Over the last decade, the fine jewelry market has seen a marked increase in demands for black diamond engagement rings. No, not the ski slope variety: black diamond gemstones!
What Is a Black Diamond?
Essentially, a black diamond is a white diamond which gets its color from its internal flaws, or inclusions. Just like a snowflake, no two gemstones share identical features, and black diamonds are a celebration of that uniqueness. Some scientists even believe that black diamonds come from meteorites!
Many people inaccurately believe that black diamonds are common, and while that may be true for lab-created stones, naturally untreated black diamonds are considerably rarer than white diamonds. They also offer striking and unusual options for fine diamond jewelry.
What Kinds of Black Diamonds Exist?
All natural diamonds are sourced from deep within the earth, but how they are then handled will determine their value. Black diamonds are formed by carbonados, or anomalous groups of carbon. Due to the graphite inclusions throughout these precious stones, it is much harder to cut them without cleaving or fracturing them.
Though the more prized types are natural fancy black diamonds, most black diamonds on the current market are man-made.
Also known as laboratory-grown and synthetic diamonds, these gemstones are not mined from the earth. These types of diamonds are typically formed with HPHT (high pressure, high temperature). In no way do laboratory-created diamonds appear any less beautiful. In fact, their colors are usually more unvarying, offering a deeper, more solid black color. To determine whether it’s man-made or natural, it may take the investigation of a trained gemologist to tell the difference.
Naturally Treated Diamonds
Naturally-treated colored diamonds receive exposure to irradiation and heat in order to darken their color. Irradiation is simply a common practice in the gemstone industry when ionizing radiation alters the atomic structure of a gemstone’s crystal lattice. It is done to deepen color, reduce inclusions, and create colored stones that are either incredibly rare or non-existent in nature.
Is Diamond Irradiation Safe?
Radiation already naturally occurs at low doses, and millions of years of exposure can change the optical and structural makeup of a stone. With gemstone irradiation, the use of a nuclear reactor, accelerator, or cobalt-60 facility are used to treat stones, but don’t worry: irradiated stones carry less radiation than watching television or even having a porcelain crown in your mouth!
Naturally Untreated Diamonds
Black diamonds that are mined and cut without irradiation or heat are considered naturally untreated. These stones are less opaque than their treated counterparts, and their lovely inclusions are more pronounced.
The Real Value of a Black Diamond
Are the 4C’s Important to Determine Value?
Though the gray or black hue often occludes light from passing through the stone (clarity) a well-cut black diamond should have the shine and sparkle of any other colored diamond. A 16-facet cut for black diamonds is ideal, with a small table and larger crown facets. It is important that the stone’s surface is smooth and the color is uniform.
What Is a Typical Black Diamond Price?
Heated black diamonds can be valued at around 20% the cost of a comparable white diamond. Natural, untreated black diamonds of wonderful quality are incredibly rare, and can command a much higher asking price: sometimes $3,000-5,000 per carat!
If you’re looking to sell or insure your black diamond, we’d highly recommend having it appraised by a respected gemological institute like GIA, AGS and IGI, or a gemologist with proper credentials. Graded reports which detail your gemstone’s attributes are often available and can determine whether your black diamond is natural, treated, or man-made. Laboratory-created black diamonds will not be graded by a reputable gemological institute.
How to Care for Your Black Diamond Jewelry
Even though diamonds are one of the hardest substances in the world, the naturally-occurring inclusions can cause your black diamonds to be a bit more fragile. Be gentle with your stone, and avoid wearing your black diamond pieces during manual tasks, as it can chip or even fracture! To clean, either visit a professional jeweler or use a gentle, soft toothbrush and gentle soapy water for a great polish!
Black Diamond Trends Today
Over the last few decades, black diamonds have become quite a collectible gemstone. One of the most famous examples is Sarah Jessica Parker’s character receiving a black diamond engagement ring from Mr. Big in Sex and the City. Since then, celebrities like Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Lawrence, and Cate Blanchett have all been spotted sporting these gorgeous diamonds.
Can I Create a Black Diamond Engagement or Wedding Ring?
Before De Beers began their diamond campaign in the 1940s, it was common for brides to wear a variety of precious and semi-precious stones in their rings. The desire to choose a ring that fits your personality and desires certainly hasn’t changed, and it’s become en vogue to pursue more creative options to suit the unconventional bride.
With a black diamond, you can easily create a ring that is as unique as you. When black diamond jewelry is combined with Jaume Labro’s Mokume Gane technique, you’ll have a one-of-a-kind piece to treasure for a lifetime.
Contact us to create your Jaume Labro engagement ring today!