To paraphrase George Orwell: "All diamonds are rare but some are more rare than others."
Fancy color diamonds are among the rarest and most valuable gemstones. They are stones that fall outside of the standard color range between light yellow and light brown.
Colorless diamonds are graded on a color scale ranging from D to Z; as the color tint becomes more obvious, the value decreases. For fancy diamonds, the opposite happens – the more vibrant and saturated the color, the more expensive and valuable the diamond becomes. Any color outside the D to Z range is considered “fancy” and graded on a scale from light to vivid.
The fancy color in diamonds is caused by the distortion of the molecular lattice, which happens at random. Because of that, it is extremely challenging to cut fancy colored diamonds. Not only diamond has to be positioned within the rough crystal to yield the largest possible diamond, but it also has to be oriented in a way that produces the deepest, more pronounced face-up color. The two goals often contradict each other and require experience and deep knowledge of diamond cutting to find the best solution.
Fancy-colored diamonds are scarce, and Argyle pink diamonds are inherently so. Until pink diamonds started to trickle out of the Argyle mine in the 1980s, they were so rare that they barely registered on the collector’s radar.
At its height, the Argyle mine, located in the remote East Kimberley region of Western Australia, produced 9 out of 10 world’s pink diamonds even though the pink material was less than one percent of the total output. Moreover, only 9.6% of the Argyle pinks are larger than 0.20 carats, and less than one percent of Argyle pinks are one carat or larger. Entire year’s worth of Argyle pinks over half a carat in size can fit in a palm of a hand.
The Argyle mine has now been officially closed. This means that no more diamonds are coming to the market, and the existing supply dwindles with every passing day. This leads to fast and dramatic price increases, good news for current owners.
A “Black Diamond” is a natural polycrystalline aggregate of minute graphite and carbon crystals grown together at different angles which causes them to absorb the light. They are 4 billion years old, formed in a supernova explosion long before our Solar System was born, and found only in a few places on Earth, notably Central Africa and Brazil.
Are black diamonds real? Yes, they are real. Real crap.
A black diamond, called carbonado, is a natural aggregate of tiny graphite and carbon crystals grown together. They are essentially clumps of diamond dirt.
The tiny crystals are stuck together at different angles, absorbing the light and making the stone opaque. Most black diamonds are grey, but they have a porous surface that allows liquid dyes to penetrate. Boiling carbonados in spent motor oil turn them black. Without dyeing, they are often mistaken for marcasite – polished iron pyrite commonly used in costume jewelry.
Black diamonds are industrial stones used for manufacturing abrasives and drill bits. Until recently, they were considered worthless and not suited for use in jewelry. Even today, black diamonds are cheap by diamond standards costing very little compared to white diamonds.
Carbonados are 4 billion years old. They were formed in a supernova explosion long before our solar system was born. Their unique chemistry suggests extraterrestrial origins, which plays well to the consumers’ ears. Most carbonados have strong luminescence. They emit light in the darkness, which is always fun. Carbonados are found in Central Africa and Brazil. Along with petrified dinosaur dung and wall-mounted singing fish, carbonados are treasured collectible novelties.
Famous black diamonds
- The 489.07-carat black diamond is yet to be named and rumored to be priced at just under two million US dollars.
- The 312.24-carat Spirit of de Grisogono Diamond is the world’s largest black diamond.
- 202-carat Black Star of Africa was last seen in Tokyo in 1971. Did anyone investigate Godzilla?
- The 160.18-carat, “The Table of Islam” emerald-cut black diamond, comes from Central Africa.
- The Gruosi Diamond is a 115.34-carat heart-shaped black diamond cut by the famous Swiss jeweler Fawaz Gruosi.
- Orloff Noir (the cursed one) is a 67.50-carat cushion-cut diamond of very dark gun-metal color. It is also known as the Eye of Brahma Diamond.
- The Amsterdam Diamond is a 33.74-carat stone sold in 2001 for $352,000.
The curse of the Black Orlov
The 67.50-carat cushion-cut diamond plucked from the eye of Brahma idol at a small Indian shrine was brought to New York by a diamond dealer J.W. Paris. Displeased, the god of creation Brahma, put a magic spell upon all future owners of his eye. Indeed, three owners jumped to their death shortly after that. In 1932 J.W. Paris fell from the roof of a New York skyscraper. In 1947 Russian princess Nadia Vyegin-Orlov jumped from a building in Rome. Her sister Lionila Baryatinskaya followed her shortly after that. The curse fizzled when the stone finally got into the hands of a New York dealer Charles F. Winson. He mounted the stone in a diamond-and-platinum necklace valued at $150,000 at the time. Nobody has jumped since.