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Ask a Diamond Pro: A Cushion/Radiant Cut Canary Diamond with a $20k to $30k Budget

By Mike Fried,

Diamonds in engagement rings have become standard around the world. Most people opt for at least a small diamond when planning their proposal. And almost every woman wishes that one day she receives one. But diamonds have many looks to them and no two diamonds look exactly the same which allows every engagement ring to have the potential to be a unicorn. 

Apart from the differences in cut, diamonds are also different in color. Most of them are colorless, but the rarer ones have so-called fancy color. In this case, one of our readers contacted us asking for a canary yellow diamond.  

Yellow radiant cut diamond ring
Radiant Cut Diamond in a Platinum Pavé Setting with Yellow Gold Prongs from Abe Mor

Here’s the reader’s original email:

I’m in the process of buying an engagement ring and she/we really like the Canary diamonds. My girl has a good taste and comes from a fairly wealthy family that knows what good quality is…

Thus I want a very nice diamond/setting and am willing to pay a fair price. Budget is around 20 to 30K, which makes me think I can get something very nice after reading your article and checking out the stones for sale. So looking for some direction on what size/diamond spec to start with, and then where to go to have the actual ring made. 

I doubt the dealers want me to hand them my own diamond (or would they care?) and have them make the ring. I know that jewelry is an emotional buy – thus huge margins per some friends in the business. I was even thinking of heading to NYC to make the pick as i’m not that far away, but then again, would not know where to begin. So there you go, where does one begin…..? Canary center diamond, two flanking diamonds, possibly halo, with an elaborate antique, heirloom setting – but all very delicate in appearance. I think the Cushion Cut seems to be most appropriate for setting. 

Many thanks. A very nice service you provide for folks that are new to all this.

Picking out a yellow diamond is slightly different than choosing a colorless one. You need to pay attention to the color intensity as well as the other usual characteristics, such as diamond cut or clarity. Depending on what you like, the color can be very light or very intense/dark. We explain this in more detail below.

How To Pick a Canary Yellow Diamond

Fancy colored diamonds can be red, blue, purple, pink or almost any color you can think of. But the most common one is yellow. 

Yellow diamonds are simply stunning. They make every piece of jewelry look unforgettable no matter if you choose the diamond to be the main focus in the middle or if you put a few of them on the side to make the center stone pop even more. 

Their color is graded differently than white diamonds. Those have a diamond color scale from D (absolutely colorless) to Z (very distinct yellow tint). If you go past that, you’ll get to the fancy color section. Starting with the intensity of “faint”, they go all the way to “fancy dark.” Check our graphic that shows the entire scale:

Yellow color diamonds - color intensity levels
Yellow color diamonds – color intensity levels

And because of their visible color, yellow diamonds are pretty good at hiding inclusions. That said, it doesn’t mean that you can stop caring altogether, but you can get away with more imperfections than with colorless diamonds. In all honesty, everybody will notice the spectacular color and won’t look past that as much.

The important thing is that you choose an eye-clean diamond. What it means is that there are no imperfections visible to the naked eye without needing a magnifying glass. We always tell people not to spend money on a flawless diamond as the difference between that and a diamond with a clarity grade of VS isn’t that noticeable in real life but you’ll pay significantly more. 

Choosing The Right Yellow Diamond

The reader wanted a cushion or radiant cut diamond around $20-30k for a custom-made, antique-looking setting. They enjoyed the fancy color intensity so that’s what we started recommending to them. We showed them multiple options similar to this 2.53ct fancy yellow radiant cut diamond from James Allen or this 3.07ct fancy yellow cushion cut diamond from Leibish.

In the end, he wanted something smaller that would fit better in the antique setting and ended up with this stunning 2.24ct fancy yellow square radiant cut.

Yellow diamond examples
Fancy Yellow Diamonds: Radiant cut (Left) and Cushion Cut (Right)

Where To Get a Custom-Made Ring

Jewelers make a lot of settings for everyone to find what they want. However, some people have a very specific idea of what their ring should look like and that’s absolutely fine. 

It’s generally recommended to get the entire ring in one place. Since our reader picked a diamond from James Allen, we suggested they have their ring made there as well. James Allen has a fantastic design studio and very capable ring makers that can create almost anything. 


Yellow diamonds are a perfect substitution for classic colorless diamonds. There are many color intensities to choose from and every one of them can change the overall look of your engagement ring. Take your time, browse through as many options as you can and make sure you know what you want. 

Choosing a diamond for an engagement ring is an important decision. You hope that the ring will last forever and your partner will love it. And we are here to help you get precisely that. If you have any questions or need some help with picking out your diamond, you can contact us and one of our experts will walk you through the process.

James Allen James Allen is the leader in online diamond sales. Their imaging technology is the same as inspecting a diamond with a jeweler's loupe. They have the largest exclusive loose diamond inventory online and fantastic prices. They also have the nicest collection of lab created diamonds online. Now save 50% at James Allen Holiday Sale!
What we love about them:
  • No questions asked returns within 30 days of shipment. James Allen will send you a paid shipping label to return the ring.
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  • Free International Shipping
  • Free prong tightening, repolishing, rhodium plating and cleaning every 6 months
  • Provide insurance appraisals
  • One free resizing within 60 days of purchase
  • Free ring inscriptions
  • Best-in-class high quality imagery of all diamonds in stock
  • 24/7 Customer Service
  • Best-in-class packaging
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Blue Nile Blue Nile is the largest and most well known internet jewelry seller. They have a very large exclusive online inventory. Their high quality images are catching up to James Allens' and their prices are amazing.Save 25% on settings at Blue Nile!

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What we love about them:
  • No questions asked returns within 30 days of shipment. Blue Nile will send you a paid shipping label to return the ring.
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • Free Shipping
  • Free prong tightening, repolishing, rhodium plating and cleaning every 6 months
  • Provide insurance appraisal
  • One free resizing within the first year of purchase
  • High quality images of about half of their diamonds
  • 24/7 Customer Service
  • 100% credit towards future upgrades (must be at least double in value)
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