While the term isn’t very common in diamonds & jewelry, but melee diamonds do a huge favor to the jewelry industry.
Melee diamonds, often considered as unsung heroes of the jewelry world, are extremely small diamonds typically used as accents to enhance larger stones or create intricate designs.
Melee diamonds range in size from just a 1/5 fraction of a carat (0.2 carat) down to even smaller points (could be 1/1000 of a carat), these tiny gems add sparkle and depth to pieces, from elegant engagement rings to lavish necklaces.
Their contribution to jewelry making is vital, as they offer designers the flexibility to create detailed, radiant patterns that captivate and charm.
Let’s get an insider look at these tiny gems.
What Are Melee Diamonds?
Melee diamonds are small, yet significant gems in the jewelry industry, defined by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) as any diamond less than 0.2 carats.
These diminutive diamonds, which can be as small as 0.001 carats, play a crucial role in jewelry design. While they are not ‘usually’ a center store, but more commonly used to accentuate a central stone in pieces like engagement rings to add depth and sparkle to the ring.
Melee diamonds can be seen in halo, channel, and pave settings, but rarely used as a center stone in a solitaire settings for example.
While individually they may not hold significant value, collectively, melee diamonds enhance the overall aesthetic appeal of a jewelry piece, elevating its elegance and visual impact.
How Are Melee Diamonds Cut? Single vs Full Cuts
Melee diamonds come primarily in two types: single cut and full cut.
Single-cut melee diamonds, often used in vintage or antique-style jewelry, have a simpler form with typically 17 or 18 facets (remember, the typical round diamond has 57-58 facets).
Single cut diamonds have 8 facets on their crown, another 8 on the pavilion, and the table, and this cut is used to enhance the diamond’s brightness rather than its fire.
This cut was used due to the fact that producing 58 facets of such a small & cheap diamond will be more worth that the diamond itself, but now technology have changed, and we don’t see much of single cut melee diamonds now.
On the other hand, we have the full cut diamonds, which are all melee diamonds you see in modern rings.
Full-cut melee diamonds, are designed with 57 or 58 facets, similar to a standard round brilliant cut in larger diamonds.
This cut maximizes the diamond’s fire and brilliance. The choice between single and full cut melee diamonds often depends on the desired aesthetic effect and the design of the jewelry piece.
Popular Ring Settings With Melee Diamonds
Melee diamonds are widely used in various ring settings to enhance the overall allure of the piece. In settings like halo settings, they encircle a central stone, adding a luxurious and magnified look.
Also used in pavé settings, where melee diamonds are closely set together, create a dazzling, continuous sparkle.
They’re also used in channel settings like this one, where the diamonds are set between two strips of metal, offering a sleek, modern appearance.
These small diamonds significantly contribute to the aesthetic value of a ring, accentuating key features and adding a touch of elegance.
Melee Diamond Pricing: How Much They Are Worth?
Melee diamonds are typically not sold individually but rather in wholesale, reflecting their common use as accents in jewelry.
This means they’re rarely found in local stores as single pieces. The pricing of melee diamonds is influenced by the overall quality and quantity purchased.
Since they’re bought in bulk, the cost per diamond decreases with larger quantities. This wholesale approach to pricing means that the cost for melee diamonds can vary significantly based on factors like cut, clarity, and the number of diamonds in the batch.
Melee Diamonds Grading
Melee diamonds, due to their small size, typically do not receive individual grading from reputable grading labs as the grading would be more costly than the diamond itself, this means that you, as a buyer, may not be able to discern specific grades yourself.
Instead, they are assessed in groups based on general quality characteristics, and that’s why end users don’t buy them, they are generally bought in wholesale by total weight.
Melee Diamonds 4Cs
While the cut, color, and clarity of melee diamonds are vital for the jewelry’s overall appearance, assessing these qualities in such small stones is not straightforward.
It’s important to closely examine or consult with a professional for any noticeable color differences that might affect the overall look of your ring.
Carat Weight (CT) vs Total Carat Weight (TCW)
When selecting a diamond ring, especially with melee diamonds, it’s important to differentiate between “carat weight” and “total carat weight.”
Carat weight refers to the weight of an individual diamond, typically the main stone in a ring.
On the other hand, total carat weight represents the cumulative weight of all diamonds in a piece.
For example, A ring that has multiple small diamonds, totaling a combined weight of 1.50 carats (tcw), is priced lower than a solitaire ring featuring a single 1.50 ct diamond.
That’s because diamonds cost more per carat, the bigger the diamonds, the less available they are, and thus demand a higher price per carat compared to smaller diamonds, even when their total carat weight is equivalent.
Tips When Buying a Ring With Melee Diamonds
When purchasing melee diamonds or jewelry featuring them, consider these tips:
- Examine Overall Appearance: Since melee diamonds aren’t graded individually, focus on the overall look they contribute to the jewelry piece.
- Seek Uniformity: Look for consistency in color and size among the melee diamonds, as this impacts the piece’s aesthetic.
- Ask About Sourcing: Inquire about where the diamonds are sourced, and they are ethically mined/sourced.
- Quality of Setting: Check the craftsmanship of how the melee diamonds are set in the jewelry.
- Professional Advice: If in doubt, always consult with a trusted jeweler or gemologist, especially for pieces with significant melee diamond detailing.
These guidelines can help ensure that you choose a piece where melee diamonds enhance the beauty and value of the jewelry.
Melee Diamonds: Summary
In conclusion, melee diamonds are small yet integral components in jewelry design, typically weighing less than 0.2 carats.
Their use varies from accentuating main stones to creating elaborate designs in rings and other jewelry.
While they aren’t individually graded, their cut, color, and clarity are essential for the jewelry’s overall aesthetic, they offer a unique blend of affordability and decorative appeal in the world of fine jewelry.
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