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It’s been ingrained in our brains that a sparkling (and sizable) white diamond makes the ultimate engagement ring. But, as many modern brides will attest, a white diamond isn’t the be-all and end-all. If you lean toward an alternative aesthetic or you’re simply interested in an engagement ring that’s less expected, a salt-and-pepper diamond is a fantastic choice.
What Is a Salt-and-Pepper Diamond?
A salt-and-pepper diamond is a diamond with inclusions that appear black and white. Some will have more inclusions than others, and no two diamonds are alike—some will be dark and moody, others come light and bright with just a few tiny blemishes, while still others can look almost gray.
Salt-and-pepper diamonds are still diamonds, which means they’re still incredibly rare and valuable. The difference is that they come with a smidge more character than highly sought flawless white diamonds and make for distinctive engagement rings that veer slightly left of center without teetering too far into avant-garde territory.
Plus, since salt-and-pepper diamonds take fewer resources to mine than regular diamonds, they're perfect for eco-conscious couples. And because they're less rare than pure white diamonds due to their carbon inclusions, they're usually less expensive, making them a great choice for to-be-weds on a budget.
While salt-and-pepper diamonds are inherently alternative, you can opt for the speckled stone in a timeless setting to prevent it from feeling overly modern—a solitaire stone will read super clean, especially in a classic cut like cushion, round, oval, or pear. Or, if you are feeling something especially unique, modern stone shapes and settings abound.
If you think a salt-and-pepper diamond is right for your engagement ring, scroll through our edit of 20 options for every style and budget.
Anueva Jewelry 1.28 Carat Rose-Cut Oval Salt and Pepper Diamond Low Profile Evergreen Solitaire Ring in 14k Rose Gold
This untreated and ethically sourced hand-cut oval diamond is perfect for the boho bride. The gold band is hand-carved in a signature style, making this solitaire ring unique while still maintaining a classic look.
SHOP NOW: Anueva Jewelry, $2,400
Après Jewelry The Salt and Pepper Kite Ring
For the alternative bride-to-be who still wants a bit of traditional sparkle, this kite-shaped salt-and-pepper diamond is surrounded by three pavè-set white diamonds on each side. The simple band is available in yellow, white, or rose gold for a customizable look.
SHOP NOW: Après Jewelry, $975
NY Fine Jewelry Vintage Salt and Pepper Diamond Engagement Ring
This handmade Art Deco engagement ring features an oval salt-and-pepper center diamond with white diamond clusters on each side. It's prong-set on a yellow, white, or rose gold band and can be personalized for a special touch.
SHOP NOW: NY Fine Jewelry via Etsy, from $1,224
byAngeline Fancy Cut Salt and Pepper Diamond Solitaire Engagement Ring in 14k White Gold
This 1.625-carat salt-and-pepper diamond is pear-cut and set in solid white gold. The textured band and asymmetrical prongs create a rustic, one-of-a-kind look.
SHOP NOW: byAngeline, $2,995
mossNstone Salt and Pepper Diamond Engagement Ring in 14k Gold
This round-cut salt-and-pepper diamond engagement ring is fully customizable from stone size to band color. Choose anywhere from .85 to 1.48 carats, and set your bling in white, yellow, or rose gold.
SHOP NOW: mossNstone via Etsy, from $1,450
Julio Benez 14 Karat White Gold Salt and Pepper Diamond 1.04 Carat Ring
Simple yet detailed, this contemporary engagement ring features a salt-and-pepper center stone in a classic round cut enhanced by a uniquely shaped white gold band with two accent diamonds.
SHOP NOW: 1stdibs, $1,500
Sofia Zakia Salt and Pepper Diamond Wandering Star Ring
Described by the designer as a "wearable piece of poetry," this engagement ring was made for the bespoke bride. The round, rose-cut salt-and-pepper center diamond is accompanied by 10 sparkling white diamonds and two gold crescent moons on a rose, white, or yellow gold band.
SHOP NOW: Sofia Zakia, $2,495
Margaret Cross Salt and Pepper Diamond Ring
Three pavè-set white diamonds shine on each side of this brilliant-cut salt-and-pepper diamond with an intricate prong setting. The flat face and slightly squared edges contrast with the smooth, yellow gold band for an unconventional look.
SHOP NOW: Love Adorned, $2,500
Jennie Kwon Salt and Pepper Balance Ring
Symmetry is the concept behind this modern engagement ring boasting a total of 13 diamonds. Three sparkling white diamonds rest between two rose-cut salt-and-pepper diamonds, while one baguette-cut diamond and three 1mm white diamonds adorn each side of the white, yellow, or rose gold band.
SHOP NOW: Jennie Kwon, $2,500
Doozie Salt and Pepper Split Shank Ring in 14K White Gold
This ring's dot-detailed split shank draws the eye toward the bezel-set salt-and-pepper center diamond. The white gold band's satin matte finish gives off subtle vintage vibes.
SHOP NOW: Doozie, $2,625
Capucinne Sunrise Salt and Pepper Diamond Ring
A beautiful blend of salt-and-pepper and white diamonds adorn this sunrise-inspired sparkling engagement ring. It features a 1.2-carat half-moon-shaped center stone with an ombre-style diamond crown. For the band, choose from 14k or 18k white, yellow, or rose gold, or upgrade to platinum.
SHOP NOW: Capucinne, from $3,900
mossNstone Rose Cut Cushion Salt and Pepper Diamond Ring
This rustic engagement ring features a customizable rose-cut cushion salt-and-pepper diamond on a simple gold band. You can choose the weight of your diamond, the color and finish of the band, and the type of setting for a super individualized look.
SHOP NOW: mossNstone, $1,520
Alexis Russell The Lotus Ring With a Salt and Pepper Hexagon Diamond
If you're a modern bride inspired by vintage style, this ring is for you. The hexagon-shaped salt-and-pepper center diamond is enhanced by a white diamond sunburst at each point. Prong-set in 14k rose gold with a smooth finish, this piece truly one-of-a-kind.
SHOP NOW: Alexis Russell, $4,965
Digby & Iona Nico Ring
Featuring an intricately designed yellow gold band, this ring packs a punch with a 1.25-carat salt-and-pepper center stone and diamond clusters on each side.
SHOP NOW: Catbird, $3,670
Sofia Kaman Natural Beauty Salt and Pepper Diamond Solitaire Engagement Ring
The salt-and-pepper diamond and textured band add touches of modernity to this understated engagement ring's timeless style. The brilliant-cut diamond is bezel-set in your choice of rose, white, or yellow gold with a matte or shiny finish.
SHOP NOW: Sofia Kaman, $2,090
Concierge Diamonds Rose Cut Salt and Pepper Diamond Engagement Ring With Side Trillions
The geometric style of this engagement ring makes for a truly modern look. The hexagonal salt-and-pepper center stone rests between two trillion-cut white diamonds, while the yellow gold bezel setting adds a bit of old-school flair.
SHOP NOW: 1stdibs, $4,000
Eva Noga Salt and Pepper Allium Diamond Ring
This alternative engagement ring features a textured yellow gold shield with a salt-and-pepper center stone surrounded by white diamond baguettes.
A ring like this is perfect for mixing into your everyday ring stacks.
SHOP NOW: Love Adorned, $1,585
Variance Salt and Pepper Rough .75 Carat Diamond Ring on Gold Skinny Seamed Band
Tiny details make this simple-looking ring stand out. A rough-cut salt-and-pepper diamond is prong-set with a mix of white, rose, and yellow gold claws. The skinny, seamed band is made from 14k white gold and 22k yellow gold for an ultra-unique look.
SHOP NOW: Variance, $1,290
Michelle Oh Anya Ring
This marquise-cut salt-and-pepper diamond is set in signature yellow gold "talons" and flanked by micro-pavè brilliant-cut white diamonds on a simple rounded band.
SHOP NOW: Michelle Oh, $3,873.34