by Suzanne Sachs • 5 min read
THE BASICS --
A relative newcomer to the luxury jewelry market, salt and pepper diamonds are instantly eye-catching and distinctive. But what exactly are these unique gems, and how can you be sure of their quality and everlasting appeal?
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW--
In this guide, we will explain the following:
- What is a salt and pepper diamond
- 9 best salt and pepper diamond rings any women can love
- Traditional diamond colors and clarity
- Salt and pepper diamond quality
- Appeal of salt and pepper diamonds
- Proper care for salt and pepper diamonds
- Cleaning and inspections
- Choosing a salt and pepper diamond ring
What Is a Salt and Pepper Diamond?
Salt and pepper diamonds, rather than having minimal flaws, embrace their uniqueness with very visible, abundant inclusions. Often formed from sulfide, graphite, pyrite, or hematite, these inclusions give each stone a flecked or speckled appearance, and no two stones are the same.
The appearance of grains or specks within the stone give these diamonds their spicy name, and they are also known as “dalmatian” or “galaxy” diamonds. The spacing, size, and concentration of inclusions will vary between stones, and can range from just a few specks to a heavily flecked, streaked, or spotted appearance.
The base color of the stone can also vary. While a whiter, brighter stone will show off black specks with brighter contrast, many salt and pepper diamonds have a grayish or gray-brown tone that ranges from pale shades to deeper steel, ash, smoke, or nearly black hues.
9 Best Salt and Pepper Diamond Rings Any Woman Can Love
Traditional Diamond Colors and Clarity
For generations, a flawless, colorless diamond has been the epitome of luxury, class, and quality. Uninterrupted by any flaws or distractions, a diamond is meant to symbolize perfection.
Very few diamonds are truly perfect, however, and nearly every diamond has some sort of inclusion or flaw. Clever cutting, carefully selecting the best diamond shape for the finished stone, increasing the number of overall facets, and treatment options such as coating or filling can all hide imperfections, improving the stone’s clarity and increasing its perceived value.
Salt and pepper diamonds, however, are dramatically different.
Salt and Pepper Diamond Quality?
The idea of a salt and pepper diamond’s quality is more complicated than the grading done to traditional diamonds. Because of the numerous inclusions in a designated salt and pepper stone, these diamonds are not typically given a quality grade, because that scoring would be so very low on the traditional scale.
It is important to note that salt and pepper diamonds are natural, true diamonds, and as such, still rate 10.0 on the Mohs scale of gemstone hardness. This makes the gems very durable, but because of their numerous inclusions, they can be more brittle and susceptible to chips or fractures if accidentally knocked on a hard surface. A well-cut shape, however, as well as a suitable setting, can provide great protection for a salt and pepper diamond.
The color of salt and pepper diamonds is also traditionally “worse” than the most desirable clear shades for classic diamonds, again because of the many inclusions that give these stones their special nature.
The choice between a brighter salt and pepper stone or one with deeper hues strictly a matter of personal preference, though a clearer, more translucent stone cut with broader facets will help the inclusions be more visible, showcasing the stone’s unique character and drawing the eye in to explore its depth and dimension.
Anyone interested in salt and pepper diamonds should also note that because of the light absorbing nature of dark inclusions, these gems generally have less over sparkle and fire than traditional diamonds. Setting a salt and pepper diamond with classic diamond side stones or other accents can create an overall amazing piece with both the unique appeal of the spicy stone as well as the sparkle of amazing, high quality jewelry.
Appeal of Salt and Pepper Diamonds
For many years, salt and pepper diamonds were routinely discarded as invaluable and unusable, or else they were sold only for industrial use as drills or abrasives.
Today, however, many conscientious individuals and couples are looking to salt and pepper diamonds as a more eco-friendly choice for fine jewelry, with less waste and environmental damage to acquire the distinctive stones. Because of their lower value, these stones are also a more socially conscious choice, as they’re less likely to have been used to finance conflicts, insurrections, or terrorist acts and therefore would not be considered blood diamonds.
The uniqueness of salt and pepper diamonds also appeals to many people looking for more distinctive, one-of-a-kind jewelry, particularly if the stones show very unusual patterns or distributions of the internal flaws. While two clear, flawless diamonds could be shaped and cut in such a way as to be indistinguishable from one another, no two salt and pepper diamonds have the same pattern and each one is unique.
The symbolism of salt and pepper diamonds is also attractive, emphasizing the idea that everyone has flaws but rather than hiding or discarding such flaws, they can be celebrated and make us all unique. This symbolism is appealing on many levels, and gives these stones a cherished and personalized meaning. The overall look of the stones invites mystery and unpredictability, both engaging qualities for a very individual and stunning piece.
Finally, because of their lower “traditional” quality, salt and pepper diamonds can be much more affordable than classic diamonds. This is especially true for larger stones with higher carat weights, which makes salt and pepper diamonds popular for statement pieces such as cocktail rings.
Proper Care for Salt and Pepper Diamonds
Because of their inclusions, salt and pepper diamond rings do require delicate care to ensure the stones are not damaged by improper cleaning or maintenance. Like any diamond, it is best to remove a salt and pepper piece before working with any harsh chemicals or using equipment that might damage the stone through an accidental knock or other rough contact. These stones should also be stored separately from other jewelry so different pieces do not rub together.
When choosing any diamond, regardless of its color or how many flaws it may have, it is important to take great care to select a high quality stone. While salt and pepper diamonds are not graded as clearly as classic diamonds, a well-cut stone will still have symmetrical facets and attractive geometry. The shape of the stone should be balanced, and the edges crisp without surface nicks or scratches that can make additional damage more probable.
• Cleaning and Inspections
When cleaning salt and pepper diamonds, avoid harsh abrasives or ultrasonic cleaners that might further accentuate any splits or fractures. Instead, use only gentle cleaners and a soft brush to keep the stones clean. Frequent cleaning can keep dirt, dust, and oils from building up and dulling the stone, and regular inspections by an experienced jeweler can ensure the setting remains firm and the stone is secure.
Salt and pepper diamonds can be set in any metal, though because of their black-and-white distinction, they are more often set in white metals such as white gold, silver, or platinum. This will help brighten the stone so the inclusions are more readily visible, though yellow gold is always a popular choice for any fine jewelry.
While these diamonds are growing in popularity, they can still be difficult to find. Many major chain retailers do not carry salt and pepper diamonds, but independent jewelers and online retailers are more likely to have a wider selection. These stones can also be found in antique and vintage pieces, or may be used by independent artisans for custom work.
Choosing a Salt and Pepper Diamond Ring
Salt and pepper diamond rings are distinctive and unique, exactly what many individuals are looking for in fine jewelry. Furthermore, the socially and environmentally friendly nature of the jewelry makes it even more desirable, as well as its relative affordability. By better understanding salt and pepper diamonds, anyone interested in these stunning gems can find the perfect stone to suit their style.
Antique Engagement Rings For Everyone:
No matter which era is your favorite, these time-honored rings have a rich history and individualized character and will continue to have a timeless beauty and elegant appeal that is part of a legacy to pass on to future generations.
Find The Perfect Engagement Ring:
Antique diamond cuts are prized not only for their beauty but also for their exquisite attention to detailing and faceting. If you’re looking for a ring with a sense of glamour, sophistication and vintage charm, explore our collection of salt and pepper diamond rings today!