Yellow Sapphire Gemstone Guide
Yellow sapphire is a cheery, yellow-hued gem that can closely resemble a yellow diamond. Vibrant and eye-catching yellow sapphire engagement rings have become quite famous for their uniqueness. Mined primarily in Sri Lanka but also found in Madagascar, Tanzania, Australia, and Thailand, a yellow sapphire stone is composed of the corundum mineral. Traces of iron within it give the stone its signature canary yellow color. They're one of the most sought-after colored sapphires, second only to blue, and belong to the "fancy sapphire" group.
September birthdays will be delighted to know that yellow sapphire is their birthstone. This gemstone also suits the "yellow" 11th wedding anniversary as an alternative to the traditional blue sapphire signifying a couple's 45th anniversary. Yellow sapphire jewelry is believed to bring the wearer luck, prosperity, and wisdom. Though it's more common to choose this gorgeous gem for its durability, appearance, and affordability compared to yellow diamonds. Like diamonds, when selecting a yellow sapphire, you'll want to consider cut, color, and clarity, paying most attention to color.
Yellow Sapphire Shapes
The cut creates the shape of your yellow sapphire ring or other jewelry. While some gems have standardized cuts, this isn't the case with yellow sapphires. You can find these bright stones in a variety of shapes. The most popular cut choices tend to be round, oval, emerald, and cushion. These shapes often highlight the brilliance and color of the stone. However, you can also find cuts including princess, heart, pear, and even specialty options like an Asscher cut.
Yellow Sapphire Sizes
The trick with yellow sapphires is finding good quality stones in larger sizes. Gems 1 carat and less of sound clarity and color are relatively common. They're usually easy to find and affordable. As are light yellow stones in larger sizes, upwards of 2 carats. However, fine yellow sapphires with excellent color saturation can be hard to find in 1-carat sizes. Fine sapphire in large sizes is somewhat limited by sourcing. Sri Lanka is known for producing the highest quality sapphires, and as with most gemstones, there aren't always large gems to be found.
In addition to looking at how vivid and rich the gem is, watch out for different underlying tones. On a color wheel, you'll notice that green and orange appear on either side of yellow. Either of these colors can give your yellow sapphire a different hue. Sapphires that are too dark, too washed out, too green, or too orange are considerably less valuable than brilliant, medium yellow sapphires.
Yellow Sapphire Clarity
The ideal color of yellow sapphire is brilliant yellow. This shade tends to show off every inclusion or imperfection. Thankfully, yellow sapphires often have fewer noticeable clarity issues than other gems. They're not always visible to the naked eye, but yellow sapphires are known for rutile needles. These feather-like inclusions are natural and can help a gemologist certify that your stone is not synthetic.
There isn't a clarity grading system for yellow sapphires; it is best just to verify that they're eye-clean or free from apparent inclusions that can be seen without a microscope. Finding a natural yellow sapphire free from inclusions and with excellent clarity is extremely rare, making them highly valuable. To combat some of the color and clarity issues, yellow sapphires may be heat treated.
Yellow Sapphire Sourcing
Typically, Sri Lanka produces the finest quality stones. Though yellow sapphires can also be found in Tanzania, Madagascar, Australia, Thailand, and even the United States of America. As of late, Madagascar holds the most promise for producing high-quality yellow sapphires. The gems are found in granite, gneiss, and other igneous rocks subject to high pressure.
Fine, natural yellow sapphires of the highest quality are pretty rare. However, in general, yellow sapphires are not rare; much less so than yellow diamonds. They can be an excellent choice for an engagement ring, often appearing as a sapphire and diamond ring in yellow gold.
Yellow Sapphire Certification
Some jewelers offer certification, but yellow sapphires are not certified the same way diamonds are.
You can often determine if your yellow sapphire is natural and possibly receive a statement regarding its authenticity. Such certification may be needed because sapphires are easily lab-created. The first sapphire was synthesized in 1873. Since then, lab-created yellow sapphires have become more prevalent. These stones are created using almost identical materials and processes, but they aren't as valuable. You can usually tell if your yellow sapphire is 100% natural by looking for inclusions, as almost every natural sapphire will have needle-like inclusions.
Additionally, you can check the stone for scratches and smoothness. Mined sapphires are incredibly hard, falling at a 9 on the Mohs scale. This makes them resistant to scratches and has smooth surfaces free from grooves. Of course, your yellow sapphire gem should never have bubbles, as this could indicate that it is, in fact, glass.
Yellow Sapphire Treatments
Many of the sapphires you'll find have had some sort of treatment. The most common is heat treatment. When a stone is thermally enhanced, its color and clarity can be improved. Heat treatments with high temperatures can change even a pale yellow stone into a vibrant and rich gem. Though heat treatment is prevalent, stones with natural color and clarity are still highly sought-after.
In addition to heat treatment, a stone may also be filled. During this process, they're infused with chemical flux at high temperatures to fill gaps, making them more durable while improving their clarity. Gemstones with a high amount of filler should be avoided. Just as controversial is diffusion, where lackluster stones are heated to near melting in the presence of colored material. The colored material can diffuse into the nearby stone, altering the gem's richness, tone, and hue. In most cases, yellow sapphires exposed to color diffusion can be identified and will be less valuable.
Yellow Sapphire Buying Guide
The lack of a standardized grading system means you must rely on other factors when considering the purchase of yellow sapphire. Here are a few factors to keep in mind.
Budget First. Yellow Sapphires are more affordable than valuable yellow diamonds. Nevertheless, it's essential to have a budget and not stray from it. When valuing a stone for your yellow sapphire jewelry, pay attention to the color and clarity, not the carat weight. Natural, very fine yellow sapphires are rare and command a higher price.
Select a Shape. Fortunately, you'll likely have a wide selection of shapes to choose from. Whether you're selecting a classic cut or a specialty cut, you will often be able to find a suitable yellow sapphire of striking color and brilliance.
Select a Size. Yellow Sapphires come in a variety of sizes. They're usually sold based on carat weight, but remember, they're denser than diamonds. Therefore, you'll want to pay attention to the dimensions of the stone instead of only the carat weight. Natural, fine yellow sapphires tend to appear in weights of one carat or less.
Quality Above All Else. Don't forget to think about the stone's quality, especially when it comes to treatments. Heat treatments aren't uncommon, but they can make a stone less valuable than an untreated natural gem. Color diffusion and filling can devalue a stone and compromise its quality.
In-Store or Online? Yellow Sapphires can be easily found both in-store and online. In-store, you'll be able to evaluate the stone's color, cut, and size in person. You can still determine these aspects online as long as large, clear pictures and dimensions are given. Yellow sapphires come in a plethora of cuts, sizes, and shapes. Still, online jewelers may be able to offer a more comprehensive selection. Regardless of where you shop for yellow sapphires, check their reputation, reviews, and return policy.
Yellow sapphires themselves are not rare. However, natural yellow sapphires of fine quality are rare.
Yellow sapphire and citrine are not the same. Citrine tends to be more affordable but less durable and brilliant than sapphire. Their colors differ, too, with citrine having a more honey-yellow and sapphire possessing a canary-yellow color. Citrine is quartz, unlike yellow sapphire, created from corundum minerals. Despite their differences, both can make beautiful yellow jewelry.
You often hear "canary" yellow when talking about valuable yellow sapphire. These gems are medium yellow (also described as lemon) with no yellow or green tones. They also are quite bright and very crisp.