What are Salt and Pepper Diamonds? (And Why They’re Shaking Up Portland)

What are Salt and Pepper Diamonds? (And Why They’re Shaking Up Portland)

Ronnie Malka

Diamond solitaire engagement rings will always hold a timeless, classic appeal. But many of today’s Portland-area couples are looking for something a little different.

From vintage or Art Deco styles, to custom-made one-of-a-kind looks, we see (and love) it all. But there’s one trend in particular that’s been gaining popularity over the last few years: salt and pepper diamonds.

What are salt and pepper diamonds?

The phrase “salt and pepper” refers to a diamond that has a mix of many black and white inclusions, giving the stone a silky gray and speckled look.

Inclusions are small imperfections inside of a diamond. These inclusions can be black, white, or another color, and have many different shapes and sizes.

Nearly all diamonds have some kind of inclusion, but they’re often so small they can’t be seen by the naked eye. With salt and pepper diamonds, these inclusions are not only large and visible, they also affect the diamond’s overall appearance in a unique and beautiful way.

The look, shape, and size of salt and pepper diamonds

Quickly browse through our selection of salt and pepper rings and you’ll notice right away that every salt and pepper diamond is incredibly unique — no two are the same. These diamonds have a lot of personality!


Salt and pepper diamonds have a wild, simplistic, and mysterious appearance. Their smokey and modern look has become popular among those who want a ring that stands out from the crowd and doesn’t conform to the status quo. It’s the perfect style for the modern-day Portlander.

Some will have more inclusions than others, giving off a really strong speckled appearance. You’ll see those that are dark and moody and lighter ones with just a few tiny specks. Others can look almost completely gray.

While this type of diamond is certainly eye-catching, they don’t sparkle quite as much as their perfect cousins simply because less light can be refracted through its silky interior. Yet under the right light, its mottled appearance will spoil you with a shiny, sparkly show.


Just like a traditional diamond, salt and pepper stones come in just about every shape and size. However, most salt and pepper stones are rose cut.

The rose cut is a timeless shape dating back to the 1500’s and features a large surface area. This is usually idea for salt and pepper diamonds because it helps show off its brilliance.

You’ll be sure to find a salt and pepper ring that perfectly fits with your vision. Or if you’re interested in a custom-designed ring, the variety of look, shape, and size available gives you a lot of flexibility in the design process.

7 key characteristics of a salt and pepper diamond

  • Wild and raw

  • Mysterious

  • Simplistic yet sophisticated

  • Versatile

  • Speckled

  • Smokey

  • Silky

Are salt and pepper diamonds valuable?

By now, you’ve probably heard us talk about how diamonds are graded on their 4 C’s:

  1. Cut

  2. Clarity

  3. Color

  4. Carat

Although salt and pepper diamonds ARE diamonds, their appeal is the rough-cut, wild, and raw style. This inherently throw the diamond grading system out the window. That doesn’t mean this type of diamond isn’t valuable. Quite the opposite! Salt and pepper diamonds are still diamonds, afterall, and diamonds are incredibly rare and valuable.

But for price-conscious couples, because a diamond with minimal or no inclusions is so rare, salt and pepper diamonds are typically less expensive than a highly sought after flawless white diamond.

This creative, beautiful diamond offers the same level of durability and beauty while appealing to those who have a tighter budget.

Salt and pepper diamonds are eco friendly

Another appeal salt and pepper diamonds have for many Portland couples is their eco-friendly status. These diamonds take far less resources and time to mine, which makes them far less taxing on the environment than regular diamonds.

How to wear a salt and pepper diamond ring

There is no one way to wear a salt and pepper ring. While these rings have become incredibly popular as engagement rings, we have many clients who enjoy wearing them as everyday “casual” rings, too.

The unique look and personality of salt and pepper diamonds make them flexible to fit any type of occasion. They can be paired with other diamonds or gemstones to create a unique and sophisticated engagement ring, or set in a simple stackable band.

The versatility of these rings is one of the reasons they have become so popular!

Tips for choosing a salt and pepper ring

Every salt and pepper diamond has its own unique look, so how can you possibly choose just one?

We recommend coming to our store to look at your options in person. Comparing the differences between stones and trying on rings is the best way to choose the ring you love most.

Helping clients choose a salt and pepper ring is one of our favorite activities — we love explaining the background of these diamonds, pointing out individual characteristics of each piece, and curating a selection of diamonds that best fits your personality, needs, and vision.

If you prefer a custom-made design, we’ll walk you through each step of the process — from picking the stone to choosing band material — and give you as much time as you need along the way.

Pro Tip: Always purchase salt and pepper rings from a reputable jeweler. Certain salt and pepper rings feature inclusions that are so large that it may affect the durability and strength of a diamond. A trusted jeweler will only carry salt and pepper diamonds that are both beautiful and durable and will ensure you end up with a high-quality option.

Browse salt and pepper diamonds in downtown Portland

Are you interested in adding a salt and pepper diamond to your jewelry collection? Visit our downtown Portland jewelry store and browse our full collection of designer and custom-made salt and pepper diamonds.

We can’t wait to answer all your questions and help you choose the perfect salt and pepper ring.

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