Fancy Gray Diamonds: A Detailed Guide on the Basics

Last Updated on September 11, 2023 by Juli "Jewels" Church

Have you ever heard of fancy gray diamonds? Steel diamonds, slate diamonds, silver diamonds or whatever you call them are gaining interest for searchers of unique engagement rings.  

These fab gems have been around for centuries and are used to make stunning jewelry pieces. 

fancy gray diamonds

In this Learning Guide, we'll cover everything you'll need to know before purchasing your very own fancy gray diamond like: 

  • Are gray diamonds the same as salt and pepper diamonds?
  • Are fancy gray diamonds good for engagement rings?
  • Where is the best place to buy a fancy gray diamond engagement ring?

What is a Gray Diamond?

A gray diamond is a real diamond with gray hue caused by impurities of hydrogen and boron affecting the diamond's structure. These impurities are the same ones found in very rare blue diamonds and violet diamonds.

Gray diamonds aren't largely in demand when it comes to fancy color diamonds. They can range from very light gray color to very dark gray.

Gray diamonds can be primary hues, but are most often found as secondary colors in blue diamonds and violet diamonds. They are less valuable as primary fancy color diamonds, but are more expensive as secondary colors to blue and violet diamonds.

Fancy gray diamonds with a pinkish, brown, yellow, or greenish yellow secondary color are less valuable than blue or violet hues.

Grey Diamonds can also be called:

  • Steel Diamonds
  • Slate Diamonds
  • Charcoal Diamonds
  • Smoky Diamonds
  • Salt and Pepper Diamonds
  • Silvermist Diamond
  • Silver Diamonds
  • Pigeon Diamonds

Where are Gray Diamonds Found?

Fancy gray diamonds come from a few different countries. Though the famous Argyle mine is known mostly for producing pink diamonds and red diamonds, it also produces pale gray diamonds of the Silvermist look. Brown diamonds are also found in the Argyle mines of Australia, which has since closed production in 2020.

Gray diamonds are found in

  • Australia
  • South Africa
  • Russia
  • Brazil
  • India

Salt and Pepper Diamonds vs Gray Diamonds

Salt and pepper diamonds are one of the latest and not so greatest trends in jewelry. Traditional diamond retailers aren't thrilled about them, but individual sellers sure are.

That's because the "salt and pepper diamond" diamond market consists of diamonds that have the lowest clarity grades, usually I3 clarity or worse. They contain black clouds of inclusions. 

A diamond's clarity is how free of natural inclusions it is. When forming in the earth's crust, the diamond crystal structure runs into all sorts of impurities and other bits of minerals. During formation, damage can also happen to the crystal structure, creating inclusions and blemishes.

When minerals get trapped in the crystal structure, they can create black spots. The clarity grade of your diamond is how prominent those black spots are. It can be confusing from a customer's perspective the way clarity is viewed.

I1 Clarity Emerald Cut Diamond

SI1 Clarity Emerald Cut Diamond

Salt and pepper diamonds are diamonds with the lowest clarity grades. Fine jewelry retailers don't typically even sell these diamonds because low clarity is considered low quality. These speckled diamonds don't have any physical caveats, so long as all of the inclusions are internal.

External blemishes can cause your diamond to split if struck hard enough. Internal inclusions don't. They're a visual preference, and majority of people don't want to see black spots in their diamonds.

Unless they're being marketed as trendy new "salt and pepper diamonds", that is. Shockingly (heavy sarcasm there), the diamond industry has yet again found a way to upsell lower quality diamonds to the masses.

From a visual standpoint and someone who also can appreciate a unique look for an engagement ring, I get the appeal. Just be careful who you buy from. And make sure all inclusions are internal, not external.

Don't pay the same price for a salt and pepper diamond ring as a colorless diamond ring with better clarity. Low clarity diamonds under 1 carat shouldn't have a high price.

In rare cases, fancy light gray diamonds with low clarity can be marketed as salt and pepper diamonds. In this case, these would cost a few thousands because it would be classified as a fancy gray diamond not a colorless diamond. 

Dark Gray Diamonds vs Black Diamonds

Fancy gray diamonds can have different shades and color intensities. Some fancy dark gray diamonds and fancy deep gray diamonds can appear almost black. But while fancy deep and fancy dark gray diamonds look like black diamonds, the hues come from different places.

Fancy Dark Gray Diamond

Fancy Black Diamond

Black diamonds only come as one color intensity: fancy black diamonds. They are usually translucent to opaque and have been irradiated to become darker. The origin of a black diamond's hues is due to dark mineral inclusions. Heavily included diamonds have then been irradiated to become natural black diamonds.

Remember, the gray hues of fancy gray diamonds have nothing to do with inclusions. So, a black diamond may look like a dark gray diamond, they are not the same. That's why it's very important to only buy loose diamonds with lab reports from a reliable grading laboratory.

Grey Fancy Colored Diamonds vs Grey Colorless Diamonds

There's a difference between a fancy gray diamond and gray colorless diamonds. This is also true for brown diamonds and brownish colorless diamonds, and fancy yellow diamonds with yellow tinted colorless diamonds.

A fancy gray diamond is only deemed fancy when the tone and intensity of the gray shades reach a certain level. If not buying in the right circles, some sellers can advertise low quality colorless diamonds that look gray as fancy gray diamonds. But they're not the same.

Sure they have the same chemical, physical, and optical structure. But if your diamond grading report doesn't say fancy gray diamond on it, that means it's just a colorless diamond that appears gray.

Even some faint gray and light gray diamonds look like colorless diamonds. When buying fancy gray diamonds, you should avoid wasting your money on these light gray tones that are basically colorless, like this one below:

So how do colorless diamonds appear gray?

Well, if it's a fancy light gray diamond, it'll appear almost colorless but with a fancy gray diamond certificate. Technically yes, you would have a colored diamond. But most people that look at your gray diamond aren't going to notice the color intensity difference from a colorless diamond.

But if a colorless diamond appears to have a darker gray tone, steer clear. Colorless diamonds with a gray color tone often means that diamond has not been cut well. If the cut quality of your diamond is poor, it can compromise the integrity of its durability in a diamond ring.

These diamonds online may appear gray, but when view through a video or viewer, you'll notice the traditional sparkle and fire of a diamond is very dull in poorly cut stones.

There's also a difference between a light gray colorless diamond and a Silvermist colored diamond. A Silvermist diamond is a light gray diamond with a medium tone. Instead of being highly saturated, these light gray diamonds have moderate saturation. They appear as more of a smoky light gray color instead of barely gray.

There's no standard as to what differentiates a Silvermist diamond from a regular gray diamond. But like padparadscha sapphire or a saffron colored diamond, gemologists have a generalized agreement on where the hues and tones of certain trade names come from.

Where to Buy Gray Diamonds

Grey diamonds are rarely desired by seekers of fancy colored diamonds. More colored diamond retailers are keen on keeping what's popular in-stock rather than more unique items. But there's one online retailer that understands every diamond color hue out there, Leibish & Co.

Leibish & Co. specializes in fancy colored diamonds and has the biggest and best selection for all of our fancy colored diamonds compared to other recommended retailers. They are high quality, but also come with a premium. If you're looking for colored diamonds with 360˚ view before you buy it, they are the best option.

They have a section for the less sought after colors like fancy white diamonds and fancy gray diamonds. Currently, they have over 80 gray diamonds of various intensities. Most of them range from fancy gray to fancy dark gray. They have excellent saturation, which sets the gray hues apart from grayish colorless diamonds.

Leibish only carries natural gray diamonds, but they may be treated for color. Make sure to check the diamond grading report, which is accompanied by gray diamonds purchased.

A fancy gray diamond with bluish hue color under 1 carat tend to be more pricey compared to a fancy deep gray over 1 carat with no blue hue color found.

Famous Gray Diamonds

Though natural fancy color diamonds are extremely rare, there are notable ones that have been found throughout history in large carat weights usually. These famous colored diamonds are often on display at museums or part of royal jewelry.

A 1 carat diamond with gray hues may not come at as high of price as other diamond colors, but large gray diamonds are exceedingly rare. So rare, that there are no notable gray diamonds in history. This is true for both fancy gray diamonds and fancy white diamonds.

The only famous diamonds associated with gray hues are stones where gray is a secondary color in the stone. They are also both famous blue diamonds.

The Hope Diamond is classified as fancy bluish gray diamond and remains the most famous diamond in the world. The movie Titanic featured a similar blue diamond necklace modeled after the cursed blue diamond. This legendary diamond can be found on display at the Smithsonian museum in Washington DC.

The other famous bluish gray diamond is the Wittelsbach Diamond, now known as the Whittelsbach-Graff Diamond. This fancy deep grayish blue diamond originally had the gray modifier, but then was recut.

After the diamond was re-cut by Lawrence Graff after he bought it at an auction. Though recutting the grayish blue diamond would result in a much lower carat weight, recutting it made it more appealing. It was graded as a fancy blue color grade with no gray modifier anymore, which in turn increased the value substantially.

credited: greyloch

credited: gsz

Are Gray Diamonds Expensive?

Gray colored diamonds have a strange way about their prices. Because both fancy gray and colorless diamonds can produce gray hues (albeit light gray for colorless diamonds), the value is much different.

All gray diamonds can look similar, but they have different factors that determine price and value. Let's go over some of them that we've already talked about.

Obviously the price of gray diamonds range based on color, carat weight, clarity, and cut, just like any other diamond. However, with colored diamonds, the quality factors shift their priorities.

The hue is most important with a grey diamond. For many colored diamonds, one solid hue is rare. But primarily gray diamonds don't cost as much as grayish blue or grayish violet diamonds. A 1/2 carat grayish blue diamond can go for 3x what a 1 carat dark grey diamond can.

Using Leibish & Co. 's gray diamond inventory, a .88 carat fancy light gray diamond with great saturation will cost around $7,500. Many high quality natural colorless diamonds run in that range too.

On the flipside, Leibish also has a fancy blue gray diamond weighing 1.15 carats for over $20,000. And the blue hue isn't highly definitive either. That's how rare and valuable diamonds with a blue hue are. 

As you can see, fancy gray diamonds can have big differences in price based on hues and intensity level alone. And if you're going for a lab created fancy gray diamond, they come at a 30-50% discount from mined fancy gray diamonds.


Gray diamonds aren't as sought after like other fancy colored diamonds, but they make a unique stone for a non-traditional engagement ring. Fancy gray diamonds can range from barely gray to almost black shades.

Standard fancy gray colored diamonds run less expensive than those with blue or violet hues. Greenish yellow gray diamonds are mid-range.

Greenish Yellow Gray Diamond

Greenish Yellow Gray Diamond

They are often confused with heavily included diamonds known as salt and pepper diamonds. And there's also a distinct difference between fancy dark gray diamonds and fancy black diamonds.

Fancy gray diamonds can run fairly cheap for a natural fancy color diamond, but if given rarer secondary colors, they can exceed tens of thousands.

There's a very broad spectrum when dealing with fancy gray diamonds, despite their low demand. But if given the effort to truly pick out a fancy gray diamond, it can be a beautiful stone for your engagement ring.

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