You’ve heard the saying: diamonds are a girl’s best friend.
If you want jewelry with a unique flair, consider getting salt and pepper diamonds. These gorgeous speckled gemstones can spice up your jewelry collection.
In recent years, salt and pepper diamonds have risen in popularity. They are an affordable alternative to traditional diamonds -- you can find them for up to 60% less than the white variety.
These natural stones feature white and black inclusions that elevate their look. Look no further than the extraordinary salt and pepper diamond for something earthy yet ethereal.
Keep reading to learn all about salt and pepper diamonds and see if they’re right for you!
What Are Salt and Pepper Diamonds?
Salt and pepper diamonds are naturally flawed stones with heavy black and white inclusions. These inclusions provide the namesake salt and pepper look. Each salt and pepper diamond has a unique appearance.
As diamonds form, they are exposed to high pressures and temperatures underground. The surrounding elements often imprint on the diamond, leaving imperfections on the surface. These imperfections are called inclusions.
You can find inclusions in any size or color. While almost all diamonds have them, they are usually undetectable to the naked eye.
Salt and pepper stones stand out from regular diamonds because of their noticeable inclusions that add color to the gem.
You can find these diamonds in various colors and shades: some are predominantly white, others are primarily black, but most are a bit of both.
While white diamonds are primarily priced based on clarity, salt and pepper diamonds are priced by translucency. Translucency describes the areas that are clear enough to see through the diamond. Higher translucency corresponds to a higher price, while more opaque stones cost less.
While the inclusions in these natural diamonds reduce the sparkle compared to “purer” options, these gems still shine bright in the right light.
You can find salt and pepper stones in almost any size or design. Typically, jewelry manufacturers will give them a rose-cut shape.
Did You Know?
Salt and pepper diamonds are distinguishable from others because of their look, cut, and culet.
These alternative diamonds have a wild, simple, and mysterious look. The base color can be winter white, milky, silver, dark gray, or black with visible speckles. They come in random combinations of white, black, and gray.
The rarest type of salt and pepper diamond is the galaxy diamond. They are primarily black with speckles of white poking through, so they resemble a galaxy when you look at them closely.
Most salt and pepper diamonds have a rose-cut shape. This cut has a flat back with faceting on top and a relatively low profile. The large surface area of this classic style showcases the diamond’s brilliance.
Many people prefer a rougher cut to emphasize the wild nature of these diamonds. No matter your taste, you can find a ring that suits your style.
Culets are flat faces on the bottom of diamonds that make the gem more durable. A diamond’s cleavage plane is parallel to the octahedral sides, so damaging the tip can split the entire rock. Salt and pepper diamonds usually have large culets.
Choosing a Salt & Pepper Diamond
The diamond industry grades gemstones based on the four Cs: carat, clarity, color, and cut. Due to the unique nature of salt and pepper diamonds, they are graded differently.
Salt and pepper diamond rings are widely available and relatively inexpensive, so they’re found in any carat size. A standard diamond will increase in cost with larger weights. Contrarily, salt and pepper diamonds have a much lighter price increase.
If you’re ring shopping, you can get a larger ring for much less with a salt and pepper diamond.
Clarity describes the number of inclusions a diamond has. The higher the clarity, the more you can see through the diamond. If the diamond has greater transparency, it will cost more than one that appears more opaque.
Salt and pepper diamonds always have inclusions, so clarity is less relevant. They are graded based on translucency. If the diamond has higher translucency, it will cost more.
Inclusions form due to exposure to other elements. The more minerals in a salt and pepper diamond, the higher the opacity. Some minerals found in salt and pepper diamonds are hematite, graphite, and pyrite.
Salt and pepper diamonds are various shades of black, white, and gray. Usually, they lie somewhere on the grayscale. They can have black or white inclusions, and the base colors can be:
- Icy white
- Milky white
- Light gray
- Medium gray
- Dark gray
These diamonds are smokey, speckled, and silky.
Standard diamonds are cut to emphasize their sparkle. Light refracts as it enters the gemstone so it can handle a high profile. However, the inclusions in a salt and pepper diamond do not facilitate light bouncing around inside. As such, they are cut with a flatter shape.
Common cuts are:
Some people want to emphasize the wild nature of this alternative diamond, so they opt for one in its raw form. These diamonds are minimally shaped and suit bohemian-style jewelry. Usually, raw salt and pepper diamond rings are handmade.
Are Salt and Pepper Diamonds Valuable?
Recently, interest has increased in salt and pepper diamonds. As interest in the unique diamond increases, so does the price.
Unlike colorless diamonds, salt and pepper diamonds are priced based on demand. There is generally a large supply of these diamonds, but people do not always want them.
Salt and pepper diamonds are diamonds, and as such, they are valuable. No matter the color, they are rare gemstones. They are simply cheaper than white diamonds because they are not as rare.
Every stone is durable and unique. The naturally-occurring inclusions impact the value. The more dazzling the overall look, the higher the cost. If the imperfections are diverse and intense, people might be willing to spend more on the rock.
One of the most valuable salt and pepper diamond varieties is the galaxy diamond. The black base absorbs a lot of light, but the small white inclusions look like stars in a night sky. This rare design drives up the value compared to other salt and pepper diamonds.
Are Salt and Pepper Diamonds for Me? Pros and Cons & Shopping Tips
Here are some of the pros and cons, as well as a few shopping tips to guide you in your purchase.
Pros & Cons
- Eco-Friendly: The diamond industry is linked to environmental injustice, conflict, and unethical practices. Miners typically sift through 200-250 tons of diamond ore to produce a one-carat diamond, and only 20% of mined diamonds are used as gems. Salt and pepper diamonds are widely available and less rare, which makes them more sustainable than a white diamond.Vast Selection: You can buy a salt and pepper diamond in almost any shade of white or black.
- Versatile: The unique look makes them attractive in different shapes with any metal.
- High Hardness: These diamonds are a ten on the Mohs hardness scale.
- Affordable: Salt and pepper diamonds are some of the most affordable because of their speckled appearance.
- Durability: The minerals in a salt and pepper diamond do not have the same strength as a pure carbon diamond. As a result, this diamond lacks the same durability as a carbon diamond.
- Protective Setting: Due to the reduced strength and durability, you will likely need to place your diamond in the Halo or Bezel setting for protection.
- Unusual Appearance: Salt and pepper diamonds have a wild, smokey, speckled, and mysterious look. This look may not appeal to you.
When shopping for a salt and pepper diamond, remember to purchase it from a reputable jeweler.
Try to find a durable stone. Those with flatter profiles and fewer inclusions will last longer than many others.
Be sure to compare prices, cuts, and settings. While cheaper than a standard diamond, they are still an investment.