades (I told you it was more complicated)- and the diamond's cut amplifies the natural body color. There are also comments on a GIA that can knock the price down like a grade of “uneven color”. Sometimes this is obvious, sometimes it’s not. The unobvious ones are going to be a good buy.

There are also “qualifiers” and they are not even part of the scale on our website, but do make the pricing even more complicated. Qualifiers like brownish yellow, yellowish brown or fancy orange-brown yellow for instance. The word “fancy” on a GIA report equals premium pricing, by the way. The split grades (W-X, Y-Z) are more affordable but still distinctly yellow, particularly once set. Many prefer the lighter yellows and think they sparkle more.

Finding a Good Dealer

Most of the dealers who sell diamonds also sell mountings and setting services. It's almost always best to buy all 3 from the same source because it eliminates the possibility of finger pointing at the end. Piece meal the job out and you could negate a money back guarantee and a trade up policy down the road. I would actually include this on the list of requirements for an acceptable dealer.

Summary of Red Flags for internet diamond dealers

  • What a dealer is selling is MUCH cheaper than anywhere else. For instance, the 1ct round is offered for thousands less.

  • They have the same photo for each round but it does not say it’s “representative”

  • On ebay: bad feedback, one penny auctions, private auctions

  • They say a GIA gemologist graded diamond (not the same as a GIA report)

  • They are selling lots of diamonds graded by a lab other than GIA or AGS

  • They have a shady refund policy (exchange only) and no trade up policy

    What you may not know about some online dealers

    Many online dealers list a large inventory of Virtual Diamonds that are supplied to them by various diamond manufacturers. Many other Internet Websites have access to these same lists. In other words, their diamonds are not at their place of business and they've never actually seen the diamond. They are in a safe in Mars or Peoria or something. I don't know where they are but they aren't at that dealer's business. They are drop shippers. Might work for buying a TV but I can tell you, no two diamonds are exactly alike.

    I can tell you that choosing a diamond from paper and numbers is a dicey deal, particularly with fancy shapes and most assuredly with colored diamonds. If we or someone else passes on a yellow diamond, it's relegated to the “virtual diamond lists".

    The mission, should you decide to accept it, is to find an Internet Dealer that can actually call in a diamond for you and do a work-up that includes photos so that you know what you're buying before you actually buy it.

    It includes finding a dealer that has the diamond in his/her possession so he can look at it when he talks to you. It means disclosing the carbon spots, the glitches the tints and all the other stuff. It also means feeling a sense of trust with the dealer.

    Anne Moss has been writing ads, copy, comics and randomly sprinkling about words of wisdom across all media for over 20 years. I am duty bound to write copy that reaches out and grabs the target audience by the seat of the pants and holds them captive. In the last few years, I've gotten more into web writing and marketing, web development and design. I am webmistress for Diamonds by Lauren of New York. It's a killer job, but someone has to do it.

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