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What to Look for in Salt & Pepper Diamonds


Salt and pepper diamonds have a unique beauty and splash of personality to go along with their name. The term ‘salt and pepper’ refers to the look of a particular diamond that features a mix of black and white inclusions. This mix creates one unique diamond after another with smoky and smooth speckled looks.

When considering a salt and pepper diamond engagement ring, you’re guaranteed a truly one of a kind look with extra special flare and personality. But as with all varieties of diamonds, there are special considerations and important information to know before you buy. So let’s break down what you need to look for when choosing your salt and pepper diamond.

How Salt and Pepper Diamonds Get Their Look

Salt and pepper diamonds achieve their unique look due to the natural occurrence of inclusions in their crystal structure. Inclusions play an important role in all diamonds. For salt and pepper diamonds, there isn’t one single inclusion that is responsible for their unique look. Instead, a myriad of different types of inclusions can be present, creating a countless variety of looks in a salt and pepper diamond.

Depending on these inclusions, salt and pepper diamonds will vary quite a bit from one to the other. Spanning the spectrum, they can be close to black, dark or light gray, milky, and even almost colorless. In some instances, they can even have green, yellow, orange, or red hues. But to be a salt and pepper diamond, inclusions must be a key, prominent feature.

The rarest of all salt and pepper diamonds has an extra special moniker: the galaxy diamond. What distinguishes the galaxy diamond within this family of diamonds is its particular look and cut. The look itself is reminiscent of a galaxy meaning the body color is more of a dark gray to black to represent the inky depths of space. It then appears to be dotted with thousands of white flecks resembling stars.

The cut of a galaxy diamond is the other unique aspect. Gem cutters most often cut salt and pepper diamonds in a rose cut, which has a flat bottom, since retention of carat weight is not usually a concern. For galaxy diamonds, they are cut exactly like a traditional diamond, so the stone has a culet, the term for the bottom part of the diamond where the facets come together in a point. This type of culet allows for less light to escape, enhancing the diamond’s brilliance.

The 4Cs of Salt and Pepper Diamonds

When evaluating the quality of a diamond, most people are familiar with the term ‘the 4Cs.’ This term describes the attributes on which a diamond is judged for quality: clarity, color, cut, and carat. For salt and pepper diamonds though, the 4Cs play a different role in determining value. These diamonds are evaluated based on the inclusions being a standout feature of the gemstone. Since most colorless diamonds have clarity evaluated on the basis of lack of inclusions, this is the exact opposite.

The clarity in salt and pepper diamonds is not a concern in the traditional sense because the presence of inclusions is the main appeal. Subtle distributions of black and white inclusions give the stone its unique look. They usually consist of opaque minerals like graphite, hematite, and pyrite. And the larger the number of black inclusions, the more gray or dark the stone will appear.

The color of the body of the diamond itself will also have an affect on the overall look of a salt and pepper diamond. Acting almost like a colored diamond, the body color of this particular diamond ranges from being colorless to milky, to having hints of yellow or green, to gray. So a darker body color combined with darker inclusions will result in a darker overall diamond appearance, and vice versa.

The cut of salt and pepper diamonds will differ from traditional diamonds as well. The standard practice is to cut to enhance a diamond’s brilliance. However, the high number of inclusions in salt and pepper diamonds means that the brilliance is naturally quite reduced. To enhance this diamond’s beauty, stones are cut to highlight the unique patterns and inclusions in the stones. For this reason, fancy cuts are quite common, including step cuts, rose cuts, and geometric shapes like hexagons, kites, pears, and triangles.

The carat size of salt and pepper diamonds has quite the range. These stones are affordable and available, and can easily be found in larger sizes. They also differ from traditional diamonds in how the price increases with the increase in carat weight. Whereas pricing for traditional diamonds follow an exponential scale, salt and pepper diamonds will stay more even as carat size and cost both increase.


Are Salt and Pepper Diamonds Valuable?

Salt and pepper diamonds have been on the rise in popularity for many years. But while demand can stay relatively high, salt and pepper diamonds are not nearly as rare as other colored diamonds. This means that their price is usually going to be market-driven instead of supply-driven.

When deciding the value of a salt and pepper diamond, they are mostly judged on the diversity and intensity of their inclusions and the overall look they give each individual diamond. And while many people consider salt and pepper diamonds to be a rough or rustic diamond variety, they are not because these stones are cut, faceted, and polished.  

Now, these are still diamonds, so they will always carry the level of value that comes with that distinction. Ensuring that you make the best investment when it comes to a salt and pepper diamond will have different considerations than with more traditional diamonds. But because it is a diamond, it will always be valuable and rare.

As with all diamond selections, choosing a diamond within specific quality recommendations that appeals the most to you is always our advice. And with salt and pepper diamonds, you have a vast selection of colors and inclusion density that will create spectacularly unique pieces every time.

The top concern with the quality of a salt and pepper diamond has to do with its inclusions. Since large inclusions can affect the durability and strength of a diamond, it’s important to discuss this feature with a trusted jeweler to make sure you get the look you want in a durable stone. They can help you understand if a salt and pepper diamond was cut in a way to both enhance the effect of the inclusions and not compromise the integrity of the stone.

Another consideration for choosing your salt and pepper diamond is how it will be mounted. These diamonds are extremely versatile because of their unique look, so they can work very well with all color metals and other gemstones.

And while these stones do rank a 10 on the Mohs Hardness Scale just as traditional diamonds, because of their inclusions, they could break or chip if they sustain a hard blow. However, choosing a slightly more protective setting, like a halo or bezel, will help ensure the longevity of the piece.

The unique look and personality of the salt and pepper diamond makes them a special standout in the world of diamonds. Their versatility means they are perfect to enjoy as engagement rings or casual rings. They pair well with other diamonds, gemstones, and metal bands making them ideal for engagement rings and as stacking rings to create a personalized look. With no two ever looking the same, the options with salt and pepper diamonds are truly endless.


Have questions? We're happy to help.



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