We all know about these wonderful, sparkling gems that adorn the most luxurious jewelry items and reflect light so well that they can almost blind you – diamonds.
But what if we told you that there’s equally as beautiful a gem – a diamond, no less – only black?
If you do indeed know of this magnificent diamond, you must be wondering: Do black diamonds reflect light? Do black diamonds sparkle?
The answer is – somewhat. Because of some differences in the chemical makeup and their outward appearance, black diamonds shine differently than “regular” ones do.
But, there’s so much more to find out about this topic. So, if you are interested, let’s get into it!
What Are Black Diamonds?
Black diamonds or, more precisely, carbonados are a kind of diamond recognizable by their distinct dark color. Although they are not the only kind of colored diamonds, they might be the most fascinating and aesthetically pleasing to some.
Just like white diamonds, black diamonds can come about both naturally and through human effort. But, in addition to these two conventional ways of diamond formation, there are some additional ways of creating a black diamond.
Suppose we’re talking about the natural process. In that case, some of it is similar to that of white diamonds – they form by high pressure on carbon, deep beneath the surface of the Earth, which produces a repetitive geometric pattern in the crystal lattice.
When talking about artificial diamonds, both white and black diamonds are made in the lab. And now onto something more interesting.
What makes black diamonds fascinating and mysterious is that some experts believe that black diamonds fell to the Earth as meteorites, as far back as between 65 million and 4 billion years. Now, if that doesn’t make you want one, we don’t know what will.
But it doesn’t end there. There is one more exciting theory about how black diamonds came to be. And that is through Earth’s natural radiation. Scientists say that that radiation used to be so much higher back when these diamonds were formed – in the Precambrian times, starting 4.6 billion years ago.
Different Kinds Of Black Diamonds
Like their white counterparts, black diamonds can come from a few different places, and their color can also form under varying circumstances. According to these differences, there are different kinds of black diamonds:
Natural Black Diamond (Fancy Black Diamond)
Natural black diamonds are exactly that – formed by previously explained natural processes. However, what gives them their unique color are the so-called inclusions.
Basically, other minerals get trapped within the diamond during the process of its formation in the Earth’s layers. High amounts of these other minerals inside the diamond are what gives it the color.
Treated Black Diamonds
This kind of black diamond isn’t even a black diamond. These are just white or colorless diamonds with a high amount of inclusions in them, but not ones that make them black. Because of these inclusions, their value is pretty low.
So, to increase their appeal on the market and give them more purpose than just being industry-grade diamonds, scientists artificially add color in the lab and thus create black diamonds. Another, perhaps more fitting, name for these black diamonds is “colorless treated black diamonds.”
Black Lab Diamonds
Much like white diamonds made in the lab, black lab diamonds are artificial. That doesn’t affect their chemical makeup; quite the opposite – lab diamonds, regardless of whether they have inclusions or any other elements that affect their color, have the same chemical makeup as natural ones.
The difference is that they didn’t take a couple of billion years to form, as they do in nature. They were formed under similar conditions in the lab through scientific chemical processes.
The value, on the other hand, is a different story. Even though regular black diamonds are slightly lower in value than natural ones, black lab diamonds are priced even lower.
Black Diamonds Vs. White Diamonds – What’s The Difference?
White diamonds are familiar to pretty much everyone. We know how wonderful they are on our wrist or finger – and we also know some additional information about these gems.
But what about black diamonds? Less known, but on the rise popularity-wise, black diamonds might be more interesting precisely because the average person may not know that much about them.
However, arguably the most attractive thing about this type of diamond goes beyond its aesthetic appearance. What’s the difference between these types of diamonds, then – aside from their color?
White diamonds are made of carbon. They form as carbon atoms bond together to form crystals under extremely high temperatures and pressure. When it comes to black diamonds, they are also in the majority made up of carbon – but with some additions.
First of all, the initial difference ties into the color topic. Black diamonds have larger quantities of graphite, which is the main contributor to the dark color.
In addition to graphite, black diamonds also have amorphous carbon in their chemical makeup.
White diamonds take between 1 and 3.3 billion years to form naturally. When it comes to black diamonds, it’s not as simple. As we’ve established, there are multiple theories regarding how black diamonds have come about, and according to that, formation times vary.
Diamonds are known as one of the most durable materials, which gives them a wide variety of potential uses. They are used in the jewelry industry and in making electronic devices, different tools, blades, and so on.
It’s hard to believe that there is sturdier material out there. And technically, there isn’t, but there is a difference between different types of diamonds.
Because of the inclusions that black diamonds contain, they are even harder than white diamonds. That makes them perfect for industrial use. They are mainly used for these “practical” jobs, while the demand for them in jewelry is significantly lower.
What Makes Diamonds Reflect Light?
No surprise, once again, there is a difference between black and white diamonds here as well.
White diamonds get their infamous sparkle from three things:
- Reflection occurs when the light reaches the diamond and instantly bounces back, giving it the sparkle. However, that’s only a tiny part of its full brilliance.
- Refraction is the primary source of that incredible shine. Diamonds are like a complex web of prisms, so when the light hits them, it travels through the diamond and is broken up with tiny prisms.
- Dispersion occurs when the refraction happens; that recognizable rainbow effect is added, creating the unique sparkle. That is known as dispersion.
Refraction and dispersion in conjunction create light and dark areas in the diamond. Another thing that contributes to a diamond’s sparkle is its dark areas.
It might seem strange, but that’s what amplifies the magical sparkle. Think of it as a candle: Its flame can only truly show its intensity in a dark room.
Contrast is key. Without the dark areas, the diamond’s mesmerizing shine simply wouldn’t be as eye-catching.
The chemical makeup of black diamonds makes them unique and different in comparison to other types of diamonds.
Because they are filled with inclusions that other types of diamonds don’t have, they do not let light through.
So, you can throw the three sources mentioned above of sparkle out the window here.
Black diamonds are opaque, primarily because of graphite, and even though their opacity and color can vary slightly, they all absorb light rather than reflect it.
Another thing that contributes to the sparkle is the way it’s cut. That goes for “regular” white and black diamonds – but it’s crucial for the latter.
As we have established, black diamonds don’t have the light reflecting abilities, so any help they can get in the sparkle department is welcome.
But to be clear, if you have any diamond that’s not cut correctly, they simply won’t be as sparkly and beautiful.
As far as black diamonds go, the goal is to utilize their unique look and maximize it. That’s precisely where the cut comes in.
Symmetry is crucial in order to get that reflectiveness as much as possible.
How Do Black Diamonds Sparkle?
Now let’s get to the real deal: How do black diamonds sparkle, then?
If you’ve ever seen a black diamond in person, you’ll know that they have a very distinct look to them. Some would even describe it as metallic, and that’s a great visual for those who haven’t had the chance to see one in person.
The reason black diamonds have a unique shine is, again – surprise, surprise – because of the graphite.
Do you know what a standard graphite pencil looks like, or rather its heart? It seems somewhat metallic, right?
Well, the same thing goes for black diamonds.
So, when thinking about black diamonds, you should expect this murky diamond that’s much more about the aesthetics than the blinding, rainbowy sparkle.
These diamonds are not for everyone, that’s for sure. They are a one-of-a-kind look, and for those who don’t know what to expect, they might be a bit disappointing at first.
Your eyes might not shine when you see them, but if you take a closer look, you might feel like looking into a mesmerizing abyss. Some have even described it as a small piece of the galaxy, which seems fitting, given the theory about them coming from meteorites.
Learn More: Why Does A Diamond Sparkle?
You came here wondering about black diamonds, and specifically with the questions “Do black diamonds reflect light? Do black diamonds sparkle?”.
Hopefully, you’ve found what you needed and even learned some bonus information on the topic. Now, to sum everything up, here’s a quick rundown of everything we’ve gone over in this article.
Black diamonds are a type of diamond recognizable by their dark color and unique aesthetic. There are several theories about how they came to be – some even going as far as giving them extraterrestrial origin.
A more earthly explanation is that they were formed in the same way as regular diamonds, but were contaminated, so to say, with graphite inclusions during their formation.
The historical origin of these peculiar diamonds leads to the three kinds of diamonds depending on who made them and how they got their color.
We have natural diamonds created in deep layers of the Earth under high pressure and temperatures.
Then, we have treated black diamonds, which were formed naturally, and were also rich in inclusions – but not ones that cause the black color. Because of their low market value, scientists treated them to give them their signature black color.
And, lastly, we have black lab diamonds that were entirely lab-grown, just like white lab diamonds. They are of the same chemical makeup as natural ones, only formed under very controlled circumstances.
Moving on to the differences between black and white diamonds: Both have an identical chemical makeup, with the addition of graphite in black diamonds. Both are made up of carbon.
When it comes to the time it took for these diamonds to form, there are slight differences, as well.
White diamonds take between 1 and 3.3 billion years to form. On the other hand, Black diamonds have different assumed formation times, depending on the origin story.
Then, we have the sturdiness factor. While diamonds are known to be the toughest material in the world, there are slight differences within the material itself. Black diamonds are superior here since they are even sturdier than white diamonds. That makes them an ideal choice for industrial use.
When it comes to the source of the trademark sparkle that diamonds have, with white diamonds, there are three primary reasons: reflection, refraction, and dispersion.
Speaking about the black diamonds, they mainly get their sparkle from the way they are cut. They don’t reflect light but absorb it, so you don’t get that magical, rainbowy shine.
Lastly, the way black diamonds do sparkle is unique. Thanks to the large amounts of graphite inclusions in them, they have almost a metallic look, which, for some, is the most beautiful thing about these black gems.
So, now that you have all the knowledge you might need about black diamonds – and their sparkle – consider getting one before everyone realizes how stunning they are and their market value skyrockets.
Read Also: Why Are Black Diamonds So Cheap?