If you’re not familiar with black diamonds, it’s time you learned about these unique gemstones. Essentially the exact opposite of a “normal,” or colorless diamond, black diamonds are black-hued gemstones that add a striking accent to any piece of jewelry. Previously, black diamonds were considered undesirable and used only in industrial settings for their durability and hardness, but now they’re gaining attention from the fashionable crowd.
Here’s everything you need to know.
Types of Black Diamonds
Black diamonds are either natural or treated. Natural black diamonds can be considered “fancy colored” and are very rare. They get their color from graphite and are usually only found in two spots in the world: Central Africa and Brazil.
Treated black diamonds are created in a lab setting when colorless diamonds are exposed to heat or radiation. These treatments can turn an otherwise undesirable colorless diamond, with lots of flaws and inclusions that can be seen through the clear body, into something more desirable, as the black color hides all those issues.
There’s also something called salt and pepper diamonds, and those are just what they sound like: colorless diamonds that feature salt and pepper-like inclusions that give them a speckled, gray appearance.
Whatever the type, black diamonds offer most of the pros of regular diamonds — including a similar level of durability and hardness, and they’re very shiny — which sets them apart from other black gemstones. Additionally, treated black diamonds are typically very affordable compared to colorless diamonds, since they’re often made using stones that can’t be sold as colorless diamonds. However, do note that natural black diamonds can be more expensive due to their rarity.
Both treated and natural black diamonds do include a lot of inclusions. While you might think that this is not a big deal, since you can’t see the inclusions, it’s important to realize that the inclusions weaken the overall structure of the diamond. This makes the stone not quite as durable as a colorless diamond, even if it is close.
How to Judge a Black Diamond’s Value
If you’ve brushed up on your knowledge of all things diamond, then you know that colorless diamonds are typically evaluated based on the four Cs: color, cut, clarity and carat. But how do you determine the value of a diamond that has no real color or clarity?
For black diamond evaluations, the value all comes down to cut and carat, but the cuts and carats aren’t the same as what you’ll find when shopping for a colorless diamond. Black diamonds are typically cut very simply, as those previously mentioned inclusions can make more extravagant cuts a little risky. The primary shapes are usually round, cushion or pear.
As for the carats, black diamonds are denser than colorless diamonds, so if you placed a 1 carat black diamond and a 1 carat colorless diamond side by side, you would see that the black diamond was smaller in appearance than a colorless diamond. So, as you shop for black diamonds and consider cost per carat, understand that you’ll need to pay more for a black diamond that looks larger, than you might for a colorless diamond.
Don’t mistake your black diamonds for carbonados. Similar, but not the same, carbonados are made of a mixture of diamond, graphite and carbine, which makes for a greater durability than your average black diamond, though it’s typically not used for jewelry of any kind. The appearance is more like that of charcoal than any diamond, regardless of color. However, this lack of interest could change, as Sotheby’s did sell a carbonado in February 2022.
The Sotheby’s 555.55-carat carbonado sold for more than $4.2 million and was purchased with cryptocurrency. The International Gem Society was quick to point out that the stone is a carbonado, though media primarily reported that it was a black diamond, despite the two stones’ differences. The carbonado was reportedly originally purchased in the 1990s and, at that time, weighed more than 800 carats before being faceted. It’s assumed the carbonado was formed by an asteroid.
Black Diamonds in Jewelry
Lots of designers are using black diamonds in their pieces recently. Some of these options that you can find at Yamron include these Roberto Coin black diamond Love in Verona earrings and this Roberto Coin black diamond Love in Verona necklace.
Just like when styling your favorite black accessory or other black-hued gemstones, black diamonds look best surrounded by other materials that complement their dark hue, for a dramatic effect. Think colorless diamonds or brightly colored gemstones, such as emeralds or citrine.
Do note, though, that you may not want to opt for a large black diamond as the focal point of a piece of jewelry, as the larger the diamond, the more likely it is to suffer from more inclusions and increased brittleness. Your best bet is to go for smaller diamonds paired with gemstones of equal or larger size.
The most famous black diamond is the Black Orlov or Eye of Brahma diamond. The 67.5-carat diamond was discovered in India in the 1800s and was set in a Hindu statue before it was stolen. The diamond supposedly reappeared in the 1930s in the United States, but the diamond is said to be cursed due to its criminally connected past. Multiple owners in the 1900s committed suicide.
More recently, the diamond was cut into pieces and set into a brooch of 108 diamonds that hung from a necklace of more than 100 additional diamonds. Today, you can view the diamond at various museums; it was previously shown at both the Natural History Museum in London and the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.
Other famous black diamonds include those worn by celebrities or featured in pop culture. In Sex in the City 2, Mr. Big gave Carrie a 5-carat black diamond engagement ring. Black diamond engagement rings have been worn by celebrities Carmen Electra and Kat Von D, among others.
Caring for Black Diamond Jewelry
If you do add a piece of black diamond jewelry to your collection, you’ll want to take a few precautions with caring for your black diamonds, as you would with any gemstone or jewelry. Since black diamonds are just slightly more delicate than your average colorless diamond, you’ll want to be sure to store them separately from all other gemstones, including gemstones of the same type. Don’t wear them in situations where they might be exposed to damage (but then, you probably shouldn’t wear your jewelry in any instance where damage might occur). Allow a trained professional to assist with cleaning, particularly one with experience cleaning black and fancy-colored diamonds, as typical steam and ultrasonic cleaning methods could cause damage.
Looking for Your Next Unique Find?
Whether black diamonds are right for you or not, if you’re looking for your next unique gemstone or piece of jewelry, let the experts at Yamron help. Our gemologists have years of experience in the industry and can point you toward the next trending gemstone or the out-of-the-ordinary, incredibly unique gemstones that you may not be familiar with currently. Stop by our Naples showroom to learn more.
Black Diamond Buying Guide: Dark & Stunning (The International Gem Society)
Black Orlov (Wikipedia)
What are Black Diamonds and Carbonados? (The International Gem Society)
Black Diamonds: What You Need to Know (Gemological Institute of America)