Why Buy Salt and Pepper Diamonds?

Posted by gabi dvir on

Depending on the cut, size, and impurities present diamonds can come in a variety of interesting styles.

And it's also often the case that the purer gems are the least interesting to look at, even though they may be the most expensive. If you are looking for a more reasonably priced diamond piece with a more unique look then salt and pepper diamonds might be worth considering.

So what are salt and pepper diamonds and what do you need to know about them?



Salt and pepper diamonds are diamonds with white and black inclusions that look like salt and pepper trapped in the diamond.

The overall color of the diamond ends up being a shimmering silky gray color that can be very attractive and unique. Due to the salt and pepper flaws in the diamond, these gems tend to be inexpensive, so they are also a good choice if you are on a budget.


While they are relatively cheap that doesn't mean that these diamonds make for inferior jewelry. Two pure diamonds of the same size and cut placed side-by-side will be practically identical.

Salt and pepper diamonds, on the other hand, are unique with no two being identical. If you like to emphasize individuality over conformity then these diamonds are a great choice to do that.

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- Are salt and pepper diamonds flawed diamonds?


That really depends on your definition of a flaw, but these diamonds get their unique look from inclusions inside the diamond. These are usually parts of the diamond that may have formed a different crystalline structure from that found in a pure diamond or may involve fractures or impurities in the diamond.


There are two basic types of inclusions. The first type is called a syngenetic diamond inclusion and is created while the diamond is being formed. The second type of inclusion is the epigenetic diamond inclusion, which occurs after a diamond is formed.


These inclusions are also known as imperfections, impurities, flaws, and sometimes birthmarks. Imperfections on the outside of a diamond are known as blemishes.

Diamonds are generally examined using a magnifying device at ten times magnification to determine if there are any flaws in them. If they have no visible flaws at this magnification level then they are classified as flawless diamonds.


- What are the impurities that give these diamonds their salt and pepper look?


The black "pepper" is usually caused by carbon deposits, often in the form of graphite. These are parts of the diamond that didn't get enough pressure or heat in the original piece of carbon the diamond was formed from to allow them to fully crystallize as a diamond.


The white "salt" is caused by various flaws in the diamond's crystal structure, and may also be caused by nitrogen or other impurities in the diamond. These flaws generally occur as pinpoint inclusions, though some may take the shape of feathery or cloudy areas.

Most clear diamonds also have them, but they are usually too small to see with the naked eye and don't significantly affect the value of the gem.

- Are salt and pepper diamonds environmentally friendly?

Compared to flawless diamonds, salt and pepper diamonds are fairly friendly to the environment. The reason for this is simply that it takes less mining to find salt and pepper diamonds versus clear diamonds.

A huge amount of rock and soil needs to be mined from the ground to extract diamonds and only a small number of diamonds qualify as clear or flawless. Most diamonds harvested have some kind of inclusions that make them less valuable.

This means that the amount of mining required to find a given salt and pepper diamond is far less than the amount required to find a given clear diamond, with less of the environment disturbed in the process. Something to bear in mind if you care about the natural environment that keeps us all alive.


- Are salt and pepper diamonds conflict free?

Because diamond mines are often found in third world countries and in remote locations with poor local populations many of these mines have unscrupulous work practices. Some have also been seized by revolutionary or criminal groups and used to fund their often illegal and immoral operations. Diamonds mined from these places are generally known as "conflict diamonds" or "blood diamonds".


Most mines produce around the same ratios of clear diamonds and diamonds with inclusions, so you are as likely to find salt and pepper diamonds from unethical suppliers as you are from ethical ones.

Because more diamonds with inclusions are mined from the ground there is a larger supply of them though and as a result, it is easier to acquire ethically mined salt and pepper diamonds than it is to acquire ethically mined clear diamonds.


So if you want to ensure that your diamond jewelry is conflict-free then you will need to buy your jewelry from a supplier that guarantees they are only using ethical diamonds. Some suppliers may also favor using conflict-free salt and pepper diamonds in order to sell more of these common diamonds. This makes it easier to shop around and find ethically sourced diamonds.


- How are salt and pepper diamonds graded?


Clear diamonds are usually graded using the four C's. These are color, cut, clarity, and carat (weight). Fluorescence is also a factor in the grading of diamonds that may affect their value. These factors affect how well a diamond reflects and refracts light to give it the distinct sparkly look that faceted clear diamonds have


Salt and pepper diamonds are not graded like clear diamonds as their look and characteristics are dramatically different. Salt and pepper diamonds have a wild and unruly look to them that gives them a different sort of value that is hard to break down into simple numbers. Generally, it's a matter of "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" with the value of the diamond coming down to how much a potential buyer likes it and is willing to pay for it.


- What is the average cost of a salt and pepper diamond piece?


Prices vary by a great deal so it can be hard to get a straight answer on this but you should generally expect to pay around fifty percent of the cost of a clear diamond for an equivalent salt and pepper diamond jewelry piece. Because they are generally more abundant you can also shop around and find more deals available.


- What sizes and shapes are available for salt and pepper diamonds?


Salt and pepper diamonds largely come in the same sizes and shapes as clear diamonds. Because they are more abundant though there is more potential to find larger diamonds at a good price and you can also find diamonds with a wider range of shapes for the same reason. Because the inclusions in the diamond are part of its charm, unlike a clear diamond the gem cutter won't have to worry as much about cutting out and around flaws in the diamond and can create a wider variety of shapes as a result.


- Why don't salt and pepper diamonds sparkle?


The sparkle in a diamond is the result of light moving through the largest facet at the top (which is known as the "table") through the material of the diamond down to the inside faces of the bottom pavilion sides where it gets reflected back to the crown facets. The light is then dispersed and refracted through the crown facets to give the diamond its brilliant sparkly look.


With salt and pepper diamonds the inclusions cause the light to be dispersed in the diamond and stop it from sparkling as a result. This gives the diamond a different look that has its own shimmering silky gray beauty.


- Are salt and pepper diamonds as strong as normal diamonds?


The inclusions in salt and pepper diamonds make them somewhat weaker compared to clear diamonds, so you should be careful where you wear them. If you are wearing a ring with one of these diamonds then you may want to take it off when you are doing anything that may cause the diamond to impact against something hard. This is good advice for normal diamonds and other gemstones too. Everything breaks eventually if you apply enough persistent force to it, so take care to minimize the amount of stress you apply to the gemstones in your jewelry.


- What are the benefits of buying salt and pepper diamonds over normal diamonds?


In addition to the cheaper cost, salt and pepper diamonds have a uniqueness that you don't find with clearer gemstones. Each one has its own unique look, which makes them great for people who want to showcase their own uniqueness as an individual.

If you are the sort of person who fancies themselves going against the flow rather than letting it push you along then salt and pepper diamonds are an ideal way to show people that's who you are.


Salt and pepper diamonds are a great choice if you care about the environment and also want some cheaper options for your jewelry. Their uniqueness and wild beauty give them character and individuality that makes them a wonderful choice for creative people.

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