Salt and Pepper Diamonds

Salt and Pepper Diamonds – The Speckled Seasonings Of The Gemstone World

Salt and pepper diamonds are a distinct group of diamonds that are quickly gaining popularity. After being overlooked for several hundred years due to their flaws, they are now considered to be quite unique and mystical and are largely popular among younger buyers who are seeking something different from the traditional sparkling diamond. Unlike traditional diamonds, these diamonds come with several flaws and inclusions. But their flaws are what make them one-of-a-kind.

Fancy cut Salt and Pepper Diamonds
Fancy cut Salt and Pepper Diamonds

What are salt and pepper diamonds? – A small Recap

As the name suggests, these diamonds have black and white inclusions distributed throughout them. The white inclusions (which represent salt) are usually formed due to defects in the crystal structure and not necessarily visible to the naked eye. The black inclusions (representing pepper), on the other hand, are usually made up of graphite or sulphite and impart different colors to stone. 

White Inclusions (Salt)

Defects in the crystal structure

Black Inclusions (Pepper)

Graphite or sulphite molecules

Characteristics of salt and pepper diamonds

Diamonds are usually evaluated by the 4Cs to determine their quality, with higher grades indicating a finer quality. While the 4Cs aren’t technically applicable for salt and pepper diamonds, for the sake of understanding them better, let’s look how it relates to them:

Clarity

The clarity for diamonds is graded based on the inclusions. Lesser the inclusions, better the clarity. However, for salt and pepper diamonds inclusions are the standout feature. The scattering of black and white inclusions is what gives them their characteristic look and appeal. The inclusions are mostly opaque minerals like graphite, hematite and pyrite. An increased number of black inclusions usually makes the stone appear darker.   

Darker Toned Salt and Pepper Diamond
In this particular specimen, due to the high amount of inclusions, the stone appears darker.

Color

The hues of salt and pepper diamonds can range anywhere from colorless to smoky grey or black. The shade is again dependent on the black inclusions, which determine the body color of these diamonds. Abundant inclusions can impart a speckled appearance whereas the lack of inclusions can make them almost colorless. Certain diamonds may present with a tinge of yellow or green undertones as well. A variant of salt and pepper diamond includes black pepper diamond which has a body color that is dark with black inclusions.

Colorless (Faint inclusions)
Colorless (Faint inclusions)
Smoky Grey Salt and Pepper Diamond
Smoky Grey

 

Almost black with a faint yellowish orange undertone
Almost black with a faint yellowish orange undertone

Cut

Salt and pepper diamonds are usually cut to bring out their inclusions. Due to their heavy inclusions, certain cuts can cut down their brilliance drastically. As a result, faceters prefer many fancy cuts for these gems like step cuts and rose cuts. They can also be cut in round, oval, pear, hexagon and kite shapes.

  • Rose cut: The most prominent cut for salt and pepper diamonds is the classic rose cut, which involves positioning the stones in a manner that resembles that of a blooming rose petal. Being a style that dates back to the 1500s, the rose cut imparts a very classic and chic appearance to the stone. This cut consists of triangular facets spread over a large surface area that is usually flat at the bottom and dome shaped at the top. This shape works wonders with salt and pepper diamonds and shows off the stone’s brilliance in the best possible way. 
Round Cut Salt and Pepper Diamonds
Round Cut Salt and Pepper Diamonds

 

Carat

Carat refers to the weight of the gemstones and for diamonds, larger the diamond, bigger is the carat weight and its value. However, this doesn’t hold true for salt and pepper diamonds. It is very rare to find colorless diamonds that are 1 carat and above, and hence these are very expensive. Salt and pepper diamonds, on the other hand, have a wider carat range. And unlike colorless diamonds, the carat size doesn’t influence the price of salt and pepper diamonds. 

Size and shape

Salt and pepper diamonds come in a variety of shapes and sizes. There are several fancy cuts and shapes that suit salt and pepper diamonds, and they can be sculpted to portray various styles from modern and trendy to vintage or traditional effortlessly. The galaxy diamond is a rare salt and pepper diamond which is highly popular. These diamonds appear gray with heavy flecks of white that resemble the shimmering stars in the space. Interestingly, galaxy diamonds are cut in the same way as traditional diamonds, with a culet that enhances its brilliance. 

Different Shapes of Salt and Pepper
Due to their eclectic appearance salt and pepper diamonds are preferred in fancy cuts which add on to their moody, mysterious aesthetic.

Durability and Structural Integrity:

This has been a topic of debate and one of the reasons for the delay in popularity with regards to salt and pepper diamonds. The durability of salt and pepper diamonds depends on several factors, with the most notable one being the inclusions. Based on their size and distributions, inclusions can compromise the strength of the stone. However, with the right cut they can be just as durable as regular diamonds.  

A structurally sound salt and pepper diamond can have a Moh’s hardness value of 10 (same as colorless diamonds). However, bigger inclusions can hamper the structural integrity and thus the hardness value.  

 

Salt and Pepper Diamonds – key features

  • Clarity: Varies from clear to opaque
  • Color: Ranges from colorless to smoky black or dark grey
  • Cut: Versatile; works well with different cuts. Rose-cut, most popular
  • Carat: Doesn’t affect price or value

Comparison of salt and pepper diamonds with regular diamonds in terms of characteristics:

How are salt and pepper diamonds different from white diamonds?

The main difference between the salt and pepper diamonds and white diamonds is the inclusions – which can basically be considered as ‘birthmarks’ that develop on these stones while they are forming. While white diamonds are almost always symmetrical and clear, salt and pepper diamonds have blemishes and inclusions scattered throughout them. These inclusions are in fact what make them unique and the reason as a wholeseller you buy salt and pepper diamonds! .The inclusions, mostly black and white, can arise in a variety of shapes and forms like clouds, feathers, spots, cracks or chips. The amount and volume of inclusions vary in each stone, and no two diamonds can ever be alike.

 

Salt and pepper diamonds vs regular diamonds

 

Characteristic Salt and Pepper Colorless Diamonds
Clarity Inclusions are considered the most important aspect. They give the stone its unique appearance.  Ranges from flawless to included, with flawless being ‘no inclusions’ at ten times magnification. Inclusions can have an impact on its value. 
Color Ranges from colorless, milky to grey or dark. Can also be speckled.  Mostly colorless with yellow or brown undertones. Truly colorless diamonds are more valuable. 
Cut Strengthen the inclusions in the best possible way. Wide range available.  Enhance the brilliance and sparkle of the diamonds. Highly polished
Carat Available in bigger sizes. Prices not dependent on carat value.  Only 1% of the diamonds weigh 1 C or more.

Prices rise exponentially with increasing carat value. 

 

Price 

Salt and pepper diamonds, although as valuable as diamonds, are relatively inexpensive. Due to their ready availability, the prices of these diamonds are more dependent on the market rather than the supply. That being said, on an average 1 Carat of salt and pepper diamond may cost upto 300 USD. The price may also vary depending on the clarity of these diamonds. A salt and pepper diamond with about 80% milkiness may cost as low as 100 USD per Carat, and the stones exhibiting more transparency may range up to 400-600 USD per Carat. Always remember when you sell and buy loose salt and pepper diamonds that ultimately, they are diamonds, just with more character and more budget-friendly. Therefore, the customer can afford a larger size in his budget when compared to a white diamond.

Where to buy salt and pepper diamonds?

Keep in mind that salt and pepper diamonds are very mainstream, hence It is always advisable to do thorough research before making a purchase. Make sure you have a clear cut budget drawn out, depending on which you can either choose between buying them wholesale or as loose salt and pepper diamonds. 

Since these are relatively new in the market it is important that you buy from a reputable source that has had some experience with the stone. Depending on your local market and their preferences your salt and pepper wholesaler would be able to supply you with whatever kind works best for you – either black salt and pepper diamonds, grey or colorless ones. 

We deal in an exclusive variety of salt and pepper diamonds that are ethically sourced from Madagascar. Write to us at navneet@navneetgems.com or call us at +66985498500 for more information on our hottest selling lots!

Conclusion

Although salt and pepper diamonds are essentially diamonds, they are quite different from the traditional gems. With respect to the grading of diamonds based on the 4Cs – cut, clarity, color and carat, salt and pepper diamonds are almost opposite to that of regular diamonds. Being highly versatile, they can be styled in a variety of looks and are also highly durable.