Is Black the new shine?

Popularity of Black diamonds
Is Black the new shine?

Black Diamonds have become THE diamonds for present diamond jewellery, outshining all coloured diamond. Is it the secrecy and mystery of the colour black that makes it so desirable? The theories of Black diamond formation have much to do with that and the source of the world's largest diamonds -black stones known as carbonadoes - has long been a geological puzzle. Kunjal Karaniya goes in-depth to solve the mystery.

By definition, a black diamond is the most impure form of polycrystallised carbon with impurities like graphite, iron impurities, etc. There are various theories explaining their origin such that they were born as the result of heat from natural radiation, the impact of rocky asteroids or exploding stars. However, none of these conflicting views have been recognised scientifically yet and an altogether different geographic phenomenon which led to the origin of black diamond cannot be ruled out. According to Colin Shah, MD, Kama Schachter, “Chemically, diamond is an exceptionally pure form of crystallised carbon. Although, when you think of diamond one tends to think of it as colourless, but it should be known that it comes in various colours. Colour is imparted due to the presence of natural impurity elements or slight distortion in the crystallised structure of the diamond.”Ashutosh Sharma, Managing Director, Shreem Jeweler has a similar view, “There are various theories of how black diamonds were created. One of the theories of how black diamonds were created is by the earth's pressure on the diamond, much like other diamonds are formed.Most theories include some form of collision of rock from outer space that collided with the earth. It is simply a naturally occurring crystal, just like other diamonds. It is completely opaque not translucent and the value of black diamond is lesser than that of a normal diamond.”

Black diamonds are extremely rare, there are various theories of how black diamonds were created. One of the theories is that black diamonds were created by the earth's pressure on the diamond, much like other diamonds are formed. It is believed that black diamonds were created as a result of a large meteor from outer space that collided with the earth millions of years ago, says Amar Ghanasingh, a renowned jewellery designer .While Mira Guati, Founder & Principal Designer, Mirari states, “There are various theories about the origin of black diamond but according to the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), the world’s foremost authority in gemology, black diamonds get their colour from the presence of numerous inclusions, often consisting of graphite. Due to the dense concentrations of these dark inclusions, sometimes lining the stone’s cleavages and fractures, black diamonds are generally opaque and difficult to cut. Some notable black diamonds are the Black Star of Africa at 202.00 cts and the Black Orfloff, at 67.50 cts.” On the other hand designer Renu Oberoi says, “Basically it’s a low quality diamond which has been infused with colour. It was brought to the world market by the jewellery house called De Gozu Gonu. It is not originally black in color. They are genuine diamonds treated with radiation to make their colour appear black. Under normal lighting conditions the colour enhanced ‘black’ diamond looks black butit is actually a very dark green.”According to Designer Sulish Verma of Vikas Chain & Jewellery, “The origin of Black diamond is like other diamonds, it is found in mines. The natural for of Black diamond is opaque. It is very rare to find Black Diamond in nature.

The diamond available these days in market is of very low quality and is treated to make black diamond. According to Indian Mythology ORLOFF is the historical Black Diamond and is also known as eye of Brahma.” “Significant number of the renowned experts works on these theories but unfortunately, as of today, none of the existing theories were proven as a fact”,concludes Mark Gershburg, CEO of Gemological Science International.

Carbonado is the Brazilian name for black diamond. They're heavily splintered and are considered industrial quality-also known as ‘crushing bort’. Carbonados are commonly minced and bonded to drill bits and other cutting tools. Their random crystal orientation makes them difficult to face, but some black industrials can be refined and set into jewellery, says Gaurav Issar, MD and Founder of Institute of Diamond Trade. The reason why it is known as the carbonado is because it is so hard and its impure nature of diamond that consist of diamond, graphite and another form of carbons adds to it, says Ashish Sukhadiya, Owner, Gemone Diamonds and Vishal Jain, Director, Zahav Jewels.

The popularity of black diamond has been increasing over the past five years or so; the trend of platinum can be as one reason for black diamond's new rage. The white metal contrasts the black of the diamond. They are graceful and enhance the colours around them, whether it’s the colour of the gold, especially 22-carat, or other stones. Black diamond’s create a glisten that demands attention, informs Gaurav Issar.Fashion is definitely one of the major reasons behind the growing popularity of black diamonds. People like to adapt western trends like when Cartier started using black diamonds it was not only to reduce the price point but also to come up with something innovative. Bulgari made a snake and Cartier a cheetah just to create a popular new trend, which was then adapted by other fashion jewellery brands. Now people have also started understanding the concept as it is cheaper and looks different, says Vishal Jain. There are many reasons for making the black diamond popular. Many of them are: People all over the world, have increased hunger for antique diamond jewellery, and increased uses of white gold/rose gold suits black colour most, so this is the one reason. Another reason its power of black and white, the leathal combo that is loved by many. All other colour diamonds are much costlier then black, so for the middle class can prefer when it comes to proposing a girl friend/to be wife. American Hollywood star, rap culture/hip-hop culture has made it popular. And just like in India, Hollywood stars has lot many followers in the western region. So this being the reason, and the affordable one, the fame of Black diamonds is surging. From the manufacturer point of view , due to less cost as compared to white diamond and other colour diamonds, they can literally push the black diamond with wide variety of designs into the market. 1 ct centre black diamond ring with white accents will cost only 1/5 of the 1 ct centre white diamond with white diamond ring, points Ashish Sukhadiya. Back in 1990's, Chopard was one of the first high endjewellery and watch brand to start using black diamonds. As is alwaysthe case, once such a marque brand starting using black diamonds, itgained in popularity very fast.

Black never goes out of fashion, be it in jewellery or clothes. The love of black-colour gems and jewellery ranges from the most affordable to the most luxurious, and for good reason. It’s incredibly versatile. It’s the colour of sophistication and elegance. It’s both edgy and timeless. The love for black in jewellery can be witnessed with popular choices in Black diamonds. Black pearls and Black spinel. Also, the combination of black and white diamonds have inspired many collections globally by some of the leading jewellery brands, explains Mira Gulati. Designers have begun showing collections of black diamond jewellery making an effort to cross the colour line and take a chance on stones. The cost of black diamonds has almost doubled in the last few years. The black diamonds have many myths about them especially in India. Some people believe that these diamonds resemble the eyes of a snake so they were dedicated to an Indian god. Buddha’s statue was made perfect because of the use of black colour diamond. The jewellery industry's insatiable appetite for variety is finally beginning to pay off in a huge way for black diamond which was once held in such low esteem among specialists in these gems that few carried it, says Shehzad Zaveri, Creative Director, Minawala.Black diamonds are some of the rarest diamonds in the world and a greattreasure to many people. Black diamonds can create most stunning jewellerywhich is why jewellery made with these distinctive jewels have becomeincreasingly popular in the last few years, feels GursimranChadha.On the contrary, Ashutosh Sharma shares his experience, “Black diamonds have been around for a long time, and in the last few years have started to be marketed and promoted, making them start to be fashionable. We have been dealing with black diamond since the past fifteen years. We have not seen a sudden jump in demand for black diamond but there has been a gradual increase in the same. Customers are now aware about black diamond and its characteristics which has led to the gradual increase in demand for them.”

Cutting black diamond is a time-consuming process, which is why most sleet from India where low labour rates permit the man-hours needed to fashion these stones, cutting a giant black pique with diamond inclusions in it. For this reason, pits, breaks, and areas of transparency, even when pampered on the wheel stain many black diamonds. Diamonds do occur naturally in black, but irradiated ‘black’ diamonds, when subjected to very deliberate light source, like a fiber optic light, show green colour at the extreme edges where the girdle or facets are thinnest, whereas this is not true of unenhanced black diamonds. Virtually all the black diamond’s used in jewellery today are the irradiated, explains GauravIssar. Unlike ‘white’ diamonds that are diamonds in its most pure form, black diamond is impure polycrystalline. As a result black diamonds are marred by pits and breaks, which make its polishing extremely difficult, says Mark Gershburg.

Lately, one can encounter quite a few cases of black diamond jewellery containing synthetic moissanites or black cubic zirconia. Inspection under magnification with a gemological microscope can distinguish these materials, and an X-ray transparency test (radiograph) is useful for jewellery pieces set with many gemstones. To identify and determine individual suspicious stones, laboratory techniques such as fluorescent X-ray analysis or microscopic Raman spectral analysis are required. However, the experience of handling a stone sets a benchmark for identification of synthetic against real, shares Komal Ashtekar Hazare of Zevadhi Jewels.It’s very rare that you can encounter really pure black diamond in nature. On other hand black manmade (synthetic) diamonds are available. These black diamonds like other laboratory grown diamonds are produced using CVD, HTHP or combination of both technologies. Also easily available on market place are black diamond simulants, such a black synthetic moissanite, or boron carbide. There is nothing wrong with these products as long as they are properly identified. And this is one of the reasons why gemological labs like GSI exist, explains Mark Gershburg.GauravIssar says, “Black diamonds are rare today and would have been even rarer nearly 1,000 years ago. Having come from Africa, Black diamond’s gets their colour from numerous plumbagoembeddings. The most famous black diamond is the ‘Black Orlov’, which is more than 67 carats and owned by the Russian czarina princess.”

Black diamonds are gaining in popularity in India. While the younger generation have taken to black diamonds as a fashion statement, it is still not as openly accepted in India as it is internationally. The main reason of this can be attributed to the fact that black in India is considered inauspicious as a colour, shares Vivek Kantichand Dhadha. Black diamonds have started gaining popularity , people are getting aware of the black diamonds, black diamonds give a modern touch to the jewellery. “I feel Indian market has good potential for black diamond jewellery,” says Gursimran Chadha. While Mira Gulati holds a different opinion, “The trend is new as the Indian consumer is in the process of gaining awareness on black diamonds. The rare and expensive black diamond still has fewer takers as compared to the white diamond.” Renu Oberoi states, “Actually it is quite popular because now the designers are using it in their designs with other coloured diamonds. So it is popular to a certain extent. The future of it in India depends on the buyers of it. As people here are still superstitious and they might feel it is bad omen. So I think it depends on personal choices and age group.” Suraj Shantakumar, Director – Business Strategy, Kirtilal Kalidas Jewellers Pvt Ltd also feels, “India, and especially South India is known for high quality diamonds. Having the presence of black might mean impurity. Hence for a quality conscious market, it might be a challenge for black diamonds to find place in fine jewellery segment.”Ashutosh Sharma has a varied point, “The resale value of Black diamonds is at the same ratio as that of any normal diamond though black diamonds are cheaper. For example, if you purchase a black diamond, the resale value of the diamond is the same rate as purchased. Black diamonds have gained popularity in India but it is still purchased as a fashionable product and not in the form of an asset.” Ashish Sukhadiya positively says, “Black diamond is not much popular in india. But I don’t have any doubt, that it will pick up momentum soon. The reason is most of the developed countries have accepted it, and we will accept the same trend. It is surely going transmit from western culture to Indian culture just like we accepted their lifestyle and fashions. Therefore, it is safe to say that the future is black, the future is bright.”

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