Salt-and-Pepper Diamond Engagement Rings: The Complete Guide

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Courtesy Michelle Oh Anya / Design by Bailey Mariner

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.

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.

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.

Meet the Expert

Azra Mehdi is the founder Au Xchange Fine Gold Jewelry.

Pros and Cons of Salt-and-Pepper Diamonds

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.

These diamonds are "less expensive: salt-and-pepper diamonds are more affordable because they are not considered to be perfect gemstones. They were often discarded during the diamond sorting process," says Azra Mehdi, founder of Au Xchange.

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.

But there are a few cons to note when looking at salt-and-pepper diamonds. The most important to note: traditional 4Cs of diamond evaluations do not apply. "It is generally harder to grade a salt-and-pepper diamond because the high number of black and white inclusions makes it look ‘peppered” and difficult to grade. Hence, the 4Cs of cut, color, clarity, and carat do not apply entirely to salt-and-pepper diamonds, although they are still used as guides," Mehdi explains.

What to Look for in Salt-and-Pepper Diamonds

  • What cuts pair best with salt-and-pepper diamonds? Mehdi tells BRIDES that salt-and-pepper diamonds bring out unique inclusions and patterns in the gemstone. "The high number of inclusions reduces the brilliance of the stone. Thus, cutters often choose to highlight these inclusions by choosing fancy cuts like the step cut or rose cut for these stones," she adds.
  • What settings look best with salt-and-pepper diamonds? "Geometric shapes like triangles, hexagons, and kites are more prevalent when choosing salt-and-pepper diamonds, although round, oval, and pear shapes are available as well," Mehdi explains.
  • How can I tell if the ring is high quality? “By definition, salt-and-pepper diamonds are deemed to be “low quality” diamonds, and they are not nearly as rare as other colored diamonds,” Mehdi says. The value of these diamonds is judged based on their diversity and the illusions they give off. "Remember, these are still diamonds, so they will always carry the level of value that comes with being a diamond," Mehdi notes.
  • How much do these rings cost? "The cost of salt-and-pepper diamond engagement rings varies based on the gemstone size, the amount of gold and any additional diamond accents, and of course, the designer," explains Mehdi.

How to Care for a Salt-and-Pepper Diamond Engagement Ring

Salt-and-pepper diamonds will show less wear and tear than traditional diamonds, but it is still essential to maintain cleanings. However, the stone won't lose its dullness as fast as other stones, still clean the ring monthly. This will help to remove buildup from the ring and the band. 

Also, remember to take the ring off when you shower or wash your hands. The water won't harm the ring, but over time it does contribute to the ring tarnishing and the luminosity diminishing. 

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.

01
of 20

Anueva Jewelry 1.28 Carat Rose-Cut Oval Salt and Pepper Diamond Low Profile Evergreen Solitaire Ring in 14k Rose Gold

Ring

Courtesy of Anueva Jewelry

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.

02
of 20

Après Jewelry The Salt and Pepper Kite Ring

Courtesy of Après Jewelry

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.

03
of 20

NY Fine Jewelry Vintage Salt and Pepper Diamond Engagement Ring

Salt and pepper diamond ring in rose gold with diamond clusters

Courtesy of NY Fine Jewelry via Etsy

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.

04
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byAngeline Fancy Cut Salt and Pepper Diamond Solitaire Engagement Ring in 14k White Gold

Pear shaped salt and pepper engagement ring in white gold

Courtesy of byAngeline 

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.

05
of 20

mossNstone Salt and Pepper Diamond Engagement Ring in 14k Gold

Round cut salt and pepper diamond ring in gold setting

Courtesy of mossNstone via Etsy

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.

06
of 20

Concierge Diamonds Inc. Oval Salt and Pepper Diamond Halo Engagement Ring

ring

Courtesy of Concierge Diamonds Inc.

Simple yet detailed, this contemporary engagement ring features a salt-and-pepper center stone in a classic halo cut enhanced by a uniquely shaped white gold band with two accent diamonds.

07
of 20

Sofia Zakia Salt and Pepper Diamond Wandering Star Ring

Salt and pepper diamond in gold band with two moon shapes surrounded by diamonds

Courtesy of Sofia Zakia

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.

08
of 20

Margaret Cross Salt and Pepper Diamond Ring

Salt and pepper diamond in gold setting surrounded by six pave white diamonds

Courtesy of Margaret Cross

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.

09
of 20

Jennie Kwon Salt and Pepper Balance Ring

Two salt and pepper rose cut stones with three white diamonds in the middle and baguette diamonds on the band

Courtesy of Jennie Kwon

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.

10
of 20

Doozie Salt and Pepper Split Shank Ring in 14K White Gold

Split shank ring with salt and pepper round center stone

Courtesy of Doozie 

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.

11
of 20

Capucinne Sunrise Salt and Pepper Diamond Ring

Half moon salt pepper diamond with ombre style diamond crown

Courtesy of Capucinne

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.

12
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MossnStone Salt and Pepper Elongated Hexagon Diamond Ring

Ring

Courtesy of mossnstone

This rustic engagement ring features a customizable rose-cut cushion salt-and-pepper diamond on a simple double 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.

13
of 20

Alexis Russell The Camellia Ring with a Black Emerald-Cut Diamond

The Camellia Ring with a Black Emerald-Cut Diamond

Courtesy of Alexis Russell

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.

14
of 20

Digby & Iona Nico Ring

Salt and pepper center diamond surrounded by six smaller salt and pepper diamonds on gold band

Courtesy of Digby & Iona

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.

15
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Sofia Kaman Natural Beauty Salt and Pepper Diamond Solitaire Engagement Ring

Round salt and pepper diamond in organic gold setting

Courtesy of Sofia Kaman

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.

16
of 20

Concierge Diamonds Rose Cut Salt and Pepper Diamond Engagement Ring With Side Trillions

Hexagon shaped salt and pepper stone with side trillion cut white diamonds in gold setting

Courtesy of Concierge Diamonds Inc.

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.

17
of 20

Capucinne Danielle Salt and Pepper Diamond Ring Set

Danielle Salt and Pepper Diamond Ring Set

Courtesy of Capucinne

This alternative engagement ring features a textured yellow gold shield with a salt-and-pepper center stone surrounded by white and chocolate diamonds. A ring like this is perfect for mixing into your everyday ring stacks.

18
of 20

Variance Salt and Pepper Rough .4CT Carat Diamond Ring

SALT AND PEPPER

Courtesy of Variance Objects

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.

19
of 20

Michelle Oh Anya Ring

Marquis cut salt and pepper diamond flanked by micro pave brilliant cut white diamonds

Courtesy of Michelle Oh

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.

20
of 20

La More Design 1.81 Carat Large Salt and Pepper Diamond Solitaire Ring

ring

Courtesy of La More Design

A salt and pepper diamond pairs beautifully with a rose gold band. The warm tones of the rose gold highlight the deep grey hues in the diamond.

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