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  • Writer's pictureValerieBound

What are salt and pepper diamonds?

I only recently became aware of salt and pepper diamonds, which I'm a little embarrassed about. I guess they’re incredibly popular! Now, you may be wondering, just like I did, what they are and why people are excited about them. So let’s get right to it!

First off — what are salt and pepper diamonds?

Well, we all know what diamonds are. Sparkly, White. Did I mention sparkly? So, salt and pepper diamonds are more gray. They have tiny blemishes and imperfections inside (in gemologist language, we call these inclusions) that cause their color to change. So, diamonds with white imperfections are the “salt,” and diamonds with the black imperfections are the “pepper.”

Range of color for salt and pepper diamonds. (image courtesy of Alexis Russell)

When I talk to women, they’re always looking for something different, something unique. And these diamonds fit the bill. They’re trending for millennials especially. And I’ve talked to plenty of brides who were so excited to discover these!

If you think about it, they’re traditional enough for people who still want a diamond for their engagement ring, but different enough to show off your style and personality.

A salt and pepper diamond ring from Etsy

Different from traditional diamonds

Salt and pepper diamonds, in another time and place, would have been considered too imperfect to sell. Traditionally, the more internal flaws a diamond has, the lower quality (and price) it was. But salt and pepper diamonds seem unafraid of their flaws, and you can see that some of them are really quite beautiful.

Going with this kind of diamonds gets you out of the 4 C’s (cut, clarity, color, and carat) that most people use when shopping for a diamond ring. Honestly, these will not grade high for color or clarity, and they’re often cut in unique shapes (more on this below). So it’s not really as important to get them graded and evaluated by a laboratory.

A close-up: here you can see the internal flaws

Because of their flaws, these diamonds are often significantly less expensive. I imagine that’s a huge part of their appeal too!

Unique shapes

Diamonds are typically cut to show off the gemstone in the best way. This means these diamonds aren’t always cut like traditional diamonds (round). Many are pear-shaped, and some are even in the rough (not polished and faceted).

Here you can see some of the shapes of salt and pepper diamonds

Diamonds are one of the hardest materials on earth, so you don’t need to worry about your diamond getting chipped or cracked. Whatever shape it’s cut in, it’s very durable.

Unique settings

Another way to make your ring special is the setting. Since these diamonds are so unique, you can show it off with a more traditional setting, or you can make your setting unusual too. Whatever you decide, you should love it!

Rose gold is especially popular right now, and the color is great for all skin tones. You can also use a halo of diamonds to make your diamond really pop.

Check out these two settings – both in rose gold

A marketing gimmick?

There are always going to be people out there who prefer the traditional colorless diamond. And they may think these salt and pepper diamonds are just a clever trick to offload undesirable diamonds. But people can be ridiculously snobby about beauty and taste, and my own view is that if you like it, you should wear it. Think about amethysts. Today, they are considered semi-precious, but a long time ago, they were considered just as rare and valuable as pearls.

Gemstones and metals and settings and styles all come and go. Be true to your own personal style.

What do you think? Have I convinced you to give these diamonds a try?

This post has been updated and edited since it was originally published August 8, 2019.


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