Salt and pepper diamonds are one of my favourite stones. I say this about a lot of stones, but as soon as I saw a salt and pepper diamond, I fell in love. These unique diamonds offer something a little different from a regular clear diamond, making them ideal for showing personal style without compromising on beauty.
For me, salt and pepper diamonds have a story to tell. Reminiscent of a beloved old photograph, marked by time but full of priceless memories, made only more beautiful because of its ‘imperfections’.
One of my best-selling pieces of salt and pepper jewellery is the Till Death engagement ring, which features a stunning pear-shaped diamond, bookended by tiny platinum skulls. This unique ring is the perfect way to celebrate your alternative wedding!
What are salt and pepper diamonds?
Salt and pepper diamonds are natural diamonds that are mottled with smoky, ash-like patterns, caused by inclusions and imperfections in the stone. You might have heard of the 4 C’s of diamond grading - Cut, Clarity, Colour and Carat. Generally, the better the cut, the clarity and colour (how pure, clear and colourless a diamond is) and how big it is (measured in carats), the more expensive it is. However, popularity in coloured diamonds (low clarity) like black diamonds and salt and pepper diamonds is on the rise, and they are now highly desirable for heirloom and engagement rings.
The patternation in salt and pepper diamonds is random and organic, caused by pressure and heat as they were formed in the earth. These inclusions vary from speckles of black to swirls and plumes of ash-grey. The effect can be a dark stormy cloud trapped inside a stone or peppery sprinkles in glass. No two stones are exactly the same. The amount of patternation will affect the overall appearance of the stone - some are only lightly mottled and therefore quite bright, while others are almost entirely dark.
Each salt and pepper diamond is unique - they vary in colour, shape and size - which is why at Bonearrow I’ll show you a selection of stones and let you choose the perfect one for your jewellery before it’s made.
What’s the difference between black diamonds and salt and pepper diamonds?
Black diamonds are completely black, whereas salt and pepper diamonds are flecked with black, white and grey to create a non-uniform effect. Although some salt and pepper diamonds are almost completely black, they still feature some mottling to differentiate them from black stones.
Why do salt and pepper diamonds make great alternative engagement rings?
You’re completely unique, and your relationship is special, so what better way to celebrate that than with an engagement ring that’s completely unique too, just like you?
Salt and pepper diamonds are beautifully imperfect. They vary in shade, size and shape, depending on the way they were made. This makes them the ideal choice if you want a unique engagement ring that expresses your individuality and looks different from the norm. These, and black diamonds, are a great alternative choice over a traditional diamond engagement ring.
Another advantage of this stone for an engagement ring is that, due to its varying colouration, it goes well with every precious metal. It looks equally good set in gold, white gold or platinum. You can even set them in rose gold if that’s your jam! Since I make every ring to order you can choose whichever metal you love the most.
The stones I use in my salt and pepper diamond rings are all ethically and responsibly sourced, and hand-picked for each customer. Each engagement ring celebrates everything that’s beautiful and special about you and your relationship. Salt and pepper diamonds aren’t perfect; they have flaws, but goddamn it, they’re beautiful because of it, right?
How do I choose the right stone?
Salt and pepper diamonds are a great choice if you want something that’s a bit different. If you’re looking for an alternative engagement ring, or a goth engagement ring, this stone could be perfect for you. It’s still a gorgeous, elegant stone, but it’s also dark and mysterious. Like the best of us, it has hidden depths.
Equally, if you’re interested in vintage looks and antique jewellery, salt and pepper diamonds will fit perfectly in your collection. Because of their unique mottled appearance, they have a lovely antique feeling to them.
Salt and pepper diamonds used to be discarded as ‘not good enough’ - beautiful stones that have been previously overlooked because they’re not ‘perfect’. I’m sure we can all relate to this in some way! Because of this, I feel that they’re a symbol of defiance, non-conformity and individual expression.
If you, or your loved one, fits any of these descriptions, then I’d say that a salt and pepper diamond is the perfect choice.
Because they vary so greatly, it’s important to choose your individual stone before it’s set. Maybe you’re looking for something ice-white with light mottling, or maybe you’d prefer a stone that’s almost black. I recommend viewing the available stones in person, or in video, before making a commitment. Look at how they respond to different lighting and how they look against the skin. Here at Bonearrow I’ll always talk to you about your preferences. I’m more than happy to send you images and videos of different stones, or you can make an appointment to come in and view them in person.
How are salt and pepper diamonds made?
Like all natural diamonds, salt and pepper diamonds formed billions of years ago miles and miles beneath the earth’s crust. As they form, diamonds are exposed to other materials in the ground, and everything is pushed together by the pressure of the earth above.
It’s these other materials - minerals, carbon and other diamond structures - that cause cloudy, peppery or feathery marks to appear inside the diamond. These marks are known as inclusions. Salt and pepper diamonds have more noticeable inclusions than clear diamonds.
Most diamonds have imperfections, but the inclusions in salt and pepper diamonds are more frequent and more visible, giving them their unique appearance, and making them look super cool!
In the past, salt and pepper diamonds have been neglected as sub-standard, but they are increasingly in demand due to their fascinating patternation, and everything this symbolises.
The diamonds I use in my jewelry are all 100% conflict-free. They are sourced from an award-winning mine in Botswana where labour standards are well-regulated. Profits are reinvested back into the infrastructure of the country. All of my rings are designed in my workshop here in Nottingham, UK and the stones are sent to Birmingham’s iconic Jewellery Quarter to be set by master diamond setters with decades of experience, making sure your heirloom or engagement ring will last for years.
Are salt and pepper diamonds natural?
Yes, no artificial procedures are involved in creating my salt-and-pepper diamonds other than the normal cutting and shaping process. Salt-and-pepper diamonds are formed in the same way as other diamonds; the carbon molecules are heated to 2,000 degrees fahrenheit and subjected to huge pressure from the weight of the earth above to form super-hard diamond structures.
What does a salt and pepper diamond look like?
Salt and pepper diamonds vary greatly in appearance. Some are ice-white with very subtle mottling, while others are very dark. Some are quite clear, with distinct patterns, while others are cloudy or milky. The characteristic that sets this diamond apart from other diamonds is the mottling within it, ranging from dense clusters of darkness to light flecks.
What are the pros and cons of salt and pepper diamonds?
When weighing up the best diamond for your engagement ring, or another important piece of jewellery, it’s a good idea to take into consideration the pros and cons of that stone.
- Salt and pepper diamonds are unique, one-of-a-kind stones
- Salt and pepper diamonds are cheaper per carat than colourless diamonds because of their imperfections
- Salt and pepper diamonds are ideal for people who want to express their individuality in their jewellery
- Salt and pepper diamonds can be set in any precious metal
- Because they’re cheaper, you can get a much bigger stone for your money
- Salt and pepper diamonds lend themselves well to alternative jewellery designs, including non-traditional shapes and designs
- Salt and pepper diamonds are super durable, they are the hardest mineral on earth! But sometimes inclusions in stones can cause breaking points. This can happen in colourless diamonds too, but if this happens during setting I will replace your stone at no cost.
- Since salt and pepper diamonds are so unique and individual the exact stone you fell in love with might not be available, although I’ll do my best to find something very similar for you.
- If you’re looking for a classically cut diamond you might not find a brilliant or baguette cut in a salt and pepper, as these stones tend to be cut in less traditional styles.
Why choose a salt and pepper diamond over a regular diamond?
Salt and pepper diamonds have many advantages over regular diamonds. Personally, I love their unique, stormy appearance. But the fact is, they’re not for everyone - and that’s what makes them so special.
Salt and pepper diamonds are:
- Cheaper per carat than regular diamonds, so you get more bang for your buck
- Quirkier and more visually interesting
- So widely varied in their appearance that there’s bound to be one that’s perfect for you
- The perfect way to showcase your individual style
What do salt and pepper diamonds mean?
Diamonds are a symbol of pure love and earthly magic, strength and resilience. For me, salt and pepper diamonds carry a lot of symbolism - loving your flaws and accepting that imperfections can make something even more beautiful. Just like us, the ‘scars’ in a salt and pepper diamond tell the story of that particular stone, and all the things that went into creating it. You can almost see the history of the stone, going back billions of years, and each story is different.
Salt and pepper diamonds are symbols of imperfection and individuality. They encourage us to embrace the flaws that make us beautiful and unique. This is why they make such good engagement rings - they remind us to look beyond the bad times and remember all the good that exists in ourselves and our partner.
Finally, the history of this diamond is one of resistance and subversion. It was once classed as ‘lesser’ than pure colourless diamonds, but its popularity is destabilising old-fashioned methods of classification. This diamond is a symbol of a modernised, more responsible, and more ethical industry.
Where can I buy a salt and pepper diamond ring?
Bonearrow’s range of salt and pepper and black diamond heirloom and engagement rings, ‘Darkly Beloved’, are available now, from platinum, claw-set alternative rings to made-to-measure bezel set, to simple sterling silver or gold satellite rings.