Yellow Sapphire vs. Yellow Diamond

Ranging from the lightest buttercup to rich honey, there’s a yellow gem to celebrate every occasion.

When looking for the perfect sun-kissed jewel, you might deliberate yellow sapphire vs. yellow diamond—but which to choose? Our guide will clarify what each of these yellow gemstones bring to the jewelry box.

Yellow Sapphires

You may be confused by the term “yellow sapphire.” Despite their ocean-blue reputation, sapphires actually span a rainbow of colors. Affordable and durable, a yellow sapphire could be the precious gemstone for you.

Sapphire Origin & Grading

A sapphire is any non-red corundum stone (all red corundums are rubies).1 Alongside emeralds and rubies, sapphires form the top three most valued gemstones.2

Like most jewels, sapphires are evaluated by the Four C’s—color, clarity, cut, and carat.3 However, unlike diamonds, sapphires have no standardized grading scale. You will need a professional dealer to determine a natural yellow sapphire’s true value. 

Sapphire Colors

From solid violets to star-studded teals, sapphire color varies both in shade and pattern. 

Since pure corundum is clear, secondary trace elements create saturation in sapphire jewelry.4 The resulting colors fall within four main categories:

  • Blue Sapphires – A classic jewel, a blue sapphire evolves from iron and titanium mixing with corundum. The longer the interaction, the deeper the blue shade of the sapphire stone.
  • Fancy Sapphires – Any non-blue sapphire is a “fancy sapphire”—the rarer the color, the higher the value. Yellow sapphires land here, resulting from iron interference during crystallization.5  
  • Star Sapphires – Occasionally, inclusion “silk” particles infuse within the corundum’s crystal structure to form a mesmerizing star-shaped pattern, known as asterism.
  • Color-Changing Sapphires – Certain sapphires shift color under different lighting, typically changing from blue to violet.3

Yellow Sapphire Value

For any colored gemstone, the color’s intensity and rarity drive its value—yellow sapphires are no exception.

Yellow is a common fancy sapphire shade, with hues ranging from greenish-yellow to rich ochre.  Typically, intense canary-yellows carry the highest market value.5

Starting around $420 per carat, yellow sapphires are more affordable than diamonds. However, they still offer incredible quality and durability, sitting at a 9 on the Mohs Hardness Scale.1 

Diamond Color Grading

Both colored sapphires and diamonds are assessed by the Four C’s. However, the Gemological Institute of American (GIA) sets clear grades for different types of colored diamonds.

If a diamond falls outside the GIA’s white diamond coloring scale, it breaks into a new category—fancy colored diamonds. When shopping for a yellow diamond, most people usually seek fancy varieties for their intensity. Otherwise, the coloring is too weak. 

By GIA standards, fancy diamonds can fall across nine color grades:

  • Faint
  • Very Light
  • Light
  • Fancy Light
  • Fancy
  • Fancy Intense
  • Fancy Dark
  • Fancy Deep
  • Fancy Vivid

Keep in mind that natural yellow diamonds do not come in the first three grades—their color rankings start with Fancy Light.6

Yellow Diamond Value

A luxurious choice, yellow diamonds often prove pricey. However, when comparing yellow sapphire vs diamond, it’s hard to beat a diamond’s rare strength or brilliance. 

Depending on the shade and size, a fancy yellow diamond costs anywhere from $10,000 to $30,000 per carat.7 A general rule—the richer the yellow hue, the higher the value.

Your Perfect Yellow Jewel

Choosing a jewelry piece can be arduous, even intimidating—but have no fear. When picking a yellow sapphire vs. diamond, there is no wrong choice. With our guide, you can determine which sun-colored gemstone will best illuminate your life. 

And if you’ve decided a yellow stone isn’t for you, we have plenty of other options. You might be wondering, “What is a blue diamond?” Or, maybe you’re curious how much a pink diamond is worth. At CJ Charles Jewelers, we’re happy to answer those questions and guide you through the jewelry selection process. Visit our jewelry store in San Diego to get started today. 


Sources: 

  1. Gemological Institute of America. Sapphire. https://www.gia.edu/sapphire/gem-overview
  2. Besler, Carol. The Big Three Jewels: Why Ruby, Sapphire and Emerald Top the List of Precious Gems. https://www.forbes.com/sites/carolbesler/2016/03/11/the-big-three-why-ruby-sapphire-and-emerald-top-the-list-of-precious-gems/
  3. Gemological Institute of America. Sapphire Quality Factors. https://www.gia.edu/sapphire-quality-factor
  4. Gemological Institute of America. Sapphire Description. https://www.gia.edu/sapphire-description
  5. Fried, Michael. A Complete Guide to Yellow Sapphire Engagement Rings. https://www.diamonds.pro/guides/yellow-sapphire/
  6. Gemological Institute of America. How to Choose a Yellow Diamond Engagement Ring. https://4cs.gia.edu/en-us/blog/how-to-choose-yellow-diamond-engagement-ring/
  7. Fried, Michael. Fancy Yellow (Canary) Diamonds. https://www.diamonds.pro/education/canary-yellow/
  8. Chen, Mengwei. Natural Sapphires Versus Treated Sapphires. http://themidtowngazette.com/2011/12/natural-sapphires-versus-treated-sapphires/
  9. Gemological Institute of America. Diamond. https://www.gia.edu/diamond
  10. Gemological Institute of America. Yearning for Yellow Diamonds. https://4cs.gia.edu/en-us/blog/yearning-yellow-diamonds/
  11. Overton, Thomas W. Gem Treatment Disclosure and U.S. Law. https://www.gia.edu/doc/Summer-2004-Gems-Gemology-Treatment-Disclosure-US-Law.pdf
  12. Weldon, Robert. An Introduction to Gem Treatments. https://www.gia.edu/gem-treatment


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