Dark and decadent, there’s nothing run-of-the-mill about black diamond engagement rings.
The movie may have been a flop, but who can forget the 5.00ct black diamond ring that Mr Big presented to Carrie at the end of Sex and the City 2, with the swoon-inducing words, “Because you are not like anyone else”? If you, too, identify more with the quirky Carrie than the conventional Charlotte, then these unique engagement rings will set you apart from the crowd.
And breaking with bridal tradition has never been easier thanks to the wealth of black diamond rings available, especially from American jewellery designers, who have wholeheartedly embraced the black diamond trend.
An added bonus is that these raven gems tend to be more affordable than white diamonds, mainly because the majority started life as white diamonds before having their colour changed via heat treatment in a lab. This means you can indulge in a larger central stone, as carat for carat you get more for your money than with a traditional sparkler.
However, natural Fancy black diamonds do exist and owe their colour to dark inclusions of graphite, sulphides or other minerals, but they are among the rarest of all Fancy coloured diamonds and can only be found in the riverbeds and lakes of Brazil and the Central African Republic. Some scientists believe that black diamonds fell onto Earth as meteorites, following a stellar explosion in outer space more than two billion years ago. Another hypothesis is that they were formed through high-pressure conditions inside the Earth and then pushed to the surface through volcanic eruptions. The stones owe their colour, which can range from the deepest black to dark grey, to inclusions of graphite, sulphides or other minerals.
Known for his bold and edgy jewellery creations, black diamonds are the perfect fit for Brazilian designer Ara Vartanian’s unique aesthetic, beloved by celebrities such as Kate Moss, Amber Heard and Penelope Cruz. In this ring, a polished black central diamond is set inverted with smaller black diamonds on a white gold band for a chic and original twist on the classic solitaire.
Ara says: “In my creative process, I always look to the stone first. After observing the black diamond in its traditional upright state, I flipped it upside down and realised how attractive it was from that angle. It looks more dangerous and unconventional from what you traditionally see on the market. This is what caught my attention, as my method is to create without any attachment to conventional practice. This piece represents the combination of the classical, beautiful shape of a band ring with the personality of an inverted black diamond."
New York-based jewellery designer Anna Sheffield has a large selection of black diamond engagement rings set into yellow, white or rose gold, and often accentuated with smaller white diamonds. Available in a variety of cuts, including round, oval and marquise, these dark solitaires look every bit as impressive as their more conventional white diamond counterparts.
While they don’t sparkle in the same way that white diamonds do, black gems provide stunning contrasts in designs such as Sethi Couture's pear-shaped black diamond ring. Established in San Francisco six years ago by sisters Pratima and Prerna Sethi, the label prides itself on creating effortlessly luxurious jewellery, which is designed to be worn and celebrated, not tucked away in a box.
For a more edgy take on this style of ring, Eva Fehren has created a chic monochrome solitaire with a frame of inverted diamonds inspired by the architecture of her native New York City. An oval, rose-cut, natural black diamond weighing almost 2.00 carats has been faceted to bring out shifting tones of charcoal, brown and black.
Black diamonds also make great accents for other coloured gemstones. The Gothic-style Bachiana ring by Carla Amorim features a round brilliant-cut ruby surrounded by black diamonds, which form a jagged edge around the centre stone. It is also available with an emerald centre stone, and both colour options would make fabulously unique engagement rings for the unconventional bride.
If sustainability is high on your list of priorities when it comes to choosing an engagement ring, Californian designer Melissa Joy Manning’s jewels are crafted from recycled gold and set with conflict-free diamonds. The simple, yet elegant, double-band design of this bezel-set, black diamond ring perfectly complements the opaque marquise-cut centre stone.
A jewel that you will (hopefully) wear forever, if you’re wondering whether a black diamond engagement ring will stand the test of time, I suggest you look at the longevity of its fashion equivalent, the LBD. You should also consider these words from the stylish minds at legendary department store Neiman Marcus: “Women who wear black live colourful lives”.