Last updated on December 26, 2022
Salt and pepper diamonds are one of the most distinctive stones in the family of fancy colour diamonds. Due to their one-of-a-kind pattern and shades, these stones have been gaining popularity over the last few years. In this buying guide, you will find out what gives these diamonds their unique look and how to choose one for your jewellery.
What Are Salt and Pepper Diamonds?
Since natural diamonds form under extreme heat and pressure deep within the earth and their growth takes between one to three billion years, only rare diamonds emerge in flawless condition.
Most of them are imperfect and contain different types of inclusions, which affect a diamond’s appearance, internal structure, clarity grade, and price as a result. While some diamonds are less included than others, there are heavily included stones, informally called salt and pepper diamonds.
The term “salt and pepper” refers to diamonds that are heavily included with large and visible white (salt) and/or black (pepper) crystals, giving them a silky and speckled appearance.
Black inclusions are usually caused by carbon deposits, often in the form of graphite, and make the diamond look darker. White inclusions are caused by various flaws in the diamond’s crystal structure, such as nitrogen and other impurities, that make a diamond look cloudier and hazier.
It is worth mentioning that salt and pepper diamonds are fairly environment-friendly compared to flawless diamonds. The reason for this is that it takes less mining to find salt and pepper diamonds than clear diamonds.
Salt and Pepper Diamonds Colour and Clarity
While both colourless diamonds and salt and pepper diamonds are formed the same way, they differ when it comes to evaluating their quality characteristics. Standard diamonds are graded on colour, clarity, cut and carat weight; however, salt and pepper diamonds are not graded and come without certification.
In general, diamonds are rarely perfect. Most of them have some level of flaws. However, in salt and pepper diamonds, inclusions are a distinctive feature that gives their unique look and different sort of value that is not broken down into the diamond clarity scale.
The colour of a salt and pepper diamond depends on the number and type of white and black inclusions. There is an unlimited array of salt and pepper diamonds, varying from nearly clear with few marks to creamy, cloudy grey, stormy, marbled and almost black stones. The more included the diamond, the darker and more salt and peppery it looks.
Salt and Pepper Diamonds Cut and Carat Weight
While colourless diamonds are cut to maximize their brilliance and sparkle, salt and pepper diamonds are cut to bring out their unique inclusions and patterns.
The sparkle in salt and pepper diamonds is heavily reduced because of the high number of inclusions, which is why diamond cutters often choose fancy cuts such as hexagons, kites, coffins, triangles and others for these stones. Rough or raw salt and pepper diamonds are other popular options, usually used in custom-made bohemian settings.
Since salt and pepper diamonds are more common than high-clarity stones, they are more affordable than traditional colourless diamonds, meaning they are easy to find in larger sizes at a good price.
Are Salt and Pepper Diamonds Durable?
Regardless of their fancy look, salt and pepper diamonds rank 10 on the Mohs hardness scale like regular diamonds. However, because of the high number of inclusions, salt and pepper diamonds can be more fragile and prone to chipping than regular ones.
In simple words, inclusions can compromise the structural integrity of the stone. However, if the diamond is treated with proper care, it will last for generations. This also means that it is not recommended to clean salt and pepper diamonds in ultrasonic cleaners as ultrasound vibrations can affect the internal flaws and crack the stone.
Featured image: RP designs / Shutterstock