alternative jeweler

Everything You Need to Know About Salt & Pepper Diamonds

Everything You Need to Know About Salt & Pepper Diamonds - Ilah Jewelry - daddy ring, dom jewelry, sub jewelry, Worcester jewelry, jewelry maker

If you want to buy alternative diamond jewelry but weren't sure where to start, we've prepared a complete guide. Salt and pepper diamonds are a terrific and underrated choice for rings, necklaces, and more.

This blog post will cover the following topics:

Origins & Mining

Diamonds form deep within the earth's mantle throughout millions of years, where the high pressure and temperature conditions allow carbon atoms to bond and crystallize into diamond structures---diamonds are composed of carbon. These diamond crystals are raw--not yet ready for jewelry design and setting.

The diamonds then erupt onto the earth's surface through volcanic activity, making them ready for mining and discovery. Lab-grown diamonds are also an option to create this type of crystal.


Diamond Quality Basics: Understanding the 4Cs

The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) developed a scale called the 4Cs in the 1940s. Robert M. Shipley, who founded GIA, coined the term the 4Cs as an easy way for the students to remember diamond quality factors.

What do the 4Cs mean? The 4Cs include cut, color, clarity, and carat, in the order of importance; however, each of the 4Cs affects diamond quality. The 4Cs are used internationally as a “universal language” between the buyer and the seller (GIA). This clear and concise way of diamond evaluation determines overall diamond value.

This article focuses on clarity grade regarding salt and pepper diamonds. The clarity grade scale is as follows:

F: Flawless - Rare and expensive

IF: Internally Flawless

VVS1-VVS2: Very Very Slightly Included - an investment

VS1-VS2: Very Slightly Included - More common

SI1-SI2: Slightly Included - Great for any budget with inclusions not visible to the naked eye

I1-I2: Included - Often contains eye-visible inclusions

I3: Heavily Included - Eye-visible inclusions without the use of 10X magnification


Salt & Pepper Diamonds: Imperfections Make Them Beautiful

Diamonds are filled with growth characteristics, deemed as "imperfections." It is important to note ALL diamonds are uniquely beautiful, with the majority of diamonds containing internal and external growth characteristics–this makes any diamond you choose extra special.

Salt and pepper diamonds reference the clearly eye-visible inclusions they contain, or internal growth characteristics. These growth characteristics fall on the clarity scale, which is part of the 4Cs referenced above.

However, because salt and pepper diamonds are so highly included and how they are marketed as their own category, they are not graded on the clarity scale. But if they were, salt and pepper diamonds would be I3, exhibiting eye-visible inclusions.

Salt and pepper diamonds offer a sustainable approach to luxury, also known as carbon negative diamonds. Salt and pepper diamonds are an eco-friendly choice utilizing different diamond quality without causing waste by discarding gorgeous diamonds deemed "imperfect."


What Are Inclusions?

Inclusions are minerals trapped inside the diamond. These inclusions may be referred to as feathers, cracks, clouds, or chips, denoted by these names when the diamond grader (gemologist) is plotting the diamond inclusions in a laboratory setting.  These inclusions may be colorless, black, gray, or white. They may also contain faint color depending on the mineral embedded in the diamond.

Browse Our Collections

A Brief History of Salt & Pepper Diamonds

Heavily included diamonds were synonymous with lower quality diamonds, prices inexpensively compared to higher clarity grades. However, diamonds containing eye-visible growth characteristics have seen a resurgence in market popularity due to their unusual appearance.

The name salt and pepper diamonds refers to the black inclusions and icy white, smoke-like inclusions, giving them a pepper and salt look filled with shapes and mesmerizing patterns.

Salt and pepper diamonds are real diamonds–they are natural, earth-mined diamonds with a lower clarity grade.

Salt and pepper diamonds open up a world of natural beauty unappreciated until now. Jewelry designers and diamond enthusiasts breathed new life into these highly included stones, re-introducing them into the market and showcasing how special they truly are.


Colors & Varieties of Salt and Pepper Diamonds

Salt and pepper diamonds may be marketed using terms like Icy White, Opaque White, Icy Gray, Gray,  Dark Gray, Opaque Dark Gray, and other similar sounding names referencing their inclusions and overall body color.

Why choose salt and pepper diamonds? Salt and pepper diamonds exude a raw, rustic, modern appeal with their unique shapes and incredible natural earthiness. Each variety of salt and pepper diamonds commands attention with its mysterious and magical shape, inclusions, and surprising notes of color, unlike the classic colorless diamond that is more common.


Types of Salt & Pepper Diamond Jewelry

ALL diamonds rate 10 on the Mohs hardness scale, a scale developed to evaluate mineral’s “scratch tendencies.” The scale rates these objects from 1-10, with talc being a 1.

Salt and pepper diamonds are ultra-versatile, just like their colorless and fancy color diamond counterparts, durable and hard enough to be prong and bezel set into your favorite fine metal.

Sustainable jewelry is within reach. You can enjoy salt and pepper diamonds in necklaces, wedding bands, earrings, bracelets, and pendants, often placed as the main focal point into a variety of classic or one-of-a-kind artisan designs.

Browse Our Collections

Key Takeaways

Diamonds form under extreme pressure and high-temperature conditions deep within the earth's mantle over millions of years. As the raw diamonds grow, they are brought closer to the earth's surface by volcanic activity, ready to be mined and discovered.

Through the growth process, diamonds often exhibit internal and external growth characteristics as a result of other minerals. These characteristics impact the clarity grade, which makes up the 4Cs (cut, color, clarity, and carat).

If salt and pepper diamonds were graded, they would be an I3 with eye-visible inclusions readily apparent without the use of 10X magnification.

Salt and pepper diamonds may be marketed under different color names, denoting their body color and inclusion type. Make sure to practice proper jewelry maintenance best practices to ensure your pieces last a long time.

Salt and pepper diamonds are natural, earth-mined diamonds with the same properties as other diamonds, making them versatile and ideally suited for setting into any fine metal when a jewelry maker chooses to use these stones.



Looking for a Worcester jewelry store that carries salt & pepper diamonds and other LGBT jewelry? We specialize in unique, colorful, responsibly sourced jewelry, daddy rings, dom and sub jewelry, and other queer-friendly jewelry as Worcester, MA's top independent jewelry store.

Radically Personal. Unapologetically Human. Made with fierce love.

-Ilah ♥ / IG: @ilahjewelry

Reading next

How Montana Sapphires Changed the Jewelry Landscape - Worcester MA jewelers, sub jewelry, jewelers Worcester MA, jewelry store, lesbian jewelry, gay jewelry, queer jewelry - Ilah Cibis Jewelry
How to Pick an Eco-Friendly Gemstone - daddy ring, lesbian jewelry, carbon negative diamonds, lab grown diamonds, jewelry store Worcester - Ilah Cibis Jewelry Worcester MA

Leave a comment

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.