Compared with white diamonds, black diamonds look completely different, but this contrast makes them even more desirable. Let’s see what black diamonds are made of and how you should go about buying them.
What Is a Black Diamond?
A black diamond has the same chemical structure as a regular white diamond, and the two differ only in color. There are two kinds of black diamonds: those that occur naturally and those that used to have a different color (usually white) but have been dyed black.
Natural black diamonds are mined in Africa and Brazil, and are relatively rare. This type of black diamond is called “carbonado.” Like white diamonds, natural black diamonds are made of carbon, but their crystal structure is slightly different, making them more porous than other diamonds.
Treated black diamonds are regular diamonds whose color has been changed through treatment with heat or radiation. The physical and chemical characteristics of these stones are the same as those of white diamonds.
Buying Black Diamonds: Natural vs. Treated Stones
You might be wondering whether it is better to buy a natural black diamond or a treated one. The reality is that you may not have much of a choice, as genuine carbonado diamonds are relatively rare, and many stores do not carry them. Most black diamonds on the market have actually been treated artificially.
A treated black diamond may be your only option, but is there any downside to buying such a stone instead of a natural one? For the most part, whether a black diamond is natural or dyed doesn’t make much of a difference. Treated black diamonds have the same composition as other diamonds and are just as hard.
The only thing you need to pay attention to when buying a treated stone is if there any special directions for cleaning and care. Depending on the method used to turn the stone black, it may not be advisable for it to be exposed to high temperatures as this might alter the diamond’s color. This is important to remember because if you need to have your black-diamond jewelry repaired, you should warn the jeweler that the stone is treated so that he or she is careful when handling it.
Evaluating the Quality of Black Diamonds
Evaluating the quality of a black diamond is not exactly the same as evaluating that of a white one. For example, standard color grading is not really applicable to black stones as they are either black or very dark grey. Clarity grading is also not feasible as black diamonds are not transparent and clear at all.
The cut of black diamonds is a characteristic that cannot be evaluated in the same way as that of white diamonds. For one thing, the traditional quality grade of cut is linked to how it enhances the brilliance of a diamond, and since black diamonds don’t reflect any light, they also don’t have any brilliance.
When looking at the cut of a black diamond, you should simply make sure that the stone has such proportions that will make it look good when it is mounted. For example, sometimes it might be desirable to choose a shallower cut, which will make the stone’s visible surface look bigger when the diamond is mounted.
Prices of Black Diamonds
Black diamonds are usually cheaper than white ones of passable quality. This is not always true, however – natural black diamonds are relatively rare, and some of them can be quite expensive.
As already mentioned, you are much more likely to see treated black diamonds instead of natural ones when shopping. This doesn’t mean that someone wouldn’t try to sell you a treated stone at a much higher price by passing it off as a natural black carbonado.
To make sure you know what you are actually buying, shop for black diamonds at reputable jewelry stores, and always ask for the grading report of the stone to see what its origin is, i.e., if it is natural or treated. The diamond certificate should be issued by a reputable and independent third-party organization such as the GIA (Gemological Institute of America) or the AGS (American Gem Society).
Choosing a Setting for a Black Diamond
If your black diamond is going to be put in a setting, consider the metal it will be made of. Black diamonds go especially well with white, so a setting that is made of platinum, white gold, or silver is a good choice. Of these metals, platinum is the most durable but also the most expensive. Silver, on the other hand, is cheap but pretty soft. While not as durable as platinum, white gold holds up reasonably well and costs less.