Dec 05, 2014
Everything You Need to Know About Black Diamonds
Take one look at a black diamond and it’s immediately clear why it’s is so popular these days. It’s sparkly, dramatic, sexy. In short, it’s a showstopper that looks just as good in a fancy engagement ring as it does in a pair of everyday earrings. But as with any gemstone, it pays to do a little research about black diamonds before you hit the jewelry store. Here are answers to the most common questions we hear from our customers.
Are black diamonds real diamonds?Absolutely. They’re just heavily included, which is what gives the stones their dramatic, dusky appearance. Although the graphite also prevents light from coming through, that doesn’t mean black diamonds are dull. In fact, they shine and sparkle in a similar way to white diamonds, thanks to their facets, or polished surfaces.
What are my options when it comes to black diamonds?This is a major source of confusion for many customers. There are two types of black diamonds in the market. The majority are natural treated diamonds, which mean they were mined from the earth and irradiated, or exposed to a strong radioactive and heat treatment that darkens the stone’s color. They’re less expensive than white diamonds -- about a fifth of the price. Does this mean they’re worthless? Not at all; they're beautiful, but I wouldn’t recommend buying one as an investment piece.
The second type of black diamond is natural untreated, which means the stone isn’t subjected to any irradiation. As a result, the diamond isn’t completely opaque; you can look through it and see the beautiful inclusions. Despite the areas of transparency, however, the stone will appear mostly black to the naked eye. Natural untreated black diamonds are somewhat rare, but you can expect to pay much more than the treated version.
Are black diamonds GIA certified?
Natural treated diamonds aren’t certified by GIA, but natural untreated diamonds may be. Ask your jeweler about the certification, and know that it will only verify that the stone is untreated. If owning a GIA-certified diamond is important to you -- or if you’re buying a stone that’s a carat or more in size -- it may make sense to pay the $300 or so for a certification.
How do I shop for a black diamond?Since you don’t have to worry about color or clarity, you can focus all your attention on sparkle. The beauty of a black diamond is in its facets, specifically the table (the flat surface on top) and crown (the smaller ones just on either side). For maximum sparkle, choose a stone that has a smaller table and bigger crown facets, or perhaps even a rose cut black diamond!
Caveat: Black spinel and black onyx look similar to black diamond, but are far less expensive. It’s hard to tell the difference so make sure you only shop with a trusted, licensed jeweler.
Do I care for a black diamond the same way I would a white diamond?Although black diamonds are just as hard as their white counterparts, the graphite inclusions make them more brittle. So whether the stone is treated or not, avoid impact whenever possible. If you hit the diamond hard enough, it could fracture or chip on the girdle or facet junctions. Does this happen often? No, but it is possible.
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