Salt and Pepper Diamonds – On Trend
Articles / January 2021
Figure 1. 0.92ct Modified Hexagonal Salt and Pepper Diamond Engagement Ring in 18ct Rose Gold AUD $8,990 (29/10/20) Designed by Melanie Katsalidis, with permission of Laura di Florio General Manager, Pieces of Eight Gallery
Salt and Pepper Diamonds – One of the latest trends in jewellery fashion is the use of industrial grade diamonds.
Promoted as the ‘new style of engagement ring’, the marketing for these products are targeted towards the consumer who not only wants a less expensive, more affordable natural diamond, but also considers the diamond is raw, earth friendly, socially acceptable, ethically mined and has a lower footprint on the environment than a ‘standard’ diamond.
The inclusions in these diamonds are promoted as ‘no two diamonds will be the same’.
Salt and pepper diamonds are sold on-line in a range of colours including: near colourless, brown, grey, orange, yellow, pink, and near black. Other descriptions include: marbled, speckled, cloudy, dark and moody, and more peppery.
Some retailers may provide a certificate or appraisal for these diamonds and the clarity grades are usually I3 (Imperfect 3, based on the GIA clarity grade) or P3 (Pique 3 based on the CIBJO clarity grading system).
What is a Salt and Pepper Diamond?
A ‘Salt and Pepper’ diamond is a natural diamond, that has grown in the same high temperature, high pressure conditions, at the same depths in the Earth’s mantle as your ‘standard’ white diamond that we are used to seeing in the jewellery stores.
Salt and pepper diamonds are so heavily included that the inclusions are often easily seen with the naked eye.
What type of inclusions feature in Salt and Pepper Diamond?
Salt = veil-like clouds of microscopic, small mineral inclusions, fractures, tension cracks, cleavage cracks, feathers, and tiny crystals.
Pepper = dark solid inclusions, black mossy-like inclusions, crystal inclusions, and dark spots of graphite.
There may also be surface reaching fractures, chips, nicks, and dot-like indentations.
All these inclusions can seriously affect the diamonds durability and its ability to withstand normal wear and tear.
Figure 2. 0.84ct Oval Salt and Pepper Diamond from author’s collection, you can see several surface reaching cavities, pits and dot-like indentations.
The cut of these diamonds is often poor and utilise the shape of the rough. While salt and pepper diamonds can be cut into standard diamond shapes such as pear shape, round brilliant, radiant and emerald cut, there are also irregular shapes such as hexagonal, keystone, shields or kite shaped cuts to accommodate the irregular shaped rough.
Figure 3. 0.08ct Tapered Baguette, 0.63ct Pear shaped and 0.002ct baguette Salt and Pepper Diamond’s from author’s collection.
Salt and pepper diamonds are not cut for sparkle, fire, or brilliance or for maximum light return. They are table-cut and Antwerp rose-cut to act as a ‘window’ into the diamond to highlight the inclusions.
These salt and pepper diamonds are promoted as ‘investment’ diamonds, and pricing ranges from $20.00 to thousands of dollars depending on the retailer or if a designer has attributed their name to the stone or jewellery. They are valued according to today’s ’current’ market conditions, but in two to three or perhaps five years from now when they are on longer on trend, the designer value is likely to be lower. The diamond may then be valued for what it really is – an industrial diamond of little value.
The durability normally attributed to a diamond (the hardest natural substance on earth) is not likely to apply to a salt and pepper diamond, because of the number, type, and placement of the multiple inclusions and surface reaching fractures in the diamond, which puts it at greater risk of shattering, breaking and chipping.
The setting and cleaning of these diamonds also poses a risk to the jeweller, as they may break during the setting or repairing an item of jewellery.
Figure 4. 0.63ct Pear shaped ‘Salt and Pepper’ diamond from authors collection, you can see a large fracture on the left-hand wing.
It is imperative at the point of sale, that open and honest disclosure is given to the customer about the risks of durability of these diamonds to protect both the consumer and the jewellery industry.
Care and Maintenance of your salt and pepper diamond.
Avoid wearing salt and pepper diamonds when undertaking any housework or gardening to prevent sharp or hard knocks. So not clean them in an ultra-sonic or steam cleaner. Instead, use a soft toothbrush with warm soapy water and a soft cloth to dry.
For guidance on your Salt and Pepper Diamond, please contact an NCJV Registered Jewellery Valuer in your area. Find a valuer
Jan Baker FGA, GIA AJP, IMJVA
NCJV Registered Valuer Q0208
Melanie Katsalidis & Laura di Florio – General Manager, Pieces of Eight Gallery– www.piecesofeight.com.au
Find A Valuer