Rare and valuable minerals

What is more expensive: a white or a black diamond?

Black diamond – how much attractiveness and magic is just in the name of this stone! Although for most ordinary people it sounds somewhat contradictory, like a combination of the incompatible: radiant transparency and deep black color. However, jewelry with jet-black diamonds is sometimes found on the shelves of jewelry stores, and sellers claim that these are natural stones of such a rare color. As a rule, they sin against the truth by giving customers incomplete information about the product. However, black diamonds do exist. However, not exactly in the form that most people who are far from the jewelry business think.

What is a black diamond

An ideal diamond is the purest carbon, the atoms of which are arranged in the strongest cubic lattice. This is a very long process that requires special conditions. Diamonds are either formed in the earth’s mantle under the influence of monstrous temperatures and pressure and carried to the surface during volcanic processes, or come to us from space along with meteorites.

Diamond is the hardest substance on Earth, and it becomes so thanks to its cubic crystal lattice. Coal and graphite, also consisting of carbon, cannot boast of great hardness – their crystal lattice is different.

A diamond turns into a brilliant only after appropriate processing – cutting. Moreover, pure diamonds are most highly valued: transparent, white. The more yellowness and turbidity, the more impurities, the cheaper the diamond. However, not all impurities reduce the value of diamonds. If the stones remain clean and transparent, but at the same time have a rare shade (blue, red, green), their value soars to fantastic heights. Such stones are called fancy-colored diamonds, they are cut in a special way (with a platform on top) and are not nominally classified as diamonds. But will you really remember the special terminology when in front of you is such beauty worth millions of dollars? As mentioned above, black diamonds occur in nature, and much more often than is commonly believed. These minerals usually get their unique color due to admixtures of hematites, graphite and other substances. However, not all of them receive the honor of decorating a ring, pendant or brooch. So, black diamonds are called:

  • polycrystalline carbonado,
  • pique diamonds,
  • natural black minerals,
  • artificially colored diamonds,
  • synthetic stones.

Most black diamonds are classified as technical diamonds and are used for the production of abrasives, cutting and drilling equipment. And some are of interest exclusively to mineralogists and enthusiastic collectors.


Often, jewelry sellers, persuading buyers to buy jewelry with black stones, claim that these are carbonado diamonds of natural origin. In this case, there is a confusion of concepts generated either by unprofessionalism or a deliberate desire to mislead buyers.

Carbonados are not even remotely diamonds, but polycrystalline conglomerates. They contain many diamond particles welded together. Most carbonados can only be seen under a microscope. Large conglomerates are quite rare: mineralogists claim that only about three thousand such formations have been found on Earth.

Natural carbonados are no different in appearance and are of interest, except perhaps for science. They are formations with a clearly visible heterogeneous structure, fragile and unesthetic to the general taste.

Carbonado cannot be cut (some large formations can only be polished). They do not shine, they are not at all transparent – in a word, they will not “play” like jewelry. The Brazilian miners who were the first to discover carbonado even considered it ordinary coal.

There is still debate about the origins of carbonado. Most scientists consider them to be products of the decay of supernovae that arrived on Earth with meteorites. The age of cosmic carbonados is estimated at billions of years!

Diamond pique

Pique is a word of French origin that literally translates as “split.” Natural piques are, for the most part, low-grade diamonds of a heterogeneous fine-grained structure with multiple defects. Inclusions in such diamonds are large and visible to the naked eye, but unlike carbonado, piqué are single crystals.

Most pique diamonds are brittle and unsuitable for cutting, which places them in the technical category. Selected specimens (with a characteristic silky shine) are cut and set into jewelry.

Faceted black diamonds and large black diamond ring “Spirit of Grisogono” designed by Fawaz Gruosi

These stones owe their popularity to Fawaz Gruosi, founder of the House of Grisogono. The Beirut native worked in many jewelry houses, then decided to found his own. The symbol of the new trendsetter in jewelry fashion was the black diamond.

Gruosi was fascinated by the history of jewelry and repeatedly admired the coal-black beauty of the famous “Black Orlov” (discussed below). And somehow the jeweler caught the eye of a catalog of stones, where black diamonds of the cut category were presented (probably the same piques).

The jeweler thought about it, bought a batch of stones at a bargain price and created a trial series of jewelry. It was immediately sold out, followed by a repeat – and an incredible success!

Thanks to Grosie, the price of black diamonds soared two dozen times. World famous stars wear jewelry with them: Naomi Campbell, Natalie Portman, Bella Hadid, Irina Shayk, Cara Delevingne and other celebrities.

Natural black diamond

A black diamond is a fancy diamond with a deep black color that retains some transparency and a characteristic silky shine. Such stones differ from pique in their relatively homogeneous structure and conditional transparency. Most natural black diamonds can be classified as pique, with the exception of a few (for example, the beautiful Amsterdam).

The most famous representative of the family of natural black diamonds is the legendary “Black Orlov” (not to be confused with the slightly greenish “Count Orlov”, a decoration of the Diamond Fund of the Russian Federation).

The history of the incredible black stone is shrouded in legends: the only thing that is known for certain is that it really exists.

An incredible 195-carat black diamond is believed to have been stolen from an Indian temple. It belonged to two Russian princesses (one of them was Orlova, the daughter of an unforgettable favorite), and both ladies committed suicide. Whether this is true is unknown, because the existence of such a princess Orlova has not been documented.

It is known for certain that this large stone became known in the USA in the 30s of the last century. In the mid-50s of the last century it was cut into three parts and recut. The largest one began to be called “Black Orlov”, the fate of the others is unknown.

Most likely, the stone had a very illegal origin, and its then owner, Charles Wilson, created a myth. It was he who composed the legend about Indian temples and suicide princesses in order to legalize the stone and sell it at a higher price.

Now “Black Orlov” weighs 67 carats, is set in a platinum frame and framed with transparent diamonds. The last time it came up at auction was in 5, where it went to an unknown buyer.

“Black Orlov” (although it is not even black, but smoky gray) is the most famous, but far from the largest diamond of this color. For example, the Spirit of Grisogono diamond weighs as much as 312 carats. It was obtained after processing a 24-carat diamond found in South Africa. Maestro Gruosi himself worked on it, of course.

Persistent rumors about another black beauty are circulating in the jewelry community. Allegedly, there is a diamond “Black Star of Africa” weighing 205 carats, but there is no documentary evidence of this fact.

Artificially colored diamond

The craze for black diamonds has generated considerable demand for these stones. As a result, diamonds have learned to be “blackened” artificially, using radiation, oiling, as well as high temperatures and fantastic pressure (HPHT treatment)

Mostly low-grade diamonds are subjected to this treatment, which would not be destined to become jewelry due to their low transparency and yellow or brown tint.

Almost all natural black diamonds presented in jewelry stores are artificially colored single crystals. Sellers often call them carbonado, which is completely wrong.

Synthetic stone

Black diamonds can also be synthesized artificially. In this way, a special variety of carbonado is obtained, and sometimes single crystals of a decent degree of transparency with a characteristic luster are obtained.

Synthetic stones are valued lower than natural ones, but, as we remember, natural black diamonds of gem quality are vanishingly rare. The most common are piqués of various shades, close to black, but with a heterogeneous structure.

What does a black diamond look like?

What a black diamond looks like depends on its origin and structure. Ideally, this is a stone that has retained the inherent shine and some transparency of a diamond. However, most stones that are used to make jewelry are completely opaque and resemble hematite or obsidan in appearance.

Seeing a real black diamond that has not been artificially colored is quite problematic – most of these stones are in private collections. You can only see them at exhibitions and auctions, but these stones change owners quite rarely.

Who is suitable according to their zodiac sign?

Now let’s talk about the magical properties of a black diamond. Esotericists have long endowed this stone with incredible sacred power. According to them, black diamond:

  • helps to accentuate leadership character traits,
  • gives clarity of mind and firmness of judgment,
  • helps in achieving goals and self-improvement,
  • harmonizes relationships in couples,
  • protects from negative energy,
  • has healing and rejuvenating properties.

It is believed that black diamonds are endowed with powerful energy. An internally weak person can succumb to the influence of the stone, becoming angry, suspicious and self-centered.

Black diamonds are most suitable for Leo, Taurus and Libra. But Aquarius and Pisces are better off not wearing these delightful stones (at least not all the time).

How much does a black diamond cost?

Once upon a time, the price of a black diamond for 1 carat was no more than $10, but thanks to the efforts of Maestro Gruosi, the cost of these stones jumped tens of times.

Now the cost of a black pique diamond with good characteristics and a GIA certificate is 1-3 thousand dollars per carat. Repainted and synthetic stones cost an order of magnitude cheaper, but a lot depends on the quality of the minerals. And black diamonds with a name and history are incredibly expensive: they are valued personally and sold only at auctions.

Despite the fact that the fashion for black diamonds has subsided a little in recent years, interest in these mysterious stones does not fade. It is quite possible that in the coming years it will flare up with renewed vigor, and prices for jewelry with black diamonds will rise to astronomical levels.

Colored diamonds, like white ones, are real diamonds formed in nature – deep underground, where the temperature exceeds 1000 C. There are about 30 shades of colored diamonds in the world, the most popular among them are red, pink, yellow, blue, green, brown and black diamonds. The brighter and more saturated the color, the more valuable the colored diamond. The different shades are due to impurities in the structure of the carbon atom or in the crystal lattice. For example, diamonds get their yellow color due to the admixture of nitrogen, while blue and violet diamonds are the result of a high concentration of boron. In turn, the origin of pink and red diamonds still remains a mystery, since scientists have not been able to determine the element whose presence gives the diamond this color. What is known is that stones of similar shades are formed under the influence of very high pressure and heat, which cause plastic deformation and changes in the very structure of the atom. Green diamonds are the result of natural radiation—radioactive elements such as uranium release high-energy particles that cause defects in the stone’s atomic structure, changing its color.

Of all the colored diamonds, red diamonds are considered the rarest and most expensive. Only about 30 bright red stones have been found worldwide. Red diamonds are often relatively small, ranging in size from 0,5 to 1 carat. Due to their rarity and rich color, they are the most expensive – on average, 1 carat costs about 1 million US dollars. The largest red diamond ever sold weighed 5,11 carats and was worth US$8 million.

Rare blue diamonds are mined in just a few places in the world – South Africa, Australia and India. The average price of a blue diamond is around US$200 per carat. The most expensive blue diamond sold weighed 000 carats and cost US$14,2 million. The world’s most famous blue diamond is the Hope Diamond, which weighs 57,5 carats and is valued at approximately US$45,2 million.

One of the rarest are pink diamonds, also known as Argyle diamonds, as they are mainly mined from the Argyle mine in Australia. Although they are almost as rare as blue diamonds, pink diamonds tend to be more expensive due to high demand due to the stones’ unique, romantic color that symbolizes love. The price per carat of a pink diamond can vary depending on the quality and range from US$10 to US$000. The most famous pink diamond, the Pink Star, weighed 700 carats and was sold in 000 for US$59,6 million.

Yellow diamonds are the most common colored diamonds, accounting for about half of the market for these stones. They are also quite rare, but their relatively affordable price and bright color have made them the most sought after among colored diamonds. The average price of a yellow diamond is between US$3000 and US$5000 per carat, and for very bright yellow stones it can range from US$8000 to US$16. The most expensive yellow diamond – Graff Vivid Yellow weighing 100,9 carats, it was sold in 2020 for US$16,3 million.

Brown diamonds, with shades reminiscent of chocolate or cognac, are rarer than white diamonds, but are the most common of all colored diamonds. Therefore, in terms of price, they are the most affordable in the family of colored diamonds. Even though brown diamonds are rarer than white diamonds, the price of white diamonds is higher due to their greater demand. The average price per carat for brown diamonds ranges from 2 to 4 thousand US dollars. The most famous brown diamond is Golden Jubilee Diamond weighing 545 carats and worth 67 million US dollars.

Black diamonds, also called Carbonados, are unique because of their shade, which they owe to graphite impurities. Just like brown diamonds, they are rarer than white diamonds, but are inferior in price due to less demand. The average price of black diamonds per carat is from one and a half to 4 thousand US dollars. The most expensive black diamond in the world – Enigma weighing 555,55 carats – was sold for 4,28 million US dollars.

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