Elegant & Exotic
When we think of diamonds, we tend to imagine sparkle, fire and brilliance within a gemstone. Most diamonds embody those qualities, but not all of them do. Black diamonds have the crystal structure of diamonds, with the properties of hardness and toughness, but there are also some differences between black diamonds and other fancy colored diamonds. Black diamonds absorb light instead of reflecting light, so their beauty lies in their luster and not in their fire.
The first known black diamond was discovered in Brazil in 1840, but from that time until the 1990s only rarely did black diamonds enter the market as gemstones. Now black diamonds are getting recognition more and more as elegant and exotic in their own right. Black diamonds get their color from diamond inclusions and irregular crystal structure of the diamond. Some scientists believe that the presence of hydrogen in black diamonds indicate they originated in outer space and fell to the Earth in a supernova.
Cutting and Setting Black Diamonds
The inclusions and cracks in natural black diamonds make them difficult to cut, facet and polish, so most black diamonds have a simple cut with relatively few diamond facets. The number of facets for black diamonds is not standard because the cut does not contribute to brilliance in natural black diamonds. Don’t confuse the round shape of the black diamond, like in the image here, with a round brilliant cut diamond. The brilliant cut has many, many more facets. The only similarity is the shape.
Since natural black diamonds have many inclusions, pay close attention to the smoothness of the diamond’s surface. Black diamonds should have a glossy surface. When setting a natural black diamond, careful placement of prongs may disguise any small chips around the edge of the black diamond. Inclusions within the diamond and under the girdle are easily disguised in the different types of diamond settings.
Colorless diamonds are lighter in weight than the more dense black diamonds, making black diamonds appear slightly smaller than colorless diamonds of the same diamond carat weight. Black diamonds are often set with colorless diamonds to emphasize the contrast between them. White gold and titanium are particularly popular metals for natural black diamond jewelry.
The Black Color Scale
The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) color scale for black diamonds is a single grade: fancy black. Other agencies that certify colored diamonds, such as European Gemological Laboratories (EGL), assign a different color grade to gray-black, pale black, smoky black and jet black diamonds. The most valuable natural black diamonds resemble polished onyx in color and shine. Avoid black diamonds with transparent spots.
The scale used if obviously a very different scale than the diamond color grading used for colorless stones.
Since natural black diamonds have entered the market as gemstones relatively recently, you can get black diamonds at a competitive value compared to colorless diamonds.
Famous Black Diamonds
Famous black diamonds include some of the largest diamonds in the world. The Spirit of de Grisogono, a 312.24 carat mogul-cut black diamond, took expert diamond cutters more than a year to cut. The Black Star of Africa, a 202 carat black diamond worth an estimated one million dollars, was last seen exhibited in Tokyo in 1971. It is rumored that it was sold to a private individual, but no verification of the sale is available. It’s one of many diamonds with a real story behind it. For more stories, visit: What is the Most Famous Diamond?
Check out these other natural colored diamonds:
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