Black Diamonds | What Are They?

When you think of a diamond, what comes to mind? A dazzling and radiant gem of unrivaled beauty and sparkles? A golden ring, perhaps, with a fine and brilliant-cut fit for a royal wedding? Or, maybe you are thinking of a rainbow of diamonds with a mix of beautiful colors, such as red, blue, or purple. But, did you think of black?

Not too long ago, the Enigma went for sale. What is the Enigma, you ask? The Enigma is easily identified as a pitch-black diamond, coming in at 555.55 carats. Its value? Over four-million dollars. That's not too enigmatic, right?

The Enigma

The thing about the Enigma is that its origin is not too clear. We know somebody came into possession of it, cut it deliberately so that '5' was a motif, and then somebody else bought it in February of 2022.

That's pretty much it. To the best of our knowledge, it's not like many other diamonds with some weird and crazy history of passing through the hands of several kinds or queens before making a strange reappearance some few decades later. Yeah, it is an enigma. Since diamond jewelry is extremely popular, the real surprise is that the black diamond has not yet found itself on a pretty chain or a nice ring!

That aside, why, where, and how has it been hiding? Of course, there are a few basic explanations. The most obvious is that it was only recently discovered or recently put into the spotlight since the sheer rarity and value of this would place a giant target on one's back. Especially since the Enigma has taken the prize for the largest cut diamond—and it is certainly the largest cut black diamond!.

But to seal this deal, let's talk about black diamonds a little more.

Black Diamonds

What is a black diamond? Let's start with that. The Enigma is a carbonado. In fact, all black diamonds are. These stones are exceptionally rare and are generally not large at all. They are only found in two locations: Brazil and the Central African Republic. Thus, for all the mystery around the Enigma, we can at least say it came from one of those two countries.

Since it is like any other kind of diamond, they are pretty sturdy. Sure, diamonds are not unbreakable, but they almost might as well be, right? Well, black diamonds are extremely strong. While they are not technically harder than other diamonds, they are preferable to others for their other strengths.

But we have billions of history to cover since carbonados are about 2-3 billion years old. Let's put that into perspective. The Stone Age began over 2.5 million years ago. The extinction of the dinosaurs was about 66 million years ago. The Cambrian explosion, a significant point in time for biological diversity, was over 500 million years ago. Many early multicellular organisms are two billion years old.

That is an extreme amount of time to get to the lower estimate of their age! In order to get to a close point of reference for the higher or older estimate, you need to look at about 3.5 billion years ago, with the formation of plate tectonics or the earliest microbial life...Yeah...They are really, really, really old. Luckily, the moon, another favorite big rock of ours, is only one billion years older than them.

So, they didn't form from the impact event that caused a mass extinction 66 million years ago. While they are beyond ancient in terms of age, how did they form? Are they just one of Earth's many mysteries?

Not quite. We suspect that they formed in the Earth's mantle but required strict conditions to be met first. Another leading theory is that they did form from an impact event those few billion years ago. Earth getting hit by bigger rocks isn't exactly new. In fact, Moldavite, another favorite, likely formed from an impact, as did tektite and Libyan glass. 

White Gold Diamond Pendant

While tektite is black, so is carbonado. Carbondo's color comes from the inclusions, as is the case with most stones, so, what makes carbonado so rare and special? Despite being diamonds, their formation is unlike any other diamonds, and they require very specific and certain conditions to form. They never form or grow in stones that we know often host diamonds, such as kimberlite.

All of these combined together really paint a clear picture as to why the Enigma is such an odd stone. While the Enigma is certainly a mystery, that holds true for almost every other black diamond. While the formation in Earth's mantle and impact events are common theories, they are not immune to scrutiny.

The Wrap Up

Black diamonds are extremely rare and beautiful! It is no surprise why people like them and consider them prime candidates for wedding rings. The mystery seems to only add to the allure! Looking to learn as much as you can about diamonds? We have so much more to read!

Sources

https://www.npr.org/transcripts/855748211

https://www.bbc.com/news/business-60328375

https://www.gemsociety.org/article/black-diamonds/

https://geology.com/diamond/carbonado/

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