Are Black Diamonds Valuable?

What is the real value of black diamonds? Would they be cheap or expensive? How come some black diamonds cost $100 per carat and some $3,000? A comprehensive guide

Black diamonds are an enigma - for diamond dealers and consumers alike.
What is a black diamond? Are black diamonds even real? Is their color natural?

Black Diamond Ring 1 ct tw Oval-cut 14K White Gold
Diamond Engagement Ring 2-5/8 ct tw Round-cut 14K White Gold

Unfortunately, over the years they were misrepresented and therefore a lot of disinformation surrounds them. But I think that the most interesting piece of information that seems to be missing is the most basic one: what is the value of black diamonds?

Black Diamond EarringsBlack Diamond Earrings

Determining the Value of Black Diamonds

Before we begin, care to guess the value of a black diamond?

To this day, even after 10 years of working in the diamond industry specializing in natural colored diamonds whenever I am asked to explain the prices of colored diamonds (doesn't matter which color) I turn back to the basics - Supply and Demand.

When it comes to the demand, it’s a bit tricky… the demand for black diamonds has gone up substantially in recent years and they became an amazingly desired fashion items. While many consumers don't even treat them as diamonds (after all brilliance is not their strong side) others adore them and wish to have them just for that. But the reason is not pure (I'll explain later)… The fact is that most black diamonds that are on the market are not "real" black diamonds, not natural black diamonds but rather treated ones.

Increase in demand for black diamondsDemand for Black Diamonds

What are Black Diamonds?

How Colored Diamonds are Made?

You see, black diamonds are diamonds. As such, finding them is a hard (and expensive) task. True, they are not rare as pink diamonds or even yellow diamonds but they are not stones you can just pick up from the grounds. With that said, they are still vastly different than other colored diamonds.

While most colored diamonds get their color due to impurities that occur during their formation process (trying to simplify it), black diamonds are basically white colorless diamonds that have SO MANY inclusions (piques') and those are spread throughout the stone in an evenly manner so that the diamond simply appears… black.

Surprisingly, diamonds that have so many inclusions are not easy to find and are quite rare. But as mentioned above, these are not the ones that you usually see in stores and that people usually buy. The ones that people are wishing for are sought after also due to their low price. A price that is achieved by taking cheap white diamonds that are of extremely poor quality and literally painting them black via irradiation or heat treatments.

The opaque color of black diamonds is caused by dark inclusions or, more commonly, by color treatment. Most black diamonds are treated to become a green that’s so dark it appears black, but not opaque.

* Side note - for deeper understanding, check out What is a Black Diamond?

So when it comes to supply and demand, it is divided into cheap treated black diamonds and the more rare and valuable natural black diamonds… Therefore, when it comes back to the question:

Are Black Diamonds Expensive?

The answer is yes and no.

Treated or enhanced black diamonds are extremely cheap. While I'm writing these lines I went to eBay and encountered listings offering 1 carat black diamonds for as low as $100-$200 per carat and accordingly a treated black diamond ring (or engagement ring) can cost as little as $200 to a $1,000 - depending on complexity of the design and the melee white diamonds you set alongside it (usually black diamonds mounted next to white's for the contrast).

However, when it comes to GIA certified natural black diamonds, the price can easily be $1,500-$3,000 per carat for diamonds weighing 1.00 - 3.00 carats. Meaning that a 1 carat natural black diamond ring would cost approximately $2,500 - $3,000.

The differences in prices of natural black diamonds are resulted from different qualities. Black diamonds are often harder to polish and that may affect the cut. Also, you need to make sure its surface is smooth and that the diamond is not porous.

Black Diamonds Price Per Carat

Still, even with natural black diamonds if we compare their price per carat to any other diamond they are pretty much as cheap as it can get. Their uniqueness along with their affordable pricing make them an excellent cheap alternative to the conventional white diamond ring.

White and Black Diamonds Eternity Rings White and Black Diamonds Eternity Rings

The below table shows prices of treated black diamonds vs natural black diamonds vs white diamonds based on current diamond prices as found online. Please note that in order have a better and easier understanding of how much the diamond would cost, the prices below are both per diamond and per carat.

Black Diamonds Prices

  0.50 Carat 1.00 Carat 2 Carat
Per Diamond Per
Per Diamond Per
Per Diamond
Treated Black Diamonds $200 $100 $300 $300 $400 $800
Natural Black Diamonds $2,000 $1,000 $3,000 $3,000 $3,000 $6,000
Colorless White Diamonds $2,500 $1,250 $5,000 $5,000 $9,500 $19,000

Since the price per carat of large natural black diamonds remains more / less the same around $3,000 per carat, the difference between white and black diamonds increases exponentially as the size of the diamond grows. The result is that while a 3 carat white diamond costs around $35,000, a 10 carat black diamond costs less at $30,000.

So... which would you prefer? Size or Color?

While You're thinking of the answer, watch how a black diamond's value is reduced to... zero :)