What is this question doing in the middle of my Week of Astronomy? Well, stay with me and you’ll find out! Kathleen of Virginia asked this one, maybe as a hint to her husband?
Kathleen – Black diamonds, also known as Carbonado, are indeed rare in the same sense that any gem is relatively rare compared to, say, a chunk of granite. But they aren’t that expensive. In fact, a comparably sized white diamond running about 1 carat would set you back 10 times as much as the black variety. Factors that reduce the price of black diamonds are its generally porous nature (think sponge-like without being soft), their 100% opaque color and the fact that they are “artificially enhanced” by color treating to hide their natural imperfections.
Black diamonds match the mood of their color in that they are mysterious things. They don’t form in the traditional places where white diamonds are found. In fact, they are only found in Central Africa and Brazil. Elements of their makeup have led researchers to theorize that black diamonds didn’t form on (or in) the Earth but, instead, arrived here from space! One theory suggests that they were spawned by the traumatic death-throes of a giant star, the explosion of which compressed material into the gems. In the early and traumatic days of our solar system some 4 billion years ago, this same material rained down on our planet. Our own star was born from the remnants of such an explosion as evidenced by the relatively high level of heavy elements in our solar system. We do know that diamonds form in space and they have been removed from samples of rock that have struck the Earth, but these tend to be tiny compared to carbonado.
Speaking of diamonds in space, one theory explained at PBS’s NOVA holds that Uranus and Neptune may produce so much pressure and heat in their atmospheres that abundant methane in the clouds actually rains down on the planetary core as diamond! Experiments conducted by scientists have actually shown it’s possible. Visit NOVA and read more about it.
If you are interested in purchasing black diamond jewelry, I’d like to recommend Bell Jewels. Their wonderfully helpful staff contributed to some of the information in this article and their selection is beautiful.