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Ask A Diamond Pro: Fancy Yellow Cushion Diamond Within a $15k – $20k Budget

By Mike Fried,

Exploring the dazzling world of yellow diamonds, we encounter a reader’s inquiry that’s as specific as it is exciting. Our reader was on the hunt for the perfect yellow diamond engagement ring within a budget of $15,000 to $20,000. With a preference for a cushion cut diamond, a size between 1.50 to 2 carats, and a focus on Fancy Intense color and VVS1 or VVS2 clarity, they’ve laid out their criteria with precision. Their ring finger size of 4 3/4 adds another important detail to the mix. With their request in mind, let’s explore the intricacies of yellow diamonds and offer tailored advice to help them find their dream ring.

Here’s the reader’s original email:

You have a lot of great information here but I can’t find much on yellow diamonds so can you please advise for someone with a $15k – $20k budget? Her ring finger size is 4 3/4 (or near that) and therefore I’m not looking for anything larger than 1.50 – 2 carats in cushion cut so I want to put most of my money towards color (Fancy Intense) and clarity (VVS1 or 2). What are your thoughts and does the same color range apply to yellow diamonds?

Thanks in advance for your help!! 

The reader’s budget is big enough for a cushion of their dream size. That gives them a lot of options to choose from. However, the high clarity makes it a bit more challenging. Below, we’re going to dive into the clarity grade importance and how it can affect the price of a diamond.


Yellow Diamond: Color Scale

One of the reader’s questions was about the yellow diamond color scale and if it’s the same as for clear diamonds. That’s a common misconception. People often think that colored diamonds also have a color scale made of letters (D-Z), but it’s not true.

Yellow diamonds come in a variety of shades, just like the colors of the rainbow. The color scale for yellow diamonds ranges from light yellow to deep, intense shades. If someone wants a very bright and vivid yellow diamond, they might look for one with a higher intensity on the color scale. We created a simple graphic that helps people visualize the scale:

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

When it comes to yellow diamonds, their color intensity plays a crucial role in determining their value and allure. Gemologists use terms like Fancy Light, Fancy, Fancy Intense, and Fancy Vivid to describe the intensity of yellow diamonds. Diamonds with a higher intensity, such as Fancy Intense or Fancy Vivid, command greater attention and are typically more desirable and valuable.

Within this spectrum, subtle nuances in hue, saturation, and tone contribute to the unique character of each yellow diamond, offering a diverse array of options for those looking for a unique gem for their jewelry.


Yellow Diamonds: Clarity

Diamond clarity refers to how clear or free from flaws a diamond is. Clear diamonds (sometimes referred to as “white diamonds”) are more prone to showing inclusions than diamonds with color. Thanks to the intense hue, yellow diamonds can get away with more imperfections without being seen by the naked eye. What this means is that sometimes, a yellow diamond with an SI2 clarity grade will look amazing, whereas a clear diamond can have obvious inclusions. All in all, you should always buy a diamond that’s clean to the naked eye, regardless of the clarity grade.

During our conversation with the reader, he mentioned the following:

Can you show me IF, Fancy Intense and 1.5 – 2 carats?? I’m being quoted $16k for 1.50 and platinum band… 

He was already aiming for a very high clarity (VVS1-VVS2), but an IF diamond is usually much pricier. The quoted price of $16k was so good that we needed to ask for more details. If the diamond in question was well cut, that would be a fantastic value.

Our worst fear became a reality. After seeing the GIA certificate for the IF diamond, it was clear that someone was trying to rip them off. The cut was so bad that there was close to zero chance for the diamond to have enough brilliance to look good. Remember: when a deal seems too good to be true, it usually is.


Yellow Diamond Options

An IF diamond is usually unnecessarily expensive. Look at this 1.80ct intense yellow IF cushion cut diamond from Leibish. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a gorgeous diamond, but you can definitely pay less for a lower-clarity stone.

This 1.51ct intense yellow VS1 cushion cut from James Allen is only a smidge shorter but way less expensive. The color is equally amazing and even though the carat weight isn’t as high, the actual length isn’t that different (7.08mm vs. 7.29mm).

VS1 clarity intense yellow cushion cut diamond
Intense yellow cushion cut diamond – VS1 clarity

Final Thoughts

Yellow diamonds are a stunning choice for those who want a unique engagement ring and aren’t afraid to add a little bit of color. You can combine it with a white gold/platinum setting for the contrast or a yellow gold setting to accentuate the yellow tones. There is no wrong answer there.

While choosing your desired diamond, keep in mind to always check the actual color intensity, ensure the diamond doesn’t have visible imperfections, and ALWAYS go with a GIA-certified diamond. And if you have any questions at all or just want to make sure you’re making the right decision, don’t hesitate to contact one of our experts. We’re here to walk you through the exciting experience of getting an engagement ring and make it as easy for you as possible.

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.
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.
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • 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. 
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)
  • Best in class fulfillment
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