Don’t buy a yellow fancy colour diamond without knowing a few facts first

I’m looking at four oval yellow diamonds – technically known as fancy yellows.  For those of you curious, colour grades go: fancy yellow, intense yellow and vivid yellow.  Fancy is the entry yellow colour.   Ideally they are a primrose yellow sort of shade; an intense yellow is deeper, more of a daffodil shade, and finally when looking at vivid shades, they are exactly that, deep golden marigold shades.

All these fancy yellows are GIA certified stones. This may be of comfort to a lot of people, who don’t know about diamonds. GIA are a trusted guide for most white diamonds. But coloured diamonds are a bit like coloured gem stones – very difficult to accurately assess. And the GIA can get it less right. With apologies for the photography, let’s go through the details.

Two of the three stones in the image above are 1.01 carats, and the centre stone is 0.91 carat. The difference between centre stone, and the one on the left is negligible on size. What is noticeable is that the centre of the left hand is less yellow, which impacts the stone’s overall colour spread. So the colour is less uniform, hence why the stone appears a little darker in the centre.

In addition, if you look at the cut of the stone on the left, in comparison to the other two, you can see the faceting is different.  It is a nice cut. Just not as sparkly as the other two.

This isn't uncommon, and I've seen white diamonds which had the same GIA certificates while being very different to each other. It is pretty similar here. The stone on the left has the same specification as the stone on the right. Despite the colour flaw and size difference. And the other drawback? It is actually £300 more in price..

I used the left hand stone to underline the difference between some of the stones my clients had already seen,  and what we could offer. My diamond brokers specialise in coloured stones. They offer them on a daily basis. And they are as nasty when they are not up to spec, as they are about white diamonds.

So what can you do? Here are my three top tips:

  1. Look at the cut of the stone carefully. Some coloured stones are not well cut, the proportion is out, or the symmetry very lopsided to try to make colour deeper. If the stone looks very deep, this is because the colour is weak. This will influence the ring you can set it in, and also goes back to it’s ability to reflect light.
  2. Consider clarity.  The stone to the right in the four stone image looks big, because it is – at 1.27 carats. It should be out of budget, being GIA si certification.  However turn it over, and you understand why it is still affordable. You can see the inclusions in the stone, which are also referred to a ‘PK’ sometimes in the jewellery industry. There is nothing wrong with this, it is a great stone for the budget.  But be careful when you are looking at diamonds, as if you can see the inclusions, it can create a less vivid sparkle.
  3. If you are really serious about choosing a coloured stone make sure you have physically viewed every diamond you are told about. If you are really, really serious then get an expert involved. I’m not for trawling through hundreds of stones. I just want to see the best ones.
This is where you get experts involved, 100 yellow diamonds were rejected to find this one. And I got it as soon as it arrived back in the UK!

It is very easy to pick up cheap yellow fancy colour diamonds. Just remember that for 19/20 instances, you will then own a cheap yellow fancy colour diamond. As with everything, I caveat, you can leave it to luck or judgement. I know that judgement is more expensive, on the other hand it does mean that what you own is a valuable stone because it has been verified by experts. As with judging a book by its’ cover – judging the stone by the cert is a high risk strategy in this case.

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