Salt and Pepper Diamond

The Rising Trend of Salt and Pepper Diamonds

During recent years, the jewellery industry around the globe has seen an up-and-coming trend of salt and pepper diamonds. Even though its trend is picking up, there are still question marks over what is salt and pepper diamonds. It was largely due to the fact that most jewellery establishments are less likely, or even do not, to put up marketing efforts for salt and pepper jewelleries.

Somehow rather through independent jewellery makers, salt and pepper diamonds are making a scene by showing off their unique and one of a kind features in terms of inclusions. So we took this opportunity to conduct our first webinar, to discuss the trend of these diamonds.

Varieties of salt and pepper diamonds. Photo: The Gem Museum

What are salt and pepper diamonds?

Basically they are natural colourless diamonds that contain minute black and white inclusions, hence the trade name of salt and pepper. All natural gemstones are prone to some kind of inclusions be it big or small, plenty or little. The random scattering of the black and white inclusions in the diamond also plays a part in its uniqueness.

Those black inclusions in the diamond can mostly be determined as graphite, for the reason that both diamond and graphite is made from carbon. Different environmental changes such as temperature or pressure changes during the growth of diamonds may result in transformation of carbon elements into contrasting atomic structure. Despite that, magnetite, hematite, or native iron may also be present as black inclusions. As for white inclusions, they are mineral crystals of unknown identity. The small and transparent nature of the crystals makes it difficult to identify. Possible identifying methods include observing the crystal shape provided it has clear habit, and the Raman Spectroscopy as an effective non-destructive identification test.

pepper
Diamond and Graphite

In spite of being an uncommon sight in the jewellery industry, rarity of salt and pepper diamonds was not the issue. In fact, before this trend began, it was deemed as industrial quality diamonds. It can be found in any diamond mine in any country. Furthermore, 70% of the world diamond productions are industrial grade and among those 70%, roughly 10% are salt and pepper diamonds. Industrial quality diamonds are really low quality products and salt and pepper may just sit above industrial grade.

After diamonds are mined, it will go through a sorting process that segregates the gem quality and the industrial quality. During this process, factors such as how marketable they are, and are they worth going through further processes to reach the customer’s hand proved decisive on what quality they should be in. As you may know, if there is no trend, there will be no salt and pepper diamonds.

 sorting
Sorting Process. Photo: Alrosa

What makes it different from normal diamonds?

The value between them is around four times the difference. But let us dive into the 4Cs of salt and pepper diamonds:

Clarity:

Usually they are I range due to its high relief of black inclusions. Other factors such as location, number, and size will also be considered although it will still be I ranged.

Colour:

To best pair with the salt and pepper inclusion, usually the diamonds are colourless to give a nice contrast. Those inclusions are also found in other fancy colour diamonds. However, fancy coloured diamonds are appreciated for their body tone and black inclusions will deter attention away from it.

pink diamond
Pink Diamond with Black Inclusion. Photo: Denir Diamonds

Cut:

Cut holds significant importance to a standard diamond as it provides brilliance and sparkle to the diamond. On the other hand, the main focal point for salt and pepper diamond is the inclusions, not brilliance. So the typical cut is a rose cut of different shape and sizes.

rose cut
Rose cut

Carat:

Carat being the decisive price factor for salt and pepper diamonds after the cut. Largest salt and pepper diamond weighs at 25 carats, known as The Starry Night Diamond made by Concierge Diamonds.

Why is it trendy in the market?

There is beauty in imperfection. The way the salt and pepper scatters in the diamond is one of a kind, so no two diamonds have the same pattern. Depending on individual preferences, different people see different values in different things. As the saying goes, the beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

salt and pepper diamond ring
Salt and Pepper Diamond. Photo: Alexis Russell

Apart from being attractive, the cost for salt and pepper diamond is much less costly. Being a low grade diamond, there will be a price difference in top quality compared to low quality diamonds. Despite its low quality, it usually does not have durability issues. It is mainly due to the inclusions are minute and will not affect the structural integrity of the diamond.

Salt and pepper diamonds have become popular among the young adults who want something unique yet affordable. Therefore, salt and pepper diamonds are not just another gift from nature, it evolved to be an art of appreciation and we need to perceive it differently.


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