One of the most enigmatic and wonderful gemstones in nature is the Fancy Black diamond, also known as Carbonado. It has been the star in beautiful and prominent jewelry designs, increasing its demand and popularity over the years.
In the past, Fancy Blacks were not appreciated as gems. Instead, they were used for their exceptional hardness in various industrial processes. As of the 20th century, due to its dark charm, it was included in the design of high-end jewelry.
They are mined in few places, usually appearing in alluvial deposits located in the Central African Republic and in Brazil.
An interesting theory from 2006 states that these gems can come from outer space. This hypothesis explains that Fancy Blacks were formed after the collision of an asteroid with the Earth billions of years ago, before the separation of the continents. This would justify the difference between its physical characteristics and those of a conventional diamond. It would also explain why they’re never found inside kimberlite tubes like the rest of the diamonds that form inside the Earth's crust.
The origin of its color, unlike other Fancy diamonds, is not due to changes in the molecular structure during the formation process, but rather due to a large number of inclusions of graphite and other minerals within the crystal.
Carbonados have a polycrystalline structure, which means, it is not a single solid piece like other diamonds, but instead it’s made up of thousands of tiny crystals joined together.
These diamonds are usually completely opaque with a metallic appearance thanks to their high level of luster.
Although they are not the rarest in the Fancy family, its mysterious color has a powerful appeal. This stone has become the favorite in men's jewelry designs and in celebrities bold engagement rings. They can also be found at more affordable prices than other colored diamonds.
One and Only Shade
Fancy Black diamonds have their originality not only in their dark tone but also in the way they are graded, which breaks with the method used for the rest of colored diamonds.
The color is not graded, because unlike the other Fancy, the Black has only one intensity: Fancy Black. And, because the color is precisely caused by its inclusions, the clarity is also unrated. So that leaves the weight and the cut as the main aspects taken into account when evaluating this gem.
The origin of the color also influences its cost. Fancy Blacks of natural origin are much more appreciated than those that achieve their coloring by human intervention.
However, it is important to check if the color is fully saturated and if the stone doesn’t have imperfections that can be seen with the naked eye.
Paying attention in choosing a shape that highlights its striking shine and that fits with the wearer’s style, is what we should consider when buying a jewel with a black diamond.
Famous in Black
There are many stories of curses in ancient diamonds, but the legend behind the Black Orlov is undoubtedly the most interesting one.
This famous 67.5 ct black diamond is the largest Fancy Black in the world. It had its origin in India in the 19th century. It was part of an impressive 195 carat stone that was used as an eye in a statue of Brahma, the Hindi God of creation; in the city of Pondicherry in southern India.
Legend has it that a soldier disguised as a monk stole the stone; killing Brahma’s spirit when he ripped his eye. This caused a curse to fall on the diamond and on those who own it.
No one knows what happened to it until 1930 when it reappeared in New York (with only half its size). Three of its owners are known to have jumped from tall buildings, ending their lives; including the Russian princess Nadia Orlov, for whom this piece gets its name.
In 1950, Charles F. Wilson bought the Black Orlov Diamond and sent it to be recut in an attempt to "free" it from the curse. This strategy proved to be successful, as no other death has been associated with it.
Currently, it is set in a pendant with a halo setting as part of an impeccable diamond necklace.
Over time, the way of appreciating these stones has deeply changed. From being historically underrated diamonds, they became a major draw for today's consumers; even as centerpieces for engagement rings.
In some cultures, a black diamond symbolizes good fortune and reconciliation.
The prominence of the Fancy Black Diamond grew thanks to its appearance in celebrity engagement rings, such as Carmen Electra, tattoo artist Kat Von D, and even Carrie in the Sex and the City 2 movie, when Mr. Big proposed with a 5 ct. black diamond engagement ring.