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

Modern, different, and one of a kind.

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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. 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. While they have existed for centuries alongside their more popular white diamond counterpart, these perfectly imperfect stones have more recently begun to gain traction with brides-to-be.

What Is a Salt-and-Pepper Diamond?

A salt-and-pepper diamond has inclusions that appear black and white. Many 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.

We spoke with an industry expert and founder of Au Xchange, Azra Mehdi, to gain insight on these natural beauties and what to know before slipping that once-in-a-lifetime ring onto your finger.

Meet the Expert

Pros and Cons of a Salt-and-Pepper Diamond Ring

Salt-and-pepper diamonds are still diamonds, which means they’re 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.

The good news is these distinctions make them 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 Mehdi.

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 rarer 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: The 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 a Salt-and-Pepper Diamond Ring

  • What cuts pair best with salt-and-pepper diamonds? 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," says Mehdi.
  • 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 '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. Although 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 23 options for every style and budget.

01
of 23

Anueva Jewelry Salt-and-Pepper Diamond Six-Prong Split-Shank Ring

Anueva Jewelry 1.47ct Salt and Pepper Diamond Six Prong Split Shank Satin Finished Ring

Courtesy of Anueva Jewelry

This untreated and ethically sourced, hand-cut 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 23

Après Jewelry Salt-and-Pepper Kite Ring

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 23

NYFineJewelry Vintage Salt-and-Pepper Diamond Ring

NYFineJewelry Vintage Salt and Pepper Diamond Engagement Ring

Courtesy of 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
of 23

byAngeline Fancy-Cut Salt-and-Pepper Diamond Solitaire Ring

byAngeline Fancy Cut Salt and Pepper Diamond Solitaire Engagement Ring

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 23

mossNstone Salt-and-Pepper Diamond Ring

mossNstone Salt and Pepper Diamond, Raw Diamond Engagement Ring

Courtesy of 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 23

Sofia Zakia Salt-and-Pepper Diamond Wandering Star Ring

Sofia Zakia Salt and Pepper Diamond Wandering Star Ring

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.

07
of 23

Margaret Cross Salt-and-Pepper Diamond Ring

Margaret Cross Salt and Pepper Diamond Ring

Courtesy of Love Adorned

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.

08
of 23

Jennie Kwon Salt-and-Pepper Balance Ring

Jennie Kwon Salt and Pepper Balance Ring

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.

09
of 23

Doozie Jewelry Salt-and-Pepper Split Shank Ring

Doozie Jewelry Salt and Pepper Split Shank Ring

Courtesy of Doozie Jewelry

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.

10
of 23

Capucinne Sunrise Salt-and-Pepper Diamond Ring

Capucinne Sunrise Salt and Pepper Diamond Ring

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.

11
of 23

MossnStone Salt-and-Pepper Elongated Hexagon Diamond Ring

MossnStone Salt and Pepper Elongated Hexagon Diamond 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.

12
of 23

Alexis Russell Camellia Ring

Alexis Russell 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 is truly one of a kind.

13
of 23

Digby & Iona Nico Ring

Digby & Iona Nico Ring

Courtesy of Catbird

Featuring an intricately designed yellow gold band, this ring packs a punch with a 1.25-carat salt-and-pepper center stone. Accompanied by diamond clusters on each side, it's hard not to fall in love with a charming piece like this.

14
of 23

Sofia Kaman Natural Beauty Salt-and-Pepper Diamond Solitaire Ring

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

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.

15
of 23

Concierge Diamonds Rose-Cut Salt-and-Pepper Diamond Ring

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

Courtesy of 1stDibs

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.

16
of 23

Capucinne Danielle Salt-and-Pepper Diamond Ring Set

Capucinne 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.

17
of 23

Concierge Diamonds Inc. Rose-Cut Pear-Shaped Salt-and-Pepper Diamond Ring

Concierge Diamonds Inc. Rose Cut Pear Shaped Salt and Pepper Diamond Solitaire Engagement Ring

Courtesy of 1stDibs

This rose-cut, pear-shaped solitaire makes a statement. The stunning textures of the salt-and-pepper diamond pair beautifully with the minimalistic 18k yellow gold band.

18
of 23

Variance Salt-and-Pepper Rough Diamond Ring

Variance Salt and Pepper .4CT Rough Carat Diamond Ring

Courtesy of Variance

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 23

Concierge Diamonds Inc. Salt-and-Pepper Diamond Ring

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

Courtesy of 1stDibs

Set in 18k gold, this captivating salt-and-pepper diamond engagement ring is adorned with a pavé-set band. To top it off, a flurry of shimmering diamonds creates the most stunning halo surrounding the round-cut center stone.

20
of 23

Michelle Oh Anya Ring

Michelle Oh Anya Ring

Courtesy of Michelle Oh

We're obsessing over the unique horizontal setting of this salt-and-pepper diamond ring. The marquise-cut stone is set in signature yellow gold "talons" and flanked by micro-pavé, brilliant-cut white diamonds on a simple rounded band.

21
of 23

La More Design Large Salt-and-Pepper Diamond Solitaire Ring

La More Design 1.81 Carat Large Salt and Pepper Diamond Solitaire 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 gray hues in the diamond.

22
of 23

Doozie Jewelry Salt-and-Pepper Pear Diamond Trio Ring

Doozie Jewelry Jewelry Salt + Pepper Pear Diamond Trio Ring

Courtesy of Doozie Jewelry

This trio of rose-cut pear-shaped diamonds sits pretty on an unadorned band within delicate prong settings. An eye-catching twist to a classic three-stone design, this beauty is set in 14k white gold.

23
of 23

Concierge Diamonds Inc. Salt-and-Pepper Diamond Ring

Concierge Diamonds Inc. Salt and Pepper Diamond Engagement Ring with White Diamond Side Stones

Courtesy of 1stDibs

It's safe to say that this round-cut salt-and-pepper diamond ring exudes pure magic. Set in 14k yellow gold, two white diamond side stones accompany this center stone on a simple band.

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