Best Black Gemstones Used in Jewellery
Black is an achromatic colour, and those who like to flaunt it in fashion are always making a bold statement of their own. In jewellery, black gemstones are still a unique, eye-catching option with their sleek, elegant and sophisticated features. Unlike the past, when these gemstones were majorly associated with darkness, negativity or gothic vibes, black gems today are a bold and confident style statement.
Trendy gemstone jewellery
, when beautifully crafted with black gems, look incredibly stylish and modern. Not limited to only female ornaments, black gemstones are a gender-neutral option that suits males equally as well. These gems are often paired with white metals for a contemporary touch or else with yellow as well as rose gold for a vintage, classic feel. Having said that, it is evident for these gemstones to become popular in the market of gemstone jewellery. However, with a broader array of black gemstones to choose from, it becomes quite challenging to find the right one for yourself. So, to reduce your worries, here is a list of some top black gems for you to choose for your jewellery.
Onyx, the most traditional black gem, has been used since antiquity for making jewellery and also as a healing stone. A solid black onyx is often smooth with a vitreous lustre but is not that shiny like other gemstones. The stone’s brilliance is maximized when cut into a cabochon shape. Solid black onyx is very rare in nature, and most of the onyx found in the market are often dyed to achieve a solid black colour and produce even saturation.
The black onyx gem is relatively durable with hardness level 7 on the Mohs scale. It is relatively tough with very decent wearability. However, when handled roughly, the stone can chip or crack. In the past, onyx gems used to be highly valuable. Today they are not that expensive and are counted among the minor gemstones.
Pearls in all colours are beautiful and elegant, but the black varieties are magically attractive. Natural black pearls are scarce and require special conditions to form. Hence, they fall among the most valuable types of pearls. Black pearls come in a variety of degrees of black, from solid to light grey. They are fashionable and favoured in jewellery for their shimmering glow that gives the gemstone an added lustre.
Most black pearls are cultured, meaning that people farm them over several years, such as the varieties of Black Akoya, Tahitian and Black Freshwater pearls. Like other organic gemstones, black pearls are also very soft, with a ranking of mere 2.5 on the Mohs scale. Due to their softness, they are easily scratched and abraded. Black pearls are not ideal for everyday wear and when used in jewellery, need specific care being a delicate gemstone.
Obsidian (also known as Volcanic Glass) is a natural glass-like gem that forms when lava cools and hardens rapidly, minimizing the creation of crystal structures. Obsidian is smooth with a very high lustre and is one of the oldest gemstones to be discovered as well as used during the prehistoric times. It has been used to make essential cutting tools, mirrors and jewellery.
Obsidian is often cut in the manner of a cabochon to maximize its glassy lustre, but it may also be faceted for added depth and character. Although it seems like a tough stone, obsidian ranks at 5.5 of hardness on the Mohs scale and can be said to be reasonably soft. If exposed to rough wear or blows, the stone gets easily scratched and is prone to breakage. Yet with proper care, obsidian jewellery can last longer. Obsidian is used to create glamorous pieces as it suits all sorts of jewellery.
Once compared to ‘sealing wax’ and considered worthless for jewellery, black diamonds are highly sought after gems of today and are frequently seen on runways as well as in high-end fashion designs. Black diamonds are made of carbon but get their colour from the high number of minuscule inclusions present in the stone which is mostly graphite. Natural black diamonds are quite rare and only found in Brazil and the Central Africa Republic. They are the toughest among the diamond varieties, (with Mohs rating 10) and very durable. However, some of them may contain tiny fractures that can compromise the integrity of the gem.
Black diamonds don’t sparkle like other colourless varieties, but they do reflect light with a subdued brilliance. They are very expensive due to their extreme rarity. Hence, treated or synthetic versions are much more affordable and accessible on the market. Black diamonds are found in only one grade – Fancy. These black gems are not valued on clarity, but rather on inclusions.
Sapphires are popularly blue, but they come in beautiful black varieties as well. Black ones are translucent or almost opaque in appearance. Mined majorly in Australia, black sapphires are considered less valuable and affordable gemstones. Black sapphires are very rare. All of them may not be necessarily black but rather come in other extreme dark hues, like dark purplish, dark bluish, or any other shade that makes them look black. While black sapphires are not brilliant, they can reflect light if well-faceted.
Black star sapphires are the highly sought after variety which can command high prices. These contain tiny thread-like inclusions in the crystal, typically of the minerals rutile or hematite. When cut in the manner of a cabochon and viewed under direct light, these inclusions create a star-like effect, called asterism. Black sapphires and black star sapphires are also part of the corundum mineral family. They have a Mohs scale rating of 9 which means they are incredibly durable stones and ideal for everyday jewellery.
Black jet is another organic black gemstone, which is a variety of bituminous coal, made of fossilized wood. Due to its similarities to amber, it is also sometimes known as Black Amber. Similarities like both the stones are warm to the touch, highly flammable and contain electrostatic properties.
Black jet became very popular during the Victorian Era when it was generally used for mourning jewellery. It also enjoyed fame during the 1920s but then fell out of favour. Jet is a soft gemstone with a Mohs hardness level of 2.5 to 4. It is inevitably not a suitable option for daily wear jewellery
and can be damaged easily. Black jet is a solid coloured gem that absorbs all the light, without reflecting any. It is mostly smooth and lustrous and, when faceted, gets more depth and character.
Black tourmaline is counted among the most frequently used black gemstones available today. Although tourmaline comes in a variety of shades, the black version is one of the most common types of the tourmaline family. It is found across the world in abundance and is a very affordable gemstone.
Black tourmaline has a vitreous lustre and is smooth. Its hardness ranks at 7 to 7.5 on the Mohs scale with excellent durability. Black tourmaline gemstones are relatively sturdy and resistant to breakage, which makes them ideal for all types of jewellery. These black gems come in all shapes and sizes and are favoured for large statement pieces. They are often cut into several shapes, from cabochons to other beautifully faceted pieces.