What are grey diamonds and why are they so popular?

Are you looking for a subtle alternative to a white diamond for your engagement ring? Are you thinking of an alternative to yellow gold and are looking for the right diamond to complement your choice? Are you looking for a unique stone?

Grey diamonds offer a great alternative to the traditional white and are becoming an increasingly popular choice for both engagement rings and bespoke commissions. At McCaul we regularly work with grey diamonds and we’ve included some examples of our work with this desirable stone for inspiration. But what makes a diamond ‘grey’ and why are they so sought-after?

Sculpted platinum 4-claw grey diamond engagement ring
There are two types of grey diamonds used in jewellery, fancy grey diamonds and included or ‘salt and pepper’ grey diamonds.

Fancy grey diamonds are rarer than white diamonds, but due to their relative anonymity their prices are similar. All coloured diamonds are the result of chemical impurities or structural defects in the diamond’s crystal lattice. Although called ‘defects’, their only impact is to give the stone it’s unique colour. To us, this ‘defect’ is a marvel of nature. In the case of fancy grey diamonds, it is the presence of hydrogen or boron within the stone that gives them their colour. The grey colour varies in intensity and is graded on a scale from faint grey through to fancy dark grey. The darkest stones have lovely, deep graphite tones.
Grey diamond colour grading scale

Colour is the determining factor in the value of fancy colour diamonds. Stones with an attractive colour will command a higher price. Clarity is also desirable and fancy grey diamonds are graded on a scale, from I (included) to F (flawless).  The highest quality grey diamonds have only the most minute inclusions and blemishes.

Hand carved Arris engagement ring with grey diamond

In contrast to this, salt and pepper grey diamonds are less rare than white diamonds and are considerably less expensive. They contain many black and white inclusions (the ‘salt and pepper’) that give them their grey colour. Salt and pepper grey diamonds are highly individual stones, with a unique beauty from the pattern of marks within each stone.  Inclusions are impurities or irregularities in the crystal structure and may be visible as small black and white pinpoints, needles, clouds, or feather-like patterns within the stone. These inclusions reduce clarity and some salt and pepper grey diamonds can be so included that they are completely opaque.  Salt and pepper grey diamonds can be incredibly beautiful, and every stone is completely unique.

Platinum and marquise salt and pepper grey diamond engagement ring

The value of these two types of grey diamonds can be vastly different. High-quality fancy grey diamonds are extremely rare, which is reflected in their price. Salt and pepper diamonds on the other hand are more readily found and can offer excellent value for money, which may mean you can buy a larger stone for your budget. It is possible to find beautiful grey diamonds of either type. Ultimately, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and we would advise you to choose the stone that appeals to you the most. The most beautiful is not always the most expensive.

Pear grey diamond Twist engagement ring with fitted wedding band

Why choose grey over white? They offer the durability of a classic white diamond in a subtle palette of silvery grey tones. Grey is associated with sophistication and elegance and chimes with the modern trend for minimalism, but they are anything but dull: A grey diamond still dazzles, with hints and flashes of many colours. As they are less commonly seen, grey diamonds offer a way of making your engagement ring more unique.  For all these reasons, and more, they are a perfect, modern choice for an engagement ring, pairing beautifully with platinum or 18-carat white or rose gold.

To find our more or discuss a grey diamond commission please get in touch for a chat.