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 perfect diamond to complement your choice? Perhaps you are looking for a unique stone to match the individuality of the wearer?

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 fascinating 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, and, as with all coloured diamonds, their unique colours are as a result of chemical impurities within the stone itself or as a result of the unique structure of that diamond’s crystal lattice.  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 smouldering, 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.

Hand carved Arris engagement ring with grey diamond

The second category of grey diamonds is ‘Salt and Pepper’ grey diamonds which offer a distinctive alternative to white diamonds. These diamonds 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 and ‘personality’ created by 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 the clarity of the diamond and some 'salt and pepper' grey diamonds can be so included that they are completely opaque.

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’ grey 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. At McCaul Goldsmith’s we have vast experience sourcing beautiful grey diamonds of either type. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and we would advise you to choose the stone that appeals to you the most. It’s certainly the case that that 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. Yellow and rose gold bring out the playful colour and patterns of ‘salt and pepper’ grey diamonds perfectly, whilst 18 carat white gold and platinum settings create a cool, icy aesthetic for your statement piece. As they are less commonly seen, grey diamonds offer a way of making your engagement ring absolutely breathtaking and unique. For all these reasons, and more, they are a chic, modern choice for an engagement ring.

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