If you’re looking for an alternative center stone for your engagement ring, salt and pepper diamonds might be on your radar. Salt and pepper diamonds provide a sense of individuality to wearers, and we can absolutely understand why couples are drawn to these spicy stones with many of the same perks as standard diamonds. They’re a great option for brides who want to stand out among the crowd, reminding us that there is beauty in imperfection and to love our partners unconditionally–flaws and all. There are several reasons couples choose these quirky diamonds, such as uniqueness, eco-friendliness, price, and more. Are these scrumptious stones for you? Let’s dive into what makes them so easy to love.
So is a salt and pepper diamond a real diamond? It’s a fair question, considering how different they look from your typical white diamond. Lovers of these well-seasoned stones will be happy to know that salt and pepper diamonds are just as much diamonds as the typical colorless ones we know and love! In fact, salt and pepper diamonds are just heavily included diamonds: these inclusions give them a speckled white, black, and gray appearance that’s ideal for the modern bride. There isn’t just one type of inclusion that gives salt and pepper diamonds their distinguished appeal, but rather a large variety of different inclusions that can make up their patterns and colors. They can contain trace amounts of graphite, hematite, or pyrite that create those signature black and white peppered patterns that some couples adore. For example, graphite and other carbon deposits give a salt and pepper diamond that darker, “peppered” look, whereas diamonds may look cloudy or hazy when full of nitrogen or other impurities that cause changes to the stone’s crystal structure. So when it comes to potential patterns, the possibilities are limitless!
When most couples think of diamonds, they imagine an eye clean, colorless stone. But, salt and pepper stones take that vision and turn it on its head with large inclusions that are actually considered desirable, creating a host of dazzling swirls, splotches, and other designs to amp up the uniqueness of your center stone. So yes: a salt and pepper diamond is a true diamond, and these stones are swiftly rising in popularity! Next, let’s look at a few reasons why couples are gravitating toward salt and pepper diamonds.
Salt and pepper diamonds offer an entirely new take on the classic sparkle of a white diamond. Unlike traditionally sought out diamonds–which are beloved for their flawless sparkle–the imperfections of salt and pepper stones are what make them so special! In fact, salt and pepper diamonds don’t typically “sparkle” the way we’d expect. Instead, their facet patterns help them “glitter” and provide a more organic display of subtle white flashes as light bounces off of their facets.
Also, who doesn’t love a stone with a one-of-a-kind personality? Salt and pepper diamonds have that in spades! Their various inclusions are like fingerprints: no two salt and pepper diamonds look exactly the same, meaning your engagement ring will be entirely unique if you choose one of these mischievous stones. From milky, galaxy formations, to dark, broody displays of black and gray, to icy white or dreamy silvers, there are several color variations to choose from when it comes to salt and pepper diamonds. They can also vary in opacity, meaning some stones will look more translucent while others offer a more milky look where you can’t see entirely through the diamond. With so many options to choose from, you can rest assured your chosen salt and pepper diamond will stand out among the crowd—even in a crowd of fellow black and white stones!
Because salt and pepper diamonds are heavily included—we like to think of them as perfectly imperfect—they require fewer resources to mine when compared to traditional diamonds. As such, they’re slightly more eco-friendly than standard mined diamonds and create a smaller environmental footprint during their processing. Eco-conscious couples who still want a diamond may prefer the diminished impact of salt and pepper diamonds over white and colored diamonds.
For our budget-conscious buyers, you’ll be happy to know that salt and pepper diamonds cost a bit less than their white or colored counterparts. Having more inclusions means that salt and pepper diamonds don’t garner the same high prices as near-flawless white diamonds, so those pretty inclusions can save you a pretty penny in the long run! A 1 carat mined salt and pepper stone can cost anywhere from $1,200 to $3,600, offering a bit of a discount compared to the $7,000-$10,000 price range for a 1 carat traditional colorless, mined diamond. So, why not save some of your diamond budget by purchasing a saucy salt and pepper stone and putting that extra cash toward a honeymoon somewhere warm and tropical?
That glittering personality and non-traditional sparkle make salt and pepper diamonds perfect for lesser-seen diamond cuts! In fact, most popular brilliant cuts are designed to hide inclusions, which kind of defeats the purpose of choosing a salt and pepper stone with all those lovely little imperfections. While salt and pepper stones still look great as a classic round brilliant, they’re dazzling in cuts that feature fewer facets and create uninterrupted planes where you can stare deeply into those mesmerizing salt and pepper patterns.
Rose cuts are a popular choice for these diamonds, as the domed cut gives ample space for viewing those unique color formations. Step cuts like emerald as well as some kite shapes are also ideal for salt and pepper diamonds, producing long facets and a geometric silhouette perfect for showing off the unconventional beauty of these diamonds. All this being said, salt and pepper diamonds come in a host of shapes, so be sure to look at multiple silhouettes to figure out which one best fits your aesthetic!
While salt and pepper diamonds are the same as white diamonds, their inclusions do make them a little less durable than their sparkling cousins. Because they share a similar carbon structure, these black and white stones boast the same solid 10 on the Mohs scale as other diamonds, making them superheros against scratching. However, because they’re heavily included with some of these inclusions reaching the surface of the stone, it invites more opportunities for chipping, breaking, and other damage if not properly taken care of.
With that being said, since diamonds are hard and durable, we still rate salt and pepper diamonds as suitable for daily wear in an engagement ring. Plus, with proper care, surface reaching inclusions rarely cause issues in the long run! To assist you in finding suitable stones, our team can walk you through the process of finding a salt and pepper diamond with inclusions that are the most suitable for daily wear.
Over time, salt and pepper stones show less wear and tear than other diamonds due to their included personality. But, that’s no excuse to neglect your ring, and you should still take good care of your diamond to ensure it lasts a lifetime! Monthly cleanings can help remove any dirt or grime from your setting and any small surface chips to maintain that glittering appeal.
You should also always remove your ring when showering, cleaning, washing dishes, doing yard work, or performing any other activity where your ring may come into contact with harsh chemicals. As we mentioned before, salt and pepper stones can sometimes be slightly more delicate than other diamonds depending on their inclusions. As such, it helps to avoid any sudden contact with hard surfaces in addition to keeping your ring clean and debris-free. You may even want to consider a bezel or halo setting if you identify more with a bull in a china shop than a graceful swan (we feel your pain!) just to keep your salt and pepper diamond looking as lovely as the day you first laid eyes on it.
Salt and pepper stones are a truly fascinating variety of diamond: no two will ever be the same, much like no two love stories are ever exactly alike! If you’re looking for something a little avant garde or a fresh take on the classic white diamond, salt and pepper diamonds offer similar durability and longevity for just a fraction of the price. The sky’s the limit when it comes to all the creative ways you can add salt and pepper diamonds to your engagement ring, and we recommend taking a look at our inspiration gallery to jumpstart your search.
CustomMade designs and creates one-of-a-kind, custom engagement rings and fine jewelry. Each piece we create is inspired by you, designed for you, and made just for you.