The Jewelry Insider

June 24, 2009

Coco Chanel gave us the ubiquitous little black dress, and the diamond world has its own equivalent: black diamonds. Black diamonds are as beautiful and elegant as the traditional white gem – they just have a dark side. And like the versatile LBD, black diamonds add sparkle to any occasion. Dress them up with a cocktail dress or down with jeans and your favorite ruffle shirt. Think of them as the Audrey Hepburn of the diamond world – sophisticated, urbane, mysterious, elegant – and always in style.

The dark color of a black diamond adds to its unique luster and brilliance. Luster is the light or sparkle reflected from the surface of a stone and can be enhanced by the play of light within the stone’s inner surfaces or facets. Because less light can penetrate a black diamond, prismatic play is at a minimum resulting in a unique, metallic brilliance that is unmatched in any other stone.

So what is a black diamond, exactly?

Most black diamonds are actually white or colorless diamonds that become black after exposure to a widely used and extremely safe radiation treatment. The diamonds quickly become inert after treatment and are then heated to effect an overall coloration. The dark color fully penetrates the stone and will not fade over time. This process not only results in a black diamond but is also used to create every color of the diamond rainbow – from red to green, purple to even brown.

Natural black diamonds are extremely rare and are not often seen in the jewelry world. The black color results from the presence of numerous inclusions, often consisting of graphite. Due to the dense concentrations of these dark inclusions, sometimes lining the stone’s cleavages and fractures, natural black diamonds are generally opaque and difficult to cut. And since natural black diamonds are often blemished and pitted, they are often unusable in jewelry. Some notable black diamonds are the Black Star of Africa at 202.00 cts. and the Black Orfloff, at 67.50 cts.

While most of us can’t afford natural black gems, treated black diamonds are well within our budget. Shop from’s extensive stash of black diamond jewels, and add a little rock and roll to your diamond collection.

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