Glittering Black Beauty

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It’s only relatively recently that black diamonds have become prized as gemstones in their own right. Traditionally either thrown away or used solely for industrial purposes, it’s really only in the past thirty or so years that they have come into their own. Now called ‘fancy blacks’, they began their popularity streak when designers started using them to contrast with colourless stones in pave settings and have got bigger and better ever since, in fact you might say they finally ‘arrived’ when Mr Big gave Carrie a 5 carat black diamond ring at the end of Sex and the City 2! Since then, there have been more high-profile black diamond engagement rings and of course, prices have risen in line with their popularity. They are unique stones, having the adamantine brilliance you’d expect from a diamond, despite the fact that they are black and opaque. They glitter, like mirrors, with a silvery lustre. Still, there are relatively few famous black diamonds, one of which is the Black Orlov which comes laden with the usual kind of myths and legends of curse and disaster.

GIA Black Orloff
The 67.50 ct Black Orlov diamond, set in a circle of colourless diamonds (image courtesy of GIA education)

But what is a black diamond? Conversations with customers over the years have told me that this gemstone is not well-understood. Natural black diamond is, in fact, simply diamond that is so included with mineral inclusions, such as haematite, pyrite and graphite that it appears black. It is also often criss-crossed with minute cleavages and fractures that are either stained black or have become black due to graphitisation (the formation of graphite due to a process too arcane for me to wrap my feeble head around). And in fact, a great deal of black diamond on the market is irradiated, so that the inclusions turn black. I always state the black diamond I sell as irradiated, as I am generally not sure and better to be safe than sorry…

The upshot of this is that black diamond is rather brittle, and it is this that causes confusion. Yes, diamond is hard; very hard. But hardness is not the same as toughness. Glass is hard but will shatter if you drop it; putty is soft but you can drop it and it will remain in one piece. Black diamond, filled with inclusions and riven with tiny fractures is pretty brittle. Don’t drop it, don’t – as a friend of mine did – slam it in a car door and do set it with care. You can also expect it to be rather prone to pitting, certainly on the base and around the girdle and often on the facets edges and corners. But if you can live with all that, you’ve got a gemstone like none other. Below, I love the contrast of the black and white diamonds, accentuated by the use of silver and oxidised metals in this Coco & Chia stacking ring set.

Coco & Chia Black & White Diamond Stacking Ring Set
Coco and Chia Black & White Diamond Stacking Ring Set, $265

You can clearly see, top, the included nature of black diamonds in this beautiful rose cut black diamond ring from Lex Luxe – you can actually identify the blackened, frondlike clouds of inclusions. Another option from this jeweller is this black and white diamond cuff bracelet, with the contrasting colours offset by oxidised metal. And, right, just because it’s black, doesn’t have to go in white metal; this black diamond cluster ring (bottom) by Ferkos Fine Jewelry is set in 14k gold.

Lex Luxe rose cut black diamond engagement ring
Lex Luxe Rose Cut Black Diamond Cluster Ring, $1495
Lex Luxe black and white diamond bracelet
Lex Luxe Black and White Diamond Cuff Bracelet, $478
Ferkos Fine Jewelry engagement ring
Ferkos Fine Jewelry Black Diamond Cluster Ring, $238.50

At Joopy Gems we carry rose cut black diamonds in a range from 3mm-5mm. These are sized pretty precisely as small differences make a disproportionate difference in terms of price when the carat price is high. The 3mm and 4mm stones are of slightly higher quality than the other sizes but you can expect the odd pit and fracture as is normal with this stone. To browse the entire range, click here.

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October Flowers

Joopy Gems October 2018 newsletter

I’m a bit late posting about my newsletter this month, but it is out, and I have a bunch of new things to offer you. Gorgeous carved flowers in mother of pearl and jade, rose cut ruby, rose cut black diamond, super 7 and some lovely rose cut green tourmaline, always thin on the ground and always very popular. There’s a newsletter exclusive offer this month too, so why not check out the newsletter and maybe sign up to make sure you’ll always get those offers first?! You can read the newsletter here, or sign up here

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Small but perfectly formed: 2mm rose cuts and cabochons

I’ve been promising these for ages and they are finally here! 2mm rose cuts and cabochons in a variety of stones. They really are so tiny I can’t imagine what you are going to do with them, so pictures please! Also probably best not to work with these if you have a heavy cold… I have all the usual suspects; garnets, turquoise, amethyst, peridot, citrine, white topaz, opal and more. Two things about these stones; firstly, because they are small, you’re not going to get the saturation on the transparents, and some of them are quite light; for example the peridot is light green, the amethyst is light to mid purple, the almandine garnet is pink to orangey-red, the rhodolite is pinkish. The other thing is the price. It’s not easy to get these cut and it is rather expensive; most of the rose cuts are around the $2.85 mark per stone, and the cabochons $1.45 (some – the ruby, emerald and turquoise, for example, are still more). Most of the cost of these is in the cutting, but the up-side is that because of this, they are really unusual and not everyone is going to have them. Why not give them a whirl – I can see rings dusted with gemstones, earrings with tiny scattered points of light…and please do send me pictures of your creations! To shop 2mm rose cuts, click here; to shop 2mm cabochons, click here.

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All that glitters is not gold…

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…because sometimes it is diamond!! I’ve had these promised for so long and I have finally got them sorted, weighed, photographed and listed. This is opaque, coloured diamond in a wonderful array of colours; I have soft pinks and silvers, acid yellows and greens, reds, browns and golds. They are all quite small – don’t be fooled by the pictures, which have blown them up well beyond their actual size. This has also had the effect of accentuating any inclusions and colour zoning. Now, you might like the odd inclusion (I do) in which case that might be disappointing. Or you might not, in which case feel free to cheer. Either way, they are very pretty, and despite being opaque they do have that quintessential adamantine glitter. Prices from $10.25 up; to shop, click here:

http://www.joopygems.com/categories/calibrated-rose-cuts-and-cabochons/diamond/coloured-diamond.html