If you’ve spent any time recently browsing jewellery pages on Pinterest or Instagram, chances are you’ve come across “Salt and Pepper diamonds”. Currently one of the hottest jewellery trends in the world right now, South African gem lovers can’t get enough of these unique diamonds.

Salt and Pepper diamonds hold a remarkable appeal right now. Whether it comes down to clever marketing, or society’s willingness to move away from perfection and embrace imperfection, or just an individual’s need to break with tradition and stand out, we’ll never know.

Whatever your personal reason for choosing a Salt and Pepper diamond is, Katannuta Diamonds is here to help you find all you need to know about these gemstones.

Salt and Pepper diamonds

Kite-cut Salt and Pepper Diamonds. Photo by Rose & Stone Diamond Store.

Previously, gem quality diamonds were considered only to be those with no flaws visible to the naked eye. Only a small proportion of natural diamonds are flawless and, as such, these are exceptionally expensive and out of reach for your average South African. Most retail jewellery stores will send diamonds in the “VS” (very slightly included) or “SI” (slightly included) clarity categories, depending on the quality of the jewellery store and the item of jewellery in question.

The clarity of a diamond is based on its natural imperfections, and these can be colourless (or “white”), black or coloured. Black and white inclusions are the most commonly found and black inclusions are typically inclusions of graphite or sulphide minerals. Black inclusions are more visible to the naked eye than white inclusions and were therefore considered less desirable inclusions.

Emerald cut brown pink diamond

Emerald-cut Salt and Pepper Diamond.
Photo by Rose & Stone Diamond Store.

Now however, natural black inclusions (or flaws) are critical to a diamond being considered a Salt and Pepper diamond. Previously these diamonds would have been certified as “I3” (Imperfect) type diamonds according to the GIA certification standards. With the advent of the Salt and Pepper diamond market, many of these diamonds are not certified, as they don’t fall into the realm of “standard” gem quality diamonds.

Despite this, there are radical differences in the quality of Salt and Pepper diamonds, and these differences will certainly be reflected in the price of the diamonds. On average, Salt and Pepper diamond prices start from approximately R3,000 per carat, but can go upwards of R15,000 per carat for exceptionally quality stones.

Oval salt and pepper diamond

Oval cut Salt and Pepper diamond.
Photo by Rose & Stone Diamond Store.

Milky and opaque diamonds will be cheaper than colourless diamonds flecked with black graphite and sulphide. The number and intensity of the inclusions will also determine the style of the diamond cut. Some Salt and Pepper diamonds are cut into “traditional” cuts like round brilliant or princess cuts, but pear and oval rose cuts are currently very popular.

Unlike regular diamonds in which the diamond is set table-side up to maximise fire and brilliance in the stone, Salt and Pepper diamonds are often set “bottom up”, showing off the rose-cut bottom facets of the stone. Not only does this provide a unique design, but it often shows off the intricacies and variable colours of these diamonds. Often Salt and Pepper diamonds won’t sparkle like their white counterparts, as less light is reflected through the stone.

Like traditional diamonds, no two Salt and Pepper diamonds are ever the same, but their differences are even more visible due to the obvious nature of their natural flaws. Beautifully described by some people as looking like they have “little galaxies of stars” inside them, the key is to find a diamond with an overall colour and set of inclusions that you fall in love with.

Brown kite diamond

Kite-cut Salt and Pepper Diamond.
Photo by Rose & Stone Diamond Store.

The unique shapes of some of the Salt and Pepper diamonds (think kite, hexagon and trapezoid-shapes) lend themselves to creatively-different ring designs, so if you’re looking for an engagement ring that will stand out from the crowd, why not consider a Salt and Pepper diamond?

If you’re looking for prices on Salt and Pepper diamonds in South Africa, or would like to have your own unique engagement ring designed using one of these special stones, contact us and let us help you choose the perfect stone for your needs.

Some Salt and Pepper Diamond ring inspiration for you: