The history of black diamonds is rich, and some popular black diamonds are shrouded in mystery. Black diamonds were first discovered in 1840 by Brazilians. They were called carbonados. Black diamonds are found almost exclusively in Brazil and the Central African Republic.
Black diamonds formed 2.6 to 3.8 billion years ago and are exceptionally rare. Black diamonds are a natural polycrystalline diamond and there have been only about three metric tons mined, usually from the beds of streams.
Different cultures held differing beliefs about black diamonds. In India, black diamonds were considered cursed because they resemble the eyes of snakes and spiders. However, in Italy it was thought that simply touching a black diamond could help save the marriage of a couple who were in need of reconciliation. It was believed that the problems of the couple would enter into the stone when the couple touched it. As legend has it the Karloff Noir diamond is an 88 carat black diamond that gives a person good luck, fortune, and happiness when it is touched.
Louis XVIII is said to have owned a fine black diamond. He was said to have paid a large sum for the stone. In 1874, the Duke of Brunswick was a connoisseur of coloured diamonds. He claimed to own no less than 5 black diamonds in a variety of colours and sizes.
Throughout most of the 19th and 20th centuries, jewellers regarded the black diamond as too difficult to cut and polish. It was deemed to be best suited for industrial use and was thought of as being mostly unsuitable for jewellery.
One famous black diamond is the Black Orlov diamond. It is a dark steely grey coloured 67 carat diamond. The history of this stone is uncertain. There is a legend that the stone was originally a massive 195 carats. It was supposedly set into an idol somewhere around the area of Pondicherry, India. However, it was stolen by a monk. Another legend says that it belonged to the Russian Princess Nadia Orlov. She fled Russia after the revolution and she may have sold this diamond to gain money for her travels.
Eventually, black diamonds did earn more popularity. In 1996, the founder and head of the Swiss jewellery house de Grisogono released a collection of black diamond jewellery and watches. This helped to usher in an appreciation for black diamond jewellery. Black diamonds are used in both mens and womens jewellery today.