Cultured Diamonds- How They’re Made, How They Differ

Cultured Yellow Diamonds – A Competitive Alternative to their Natural Counterpart

While a lot of the fundamentals of how to purchase a diamond do apply to all types of diamonds, they do differ a bit among the different colors. And since yellow diamonds are the most common color among natural colored diamonds,  we decided  to make a manual on how to particularly acquire them is absolutely necessary ..

In this manual we will endeavor to include everything from what is a yellow diamond, what it means when they have different intensities, elucidate the prices of yellow diamond and how to become a smart shopper.

Note that while there is a strong trend of buying yellow diamonds for investment purposes, this guide is not meant for that. This manual is meant to be used as a guide for purchasing yellow diamonds for making beautiful jewelry.

What is a Yellow Diamond?

A yellow diamond has an intense shade. It is popular and widely revered. It has been described as the hardest substance. There is a Diamond color scale. There is a Diamond Color chart known as the the diamond color scale which is used for white diamonds with a scale that goes from D to Z.   The closer the letter is to Z, the less colorless the Diamond, begins to be a bit yellowish in tone, a rather pale yellow shade the yellow diamond. At this point the diamond is considered slightly degraded, and their prices actually decrease as you get closer to Z.

But to a certain, point, as you “continue on the color scale”, becomes a beautiful yellow shade – at this point the price increases again and the diamond is considered a yellow diamond.

Yellow diamonds belong to a special family of fancy colored diamonds. Regular diamonds, and this applies to both natural and  diamonds, that due to impurities found in them (a fluke of nature) change their color during their formation process everything but regular.

The reason for each color differs, boron in the diamond makes for blue color green diamonds get their color on account of radiation, and yellow diamonds get their color due to the presence of nitrogen molecules which absorb blue light. This same virtue of impurity accounts for the color of orange diamonds.

The Desirable Yellow Diamonds.

Natural colored diamonds are quite rare and hence their astronomical price and inaccessibility. Cultured diamonds, with its tightly controlled supply, retains the same desirability and yet offers a much more accessible alternative. It is known that only one out of about 10,000 carats is a natural colored. Among the rainbow of colors you will find the romantic pinks and purples, the dazzling blue, the intriguing green, the energetic orange and off course the shiny and brilliant yellows.

Among the colored diamonds, yellows are the most popular.

The colors of yellow diamonds

Yellow diamonds are a family of colors on their own. Colored diamonds often don’t come in a pure form but rather as a combination of colors. Colored diamonds mostly come as a blend of colors, the yellow is a family of colors in their own right.

When the International Gemological Institute (IGI) grades a colored diamond, it gives the precise color description. This color description can be comprised of several colors in addition to the intensity level.

IGI certificate of a Fancy Deep Orange Yellow Diamond

Orange yellow is the most common color combo among the yellows, others include Brown Yellow, Green Yellow and Orange Yellow.

This named colored combination translates to mean that the last name is the dominant color, with the first name indicating just the tone. And so if a diamond graded as a green yellow diamond is a diamond that is yellow and has a secondary tone of green in it while a yellow green diamond is a green diamond with a secondary tone of yellow. It is pertinent to understand that there is a world of difference between the two diamonds mentioned with respect to their appearance, rarity and price.

Fancy Green Yellow Diamond VS Fancy Yellow Green Diamond

For the majority of people looking for yellow diamonds, they do not understand nor look for diamonds with secondary hues. Because color combinations in colored diamonds is a very complex matter. From this point on, we will be talking and explaining mainly about pure yellow diamonds. Diamonds that are often referred as canary diamonds or canary yellows.

Yellow diamond color scale

When grading colored diamonds, you grade the color, the color combo, as well as the intensity of the color.  Same goes for grading yellow diamonds.

There are yellow diamonds with a very strong color and there are yellow diamonds with a weak yellow shade depicted as yellowish or even just a yellow tint. For this reason an intensity color scale was invented.

The intensity scale of colored diamonds goes as follows:

Faint, Very Light, Light, Fancy Light, Fancy, Fancy Dark, Fancy Deep, Fancy Intense and the Fancy Vivid.

Several colored diamonds colors don’t have representation in all levels on the scale. In this particular case of yellow diamonds, there are no Faint, Very Light and Light yellow diamonds – these are referred to as cape diamonds, diamonds from the lower end of the D-Z color scale (U-V and Y-Z) which appear somewhat yellowish. The name “Cape Diamonds” is because these diamonds originated from Cape Province in South Africa.

The first level at which point a yellow diamond is considered a fancy diamond is the Fancy Light Yellow. There is also no such thing as a pure fancy dark yellow diamond but there is in combination with brown etc.

Here is the actual yellow diamonds color scale in order of rarity and pricing: Faint, Very Light, Light, Fancy Light, Fancy, Fancy Dark (pure yellow), Fancy Deep, Fancy Intense and the fancy vivid.Lots of people consider cape diamonds – U-V and Y-Z diamonds (colorless with yellowish tint) as replacements to the light yellow diamonds.


The 4C’s and Yellow Diamond Prices

Ascertaining and assessing the price point of a diamond, any diamond, is quite difficult. For the  white colorless diamond, you make use of  a price list (which fluctuates a lot) and add / subtract to the price determined values of all other attributes that the specific diamond possesses ( an indication that the 4cs is still just part of what can be used to assess).

The utmost expertise is required when it comes to assessing the price of a colored diamond the reason is not farfetched. As previously said, there are lots and lots of color combinations, and the price differences between them are vast. The hint of a brownish tint in a yellow diamond may reduce its value where as green or orange will increase it.

To grade colored diamonds, you first assess its color. Where as in colorless diamonds clarity is first since some say that clarity and color are equivalent in the way they influence the price and value of colorless and colored diamond respectively. For colored diamonds (including yellow diamonds) the pricing begins with the color. It is by far the most important attribute and we will start with it.


The price of a commodity is determined by the laws of supply and demand – basic rules of economics. But for yellow diamonds (and actually most colored diamonds) there is an underlying issue that may skew the ‘law’ in that the most desired diamonds (i.e. demand) are also the rarest diamonds (i.e. supply). This also applies in the case of cultured diamonds. The result is that the price increase between the color scale levels are quite high (percentage wise).

Reference price of a natural Fancy Light ($3,500) VS Fancy Vivid ($12,500).

A sample IGI Certificate of Hermia Yellow Diamonds

HermiaDiamonds only offers cultured diamonds of the most excellent grade of Fancy Vivid Yellow. Following is a sample of our certificate.

A sample IGI certificate offered by HermiaDiamonds.



Carat weight has an enormous effect on prices. Diamonds are valued and priced per carat and with the price going up exponentially along with the weight. The price per carat of a 1 carat yellow diamond will be much higher than the price per carat of half a carat diamond (meaning that 2*0.50ct diamonds cost less than 1*1ct diamond). If you multiply it by the actual weight and then you can that the difference is astronomical..



The diamond clarity chart goes as follows: FL, IF, VVS1, VVS2, VS1, VS2, SI1, SI2, I1, I2. FL is the highest value (Flawless) and I2 is the lowest (Included level 2). The difference in price between a vs1 and a vs2 and between VVS1 and VVS2 is not much. Now if we we were to divide the clarity levels into groups, you would see a jump in price levels between groups. The groups would be FL and IF, VVS1 and VVS2, VS1 and VS2, SI1 and SI2, I1 and I2. There is a relatively big difference between these “groups” of clarity. A curious fact about the clarity in yellow diamonds: Yellow diamonds are known to be found in nature with relatively high clarity grading. This means that finding yellow diamonds with VS clarity and higher is a fairly easy task.



Cut does not mean shape. Cut means the quality, the make of the diamond in considering the shape that it was cut into. This also effects how the diamond would look in proportion to its weight.

Even when colored diamonds are cut to maximize their value, it means the same thing since strong yellow diamond is worth more than a tinted yellow. However, if the cutter needs to drop below 1.00 to 0.98 to maximize the color, though mostly he won’t. Even if it means that it will be less symmetric etc. A bad cut will reduce the price and an excellent cut might get a premium. But in the middle it is not that different.



This is perhaps a place to discuss about the shape of the diamond which though not covered in the 4 Cs. It does have an effect on the price.

It is hard to see a round yellow diamond since it is harder for the color to be seen in round diamonds. And what would be a round fancy yellow diamond would probably get a color grading of intense if it were to be  cut into a different shape such as a cushion or a radiant. Cushions, The radiant and ovals are more or less in the same price category levels. Marquise cut diamonds are priced lower and rounds are much higher priced.


The Fifth C – Certificate

The purpose of the gemological certificate is to objectively guaranty two things:

  1. That the diamond’s color is an authentic diamond (note that both natural and cultured diamonds are considered authentic).
  2. The attributes of the diamond (including the 4Cs above and few more)

The most commonly known institutes are:

GIA – Gemological Institute of America

IGI – International Gemological Institute

EGL – European Gemological Laboratory