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By Prue Bell

The Enigma Of The Black Diamond

03 June 2021

What are black diamonds?

Black diamonds

Have you heard of them? Not everyone has. These enigmatic, mysterious precious stones fly under the radar; aren’t talked about very much – they’re quite the splendid secret.

Black diamonds can be an amazing and unique alternate option for an engagement ring centre stone. Choosing a black diamond for your engagement ring is unconventional for sure, but if you wear it well, you can certainly flaunt a highly individual sense of style and taste. You’ll most definitely be clear to declare that your engagement ring is the only one of its kind on the planet. So exactly what are black diamonds? We cover the facts below.

What makes a black diamond?

How are they formed?

Black diamonds get their luscious, dark tint from the very high number of inclusions within them. Nearly all diamonds have inclusions. These are described as tiny ‘imperfections’ or ‘blemishes’ inside a diamond left over from the process of the stone’s formation, caused by intense heat and pressure. Inclusions affect the clarity of a diamond. 

With colourless diamonds (sometimes called white diamonds – though colourless is the more correct term), obviously the fewer inclusions the better, although, most inclusions are not even visible to the naked eye.

Colourless diamonds with larger and/or many inclusions will have a lower clarity grading. Completely ‘flawless’ diamonds with zero inclusions are so rare that most people will never see one. 

But what if we turn all that on its head, and embrace the deep, dark beauty of a natural diamond abundant with inclusions? A singular stone; brimming with so-called imperfections. Is not such a ‘rogue’ devilishly alluring in its own wonderful way? Is it not a true talisman of raw nature in all its magnificent, visceral glory?

Black diamond breeds:

Technically, black diamonds are actually more similar to colourless diamonds than to the other ‘fancy’ coloured pink, blue and yellow diamonds. The fancies get their pretty colours from chemical reactions during formation; quite a different composition. 

We speak of natural black diamonds above, but there are also black diamonds that have been treated to take on the colour.

These are usually produced from colourless diamonds which are laden with imperfections and fractures. They have a dull greyish hue and are used for industrial purposes, but are typically rejected by the jewellery industry. Such stones then undergo treatments with heat & pressure which brings on a dark tint and then a black-coloured diamond. These artificially created black diamonds can be readily distinguished from the naturally formed ones. Natural black diamonds are far more valuable than their lab-grown cousins.

Natural black diamonds are very rare. They have a strong and spirited presence. Some people seem to fall under the spell of black diamonds, and so they have become a niche alternative to colourless and popular fancy diamonds for engagement rings and other jewellery. Black diamonds have become more popular in recent years, so there’s quite a lot of choice now with engagement rings, earrings, bracelets and various premium pieces. Typically, a black diamond is set in white gold or platinum; these precious metals strikingly emphasise a stone’s ebony majesty. Sometimes black diamonds appear alongside colourless diamonds in marvellous contrast; yin and yang.

GIA grading

Dark and durable

As mentioned, the rich raven colour seen in black diamonds is essentially due to a plethora of inclusions within its structure. The inclusions are comprised of graphite molecules, hence the charcoal colour. 

The 4C’s

Cut, colour, clarity and carat are applicable to black diamonds when considering their overall characteristics and quality, just like all the other diamonds.

Most of the other coloured diamonds come all varying shades of intensity of colour. Black diamonds have only the one – called fancy black. With fancy blacks the important aspect with colour is full, deep saturation. Black diamonds come in all the same shapes as other diamonds.  

As with all diamonds, black ones are rated a 10 on the Mohs scale of hardness. Diamonds are amongst the very hardest, most durable materials on earth. Black diamonds are slightly differently composed in terms of their crystal constructions, and these inky individuals are generally even harder than their fancy friends and colourless comrades. Black diamonds are very much like the eponymous ski-run – tough!

Exceptional value

There’s a big difference between natural black diamonds and treated stones, as we said earlier. The difference can be difficult to ascertain for the untrained eye, though experts should be able to distinguish the two.

The best way to tell is to consult the paperwork. A quality natural black diamond with a GIA certificate attesting to its authenticity is your guarantee. When you see black diamonds advertised at a seemingly very low price, you can be fairly sure that they will be colour treated stones. If you are looking to purchase an excellent natural black diamond, it’s crucial to stick to reputable retailers or dealers and choose from stones which have accompanying GIA documentation.

The best natural black diamonds are generally more affordable than colourless and other fancy diamonds, which is another reason why they are an attractive option. 

The juxtaposition of colour


White gold and platinum settings work well, as they help to highlight the jet colour of the jewel. Popular settings include halo: with the black diamond surrounded by petite colourless diamonds; side-stone setting: a black diamond flanked by colourless diamonds to either side, and solitaire: a stand-alone black beauty making a dusky and dramatic statement.

Rock 'n Roll

Unsurprisingly, black diamonds have been a big hit with rock stars and many other celebrities over the last decade or so. The neo-gothic appeal of this wickedly stunning rock has caught the eye of superstar singers such as Selena Gomez, Taylor Swift and Ariana Grande, Rihanna, Katy Perry and Lady Gaga. Safe to say then, that there’s a lot of interest in black diamonds amongst the young and the hip. 

Backed with fame and popularity

Black diamonds are unusual gemstones with a mysterious charm, somewhat aloof, they have a poignant elegance. Extremely rare yet surprisingly affordable; if you are searching for a ring with a touch of radical, a breathtaking black diamond could be your gem.