The Black Diamond: One of Nature's Anomalies

Most people are aware that all pearls are not white, but are also pink and black. In the hit movie trilogy, "Pirates of the Caribbean," the scoundrel with the heart of a hero, Captain Jack Sparrow, prized his ship, the Black Pearl, above all things. But a black diamond? Not only do they exist, they are also very rare and prized among gemstone collectors. Black diamonds reflect their chemical construction; it is this, rather than their colors, that sets one gem apart from another, as with pink sapphires. While gemologists find black diamonds to be resplendent examples of nature's diversity, many people regard them as an anomaly, or quirk, of nature.

A Few Facts about Black Diamonds

Black diamonds are also called "carbonados," reflecting their chemical make-up of pure black carbon. All diamonds of any color are chemically composed of carbon that through eons of time, became what we know today as diamonds. They don't come out of the earth as white, sparkly gemstones, but must be extracted, cut and immaculately polished. Black diamonds are not truly black; they are diamonds that contain a large amount of dark inclusions that give them their dark appearance. These inclusions are actually specks of the carbon that creates all diamonds. White diamonds that contain tiny black inclusions are viewed as either sub-standard in quality, or as desirable and interesting reminders of our evolution. Since animal life on Earth, including humans, are carbon-based, we have something in common with diamonds of all colors, but primarily with black diamonds.

Black diamonds, so far, have only been mined in Brazil and Central Africa. Both countries have a well-known history of producing large, rich diamond strikes. Australia is one of the most prolific producer of diamonds and fire opals, but as yet has not hit a strike of black diamonds. Since they are so scarce, black diamonds are quite expensive; much more so than white diamonds, but not nearly as expensive as the extraordinarily rare pink diamond.

To enhance their color, black diamonds are treated with an electron beam that causes no harm to the stone. This process can be used with other colored diamonds, but is recommended only for the black diamond's chemical carbon inclusions. The treated stone is then carefully cut into various carat weights and styles that enhance their dark color.

This remarkable gemstone is not a new discovery, having been mined in Brazil and Central Africa for many generations. Not new, but rare and extraordinarily lovely.