All About Salt and Pepper Diamonds

One of the stones that I love working with in my jewelry designs is salt and pepper diamonds. But what exactly are salt and pepper diamonds?

To understand salt and pepper diamonds, you need to first learn a little bit about how diamonds are formed. Diamonds were formed 3 billion years ago deep within the earth’s crust. Extreme heat and pressure caused carbon molecules to crystalize, forming diamonds. Then, volcanic activity would bring rocks bearing diamonds to the surface where they are mined today.

You have probably heard of the 4 Cs of diamond grading. One of the C’s is clarity. It measures how visible the inclusions are in a diamond. Inclusions are imperfections within the stone that range from white spots (salt) black carbon (pepper), feathers, clouds and chips. Salt and pepper diamonds happen to have a lot of these inclusions, which is what makes them special and unique. When you look at the inclusions within a salt and pepper diamond, you are seeing what was trapped within that stone when it was formed 3 billion years ago.

Another difference between traditional white diamonds and salt and pepper diamonds is how they are cut to reflect light. With a traditional white diamond, the goal is to reflect light outward. Stones are cut to capture light, bounce it around the stone’s facets and reflect it back out as brilliant sparkle. In a salt and pepper diamond, the goal is to pull you in to appreciate the unique inclusions, color tones and variability within the stone. Salt and pepper diamonds can also range from opaque to translucent, impacting how you perceive the inclusions within the stone.

The video on the right shows a custom salt and pepper diamond engagement ring that I designed for a client. One of my favorite things about this particular diamond is that it has large areas of translucency that allow you to appreciate the carbon inclusions within the stones. They appear to be floating in glass. As you observe the stone from different angles, you perceive the stone differently. It is both light and dark and draws you in to observe more closely.

While every diamond is unique, only salt and pepper diamonds are visibly unique. They each contain their own world within. Salt and pepper diamonds aren’t graded by the 4 Cs and don’t aspire to be anything but what they are - perfectly imperfect.  

I think that’s a big part of why these stones appeal to me. They are an honest reflection of nature and all that went into creating that gem. I love the idea of finding the inherent beauty in something the way nature created it and I try to let that concept guide my life and my jewelry designs.

A salt and pepper diamond engagement ring set in 14k rose gold and accented by french-set white diamonds.

I hope you enjoyed learning a little bit more about these unique stones. If you have any questions or want to learn more, please contact us!