Top 10 Facts about Black Diamonds
When you think of fancy colour diamonds, which colours come to mind? Images of sunny yellows, mesmerising blues and pretty pinks most likely pop into your head. But there’s one colour diamond that is a little less prevalent, yet it is one of the most fascinating of all – the black diamond. Believed to hold an ancient curse, black diamonds are filled with mystery and intrigue in their history and origin. Read on for 10 fascinating facts about black diamonds:
Black diamonds are filled with mystery and intrigue in their history and origin
1. Millions of Crystals
Typically, diamonds are a single solid stone, but black diamonds are actually made up of millions of smaller black crystals, bound together by internal inclusions. This is known as a polycrystalline structure and this is what gives them their colour. Spots can sometimes appear dark grey because of this structure.
Black diamonds are made up of millions of smaller black crystals
2. The Toughest of Them All
While all diamonds are known for their strength and durability, black diamonds are tougher than any other diamond. They measure a 10 on the Mohs Hardness Scale, which means they are very difficult to cut and polish.
Black diamonds measure a 10 on the Mohs Hardness Scale
3. They Don’t Shine
“Shine bright like a diamond” doesn’t quite apply for these dark beauties. These rare diamonds absorb light instead of reflecting it, meaning their beauty comes from their surface which is polished like marble.
Black diamonds absorb light instead of reflecting it
4. Found in Only Two Areas
While other diamonds are found in various locations around the world, black diamonds have only been found in two – Brazil and Central Africa. Keep in mind that these two pieces of land were adjacent in prehistoric time, which tells us they are originally from one area.
Black diamonds have only been found in two – Brazil and Central Africa
5. Some Believe They’re from Outer Space
While it is understood how other diamonds were formed, black diamonds are very mysterious and no one is certain as to how they were formed. Some researchers believe that black diamonds were formed in outer space in stellar supernova explosions and came to Earth via an asteroid crash between two and four million years ago. They are thought to have been the size of asteroids, a kilometre or more in diameter. Black diamonds contain trace elements of nitrogen and hydrogen, a possible indicator of an extra-terrestrial origin. Other theories around how they were formed include a meteoric impact and radiation.
Black diamonds are believed to be from outer space
6. It Can Take One Year to Cut a Black Diamond
Cutting a black diamond can take up to one year and is a very frustrating and time-consuming process. This is because they have an unusual combination of carbon and graphite atoms. So, if you have a black diamond ring, you can appreciate that a lot of time, effort and patience went into creating your beautiful black masterpiece!
Cutting a black diamond can take up to one year
7. Exclusively Found in Alluvial Deposits
While diamonds are typically found in kimberlites, black diamonds are unique in that they are only found in alluvial deposits – younger rock formations and only near natural sources of water.
Black diamonds are only found in alluvial deposits
8. Blessing or a Curse?
Black diamonds were thought to be a blessing or a curse, depending on the culture. Ancient Indian people used to consider it a curse because it resembles the colour of a spider or snake’s eyes. On the other hand, Italian people believed that touching a black diamond would bring good fortune to their marriage, and that it was a sign of reconciliation. Today, black diamonds are rarely thought of as a blessing or curse, but rather mysterious and elegant gems.
Black diamonds are considered both a curse and blessing
9. Carbonados Diamonds
Black diamonds are also called carbonados diamonds. The Portuguese in Brazil coined the term carbonado, which means opaque dark diamond, in the mid-18th century.
Black diamonds are also knowns as carbonados diamonds
10. Similar in Price to Colourless Diamonds
You might be wondering, “How much black diamonds cost?” They were generally more affordable but are now similar in price to colourless diamonds. However, they are not quite as popular due to their lack of sparkle but are still an elegant and sophisticated choice of gem for a stunningly unique and intriguing jewellery piece.
Black diamonds are almost just as popular as colourless diamonds
Visit the Cape Town Diamond Museum to learn more about black diamonds. Located at the V&A Waterfront Clock Tower. Open daily from 9am – 9pm. Book here.