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Black is the ultimate dark colour that conveys elegance, although strictly speaking it is not truly a colour at all. Black gems, as with any object that is black, do not reflect any visible light.
Coloured gemstones obtain their colour by the way their atoms absorb and reflect different colours of the spectrum.
A red gem, such as a Ruby, absorbs all of the green and blue colours of the spectrum and reflects only the red rays, while colourless gemstones such as Diamonds and Zircon reflect all colours of the spectrum. Black gems on the other hand, absorb all colours and therefore none are reflected back to the eye.
In ancient times, when men wore black they were said to have good sense and fortitude, while single women wearing the colour were said to be fickle and foolish (don’t shoot the messenger! I’m just quoting ancient history: when women wear black today they are not foolish at all, quite the opposite). When married women wore the colour however, it stood for perseverance and constant love. The colour was also associated with Saturdays and the planet Saturn.
Black is also the colour of rebellion, which could be true in the gem world as there are so few gems that are naturally black; indeed, these could be deemed as nature’s rebellions. Only a handful of gems found on Earth are naturally true black: Jet, Haematite and Black Spinel – although the latter is very rare indeed. Black Onyx is actually a Chalcedony, which has been dyed using a technique that is over 2000 years old. The black gem Tektite was created millions of years ago when a meteorite fell to earth and morphed with rocks on the surface of the earth to create one of the few out-of-space gems. Natural Black Diamonds are rarely strictly black, as they nearly always feature dark inclusions which create an appearance similar to that of a black raven feather with a shimmering black lustre.
Black Onyx is usually dyed.
Black Diamonds are created from inclusions.
GIA qualified Gemmologists
Members of the British Jewellery Association
Members of the Coloured Gemstone Assocation