The Diamond Pro

A Complete Guide to Yellow Sapphire Engagement Rings

By Michael Fried
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A yellow sapphire can look stunning as an engagement ring center stone, particularly when it’s surrounded by a halo of diamonds. 

Yellow sapphires closely resemble yellow diamonds. However, their lower price makes them a good alternative if you’re looking for a beautiful yellow center stone but aren’t satisfied with the diamonds that are available in your price range.

3.87ct Yellow Sapphire in Halo Engagement Ring

As with all sapphires, color is the most important factor to look for when you’re comparing yellow sapphires. We recommend shopping from a trusted online vendor like James Allen, who stock a diverse range of high quality loose yellow sapphires and engagement ring settings.


Bright, eye-catching and impressive, a yellow sapphire can make a stunning engagement ring center stone. 

Yellow sapphires aren’t as common as blue sapphires. In fact, many people aren’t even aware that yellow sapphires exist. Like other sapphires in colors other than blue, yellow sapphires are commonly referred to as “fancy sapphires.” 

Visually, yellow sapphires tend to resemble yellow diamonds. Despite this, they’re significantly less expensive, making a yellow sapphire a great alternative to a diamond if you’re looking for an elegant, impressive yellow center stone.

Like other colored sapphires, buying a yellow sapphire is a less technical process than buying a diamond. In general, you’ll want to spend less of your time focusing on the four Cs and more on the specific characteristics that make a sapphire beautiful, such as its color.

Below, we’ve covered everything you need to know about buying a yellow sapphire engagement ring, or other yellow sapphire jewelry. We’ve also included a range of tips and tactics to help you get the highest quality center stone and setting for your budget. 

If you want to see some examples of what yellow sapphire engagement rings look like, have a look at recently purchased rings from out top-rated retailers.

Yellow Sapphire Meaning

Like many other gemstones, yellow sapphire has been given a range of historical meanings. It’s closely associated with success and luck, making it a common gift for people seeking prosperity and material wealth.

All sapphires, including yellow sapphires, have a hardness rating of nine out of 10 on the Mohs scale. This puts them just one point behind a diamond, which has a 10 out of 10 score. Thanks to their hardness, sapphires are durable stones that are very difficult to scratch or damage. 

Yellow sapphire develops its unique, interesting color as a result of the presence of iron during its formation. Over the course of millions of years, the presence of iron can color the corundum that makes up the sapphire, giving it a warm, yellow color.

Like other fancy sapphires, yellow sapphires can vary wildly in color. Some have a rich, golden yellow color, whereas others have a lighter, less saturated color. Generally, sapphires that have a canary yellow color tone are most desired and subsequently fetch the highest prices. 

Today, yellow sapphire is mined in a variety of countries. The highest quality yellow sapphires are usually sourced from Sri Lanka, although sapphires in this color also come from the USA, Australia, Myanmar, Thailand and Madagascar.

What to Look For in a Yellow Sapphire Engagement Ring

As we mentioned above, buying a sapphire is generally a less technical process than buying a diamond. Rather than a combination of the four Cs, the most important factor for a sapphire is its color, with cut and clarity less important than they are for a diamond. 

Color

Like with fancy sapphires in other colors, the color of a yellow sapphire is usually the factor that has the largest impact on its beauty, as well as the price you’ll pay to purchase it. 

Yellow sapphires come in a variety of tones, hues and saturation levels. For example, this 1.85 carat oval natural yellow sapphire has a light yellow color, whereas this 2.93 carat oval natural yellow sapphire has a much darker, orange/bronze color. 

2.43ct Radiant Natural Yellow Sapphire

Because color can vary so much between different yellow sapphires, it’s important to pay close attention to photos before you choose a loose yellow sapphire to add to a setting or a pre-made yellow sapphire engagement ring.

Generally, sapphires with a canary yellow-like color tend to command the highest prices. When you’re comparing sapphires, you’ll want to pay attention to three key factors that affect the color and appearance of a stone. 

The vast majority of yellow sapphires are heat treated for enhanced color and clarity. This is a common process that’s also used for other fancy sapphires. Sapphires that haven’t been heat treated are very rare and sell at a significant premium. 

Hue

Hue refers to how a sapphire’s color compares to neighboring colors on the color wheel. The two colors that neighbor yellow — orange and green — can both be identified in certain yellow sapphires. 

Tone and Saturation

Tone refers to how light or dark a sapphire’s color is. Yellow sapphires with a light tone can be bright and eye-catching, whereas darker sapphires can have an orangey-yellow color that can make the stone appear less transparent.

1.30ct Oval Natural Yellow Sapphire

Saturation refers to how intense, vibrant and vivid a sapphire’s color is. Sapphires with a vivid, medium tone color tend to be the most attractive and desirable, especially if they’re a relatively pure yellow.

Unlike with diamonds, there’s no standardized color grading system for sapphires. Because of this, it’s much more important for you to look at a sapphire’s physical color than to rely on color grades to get an idea of its appearance.

Vendors like James Allen make this easy, since they have large, color accurate photos of their entire loose sapphire and pre-made yellow sapphire ring inventory. 

Clarity

It’s common for sapphires of all colors to feature inclusions, particularly rutile needles. When a sapphire has no inclusions, it’s quite unusual — in general, a sapphire with flawless clarity will usually be looked at with a certain amount of suspicion by a gemologist.

Interestingly, yellow sapphires usually have fewer inclusions than blue, green, pink and other fancy sapphires. 

Unlike with diamonds, where it’s important to pay attention to the clarity grade, with sapphires, the best approach is to check that the stone is “eye-clean.” This simply means that the stone is free of inclusions when viewed with the naked eye.

Any yellow sapphire that’s eye-clean and free of obvious, visible inclusions will look more than acceptable once it’s set into a ring. 

Cut

Yellow sapphires come in a wide variety of different cuts. Unlike with a diamond, there are no standardized cuts that are used for sapphires. Instead, the gem cutter will pick an appropriate cut that maximizes the stone’s color, light return and other factors. 

The most common cuts for yellow sapphires include oval, round, cushion and emerald. Other cuts, such as princess, heart and pear are also occasionally used for certain stones. 

Carat Weight

Yellow diamonds are available in a range of carat weights, with pricing rising exponentially as carat weight increases. 

Sapphires, whether yellow or in any other color, are slightly more dense than diamonds. This means that a three carat sapphire, for example, will have smaller dimensions than a diamond with an equal carat weight. 

To account for this, vendors that sell sapphires typically provide measurements for their loose stones. For example, this 1.74 carat oval natural yellow sapphire from James Allen measures 7.60×5.70mm. 

Where to Buy a Yellow Sapphire Engagement Ring

Although yellow sapphires aren’t as common as blue sapphires, they’re easy to buy online as either loose gemstones or with an engagement ring setting. 

The best place to buy a yellow sapphire engagement ring is James Allen. They maintain a large selection of loose yellow sapphires in a diverse range of colors and carat weights, as well as an even larger selection of high-quality engagement ring settings.

One of the reasons James Allen are particularly good for fancy sapphires is their high-resolution photography. Since all of the sapphires are photographed from 360 degrees in identical lighting conditions, it’s easy to compare one yellow sapphire’s hue, tone and saturation to another’s 

Beyond this, the prices are great and the customer service is impeccable, as we’ve covered in our James Allen review

Tips for Choosing the Best Yellow Sapphire Engagement Ring

Yellow Sapphire Oval Cut in Yellow Gold Solitaire Setting

From choosing the right metal to pairing your sapphire with a beautiful setting design, there are a variety of tactics you can use to make sure you get the highest quality yellow sapphire ring for your budget:

  • Look for a medium, vibrant, canary yellow color. This is generally the most desirable color for a yellow sapphire. Sapphires with this color command a slight premium, but are still significantly more affordable than diamonds and other fancy sapphires.

  • Consider a halo or pavé setting. Yellow sapphires and other fancy sapphires can look especially elegant in a halo setting, where a halo of small diamonds surrounds the large center stone.

    Settings such as this 14k yellow gold graduated halo ring or this 14k yellow gold cushion outline pavé ring can emphasize the gorgeous color of a yellow sapphire, all while giving the center stone the appearance of a larger size.

  • Choose a metal that complements the color of the sapphire. Yellow sapphires look amazing with in a variety of metals, including white gold. They’re particularly impressive in yellow gold settings, especially with halo diamonds to emphasize the sapphire’s color.

    For example, this gorgeous 2.09 carat engagement ring features halo diamonds and two rows of pavé-set diamonds, both of which help to create visual contrast between the rich yellow of the sapphire and the warm 14k yellow gold of the ring.

  • Remember that heat treatment is common. Like many other colored gemstones, it’s very common for sapphires to be heat-treated for improved color and clarity. As such, it isn’t a good practice to avoid stones simply because they’re been heat-treated.

  • Check a sapphire’s measurements before purchasing. As we mentioned earlier, the density of a sapphire is higher than that of a diamond. This makes it important to check the stone’s measurements, not just its carat weight, to get an idea of its size. 

Shop for yellow sapphire engagement rings here.

Need an expert opinion before you buy an engagement ring? Contact us and our experts will help you choose the best yellow sapphire engagement ring or other jewelry for your budget.

About the author
Mike learned the diamond business from the ground-up at Leo Schachter Diamonds - one of the world's top diamond manufacturers. He has been recognized as a diamond industry expert by Time, PeopleMoney, The Daily Mirror, NerdWallet, The Times Herald, Yahoo Finance Australia, The Art of Charm, The Washington Diplomat, The Next Web, and more. See more
Top Recommended Vendors
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