The black diamonds most people would want for a meaningful piece of jewelry (for example an engagement ring) are naturally-occurring diamonds that have so much graphite and carbon in them that they are in fact black.
Not every gemstone called “black diamond” is naturally occurring, and that’s important to note as you consider a purchase. More on those in a minute. You’ll learn the different kinds of black diamonds, how to spot the differences, and how to shop for what you really want.
About Black Diamonds
As for natural black diamonds, they were first mined in Brazil in the 1840s, and even today they’re found mainly in Brazil and in the Central African Republic — generally mined from stream beds, rather than from deep in the earth. They’re comparatively rare. Only about 3 metric tons have been gathered compared to about 1,000 metric tons of white diamonds throughout history.
Traditionally, even naturally occurring black diamonds weren’t valued much except perhaps as exotic curiosoties as cut gemstones.
That all changed in 1996 when the Swiss jewelry house de Grisogono created a line of black diamond jewelry and watches. When buyers and other designers saw these creative and beautiful pieces using black diamonds, a movement for designing with black diamonds took off and has been gathering momentum ever since.
Perhaps the high-water mark in popular culture was when Mr. Big gave Carrie Underwood a 5-carat black diamond engagement ring in Sex and the City.
The de Grisogono designs created what appears to be a permanent new river of design and romance using these enigmatic, beautiful stones which command attention in settings by themselves, as well as in settings contrasting with white diamonds, and diamonds of other colors.
Avoid Buying Mistake – Natural vs. Treated vs. Fake Black Diamonds
Before you think about buying a black diamond, you should know the difference between natural and treated (as well as fake) black diamonds.
Natural black diamonds
These are the beautiful, natural black diamonds most people prefer for meaningful pieces of jewelry. Natural black diamonds were formed through natural processes deep inside the earth, and carry all the natural meanings and symbology of such an ancient and natural process.
Treated black diamonds
These begin as natural “white” diamonds which have so many impurities that they are useful only in industry, not as jewelry. They simply don’t look very good from anyone’s aesthetic point of view. They’re neither white nor black. They’re whitish, but occluded with many occlusions which make them look pitted and not very appealing.
And yet: some are so grey and pitted with impurities that clever businesspeople decided to treat them in order to turn them solidly black. Afterward, they can be sold as lower-priced, less-desirable “(treated) black diamond” gemstones.
Treated black diamonds aren’t exactly counterfeit. But they’re not always declared openly.
No one in the industry could fool other jewelers. It’s easy to tell the difference between a natural black diamond and a treated black diamond.
But on the Internet, it’s certain that someone, somewhere — and they’re not too hard to find — may be trying to pass treated black diamonds off as natural black diamonds.
For that reason, it pays to know the differences when shopping in person. (Check out the step by step method below.)
And since many people buy fine jewelry online these days, it pays to shop only at reputable online jewelers such as James Allen, Blue Nile, and Brian Gavin.
Fake black diamonds
Fake black diamond aren’t technically part of the answer to the question, “Are black diamonds real?” Because well, they’re fake. They’re not diamonds.
All the same they exist in the marketplace as “faux” black diamonds, or cubic zirconia, or even glass.
Furthermore — I’m shocked, shocked I tell you! — sometimes they’re even sold as “diamonds” by disreputable fly-by-night Internet sellers.
So, be aware — and beware, if you want to make a choice that you, your beloved, and your family will over the years feel good about. Shop only with reputable jewelers, especially online.
Are Treated and Fake Black Diamonds Fine for Engagement Rings?
Many, perhaps even most people, don’t consider fake black diamonds worthy of the name “diamond” at all. Nor do they count them acceptable for gemstones in a meaningful piece of jewelry.
Opinions are more divided about treated black diamonds.
Virtually everyone accepts natural black diamonds as worthy of meaningful pieces of jewelry.
Of course exceptions among people can always be found. And if we’re being completely open minded, we won’t judge another’s subjective opinion.
But if we’re being honest and open-eyed, we can see that opinions of the vast majority of human beings are objectively on the side of real gemstones from the actual earth, not treated in labs, not manufactured, not glass pieces.
If your budget is small, you can still find real, authentic black diamonds that fit within your budget. These natural black diamonds may be smaller than that black cubic zirconia which you can also afford. But spending the money for a diamond, however small, represents honesty and authenticity in your beloved’s jewelry. It states who you are, and what you stand for — authenticity. It doesn’t exaggerate. Choosing a natural black diamond, no matter how small or modest in quality, is still an authentic and romantic choice. And that’s never something to be ashamed of.
Just my opinion, and I don’t judge anyone’s choice — but I think many people share it.
Are Natural Black Diamonds More Expensive Than Natural White Diamonds?
So much in diamond pricing depends on the cut, the clarity, carat weight, as well as on the color of white diamonds (yes the famous 4 c’s of diamonds) that it’s hard to give a definitive answer to this question.
That said, a generally true answer is: Black diamonds are usually around 1/3 less expensive as expensive as white diamonds.
So, whereas many natural white diamonds might sell for around $4,500 per carat (a huge overgeneralization), many natural black diamonds might sell for around $3,000 per carat (also a huge overgeneralization).
As long as you understand that these price suppositions are overgeneralized, they’re true enough to give a quick answer to the question.
What Do Black Diamond Engagement Rings Symbolize?
Because they’re diamonds, they symbolize all that white diamonds symbolize, and more.
They symbolize eternal love, endurance, changelessness.
Specifically black diamonds also symbolize passionate love, action, energy, power, authority, and effectiveness.
The color black, compared to white, is associated more with night and lunar powers, tidal powers.
Do Black Diamonds Sparkle?
Black diamonds don’t sparkle like white diamonds.
Of course they throw off some light when it hits the facets at a reflective angle to your eye. But that amount of light is minimal, because black diamonds absorb most of the light which strikes them.
And so black diamonds are opaque, dark, with an appearance of sturdy solidity and indestructibility.
How Can You Tell If a Black Diamond Is a Natural Black Diamond?
To the untrained eyes, telling the difference between a natural black diamond and a treated black diamond can be challenging — especially over the Internet.
So the first rule of thumb is to buy only from reputable sellers — we can recommend James Allen, Blue Nile, and Brian Gavin. Reputable sellers clearly label their wares and even provide GIA (Gemological Institute of America) certification information.
But so that you can also see the difference, and feel the satisfaction that gives, here’s how to do it.
After you rely on a reputable jeweler to vouch for the authenticity of a black diamond, you too can examine it. Here’s how:
- Use a magnifying glass and a strong source of white light such as bright flashlight or workbench light.
- A treated black diamond will show glints and shades of green and blue
- A natural black diamondwon’t show glints of green or blue. Instead you’ll be able to see the famous “salt and pepper” effect of many tiny inclusions which show up only when illumined by a strong source of light.
A final word on this point, repeated but extremely important for anyone shopping for a natural black diamond: unless a black diamond carries a GIA (Gemological Institute of America) or GSI (Gemological Science International) certification and is sold a reputable jeweler, assume that anything called black diamond is a treated black diamond or a fake black diamond.
Armed with this information, you can easily find a quality, affordable, natural black diamond — as long as you stick with reputable jewelers.