Fancy cut salt and pepper diamonds- NGM

Salt and Pepper Diamonds – The Speckled Seasonings of the Gemstone World

For years, sparkling white diamonds have held their reputation as the most sought after gems in the market. Let’s face it – with their brilliant shimmer and flawless illuminance, they are almost unbeatable. That being said, many of today’s consumers are looking for something with a flair, something newer and perhaps less perfect and conventional. This is where the salt and pepper diamonds come in. Salt and pepper diamonds are essentially diamonds, but with a dash of panache and personality. They are trendy, vibrant and quirky and make for excellent pieces of jewellery. Here’s all that you need to know about these mystery gems:

Fancy cut salt and pepper diamonds- NGM
Fancy cut salt and pepper diamonds. Courtesy: NGM

What are salt and pepper diamonds?

Salt and pepper diamonds, as the name suggests, are in fact diamonds with varying amounts of white and black inclusions in them. These inclusions are sprinkled throughout these stones, giving them their characteristic ‘salt and pepper’ appearance. This mix of black and white (sometimes other colors) inclusions imparts a smoky, speckled semblance to these diamonds, thus making them quite unique. 



Black (Pepper)

Carbon deposits/Graphite – not crystallized

White (Salt)

Nitrogen/Other impurities – flaws in internal structure

The white inclusions (salt) arise due to some flaws in the diamond’s internal crystal structure. They can also be due to inclusion of nitrogen or other impurities. The black inclusions (pepper), on the other hand, is caused due to carbon deposits, especially in the form of graphite. These defects usually occur when the original carbon atoms are not subjected to enough pressure or heat to crystallize fully during the formation of the diamond. 

Salt n Pepper diamonds can range from being opaque to being almost as bright as a traditional diamond but with a frozen appearance. Courtesy NGM
Salt n Pepper diamonds can range from being opaque to being almost as bright as a traditional diamond but with a frozen appearance. Courtesy NGM

Mining of loose salt and pepper diamonds

The mining process involves extraction of a large amount of soil and rock from the ground and small diamond debris is excavated. These resources are sent to an ore processing facility where the rough diamonds are extracted. It usually takes several hundred tons to produce a carat of gem quality diamonds, and it is highly dependent on the richness of the ore. 

Distribution –  Salt and Pepper diamonds are mined throughout the world, with the most prominent sources being Botswana in Africa and Russia. They are also widespread in many South East Asian countries. It should be noted that salt and pepper diamonds are more abundant when compared to the rarity of flawless diamonds, making them a more affordable option and a beautifully unique alternative to the traditional colorless diamond.

The mining of these diamonds require less resources than white diamonds as they are readily available. The mining process is cost effective as well. 

Why are salt and pepper diamonds “all the rage” nowadays? 

Recently, the wholesale precious stone market has witnessed an increased demand in the supply of loose salt and pepper diamonds. There are several reasons for these diamonds to be garnering this new-found attention, the most straightforward one being the search for something new and trendy. This trend is more widespread among the younger buyers, who are seeking ways to break the traditional norms and perhaps move past the classic, sparkling white diamond. Due to this changing trend, salt and pepper engagement rings are particularly in high demand nowadays. Let’s take a look at what makes these stones different:


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  • Unique appearance No two salt and pepper diamonds are alike. The inclusions in these stones give each of these stones a different characteristic and appearance, which makes them extremely unique. Depending on the type of inclusions, these diamonds can appear dark and smoky or light and speckled. Some can appear silky and smooth, while others exude a more rustic charm, but are inherently beautiful nonetheless.
  • Versatile- Salt and pepper diamonds blend right in with any style of jewellery, be it vintage or modern. Not only do they make great centrestones for minimalist salt and pepper diamond ring designs but they are also well suited for use in more elaborate designs. Salt and pepper diamonds are the perfect choice for custom designed jewellery as they can be faceted into just about any cut or shape. This particular feature is also the reason behind the popularity of salt and pepper engagement rings.Salt & Pepper Diamonds
  • Readily available and ethical sourcing – Unlike their white counterparts, wholesale salt and pepper diamonds are readily available and can be mined with minimal resources. This makes their mining relatively easier and more sustainable and eco-friendly. Also, these diamonds are ethically sourced.
  • Easier on the pocket Salt and pepper diamonds are not as rare as white diamonds, and hence their prices are market-driven rather than supply based. This makes them much more affordable compared to diamonds.

Popularity of salt and pepper diamonds on the rise – high demand in Singapore, France, Hongkong, USA & Australia nowadays

Key features

  • Wild, untreated and unique
  • Works well with a variety of designs and styles
  • Readily available
  • Conflict free
  • Affordable

Salt and Pepper Diamond Value

Salt and pepper diamonds typically cost less than traditional diamonds. But the lower cost of these stones does not necessarily affect the value of these stones. Salt and pepper diamonds, although more affordable, are just as rare as colorless diamonds and therefore incredibly valuable. The value of these diamonds is generally determined by the intensity and type of inclusions. 

Choosing salt and pepper diamonds

There are a couple of things that need to be noted while selecting loose salt and pepper diamonds. First and foremost, it is advisable to purchase these stones from a reputed jeweller, preferably in person. This will allow you to compare the characteristics of each stone and discuss the features before picking something that appeals to you. Another important concern when it comes to purchasing wholesale salt and pepper diamonds is the inclusions. The inclusions can have a direct effect on the durability of these stones as bigger inclusions can sometimes affect the strength of these stones. While some inclusions can enhance the strength of the stones, some can compromise with the integrity – this is something that your jeweller can help you with. 

How to choose salt and pepper diamonds?

  • Always consult a reputed jeweller and sort out your budget to check if it is feasible to buy single pieces or deal in wholesale
  • Preferably make the purchase in person
  • Ensure the diamonds are in the best possible cut to strengthen the inclusions
  • Opt for custom designs if needed

Styling salt and pepper diamonds

The options with salt and pepper diamonds are almost endless, thanks to their unique characteristics. Although immensely popular as salt and pepper engagement rings, salt and pepper diamonds are quite flexible and can fit right in just about any kind of jewellery. They can also be combined with other gemstones and diamonds to make them more sophisticated. 

Pairing salt and pepper diamond rings These diamonds go well with the yellow or rose gold settings. Opting for a white gold pairing can impart a very chic, contemporary feel. Pairing them with small sparkling diamonds can give them a nice brilliance and contrast as well. 

Free size hexagon shaped salt and pepper diamonds. Courtesy: NGM
Free size hexagon shaped salt and pepper diamonds. Courtesy: NGM


Many buyers of salt pepper diamonds, especially millennials who are on the constant lookout for something different, are opting to go with these peculiar yet charming stones instead of the timeless, sparkling  white diamonds. From a wholesaler’s perspective, these speckled diamonds are versatile, affordable, and quite distinctive due to their inclusions, making them the perfect gemstone for the youth today.  Available in a range of sizes, shapes and designs, they are quickly becoming the replacements to diamonds. 

In our next article on salt and pepper diamonds, we will delve a little deeper into the technical details of these mystical stones and how they are different from regular diamonds. We will also explore the grading of these stones along with more specifics about them.

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