Diamonds have been an integral part of our culture for a long time now. For the last century or so, though, they’ve enjoyed a heck of a boost in sales and popularity.
They are truly beautiful, and diamond cutting is almost an art form that deserves all the money we can manage to throw at it.
Now, we all know that only the purest diamond makes people give up their paychecks. That’s why those are the ones that usually make it to the showroom.
But what if we told you that there’s a sort of new kid on the block? That’s right; black diamonds have been creating a bit of a stir-up in the industry as of late – so it’s about time we talk about them!
The value and popularity of these diamonds have just now started catching up to their expensive brothers.
So with all that, we decided to make a little guide for these dark beauties. The question of the day is: How to test black diamonds?
By getting answers for it, we hope that you’ll figure out how to spot the real thing – and what exactly the real thing is!
Let’s get started!
What Are Black Diamonds?
Black diamonds – also called carbonados – are one of the hardest forms of diamonds. The main difference between them and traditional diamonds is their actual chemical composition: Regular diamonds are just carbon atoms stacked tightly in a crystal structure; carbonados have a bit more to them.
These beautiful specimens are a combination of diamond, graphite, and amorphous carbon. The mix is created in the same conditions that regular diamonds are made in, but add extra ingredients and amp up the extreme heat and pressure.
You can see how they’ve become one of the toughest versions of diamonds with all that in the mix. The fact that they’re impure, high-density diamonds makes cutting them relatively tricky. Because of this, they are often not cut to the same standard as other diamonds.
It is possible to cut them perfectly, but not many professionals are willing to take the risk, and they’re still not valued as high as pure diamonds. Don’t let the price fool you, though. These gems are gaining popularity like never before. Because of this, unfortunately, the art of forging black diamonds is gaining speed as well.
So, how can you check whether or not a black diamond is “the real deal?”
How To Test Black Diamonds?
There are many tests that you can run to figure out if you have a black diamond on your hand or just something that looks like a black diamond. We have picked the three most popular ones.
It’s essential to remember that the best way to test any diamond is to take it to a professional lab. So, while these tests are effective, they will usually require someone trained in the field to get the most accurate results.
But who are we to judge; everybody has to start somewhere.
When shining a fiber-optic light toward a black diamond, the color should not go brown on any spots. Carbonados don’t let any light go through them; they are incredibly dense, so if you see the corners turning brown, it’s just carbon.
A strong Maglite can also give you the same results as the principle is the same. Fiber-optic lights are not precisely something everybody has around the house, though. Because of this, the test may be reserved for professionals.
Still, if you manage to get your hands in the equipment, the results are pretty much always accurate.
If you spend a lot of time researching diamonds online, this probably isn’t the first you hear of this exact term. Diamonds are often observed under a 10x magnification. That is because it’s the smallest magnification at which blemishes and inclusions are usually spotted.
Now, how does this help us with black diamonds?
Well, if you can see discoloration or any type of uneven spots of color when you look at the diamond through a loupe, there’s a high chance that they’re not natural.
If you see any color apart from just plain black, that indicates that light is getting through the material. That could still mean that it’s a diamond, sure – but we can guarantee that it doesn’t have any graphite in it.
An electronic diamond or moissanite tester can check the thermal and electrical conductivity of a diamond. The process here is simple. And if said machine tells you that the stone you’re looking at isn’t diamonds – you have a treated black diamond, not a natural one.
Learn More: Do Black Diamonds Pass Diamond Tester?
The Difference Between Pure And Black Diamonds
We covered what exactly these diamonds are, which is great. But let’s take a look at what makes them so unique and different from translucent diamonds.
The first thing that we have to mention is that there are two types of diamonds that people consider to be black – natural black diamonds (carbonado) and diamonds that have been treated to look like carbonados.
Now, we’re not saying that there’s anything wrong with treated diamonds; they can look the same as the natural ones to the naked eye.
So, where’s the harm? Why not save a little money and get a stone that looks almost the same? Well, because the chances are that you won’t be getting a good deal here.
See, natural black diamonds are heavily included, so much that light can’t go through them. The difference between them and low-grade colorless diamonds is that carbonados are supposed to be included. That’s the central part of their appeal.
But when sellers take low-grade diamonds and make them look like natural black diamonds, they’re trying to make an unfair profit.
There is a clear difference between the two, so why would you go for the treated ones?
That is why testing is so important; you need to know what you’re buying. That also explains well how all these tests work: If there’s light going through the material – it’s not a black diamond!
Why Do Black Diamonds Have So Much Inclusion?
So, if black diamonds pass no light at all, do they fall anywhere on the clarity scale of regular diamonds? Well, no, they don’t. Not even diamonds that have been treated to look like black diamonds belong on that scale.
Sure, you can just say that they are heavily included. That would technically put them near the lower end of the scale – but they still wouldn’t be sold as black diamonds.
That is why people tend to tread the low-grade stone – so that they can resell it as something else.
But all this begs the question – why don’t they let any light go through?
Well, as we already mentioned, natural black diamonds are not just made of carbon. Pure diamonds are just carbon atoms in a crystal structure; that is what makes them translucent.
But black diamonds are a combination of diamond, graphite, and amorphous carbon. All of this makes it very hard for light to find its way through.
Diamonds reflect the light all over the place once it goes through, which is why they are so shiny when you look at them. But black diamonds don’t allow light even to attempt to get reflected.
Any natural black object usually works in this way.
So, you see, it’s a combination of the materials and the density that makes diamonds as black as they are. In a way, they are included with graphite.
And not just that, remember how we said that they’re very hard to cut? Well, we weren’t joking! Because of this, black diamonds usually end up being used for industrial purposes.
But they still cost more than some average gemstone; let’s get that straight. A 1-carat natural black diamond can be worth about $2400 on average. The profit is not the same, but it is definitely worth the consideration!
How Are Black Diamonds Graded?
So, if black diamonds don’t fall into any of these scales that are used for grading diamonds (the 4Cs), how are they graded? Or do they not follow the same systematic grading system?
Well, let’s take a look at the 4Cs; we can examine whether they can be applied to natural black diamonds.
Some categories, like clarity, are not going to be an option. Black diamonds, as we already mentioned, don’t let the light go through.
The cut is also a problematic category to look at, as black diamonds are hard to cut properly. Because of this, they are usually dismissed by professionals, as far as the cut goes.
That leaves us with two other categories – carat weight and color. Carat weight can obviously be measured, so we’ll just go right next to the color grading:
The scale that is used for grading the color of diamonds is only used on colorless or near-colorless diamonds. It may not seem to make sense at first, but they do have good reasons for this:
The highest-grade diamonds are completely colorless. From here, the scale goes down towards the one that has a yellow hue to them. And finally, the lowest grade diamonds are the ones that are considered to be yellow.
So, you see, color doesn’t bring any good news in the diamond industry.
But how are we supposed to grade black diamonds then? Well, we’ll use the color grading system for colored diamonds.
It’s clear already that the diamonds industry doesn’t take black diamonds very seriously. You can’t blame them, though. The demand for them can’t even come close to the demand for traditional diamonds!
But even when we step aside and try to use the scale meant for colored diamonds, we’re again greeted by an obstacle:
The grades in these scales are based on the saturation of the color that certain colored diamonds have. But black diamonds don’t have any saturation – so, how does it work?
Well, black diamonds are simply given a description of Fancy Black. That’s the only color they can be graded with, apparently.
It seems as if natural black diamonds are just cursed with the fat of the black sheep in the family!
Are Black Diamonds Rare?
It may come as a surprise to a lot of people, but natural black diamonds are incredibly rare.
Most of us usually assume that they’re as common as any other average gemstone because of their price. But they are pretty darn far from your average stone, let us tell you.
The pricing may not match this, but black diamonds are very hard to come by. Contrary to them, traditional diamonds are pretty common in nature.
So, what is it that they are valued at much higher prices? Well, this is because the diamond industry doesn’t follow the rules of supply and demand. Let us explain:
The diamond industry has been growing exponentially for the last century or so. And sure, people really do like diamonds, but have you ever wondered why they cost so much?
Diamonds that have been perfectly cut are almost pieces of art. But there are so many of them at this point that you’d think that everybody’s fed up by now!
Well, the demand for diamonds is always present for a reason: A couple of big corporations in the industry have been controlling the marketplace for a long time. It all started with ad campaigns for diamonds that ran throughout the 20th century.
And they hardly ever stopped. Even these days, you’ll see ads for diamonds all over the place.
Well, the campaign worked, and it’s now perfectly normal to cash out at least two of your paychecks just to get an engagement ring. That’s a tradition that has been around for about a century or so – go figure!
Because of all this, the demand seems to be unstoppable, and we’ve never had a diamond shortage, either.
As we already mentioned, they are not that rare, and mining for them will always be a profitable business. But all those ads pretty much only contain the purest of diamonds – not colored gems.
Because of this, other gemstones receive much lower grades when professionals assess them. Not that they are the bad guys, they’re just following the rules of the trade. That is why, even though certain gemstones are much harder to find than diamonds, they never get valued at the same level.
Personally, we love black diamonds! But will the market ever catch up to our preference? Well, it’s not out of the question. Year in and year out, the popularity of natural black diamonds seems to rise. We’ll probably never see them catch up to pure traditional stones as far as value goes, though.
Learn More: Why Are Black Diamonds So Cheap?
So, there you have it! Black diamonds can be tricky to spot, but knowing how to test black diamonds is the most crucial step of your investment. And we hope that you now have what you need – and know what to look for when it comes to these dark-colored gems.
They may not hold the same value as their shiny brothers – but the black sheep of the family always has a few tricks up its sleeve!
Read Also: Do Black Diamonds Scratch Easily?