What are Black Diamonds? Guide to Carbonado Jewelry

Last Updated on September 11, 2023 by Juli "Jewels" Church

While they may not be as traditional as their colorless counterparts, fancy black diamonds are beautiful and mysterious gems hold a unique appeal for those who appreciate their dark allure. 

natural fancy black diamond shaan-e-kolkata

They are sometimes associated with strength and power, as well as individuality and uniqueness due to their dark and mysterious appearance, making them a meaningful choice for those who want to stand out.

Apart from that, they are also said to possess the ability to absorb and deflect negative energy, making them both aesthetically pleasing and spiritually meaningful. While their unconventional beauty may not suit everyone's taste, these distinctive gems have found their way into the hearts of many who are drawn to their striking and enigmatic charm.

As with any diamond purchase, if you're thinking of adding these sexy gems to your jewelry collection, it's important to educate oneself on the characteristics and grading standards to ensure a wise and worthwhile investment.

What are Black Diamonds and Where Do They Come From?

Geological Birth

Black diamonds are uniquely colored due to inclusions or impurities within the diamonds, such as sulfides, graphite, or other mineral inclusions. In some cases, these inclusions appear as a result of hydrogen-related clouds throughout the diamond (GIA). Unlike other fancy colored diamonds, their hues are derived from inclusions rather than lattice defects or trace elements. This means that black diamonds have a special formation process compared to other fancy diamonds.

These diamonds are formed under high pressure and temperature conditions deep within the Earth's mantle. The inclusions become part of the crystal lattice structure, eventually emerging as black diamonds when they are brought closer to the Earth's surface through volcanic activity.

carbonado black diamonds

Carbonado diamondites

Discovery and Extraction

Also called carbonado, black diamonds are typically found in regions like Brazil, Venezuela, and the Central African Republic. These stones are usually discovered alongside conventional diamonds and can be extracted using similar techniques, such as open-pit mining or underground mining.

Throughout history, different classes, landowners, and warriors were permitted to own diamonds of various colors based on their social standing. For example, the lower classes were assigned diamonds with "the sheen of a burnished sword" (gray or black). This only furthered the intrigue surrounding these beautiful and rare diamonds, enhancing the allure of owning such a remarkable piece of Earth's natural beauty.

I believe the origins of natural black diamonds serve as a reminder of the incredible geological processes and historical journeys that play a role in shaping the beauty and value of these rare gems. With their dark and mysterious appearance, they are sure to continue captivating the hearts of enthusiasts and collectors alike.

Natural vs Treated Black Diamonds

When it comes to black diamonds, there are two types: natural and treated. First, let me explain natural black diamonds, which are quite rare. They get their distinct color from graphite inclusions and are primarily found in Central Africa and Brazil. These diamonds are a raw form of polycrystalline diamond made up of diamond, graphite, and amorphous carbon. In a sense, they are a beautiful result of a unique geological process.

On the other hand, treated black diamonds are white diamonds (i.e., colorless) that have undergone heat or radiation treatments to achieve their dark hue. Many begin as gray, heavily included, and fractured diamonds that are exposed to high-temperature/low-pressure treatment, which graphitizes the fractures, turning them black (GIA 4Cs). Artificial irradiation can also be used to produce a green so dark that the diamond appears black.

When deciding between natural and treated black diamonds, it's essential to consider the ethical, aesthetic, and financial factors. Natural black diamonds are highly sought after due to their rarity, while treated black diamonds tend to be more wallet-friendly. Even so, both natural and enhanced black diamonds are used in various jewelry settings, and their beauty is undeniable.

In the end, the choice between natural and treated black diamonds is a personal one. I believe that understanding their differences and origins is vital for making the right decision.

Grading Black Diamonds

You've probably heard of the 4Cs by now, a diamond grading system put forth by the Gemological Institute of America. With black gems, they follow the same basic guidelines, but without the actual grades. 

The GIA simply grades black diamonds based on their single grade term: fancy black. Let's take a look at how each of the 4Cs applies to black diamonds.


Like most colored gemstones, the carat weight will increase the price. With black diamonds, it can increase price, but only at exponential carat weights. I mentioned that James Allen has black diamonds that are under $10,000 at larger carat weights. But this doesn't include all black diamonds. 

Some of the most famous black diamonds come in at very large carat weights. The Sergio black diamond is the largest black diamond in the world, coming in at 3195 carats. It was found in 1895 in Brazil and is believed to be a carbonado from a meteorite.


In the GIA system, most colored gemstones are valued and graded by their color and their color tone, hue, and saturation. This goes for fancy color diamonds as well. Fancy black diamonds are once again, the exception. They are given a single color grade — fancy black.

Because the color black doesn't have any variations in hue or tone, these factors don't apply in grading them. In fact, the GIA doesn't give out grading reports for fancy black diamonds. Instead they give certificates that state whether the diamond has been treated and where it comes from. They call it the Colored Diamond and Identification Report

Saturation is still important to the quality of a black diamond. You wouldn't want a nice large black diamond solitaire ring that looks splotchy or has discoloration in some spots, would you? Most black diamonds are saturated nicely. However, more often than not, they are treated stones that receive enhancements to make their color and clarity better.


Unlike other diamonds that are graded based on the absence of inclusions, the inclusions in black diamonds are what give them their unique color. The GIA does not grade black diamonds for clarity. Instead, the focus is on the characteristic color strength and uniformity.


The cut of a black diamond refers to the proportions, symmetry, and polish of the stone. Fancy cut diamonds can have any finished shape, except round. The key for black diamonds is to optimize the light absorption, creating a visually impactful appearance while considering the unique characteristics of the stone.

The shape of your black diamond is generally up to personal preference. You'll just want to make sure that the corners or points of shapes like a marquise or pear shape are put in protective settings.

Remember that natural black diamonds are more susceptible to breakage because of the large amount of graphite inclusions. Any exposed points could chip easier. Bezel settings and halo settings are good options to protect pointed diamond shapes. 

Famous Natural Black Diamonds

I would like to share information about some of the most famous black diamonds. The Black Orlov holds a significant place in history, weighing an impressive 67.50 carats. Known as the Eye of Brahman, this diamond is believed to have been stolen from an Indian idol in the early 1800s. Due to a mysterious curse, several of its owners committed suicide, eventually leading to the recutting of the diamond in an attempt to break the hex.

Another notable black diamond is the Korloff Noir Diamond. It is a beautiful, 88-carat gem with 57 facets, currently owned by the Korloff Jewelers of France. Legend has it that the Korloff diamond brings happiness, luck, and prosperity to anyone who touches it.

How Much are Black Diamonds?

Price Determinants

When it comes to fancy black diamonds, their prices can vary greatly. One of the main factors that determines the price of a black diamond is whether it's natural or treated. Natural black diamonds are more valuable than heat-treated ones because they are rarer. Excellent examples of fancy black diamond prices start at around $1,500 per carat.

Different factors can also affect the price of black diamonds, including the carat weight, cut, clarity, and demand. For example, natural black diamonds can cost anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000 per carat, but you might find a more affordable one priced at about $100, which factors in its cut, design, and other surrounding stones.

Investment Potential

While investing in fancy black diamonds might be appealing due to their uniqueness and rarity, it's essential to remember that not all black diamonds will retain their value. If you're looking for an investment piece, I recommend focusing on natural black diamonds, as they are rarer than treated ones and might be more likely to appreciate in value over time. Keep in mind, though, that like any other investment, there are no guarantees, and the value of black diamonds can fluctuate based on market conditions and demand.

One advantage of black diamonds is that their per-carat price doesn't change much as the carats increase, making them a potentially more affordable option for those looking to add a unique investment piece to their collection. However, investing in black diamonds should be done cautiously, with thorough research and an understanding of the market and the factors that can affect their value.

Where to Buy Black Diamonds

When it comes to purchasing black diamonds, there are several reputable online retailers where I can find a great selection of these unique gemstones. One excellent option is James Allen, a well-known online diamond retailer. They have black diamonds in various carat weights and prices, such as a 1.11-carat black round diamond for $1,450 or a 1.47-carat black round diamond for $2,280.

1. James Allen

James Allen has a small selection of fancy black diamonds, with around 10 options. This is because black diamonds as center stones aren't really too common, so there's not a huge demand for them.

However, when they are demanded for a black diamond engagement ring, they're usually wanted in larger carat weights.

Black diamonds are intended for dramatic effect, so they're not usually wanted as melee stones, unless it's in a halo setting.

If you purchase from James Allen, you will purchase a 1-carat black diamond at the least. The largest one they currently carry is 5 carats and is under $10,000 for a natural black diamond. 

Once you've picked out your black diamond, James Allen has a variety of different styles to choose from. Because of their dramatic appearance, black diamonds look great in vintage settings with jewelry design techniques such as filagree or milgrain.

Vine detailing makes it look beautiful as well. A beautiful floral setting like this one would make the perfect black diamond ring! Just replace that colorless diamond with an oval black diamond, and you'll turn heads anywhere you go. 

Once you've picked out your black diamond, James Allen has a variety of different styles to choose from. Because of their dramatic appearance, black diamonds look great in vintage settings with jewelry design techniques such as filagree or milgrain.

Vine detailing makes it look beautiful as well. A beautiful floral setting like this one would make the perfect black diamond ring! Just replace that colorless diamond with an oval black diamond, and you'll turn heads anywhere you go. 

So, the reason why they should definitely be at the top of your list is their lifetime warranty. It's completely complementary and covers wear and tear maintenance that you'll need over the years, especially if it's a ring.

This includes tightening of any stones, rhodium plating white gold, and prong retipping. They also give you one free ring resizing within the first year. 

2. Leibish & Co

Another such retailer is Leibish, which offers a variety of natural loose black diamonds in different shapes and sizes. They have options like a 1.11-carat Fancy Black Diamond priced at $3,100 or a 3.25-carat heart-shaped Fancy Black Diamond for $7,250.

Leibish and Co. is renown for their specialty in fancy colored diamonds online. They have around 30 different black diamonds, including a few black diamond pairs.

All of Leibish & Co.'s diamonds are colored and untreated. 

They also come with certifications from reputable labs. They may have a higher price than other black diamond dealers, but if you do have the money, I definitely think it will be well spent here. 

I like that Leibish also offers its black diamonds in non traditional diamonds shapes like kites, octagon, and these lozenge cut black diamond earrings below.

If you're needing a ring made in a hurry, Leibish may not be your best option, as it can take 22 business days to receive your ring. They do have free international shipping, and expedited options for shipping at a cost. If you're looking for a last minute gift, you could even consider buying from their 48 hour shipping catalog

Leibish also has two warranties. One is the manufacturer's warranty, which covers any factory or design flaws that cause you jewelry to have repeat issues. The second one covers wear and tear, to include tightening stones, rhodium, and retipping prongs. It doesn't include broken chains or clasps. 

Why We Like James Allen More: Leibish may have a larger amount of black loose diamonds, James Allen has much better options for varied budgets when it comes to ring settings. Leibish has gorgeous settings, but they're all pretty expensive because they only carry 18 karat gold and platinum. James Allen has more affordable options in 14 karat gold.

3. Kay Jewelers

Kay Jewelers makes fancy black diamonds look about as common as an amethyst gemstone. If you search black diamonds on their website, you'll undoubtedly come across hundreds of results.

However, all of Kay Jewelers' black diamonds online are going to be treated diamonds. Treated diamonds are still real diamonds, but their color has been enhanced by heating techniques.

These diamonds are inexpensive really, costing less $2,000 for an entire black diamond engagement ring. Black diamond fashion jewelry goes for a few hundred.

Kay's makes black diamonds look really common. But that's because they are natural, but still treated. The color treatment makes undesirable black diamonds look more desirable and are of lower quality.

But if you wanted a black diamond that is higher quality (still treated, but natural), you might look into their LeVian collection, but they charge a premium price for name brand. 

Kay's has two warranties. One warranty covers diamonds and select colored gemstones. As long as you get your ring cleaned and inspected at one of their or their sister store locations, they'll replace your diamond if you lose it.

The second warranty is the Extended Service Plan, which is something paid for. The price is based on the item and covers all the meta work your jewelry might need. This includes setting a stone, rhodium, sizing for life, soldering, and other jewelry needs.

Why We Like James Allen More: Kay loves to coat their black diamond jewelry in black rhodium to make the black diamonds look high quality in melee settings, but they're not. That black rhodium will eventually fade, leaving your jewelry unsightly. James Allen doesn't use this tactic. They offer you complete transparency: what you see is what you will always get. 

4. Zales

Zales' black diamond selection is very similar to Kay's as they are both owned by Signet Jewelers. However, there are a few differences in collections.

Many of Zales' black diamonds are part of their Disney Villains collection. The Disney collection is one of Zales' unique offerings of high end jewelry made to appeal to millennials. Check out some of the black diamond jewelry from this collection below:

Like Kays, all of Zales' black diamonds will be color treated, not a completely natural diamond. The black has been color enhanced at high temperatures.

They do have some black diamond engagement rings, but most of them are set in 10K gold. If you wanted to get a custom ring done in 14K, it would take much longer. Zales black diamonds are affordable, costing less than 3 grand for both an engagement and wedding ring. 

Read Also: What's the difference between 10K and 14K gold?

Zales and Kays also share the same basic warranty, the Lifetime Diamond Commitment. Requiring that you get it checked every 6 months, they'll replace the stone with same quality or better.

They also have the Lifetime Jewelry Protection Plan, which is the Zales equivalent of Kay's Extended Service Plan. It covers all metalwork, setting of missing stones, tightening prongs, and sizing. 

Why We Like James Allen More: With James Allen, you get to see the black diamond that is going to be put in your ring via their 360 degree video technology. Zales won't show you their black center stones, unless it's already in store. You pretty much have to close your eyes and hope for the best when ordering online with Zales.

Fancy Black Diamond Settings

When looking for the perfect black diamond setting, I have noticed a few popular styles that showcase the beauty of these unique stones.


A solitaire setting allows the black diamond to truly stand out, as it is the only stone in the design. The contrast between a black diamond and a metal such as 14k white gold or platinum enhances the overall appearance.

fancy black tension solitaire engagement ring


A halo setting features a circle of smaller colorless diamonds surrounding the black diamond center stone. This creates a stunning contrast and draws attention to the center stone, making it appear larger.

three stone halo black diamond engagement ring


A pave setting involves embedding small colorless diamonds into the band and possibly around the main black diamond. This can significantly add brilliance and sparkle to the piece.

black diamond pave ring - leibish


Adding two colorless diamonds or other gemstones on either side of a black diamond in a three-stone setting offers an elegant and balanced look. The contrast between the center black diamond and the side stones creates visual interest and a unique style.

three stone black diamond engagement ring

Each of these styles allows for customization, so I can choose the metal type, diamond shape, and any additional design elements to create the perfect piece. A blend of styles, such as a halo with a pave band, can also be a beautiful option. Ultimately, the decision will depend on my personal taste and the specific black diamond I choose. To ensure I'm getting the best value for my money, I should purchase the black diamond from a reputable vendor like Leibish & Co. or James Allen.

Red Flags When Buying Black Diamonds Online

Shopping online for jewelry can get kind of confusing fast if you don't know what to watch out for. When shopping for black diamonds, you want to be aware of some of the wordings used in the descriptions, the treatments, and where you're sourcing your diamond from. 

  • Lack of Certification: Ensure the diamond comes with proper certification from reputable gemological labs.
  • Too Good to Be True Prices: Be cautious if the price seems significantly lower than similar diamonds elsewhere. Fancy black diamonds may not be as expensive as other fancy color diamonds, but it shouldn't be less that $1000 for a 1 carat natural, untreated, black diamond. You'll have shifts in prices for different diamond cuts like a cushion-cut diamond. 
  • Vague or Inconsistent Descriptions: Look for clear and consistent descriptions, especially regarding clarity and color grades.
  • Limited or Poor Quality Images: High-quality images and videos should be available; blurry or edited images can be misleading.
  • "Simulated" Gems. Simulants are other gemstones or materials that are being passed off as more valuable stones. Stones that are commonly posed as black diamonds include black onyx, black moissanite, and a newer find, boron carbide.
  • No Return or Exchange Policy: Ensure there's a clear and reasonable return or exchange policy.
  • Hidden Fees: Watch out for unexpected fees during checkout.
  • Unsecured Payment Process: Verify the website's security with "https://" and a padlock symbol.
  • Lack of Customer Reviews: The absence of customer feedback can be a warning sign.
  • Limited Contact Information: Check for multiple contact methods and a physical address.
  • Unusual Refund Process: Be cautious if the refund process is overly complex or restrictive. 

Thankfully, every black diamond dealer we've mentioned here is reputable and trustworthy to sell what they state on their respective sites. You know which stores offer what now, so your decision (James Allen) should be pretty easy to make.

FAQs about Black Diamonds

Are black diamonds good for an engagement ring?

If you've done some research with us on fancy colored diamonds, you'd know that diamond is an exceptional choice for everyday wear, like in engagement rings or wedding bands.

It usually doesn't matter whether the diamond is untreated natural, treated natural, lab-created. But fancy black diamonds are the exception to this rule. 

Can I find black diamonds in various shapes and sizes?

Yes, black diamonds come in a variety of shapes and sizes, just like traditional diamonds. You can find them in popular shapes such as round, princess, cushion, and more, making it possible to create custom jewelry designs.

What jewelry styles work best with black diamonds?

Black diamonds can complement a wide range of jewelry styles. They look particularly striking when set in white gold or platinum settings, creating a beautiful contrast. They are also versatile and can be used in both classic and contemporary designs.

Are black diamonds more affordable than traditional diamonds?

Generally, black diamonds can be more affordable than traditional colorless diamonds of similar carat weights. However, their price can vary based on factors like size, quality, and market demand.

Are black diamonds a good investment?

The investment value of black diamonds can vary depending on factors like rarity and market trends. While they may not have the same investment potential as traditional colorless diamonds, they are still valued for their unique beauty and symbolism.

Can I request a custom design using black diamonds?

Yes, many jewelers offer custom design services, allowing you to create a one-of-a-kind jewelry piece featuring black diamonds. You can work with a jeweler to bring your design ideas to life.

What should I consider when buying black diamond jewelry online?

When purchasing black diamond jewelry online, be sure to research the seller's reputation, ask for certification or documentation about the diamond's characteristics, and read customer reviews. It's important to buy from a reputable source to ensure the authenticity and quality of the black diamond.

Embrace the Elegance of Fancy Black Diamonds

In this comprehensive FAQ guide, we've delved into the enchanting world of fancy black diamonds, also known as carbonado diamonds. From understanding their uniqueness to exploring their symbolism and practical considerations, you've gained valuable insights into these captivating gemstones.

As you've discovered, fancy black diamonds offer a distinctive and unconventional choice for jewelry enthusiasts. Their mysterious dark hue, versatility in design, and meaningful symbolism make them an excellent choice for those seeking to stand out and make a statement with their jewelry.

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