Posted on November 13, 2013 by

What are Yellow Diamonds Called?


Yellow Diamond Stud Earrings with Halo

Fancy Intense Yellow Diamond Earrings in 18K Yellow Gold


Colored diamonds often receive secondary names coined by the trade and yellow diamonds are a shining example. The ins and outs of all diamond terminology are confusing to many and on top of terms like color, cut, clarity and carat, we hear things like champagne diamonds, chocolate diamonds, cognac diamonds, cape diamonds and canary diamonds thrown around.  When it comes to colored diamonds, the jewelry industry is known to beautify the title and create a more imaginative name that identifies the richness of color in a gem and entices shoppers.


“Canary” diamond is a term used to describe an intensely colored yellow diamond.  The term originated about a century ago and refers to the bright yellow plumage of the canary bird. In 1869, vivid yellow diamonds were discovered in South Africa.  These stones resembled the bright yellow feathers of the canary songbird that came to be due to selective breeding.  Jewelers then adopted the term to refer to all yellow diamonds in their collections.


Oval Cut Yellow Diamond

Oval Cut Fancy Vivid Yellow Diamond


The term “Cape” denotes the paler yellow diamonds in circulation. The diamonds found in the Kimberly, South Africa region had a reputation for being slightly yellow in color and the diamond trade of 1870 coined the term to refer to all diamonds with South African origin.  “Cape” diamonds later came to describe any diamond with a pale yellow hue. In the 1900s, the label, “cape diamond” was defined as any yellow diamond that did not have enough color to be considered a fancy color diamond.


Pear Shaped Yellow Cape Diamond Ring

Pear Shaped Yellow Cape Diamond Ring


Additionally, colorless diamonds with a grade from K through Z are also considered ‘yellow’.  Since they are not yellow enough to be considered a “cape” or “canary” diamond, they are simply grouped into the less desirable of colorless diamonds. If you are looking for a yellow diamond though, the y-z range is a great option.    Diamonds with a low color saturation can be set into yellow gold, deepening the appearance of the color.  This is an option many choose to achieve the look of a fancy yellow diamond without the price tag.


Diamond Color Diagram D-Z

Diamond Color Diagram D-Z


Moral of the story? If you aren’t sure about the true color of a diamond, ask to see the grading certificate so you can correctly identify the origins and color type. No matter the name, yellow diamond engagement rings are growing in popularity and with all the color options, there is something for everyone.


To learn even more about yellow diamond prices, value, history and origin, read our expert guide to canary yellow diamonds. And visit our diamond colors page if you want to know more about the other beautiful hues.

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