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This quote from 1928 proves the lack of enthusiasm the jewelry market once had for black diamonds. Ordinary black diamond is not greatly unlike black sealing wax. Opinions differ as to its virtues as a gemstone.” (J.R. Sutton’s words from Diamond: A Descriptive Treatise). Its unpopularity is also proven by the fact that very few well-known black stones exist. But at least there is one prominent tale. Also read: How to clean diamond ring at home? This story is about the Eye of Brahman, which also has the name ‘the Black Orloff’. Its famous features is its size, which is a whopping 67.50 carats and also the fact that it was once nabbed & that it apparently carried a curse. Someone took it off an Indian idol and many individuals who owned it thereafter committed suicide because of the curse. Luckily, it appears the curse was broken when the stone was separated into different, smaller stones. These pieces can be seen today in various pieces of jewelry and they look striking! The industry name for these stones is ‘Fancy Blacks’. Looking at the timeline you’ll see they became more sought after in the 20th century. They became valuable for jewelry designers who used the dark hues to contrast with other, colorless gems, in pavé settings. This contrast of light and dark is a dynamic way to catch someone’s eye with a jewelry piece. The hype around black diamonds probably took off thanks to the ‘Sex in the City’ movies too. In 2010, in the second movie of this franchise, Mr. Big’s engagement ring to Carrie contained a beautiful Fancy Black. Other celebrities, including Carmen Electra and Kat Von D, also wore this type of stone in the years following the movie, resulting in the black stones’ growing popularity. So, what are these stones exactly?

Where Does the Black Come from?

Quite recently, intense research went into discovering why a diamond would have a black hue. Studies revealed that it’s one of two reasons. Firstly, it can be thanks to myriads of mineral inclusions, which can be any of the following:
  • Graphite
  • Hematite
  • Pyrite

The other source of the dark hue is graphitization in almost colorless, or brown or olive diamonds. In this case, fractures or cleavages get dark stains and a concentration of them causes us to perceive the stone as being black. The other characteristic you’ll sometimes come across with Fancy Blacks is that they seem metallic. This is thanks to their opaqueness, even though they still have luster. Cutting, polishing or setting a Fancy Black is no easy task, because you must keep those inclusions in mind. It’s worth the effort though, because when done with the right expertise, the end result is captivating and of course unique. And you can own such a spectacular piece for a lower price than similar diamonds of other colors, simply because these dark stones aren’t as sought after. Did you know you can also induce a stone with color? This is a common occurrence to produce certain jewelry pieces; also rings for engagements. It’s done by using high temperature and low pressure treatments on, for example, a gray stone with a high number of inclusions. The treatment results in graphitized fractures, turning the gray into a dark shade, resulting in black. Now, how does the industry grade black diamonds?

Grading a Black Diamond

GIA uses the International Diamond Grading System on colorless and near-colorless diamonds with ratings D-Z, looking at the following:
  • Cut
  • Color
  • Clarity
  • Carat weight

That’s not the case with black stones, because it’s not practical to use it on these dark stones:

  • You can’t measure clarity because of the inclusions and the opaque nature of the gems
  • You can’t see varieties of tones or saturations as is common in colored stones like blue or pink gems

For these reasons, GIA has a specific reference for black diamonds, grading them as ‘Fancy Black’. GIA’s reports concerning these diamonds are also unique in comparison to other diamonds’, because you’ll get:

  • Colored Diamond Identification and Origin Report
  • The report mentioning only if it’s a treated or natural color

Black Diamond Maintenance

The inclusions we’ve mentioned cause vulnerability in black diamonds, which means this hard type of stone may get damaged easier than some other stones. Prevent unnecessary damage by not using steam or an ultrasonic cleaner when cleaning yours. Look at a black diamond and you’ll think of drama and exclusivity. Is that what your relationship with your partner is like? Then a black stone engagement ring is just what you need! And why not contrast it by adding fancy white diamonds? With the many options you can get a ring that represents everything you feel. Which gem will you pick?

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