Diamonds are forever…diamonds are a girl’s best friend…diamonds, diamonds, diamonds! It’s been engrained 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. No shame if you want a flawless, brilliant, classically cut white diamond—they’re timeless for a reason! But if you tend toward an alternative aesthetic or you’re simply interested in an engagement ring that’s less expected, then a salt-and-pepper diamond is a fantastic choice.
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 a highly sought flawless white diamond and make for a distinctive engagement ring that veers slightly left of center without teetering too far into avant-garde territory. When it comes to buying diamonds, you’re likely familiar with the four Cs—cut, color, clarity, carat—as well as terms like “flaws” and “inclusions” (these are basically marks in a diamond that give the stone a spotted or flecked look). In the most simple terms, a salt-and-pepper diamond is basically 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. This equates to a ring with personality! It also means they’re usually a lot less expensive than white diamonds with minimal or no inclusions—a great option for price-conscious couples!
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. You can even go for a raw or rough cut salt-and-pepper diamond or a rose-gold setting if you’re coveting an engagement ring with loads of character.
If you think a salt-and-pepper diamond is right for your engagement ring, ahead, scroll our edit of 24 options for every style and budget.