If you’re looking for a stylish and unique gemstone for your jewelry, look no further than black gemstones. In the past, black gemstones were often associated with sorrow and death, but today, these stones have gained a new reputation – they’ve become a sleek and fashionable choice.
Black gemstones overall tend to suit any skin tone and gender and the neutral hue goes with any outfit. The statement look of black gemstone jewelry makes even a small piece eye-catching and red-carpet ready, making this a versatile option to have in your jewelry collection.
But with so many black gemstones out there, how do you choose the right one for you? Here’s a look at the top black stones, the type of jewelry they suit and how to choose the right one.
1- Black Diamond
Black Diamond Ring by Shop Clementine. Check Price Here.
Diamonds will always head any list of gemstones because of their exceptional prestige, durability and suitability for daily wear. Black diamonds, which were once considered the pariahs of the jewelry world, are now extremely fashionable, seen on celebrities like Blake Lively, Gwyneth Paltrow and Shenae Grimes.
Unlike colorless diamonds, black diamonds have little sparkle. This is because they’re full of inclusions, typically graphite, which is what gives them their black color. Basically, when you look at a black diamond, you’re looking at a collection of tightly packed inclusions. Although these stones don’t sparkle, they do reflect light which give them subtle yet intriguing brilliance. All black diamonds are graded as Fancy Black – any less and they would be considered salt and pepper diamonds.
Natural high-quality black diamonds are very rare, and so these stones are valuable. You can find lab-created black diamonds which are more affordable, but these don’t have the same value that mined diamonds have. Black diamonds are excellent for daily wear, with exceptional toughness and hardness. They’re one of the best black gemstones for engagement rings.
2- Black Sapphire
Black Sapphire Solitaire Ring by Gemstone King. Check Price Here.
Black sapphires, like black diamonds, are very tough, durable and excellent for wear. They’re much more affordable than black diamonds even though they’re very rare. Although they aren’t brilliant, they reflect light from their opaque body which makes them appear somewhat brilliant.
Black sapphires with certain rutile inclusions can exhibit asterism, which is a star-like appearance on the surface of the stone when hit by light. These specific sapphires are called black star sapphires and are always cut en cabochon to enhance the asterism of the stone.
Overall, black sapphire gemstones are an excellent option for classy black jewelry at an affordable price.
3- Black Pearl
Tahitian Pearl Ring by The Pearl Source. Check Price Here.
Black pearls aren’t ever pitch-black in color. Rather, they range in dark shades from blackish to gray. These stones often have an overtone, which gives the pearl an iridescent sheen on the surface. It’s the overtone of black pearls that can add or take away from the pearl’s beauty and value, with the most sought after being the popular ‘oil-slick’ overtone.
Almost all black pearls on the market come from French Polynesia, which is why they’re called Tahitian pearls. They’re extremely rare and highly valuable even though they’re almost all cultured.
If you’re thinking about a black pearl engagement ring, note that pearls are extremely soft (2.5 Mohs) which, compared to a diamond, is pillow soft. However, pearl rings are becoming popular as Emma Stone’s pearl engagement ring attests to, and with reasonable care, can be worn for many decades.
4- Black Rutilated Quartz
Minimalist Black Rutilated Quartz Ring by The Bea Line. Check Price Here.
Although rutilated quartz is commonly yellow or brown, black varieties are also available. This is a variety of transparent quartz that contains needle-like inclusions of rutile within the stone. So while the stone appears black, it’s not a saturated color.
Rutilated quartz is one of the rare gemstones that are sought after because of their blemishes and flaws. These inclusions are the focal point of the stone, giving the stone its color and character.
Black rutilated quartz is affordable, natural and not enhanced in any way, with most of the supply coming from Brazil and India. With a hardness rating of 7 and good wearability, you won’t find a more unique gemstone for your jewelry.
Snowflake Obsidian by Master Gold Craft. Check Price Here.
Obsidian is a volcanic glass formed from the rapid cooling of hot lava. It’s luster and texture feel like glass, which is why obsidian was used since ancient times to craft things like basic tools. One popular variety is snowflake obsidian, which features flecks of whitish inclusions across the surface. These inclusions resemble snowflakes, hence the name. Pure obsidian is completely black.
Obsidian sits at 5.5 on the Mohs scale, and can easily be scratched and damaged by harder objects. It can shatter or crack if struck a hard blow and has fault lines in its composition (known as cleavage). As such, it needs reasonable maintenance especially if worn daily. Overall, obsidian is an affordable gemstone that makes for impressive jewelry.
6- Black Tourmaline
Black Tourmaline Ring by Torkkeli Jewellery. Check Price Here.
Tourmaline is known as the rainbow gemstone because it comes in all colors, but its black variety is one of the most eye-catching. Black tourmaline is abundant in nature, very affordable and durable. It gets its color from the presence of iron during the stone’s formation.
Like obsidian, black tourmaline also has a glassy luster and a smooth texture and can be faceted or cut en cabochon. It’s particularly popular in use as beads for spiritual jewelry. Because of the relative durability of the stone (7 to 7.5 Mohs) and its very good toughness (resistance to breakage) black tourmaline is one of the best black stones for jewelry.
7- Black Spinel
Spinel Ring by HA Crafts Box. Check Price Here.
Spinel, like tourmaline, comes in a range of rainbow colors, with black being one of its rarest varieties. In general, spinel is a rare gemstone and gem quality material can be hard to find. The gemstone has been used for centuries and due to its very good hardness (8 Mohs) it can be used in all types of jewelry. It’s also suitable for engagement rings as it can resist damage and scratches well enough.
Black spinel has very good luster and is believed to have the best sparkle of all black gemstones. While it’s very similar in appearance to black tourmaline and is often confused with it, black spinel has better brilliance and durability.
Smooth Jet Ring by Yorkshire Jewellery Co. Check Price Here.
Jet is an organic gemstone, like pearl, amber or coral, in that it’s made of a material that was once organic. It’s a variety of bituminous coal which comes from fossilized wood. Jet is known for its striking black color, which is why we often use the phrase jet black. Unlike stones like spinel or tourmaline, jet doesn’t exhibit any sparkle but appears to absorb all light.
During the Victorian era, when mourning jewelry became highly fashionable, jet was sought after and became very popular. However, as this jewelry trend disappeared, so did the popularity of jet.
The issue with all organic gemstones, including jet, is that they’re extremely soft. Jet only ranks 2.5 to 4 on the Mohs scale which is extremely soft. It can easily get damaged when exposed to daily wear and tear.
9- Black Jade
Double Claw Black Jade Ring by Vivid Gems Corp. Check Price Here.
Jade’s most famous color is green, but it comes in a variety of colors including black. The common type of black jade is black jade nephrite, with most sources coming from the US. Black jade has a very tough composition, made up of tightly packed and interlocking microcrystals. This gives jade very good durability that can resist daily wear and tear.
Jade is highly versatile and can be faceted, cut en cabochon or carved. It’s highly valued in East Asia and has a long history as a valuable and powerful gemstone.
10- Black Garnet
Black Garnet Rough by Laurelin Jewelry. Check Price Here.
While garnet is commonly found around the world, black garnet is a much rarer variety. Gem quality material is hard to find. There are two black garnet varieties, black andradite and black melanite, of which black melanite is more commonly used to make jewelry. When used in jewelry, black garnet can be faceted or used in its rough form for a bohemian, mystical look.
Black garnet is very brilliant, with a hard, glittering look. It’s very durable and perfect for daily wear, due to its hardness and toughness. It also makes a good option for engagement rings although finding a quality stone suitable for an engagement ring center stone can be difficult.
Onyx Ring with Diamond Halo By Angara. Check Price Here.
When we say black gemstone, onyx is the stone that tends to come to mind. It’s the quintessential black stone and has been used for centuries for its workable nature and saturated body color. Onyx isn’t lustrous but has a smooth, glassy appearance. It’s durable enough for regular wear with care, ranking at 7 on the Mohs scale. However, because natural onyx is rarely completely black, the gemstone has to be dyed to achieve its perfect black color.
Onyx is quite versatile and can be used together with other gemstones to create intriguing designs. During the Edwardian era, onyx was often paired with diamonds and used as a framing background, like this Edwardian onyx and diamond ring.
12- Black Cat’s Eye Scapolite
Rare Cat’s Eye Scapolite Ring by Quietly Adorned. Check Price Here.
This little-known and rare gemstone is best known for its ability to display chatoyancy – or a cat’s eye effect. When in specific lighting conditions, the reflection of light on the stone results in a line of light that resembles a cat’s eye. This is a rare phenomenon in gemstones and is highly valued.
Most people have never heard of black cat’s eye scapolite and finding quality jewelry with this gemstone can be very difficult. It’s also not a very durable stone, with only a 5.5 to 6 ranking on the Mohs scale. This makes it good for most types of jewelry but not for rings or bracelets that get exposed a fair bit.
13- Black Star Diopside
Star Diopside Ring by Black Tree. Check Price Here.
Black star diopside gemstones are typically cut into cabochons to bring out their most striking feature – the star-like reflection of light that falls across its domed surface. This phenomenon is known as asterism and makes this gemstone a valuable and sought after rock. Like the black cat’s eye scapolite, this gemstone is also quite soft (5.5 Mohs) and should be worn with care.
Because black star diopside is also a little-known stone, finding good jewelry featuring this stone can be difficult.
Best Black Gemstones in Popular Culture
- The use of black gemstones to symbolize death and mourning was popularized by Queen Victoria who frequently wore black gemstones as mourning jewelry after the death of her beloved Prince Albert. In fact, during his funeral, she wore a crown with black gemstones.
- For a long time, black diamonds were compared to sealing wax. In the book Diamond: A Descriptive Treatise, J. R. Sutton wrote, “Ordinary black diamond is not greatly unlike black sealing wax. Opinions differ as to its virtues as a gemstone”.
- In Sex and the City, Mr. Big proposes to Carrie with a 5-carat black diamond ring. When she asks him why black, he says, “Because you’re not like anyone else!”
Best Black Gemstone for Me
If you’re not sure about which black gemstone to choose, these questions will help you narrow down your choice:
- What’s your budget?
- How important is durability to you?
- Do you want a prestigious stone or one that does the job?
- How brilliant do you want the stone to be?
- What style of stone are you after?
If you’re choosing a black gemstone for a piece of jewelry you plan to wear everyday like an engagement or wedding ring, durability is very important. In this case, your best options are – black diamond, black sapphire and black tourmaline.
If you’re on a budget, then opt for black sapphire, black spinel or black tourmaline for the best compromise between durability and budget.
If you’re after a prestigious stone, then it’s got to be black diamond all the way. No other stone has the same prestige. Note that prestige is all societal and is based on perceived value.
For the best brilliance, opt for black spinel or black tourmaline. Black diamonds can also have very good brilliance.
In terms of style, some black gemstones are perfect for bohemian style, relaxed jewelry while others dress up very well. For example, black garnet, rutilated black quartz and snowflake obsidian are ideal for bohemian jewelry. However, this largely depends on the quality of the designer and their ability select the right jewelry setting for the stone.