What Is A Salt and Pepper Diamond?

Anita Bespoke Custom Made Salt And Pepper Diamond Engagement Ring Rose Gold Sydney Jeweller Lizunova Fine Jewels Chifley Square
YippeeD, CC BY-SA 4.0 | Wikimedia Commons

It may be clichéd to say that diamonds are a woman’s best friend, but the centuries of making and wearing diamond jewelry speak for themselves. There is something uniquely beautiful about this sparkly stone, so it comes as no surprise that they remain highly valued and popular stones for engagement rings to this day.

Among the varieties of diamonds available on the market, the most popular is the white, brilliant-cut diamond. However, while this stone is considered the most classic and traditional, other variations can be great options for those looking for something different.

Salt and pepper diamonds, or Galaxy diamonds, are fast becoming one of the most popular unconventional diamonds for engagement rings – and for good reason. Their unique look sets them apart from most diamonds and no two stones are the same.

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What Are Salt and Pepper Diamonds?

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Usually, a traditional white diamond is revered and highly sought after for its clarity and lack of inclusions. With salt and pepper diamonds, it is the opposite.

Salt and pepper diamonds are named so for their naturally occurring black and white inclusions that can be seen with the naked eye. Each one is unique, and they can range from stones that are lighter and more translucent, with fewer inclusions, to stones that are darker in color and more opaque with more inclusions.

Besides each diamond being one-of-a-kind, salt and pepper diamonds are also more budget-friendly, costing much less than traditional diamonds. The darker the salt and pepper diamond is and the more inclusions it has, the less expensive it is. Many salt and pepper diamonds are also rose cut, with a flat back and larger surface area. This means that you could pay less for a salt and pepper diamond engagement ring with a seemingly larger stone than rings featuring brilliant cut, white diamonds.

Additionally, these unique stones have a hardness of 10 on the Mohs Hardness Scale, making these heavily-included diamonds a durable stone for jewelry.

How Salt and Pepper Diamonds Get their Unique, speckled Appearance

In nature, diamonds are exposed to a variety of pressures and high temperatures while forming. The environment, as well as the minerals and rocks around them, can leave a lasting impression on them, resulting in imperfections (called ‘inclusions’) in the stone.

These white and black inclusions are more noticeable in salt and pepper diamonds than regular diamonds, giving them their unique look.

Why Choose a Salt and Pepper Diamond Ring?

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There are many reasons why someone might choose a salt and pepper engagement ring.

Because each salt and pepper diamond is so unique and striking compared to a traditional diamond, many people choose it as a way to express their own style or unique relationship with their partner. They also come in a variety of shades and colors, including silvery gray, dark gray, black, icy white, light gray, and milky, which makes salt and pepper diamond rings even more customizable than rings featuring colorless diamonds.

Many people who choose salt and pepper diamond rings do so for the symbolism behind them. While they are imperfect, it is their imperfections that make them so unique and beautiful. The same can be said for people and life in general, and these rings can serve as a reminder of that.

For many years, the many inclusions in salt and pepper diamonds deemed them unworthy of use. However, around twenty years ago, jewelry makers began using these alternative diamonds and selling the pieces for a much lower price than traditional white diamonds. They are, therefore, ideal for people on a budget.

Things To Consider When Buying a Salt and Pepper Diamond Engagement Ring

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It can be difficult to choose the perfect stone for your engagement ring. However, if you have already chosen a salt and pepper diamond for your ring, here are some important things to consider.

Budget: Are salt and pepper diamonds valuable?

If you’re on a tight budget, you may opt for a galaxy diamond because they are traditionally more affordable than white diamonds of the same carat weight. It is, however, important to note that this does not mean you will be paying the price of a cheap trinket. With the popularity of salt and pepper diamonds skyrocketing, many jewelry makers have started to raise their prices.

It is also worth remembering that your choice of precious metal can significantly alter the price of your engagement ring or jewelry piece, with some metals costing much more than others.

Structural Integrity: Are salt and pepper diamonds durable?

Salt and pepper diamonds are considered structurally sound with a score of 10 on the Mohs Hardness Scale. However, the more inclusions they have, the more fragile they can be when bumped or dropped.

When visiting a jeweler, be sure to enquire about the structural integrity of the salt and pepper diamond you are considering. The jeweler will be able to inform you about its fragility and may suggest certain settings or cuts that can compensate for any loss of durability.

Precious Metal

Much like other diamonds, a salt and pepper stone can be cut in whichever style suits your taste. The salt and pepper inclusions don’t affect their hardness scale but could lead to chipping more easily, and many people opt for a more protective setting in a harder metal as a result.

However, their gray color also makes rose gold and yellow gold a popular choice, as the warm colors contrast beautifully with the cool tone of the stone. On the other hand, white gold and silver complement the gray color and visible inclusions in the stone as well.

The Four C’s

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While salt and pepper diamonds form in the same way as traditional diamonds, there are some key differences to note before purchasing your own galaxy diamond ring.


The cuts used for salt and pepper diamonds are those that best reveal the natural patterns and inclusions in the stone. Fancy cuts like rose, kite, round, hexagon, step, pear, oval, and triangle cuts work best with these stones.

Some people may even opt for uncut or raw salt and pepper stones. However, keep in mind that it is not legal to purchase raw diamonds everywhere, and this is something worth discussing with a reputable jeweler first.

Clarity Characteristics

Traditionally, diamonds are prized for their clarity. In other words, traditional diamonds are deemed more valuable when they have fewer blemishes and inclusions. This is not the case with salt and pepper diamonds as they are famed for their inclusions, which play a central part in what makes them so special.

As a result, salt and pepper diamonds are valued according to their transparency rather than their clarity. The more inclusions the stone has, the less transparent it will be and the darker its overall color will seem. Salt and pepper stones with a higher transparency cost more and are considered more durable than those with a darker color and more intricate pattern.

Body Color

The less color traditional diamonds have, the higher they are graded. The absence of color means that the diamond is more valuable. In other words, a white diamond with a yellow/ gold tone will be less expensive than a truly colorless diamond.

However, this is not the case for all diamonds, and colored diamonds are becoming increasingly popular. Red diamonds are the rarest and most expensive of all colored diamonds.

On the other end of the spectrum, gray diamonds and salt and pepper diamonds are considered the most affordable.

Carat Size

Because salt and pepper diamonds are much more affordable than traditional diamonds, shoppers will find that they are able to purchase a much larger stone with a higher carat weight. For comparison, colorless diamonds of the same carat weight are around 200% more expensive than their salt and pepper counterparts.

Lab-Grown Variants

As with white diamonds, salt and pepper diamonds occur naturally but also have a lab-created variant. These lab variants have the same appearance and chemical construction as naturally-occurring salt and pepper diamonds but tend to cost around 20% less, depending on color, cut, and transparency.

Caring For Salt and Pepper Diamond Engagement Rings

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Because of the white and black flecks in salt and pepper diamonds, these stones tend to show wear and tear much less than white diamonds. However, proper cleaning is still a vital part of maintaining the longevity of your jewelry. Here are some ways to maintain your salt and pepper ring:

  • Take it off when exposing your hands to water (such as during a bath, shower, or washing dishes) to maintain its shine for longer and reduce the build-up of residue on the band
  • Be careful not to knock or drop your ring
  • Clean your ring at least once monthly using a store-bought cleaning solution or warm water with a mild soap
  • Use a very soft toothbrush to scrub your ring, if necessary
  • If you see movement in the stones or the claws seem less sturdy, have your ring cleaned and serviced by the jeweler you bought it from. Many jewelry stores include complimentary repair services in the price of the ring
  • Invest in a polishing cloth to use after washing and keep the cloth sealed in an air-tight, dust-proof place until the next use

Pros and Cons of Salt and Pepper Diamonds

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  • With its unique crystal structure, a salt and pepper diamond makes for a very distinctive addition to any jewelry collection
  • Galaxy diamonds are considered quite sturdy
  • Often much less expensive than traditional diamonds
  • Not as incredibly rare as other colored diamonds (like a black diamond or yellow diamond)
  • Salt and pepper diamonds suit a variety of styles, precious metals, and are available in fancy cuts


  • A salt and pepper diamond’s brilliance will never be quite as sparkling as a traditional diamond’s
  • Although they are quite sturdy, salt and pepper diamonds can be more brittle than conventional diamonds
  • As they gain popularity in the jewelry industry, the price of salt and pepper diamonds will go up
  • You may not find salt and pepper diamonds available at every jeweler

Salt and Pepper Diamond Alternatives

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If you have decided against a salt and pepper diamond for your engagement ring, but you are still looking for something unique or budget-friendly, here are some alternatives to consider:

Lab-created diamonds are an excellent choice for shoppers on a budget, as they are typically less expensive than natural diamonds but are equally as brilliant and virtually indistinguishable from their natural counterparts to the naked eye.

You may also opt for a traditional diamond, but with a unique cut to make it stand out from the crowd. Some of the prettiest and most unique diamond cuts are:

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