The color black is adored for its mystery and intrigue. To wear black is seen as being stylish and sleek. Black diamonds are also associated with this for their dark glamour and beauty. However, if you asked yourself: Why are black diamonds so cheap? The answer would be:
It depends on whether the black diamond is natural or not, as this is the main factor that determines its value. So what are the differences between these two? What are other factors that affect the price?
Don’t worry as we’ve covered answers to these and many other questions in this article. Without further ado, let’s jump right in.
History Of Black Diamonds
Black diamonds, also called carbonados by the Brazilians who discovered them in the 19th century, have had an interesting history. These raven-hued stones are only found in Brazil and the Central African republic.
Black diamonds were formed from 2,6 to 3,8 billion years ago. They are a natural polycrystalline diamond and there have been about three metric tons mined, most commonly from the beds of streams.
Different cultures had different beliefs about black diamonds. In India, people considered black diamonds as cursed because they resemble snake eyes. There was a belief in Italy that your marriage could be saved if you touch the black diamond.
Throughout most of the 19th and 20th centuries, jewelers considered black diamonds to be too difficult to cut and polish. Because of that, black diamonds were deemed to be suited for industrial use.
Black diamonds earned more popularity when the founder of the Swiss jewelry house released a collection of black diamond jewelry and watches in 1996.
Today black diamonds are used in both women’s and men’s jewelry.
What Is A Black Diamond?
Black diamonds are diamonds with an extremely high number of inclusions. While inclusions on a regular diamond may show up as dark specks, at high levels, the diamond appears completely black. Therefore you have a black diamond.
This is a very rare and unique kind of colored diamond. Black diamonds, however, differ from other colored diamonds. This is due to the fact that black diamonds are formed by chemical impurities present during the diamond’s composition. Black diamonds are more similar to white diamonds.
Types Of Black Diamonds
There are two main types of black diamonds: natural black diamonds and diamonds that have been treated to become black. Just like any other gemstone, a natural black diamond is significantly more valuable and desirable.
Contrarily, treated black diamonds are less valuable than their natural counterparts. These are white diamonds with a high number of inclusions and often have a dull grey appearance. In their initial state, they are almost worthless and used for industrial purposes.
Once these white diamonds are subjected to heat, pressure, and irradiation treatments, it’s possible to induce a black hue, which gives us a black diamond.
On the other hand, natural black diamonds get their black color during the process of their creation. Natural ones also have a high amount of inclusions, but their inclusions form clusters, giving them a black, metallic appearance.
The natural way in which these black diamonds are created means they’re exceptionally rare, and therefore much more valuable than their artificial counterparts.
Origin Of The Black Color
Graphite is believed to be responsible for the color of the black diamond. Black diamonds have high levels of inclusions which are small blemishes that affect the appearance of the gemstone. These extremely high numbers of inclusions are enough to change the color of the black diamonds.
Black Diamond’s Hardness
As you may already know, diamonds are known for their durability, with a perfect 10 on the Mohs scale of hardness. A diamond’s structure consists of solid crystals with identifiable natural lines.
However, black diamonds are a bit different. Their structure is composed of many small crystals that are stuck together in random formations.
Even though black diamonds are graded as a 10 on the Mohs scale, they’re known to be even harder than the majority of colorless diamonds. Before they were used for jewelry, black diamonds served a purpose in a variety of different functions because of their durability.
The 4 C’s
Generally, diamonds are measured by cut, clarity, color, and carat and the same goes for any other colored stone, including black diamonds.
According to GIA, diamond cuts range from poor to excellent. Along with other criteria, the cut can contribute to the rare and valuable nature of the black diamond.
Black diamonds are known to be difficult to cut, due to their densely packed inclusions. They also have cavities in the areas of the diamond that block light near their surface.
Because of the expert craftsmanship needed to cut black diamonds, the ones with a higher quality cut will be of greater value. Therefore, the cut is the most important quality to take into consideration when it comes to judging the black diamond’s value.
Clear diamonds are rated on a color scale of D to Z. Colorless diamonds are rated with D and this is the most ideal standard for these diamonds. However, black diamonds aren’t rated by these criteria as the color is judged independently.
The high number of inclusions in natural black diamonds are to blame for not refracting the light in the same way that other diamonds do. So clarity isn’t something that’s taken into consideration when their quality and value are determined.
Natural black diamonds, along with red and white diamonds, have only one level of intensity and that is fancy black. This is due to diamonds being completely opaque and they don’t vary in tone, hue, and intensity.
With that being said, the grading systems that determine the intensity for other colored diamonds don’t apply to black diamonds.
One noteworthy thing is that, unlike other diamonds, black diamonds don’t sparkle at night. This lends them an understated quality that fits well with various pieces of jewelry, especially with wedding rings.
A diamond’s carat is referring to its weight. Black diamonds are denser than other colored diamonds, thus they may have the same number of carats but appear smaller. For example, this means that a one-carat natural black diamond will be significantly smaller than a one-carat white diamond.
Black diamonds are relatively affordable when you take into consideration other (rarer) diamonds. A fancy black diamond can cost anywhere between $3000 and $5000. So this means that your average 1-carat ring will cost approximately $3000.
Black diamonds are more difficult to cut than other diamonds, which means that a well-cut stone is going to cost more than an average black diamond. Factors such as how smooth the diamond’s surface is or whether it is porous or not can contribute to a natural black diamond’s price.
Let’s take a look at the price table below:
Treated black diamonds are substantially cheaper than natural black diamonds, let alone colorless diamonds. This is because there’s less demand for them and aren’t as rare as their natural counterparts.
Shape And Polish
Due to the difficult cutting of natural black diamonds, they don’t usually come in the same variety of shapes as other colored diamonds. If you happen to stumble upon a well-cut and unique design, you should consider purchasing it as the gemstone is likely to be a good investment for the future.
Because of their polycrystalline structure, natural black diamonds appear opaque which prevents them from reflecting light. However, some natural black diamonds have gaps between their inclusions which enables the light to shine through the stone. These areas don’t sparkle and will appear as brown or pale color.
As black diamonds are opaque, they can’t sparkle in the same way as other colored diamonds. However, a well-polished black diamond will have a glossy finish to it. This gives a shiny quality that is unique in its own way amongst other colored diamonds.
Natural Vs. Treated Black Diamonds
Black diamonds in the marketplace are divided into two categories. The first one is diamonds that became black naturally during their formation process, and the other one consists of diamonds that are treated by different processes to give them a black color.
Truly natural black diamonds are very rare, thus very expensive. Demand for them has increased over the years, resulting in a higher demand for treated black diamonds.
Natural black diamonds usually have a more porous structure than their treated counterparts. This is what enables them to absorb more light, therefore making them more opaque.
Color-enhanced Black Diamonds
Color-enhanced black diamonds are diamonds that have been exposed to radiation to give them a black color. Usually, diamonds have been subject to a level of radiation that actually turns them a dark green color but appears black.
Just like treated black diamonds, color-enhanced black diamonds are less opaque and less valuable than their natural counterparts. Nevertheless, these gemstones can still look marvelous and are commonly used in wedding rings.
Interestingly enough, color-enhanced black diamonds are often sold misleadingly as natural black diamonds, so be aware of that.
Learn More: What Are Enhanced Diamonds?
Determining the authenticity of a black diamond is extremely difficult without specialized equipment. If the price of a black diamond seems too good to be true, chances are you are dealing with a treated black diamond.
If you want to be sure you’re purchasing an authentic black diamond, be sure that the jewelry store is providing a certificate from a recognized gemological institute.
How To Tell If Your Black Diamond Is Real?
How do you know your black diamond is real if there are many other black gemstones? The best way would obviously be to take your diamond to a professional. A gemologist will be able to determine if the black diamond is real by using their specialized tools.
Black diamonds can be easily confused with:
- Black tourmaline
- Black cubic zirconia
- Black spinel
- French jet
In order to answer the question: “Why are black diamonds so cheap?”, we need to take the type of black diamond into consideration, among other things.
Just like with colorless diamonds, the factor that determines the price the most in black diamonds is whether it’s natural or treated. Obviously natural black diamonds are more desirable, hence more valuable.
Treated black diamonds are substantially cheaper than neutral black diamonds just because they aren’t nearly as rare as their natural counterparts.
Furthermore, factors that can affect black diamonds’ price are cut and carat. Color and clarity don’t apply here.
So in the end it boils down to whether a black diamond is natural or treated. As we already said, treated black diamonds are much more affordable.
However, if you want to check if your black diamond is real, we would recommend taking it to the professional as they are able to tell the difference the best.
Nevertheless, black diamonds seduce with their deep inky ambiguity, especially when they’re chosen as the centerpiece of a unique wedding ring. Black diamonds are a beautiful symbol of love that is adored by many people.
Read Also: Why Are Some Diamonds So Cheap?