For those of us who associate diamonds with brilliant, bright white sparkle, the very idea of a black diamond seems almost paradoxical.
However, these raven gemstones stones add a dramatic and decadent touch when they're incorporated into jewellery, especially if contrasted with white diamonds, gold or platinum. At the same time, just like the classic Little Black Dress, black diamonds are incredibly versatile and can easily be dressed up or down to suit any occasion.
With autumn around the corner, darker gemstones are just the thing to add a generous dose of luxury to the more sombre colour palette that accompanies the colder temperatures. Luckily for us, there are plenty of fabulous jewels around at the moment to tempt us over to the dark side.
Subtle yet stylish, the Petite Pavé Pinky Ring from David Yurman's signature line combines white gold with 1.80 carats of pavé black diamonds, for an effect that is both tantalising and tasteful.
With a streamlined silhouette and gem encrusted sensual curves, the Tubetto collection from de Grisogono combines architectural volumes with the sublime elegance that the brand is renowned for. It's no wonder that the eternally stylish Sarah Jessica Parker donned the black diamond Tubetto ring for her Harper's Bazaar cover shot earlier this year.
The Fusion cuff from Brazilian wunderkind Fernando Jorge is the epitome of monochromatic chic with the jagged black rhodium and black diamonds jutting out from the smooth, marbled howlite. It is the kind of piece that will add an edge to any outfit, be it a pair of battered jeans and leather jacket, or a full-length ball gown.
Similarly, the geometric spikes and sharp edges in Nikos Koulis' Spectrum collection look even more formidable when cradling a classic white pearl in a pair of stud earrings. Koulis' passion for dramatic and avant-garde design is evident in the black diamond and rhodium ring, with its almost menacing proportions offset by the white diamond baguettes on the shoulders.
Another incredibly versatile piece is this star-studded necklace from Kismet, the jewellery brand set up by Turkish designer Milka Karaagacli. Let a constellation of black diamond stars gently trickle down your neck and complete the galaxy with a pair of earrings featuring the same motif.
For jewellery designer Joanne Fiske, the pull of the black diamond was so strong that she decided to set up a jewellery line focused solely on the dark gems. Thirteen31 is currently available at Broken English and Maxfield in Los Angeles and Louis of Boston. The designs combine a dark and daring aesthetic with a timeless quality inspired by Joanne's grandfather who, as a stone-setter for Cartier and Tiffany, created jewels for screen legend Elizabeth Taylor. This gorgeously gothic ring, with a whopping 7 carat pear-shaped black diamond centre stone, would make a fabulous engagement ring for an unconventional bride-to-be looking for an edgy alternative to the white diamond solitaire.
Also known as carbonados diamonds, because of their resemblance to charcoal, black diamonds are among the rarest in the world. The history behind the black diamond is almost as mysterious and alluring as the gemstone itself. No black gems have ever been found in any diamond mines anywhere in the world. They are all alluvial, meaning they are found in river beds and lakes or deposited amongst the soil. Some scientists believe that black diamonds were formed through a stellar explosion in outer space and fell onto earth as meteorites. A more common hypothesis is that the gemstones, which have been found only in Brazil and the Central African Republic, were created through high-pressure conditions inside the Earth some 3.5 billion years ago and then pushed to the surface through volcanic eruptions.
There are many myths surrounding these extraordinary stones. In India, black diamonds were seen as cursed because they resembled the eyes of snakes and spiders. By contrast, the Italians used the gemstone as a form of marriage counselling, as it was believed that a fighting couple could save their relationship simply by touching the diamond.
Myths aside, what cannot be denied is the magnetism and appeal that the black diamond continues to exert.