I’ve spent most of my career helping people make informed decisions on purchasing jewelry not only that they will love and wear, but that will ultimately become a cherished heirloom for generations. I began working behind the counter at my family’s retail jewelry store as soon as I was tall enough to see over the counter and went on to study diamonds at the Gemological Institute of America before moving into the jewelry manufacturing and design space. Now, my main focus is education and support within the fine jewelry industry and with consumers.
Today, many jewelry shoppers are probably familiar with the 4C’s of diamonds; color, clarity, cut, and carat. These four characteristics help categorize diamonds. However, natural diamonds are unique like a fingerprint; and some have characteristics that throw the traditional 4C’s system out the window. These gems can be some of the most surprising, beautiful, and believe it or not; affordable diamonds mother nature has produced — specifically, the diamonds that fall outside of the conventional “clarity” scale.
Clarity measures the amount of “imperfections” or inclusions that occur naturally during formation, having a significant effect on the value of a diamond. Generally, the fewer inclusions in a diamond, the rarer and more valuable it is. This means many shoppers shy away from diamonds with inclusions. However, there are many types of heavily included diamonds that have gained popularity for their unique and fascinating appearance.
Salt and pepper diamonds are natural diamonds speckled with white and black inclusions. They may also be described as wild, raw, or even misfit diamonds. While the look may or may not be for everyone, there are many reasons to love them. Every natural diamond is unique, but with salt and pepper diamonds, their rarity is obvious to the naked eye. No pattern of inclusions is the same, so they can all speak uniquely to an individual. Another bonus of salt and pepper diamonds is that they are more opaque than traditional white diamonds, so the cutter does not have to worry about perfect proportions to maximize light. This gives them more artistic freedom, and results in salt and pepper diamonds often being cut into unusual shapes,
Another heavily included diamond is the icy white diamond. These are stones that are filled with white, feathery, or silky inclusions, giving them an icy opaque look. These diamonds, just like salt and pepper diamonds, are natural and unique from one another. With them, you find the benefit of originality and a more raw or natural appearance similar to a diamond’s rough form.
A dark standout in heavily included diamonds are grey diamonds. Full of similar feathery or silky inclusions like icy white diamonds, these are instead filled with dark color inclusions that change the appearance of the stone from white to light or dark grey. These are not to be confused with “fancy grey diamonds”, which are natural diamonds with very few inclusions whose color comes from nitrogen or boron atomic impurities. The “fancy grey” variety is much rarer and would cost significantly more. However, a grey included diamond can be an excellent option for a similar look without the high cost.
When shopping for an engagement ring, necklace, bracelet, or earrings, heavily included diamonds like these are perfect for those looking to step outside of the traditional box. The more extreme rarity and complex cutting process of white, high-clarity diamonds make these included diamonds a bargain in comparison. However, because these diamonds are so unique to one another I suggest always seeing them in person before buying. While not very common to see in some stores, most local shops are happy to bring in a selection and even help design a custom piece around your included gem. Online shopping for these rare stones can also be a good option, but it is vital to check return policies and reviews.
These diamond varieties share a special distinction, what makes them so special is something that traditionally consumers would find unappealing… their earthly inclusions. If you find beauty in natural imperfection, then you may have found the perfect diamond.