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    What Are Salt & Pepper Diamonds?

    What are salt & pepper diamonds?

    At Gem Breakfast, we love the unique, the extraordinary, the never-been-done-before designs that push creativity forward. And herein lies our love for the magical, mystical, one-of-a-kind salt & pepper diamond.  

    Whether you love salt & pepper diamonds, hate them, or haven’t heard of them, you’ll find lots to ponder in our ode to everything salt & pepper. Keep reading to find out:

    • How are diamonds formed?
    • What are salt & pepper diamonds?
    • Why we love them
    • How to choose a salt & pepper diamond
    • Custom vs already created

    How are salt & pepper diamonds formed?

    Most diamonds were formed one to three billion years ago, when conditions were perfect for diamond growth. It all went down about 100 miles below the earth’s surface, where the average temperature is 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. When this extreme pressure and intense heat is applied to carbon atoms in the earth’s crust, voila – natural diamonds are formed!

    Once the diamonds are formed, they travel up to the earth’s surface in very rare volcanic eruptions - this is where we find them.

    When miners find diamonds, they aren’t the shimmering, flawlessly cut stones you see in your jewelry. They’re raw, uncut, unpolished, and most are filled with imperfections, inclusions, or flaws.

    What are inclusions? They’re minerals trapped inside the stone, and they might look like feathers, cracks, clouds, coloration, or even chips. Each diamond found reflects the time it was formed, and each inclusion is a timestamp of that stone’s unique life cycle and history.

    What are Salt & Pepper diamonds?

    You may have heard of the 4 Cs – the scale created to measure the imperfections in a white diamond. Diamonds on the far end of the clarity scale, have visible inclusions or blemishes (rated I). On the other end (VVS), the discoloration and inclusions are so small, they can’t be seen with the naked eye.

    Salt & Pepper diamonds are heavily included diamonds – if you were to grade them, they would be on the farthest end of the GIA scale (I2, I3). However, since these inclusions are what makes these diamonds special, the grading system doesn’t really apply.  

    They’re called ‘Salt & Pepper’ or ‘Galaxy’ diamonds for their cosmic, night sky appearance. ‘Pepper’ refers to the black inclusions, and ‘salt’ refers to the icy white inclusions. You can of course find other colors also, often earthier shades that move beyond pure black and white.

    Historically these diamonds were seen as undesirable. The goal was always completely clear, see-through white diamonds. Only recently have people become to appreciate the depth, dimension, and truly unique look of a salt & pepper diamond.

    Why we love salt & pepper diamonds


    Unlike the common white diamond, a salt & pepper diamond isn’t assessed solely on its shine. Their appeal lies in their depth – they’re more mysterious, enigmatic, and almost cosmic. They evolve the more you look at them, and are distinctive from every angle.

    A common white diamond reflects light outward – pushing it’s sparkle and shine towards it’s spectator. A salt & pepper diamond does just the opposite – it pushes less light out, and instead pulls you in to its complex, many-varied depths.


    Most diamonds contain traces of graphite, hematite, and magnetite in varying quantities. These mineral deposits are the source of any inclusions or blemishes in a diamond.

    Traditional white diamonds are often treated to remove these inclusions, to create that ‘perfect’ white appearance. Salt and Pepper diamonds however, are left wild. The ‘birthmarks’ throughout the stone are celebrated as the one-of-a-kind patterns that mark that stone’s unique history and natural composition.

    Diamonds take billions of years to form, and these inclusions and deposits showcase that stone’s rare path on this planet – the shifting of rocks, the changing in temperatures, the forming and fusing of natural elements.

    It’s fascinating to us, we love seeing the life path in every stone. Each diamond tells a story of the earth – of evolution and transformation. It’s magical to see this variation in every stone.

    Salt & Pepper DIamonds are EARTH-FRIENDLY

    When sourcing clear white diamonds, mining companies only use a very small percentage of the diamonds they find, discarding the rest as waste or for industrial purposes.

    In the past, salt & pepper diamonds would have been among these discarded stones. Now, these alternative diamonds are being celebrated instead of discarded. This means all material is used - no more waste.

    This is so important to us – sustainability means reducing waste and using all the precious resources we extract from the earth.

    Earth Friendly

    Salt & Pepper Diamonds are ACCESSIBLE

    Not only are these diamonds more accessible and affordable for you, the jewel wearer, they’ve opened a whole new world for independent jewelry designers.

    In the past, it was very difficult for new designers to break into the jewelry industry. With the incredibly high cost of diamonds, these emerging designers didn’t have the means to produce their designs. With the rise of Salt & Pepper diamonds, these incredibly talented, boundary-pushing artisans can get their creations into the market. And we’re so thankful for that – jewelry designs have never been so varied and unique – these innovative, fearless designers are pushing the industry forwards and opening our minds to the infinite possibilities of creativity.

    And for you, the lower cost of diamonds means more diamond for your money.


    Every salt & pepper diamond has a completely unique and one-of-a-kind pattern - you’ll never find two stones the same.

    As people, we’re all aligned in our humanness, but distinctive in our own, undeniable way. In the same way, salt & pepper stones are all diamonds, yet every one has its own energy, look, and history.

    It’s such a fun experience finding a stone and a ring that truly represents you, in all your perfect imperfection.

    Salt & Pepper are TRULY UNIQUE

    Not only is every stone unique from each other, s & p stones are uncommon as a whole. They’re a modern deviation from the mass-produced, standardized styles seen in the showcases of most jewelry stores. An evolution of our perception of beauty and style.

    It’s a beautiful thing to see creativity rising, conformity disappearing, and more people celebrating innovation and diversity. To move beyond what’s expected and what’s always been done, and find beauty and value in the unexpected.

    Salt & Pepper Diamonds are ETHICALLY SOURCED

    All Gem Breakfast designers and designs are thoroughly vetted and use conflict-free diamonds. We have very personal relationships with all our suppliers and only work with people of the upmost ethics and quality. This applies to Salt & Pepper diamonds and every other gem we use.  

    How to choose your salt & pepper diamond
    Just like with every stone, your salt & pepper diamond should pull you in. Every diamond has a unique mood or energy that will affect each person differently. When you’re looking at rings, you’ll feel which ones speak to your unique, personal energy.  
    Whether you’re drawn to the cosmic, infinite feeling of a dark, peppery diamond, the mystical, alchemist energy of a mixed stone, or the vintage glamour of an icy white-included diamond, you’ll know it when you see it.

    Custom vs Ready-To-Ship

    Since almost every Gem Breakfast ring is a one-of-a-kind creation, you’ll be getting a completely original piece whether you choose custom or already designed. The only choice is whether you find that perfect match online, or have a vision that’s not yet been realized.

    If you’re set on Salt & Pepper, start by browsing the salt & pepper section of our site. If you find a ring that stirs up your soul, you may have to look no further. If you’re torn, and you like the setting of one ring, and the stone on another, a custom design may be just the ticket for you!

    Whether you already have a design in mind or just a hazy idea of what you might love, chat with us and we’ll work with you to design and create a ring that represents you through and through.

    Send us a message anytime to chat custom or schedule a complimentary consultation.

    Shop Salt & Pepper Diamonds