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Melee Diamonds: Everything You Need To Know

What Are Melee Diamonds?


Melee diamonds are tiny diamonds commonly used in diamond jewelry to accentuate a single center stone, especially in engagement rings. The small diamonds used in settings like halo, pavé, or channel settings are almost always melee diamonds.


According to the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), melee diamonds are defined as diamonds that are less than 0.2 carats. While this is the maximum size for melee diamonds, they can be as small as 0.001 carats.


Individually, a melee diamond is very small and may not make much impact on its own. However, when grouped together, melee diamonds can add a stunning sparkle to an otherwise plain ring, enhancing its presence and giving it a significantly more impressive appearance.


Melee Diamond

Melee Diamond Cuts


Melee diamonds are often cut in the same way as larger brilliant-cut diamonds. Many melee diamonds look like scaled-down versions of the round brilliant diamonds typically used as center stones.


Single Cut vs. Full Cut


Most melee diamonds are cut similarly to larger diamonds, resulting in a finished product with 57-58 facets, akin to a downsized version of a typical center stone diamond. These are known as Full Cut melees.


There is another type of melee diamond called Single Cut. These diamonds are produced using simpler cutting methods and have only 17 facets: 8 on the crown, 8 on the pavilion, and the table. Single Cut melees lack the fire and sparkle of Full Cut Brilliant diamonds.


Today, Single Cut diamonds are rarely used. Modern diamond cutting technology has advanced to the point where there is little reason to produce Single Cut melee diamonds. Consequently, the overwhelming majority of melee diamonds are Full Cut melees.


Melee Diamond Prices


As with larger diamonds, the price of a melee diamond depends on the quality of the cut and the size of the diamond. Due to their small size, melee diamonds are not very valuable individually.


Melee diamonds are rarely sold individually. Instead, they are usually bundled in parcels containing hundreds of small diamonds and sold wholesale to jewelry designers or repairers. The price of melee diamonds is calculated by the total carat weight of the parcel rather than each individual stone.


Melee diamonds commonly cost between $300-400 per carat for average-grade stones. Higher-graded melee diamonds, such as those with VVS/VS clarity and higher than H or I in color, may cost up to $1,000 per carat.


Melee Diamond Ring Settings


Melee diamonds are used in ring settings to provide dazzling sparkle, fire, and brilliance to engagement rings.


Popular settings featuring melee diamonds include pavé, halo, and channel settings. These small diamonds add volume and all-around shine without detracting from the center diamond.


In a halo setting, melee diamonds are arranged around the center stone. This design accentuates the size of the center stone, creating the illusion of a larger diamond without the cost of a high-carat stone.


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How Melee Diamonds Enhance a Diamond Ring


Incorporating melee diamonds into a ring setting offers several benefits at a relatively lower cost compared to larger diamonds. Let’s explore how melee diamonds can enhance the beauty and appeal of a diamond ring:


More Sparkle: When closely set together, melee diamonds create a brilliant sparkling effect that captivates the eye. This added sparkle not only complements the central diamond but also elevates the overall visual appeal of the ring.


Enhanced Size Perception: Melee diamonds, especially in a halo setting, can create the illusion of a larger central stone. This optical trick makes the ring appear more substantial and impressive without the high cost of a larger diamond.


Unique Design Possibilities: The versatility of melee diamonds allows for creative and unique ring designs. Whether you prefer a vintage, modern, or classic style, there are countless options for incorporating melee diamonds into your dream ring.


Added Value: While melee diamonds are not individually expensive, the craftsmanship and quality of melee in your ring can enhance its visual attractiveness and sparkle, increasing its perceived value. Additionally, melee diamonds contribute to the overall carat weight of the ring, making it more valuable overall.


Personalization: Melee diamonds offer the opportunity to personalize your ring with custom-crafted designs or elements, making it uniquely yours. Choose different settings and arrangements to match your individual style and preferences.


Buying a Ring With Melee Diamonds: What to Look For


When buying a ring with melee diamonds, customization of these small diamonds is often limited. However, ensuring that the melee diamonds are of high quality is crucial, as low-grade melee diamonds can detract from the overall beauty of the ring and the center stone.


While grading reports are available for the center stone, they are not typically provided for the smaller melee diamonds. This lack of documentation means some jewelers might make false claims about the quality of the melee diamonds used, opting for lower-quality stones to reduce costs.


Ensure that the melee diamonds complement rather than overshadow the center stone. Although a collection of brilliant melee diamonds can enhance a ring's sparkle, the larger diamond in the middle should remain the focal point.


Additionally, consider that melee diamonds are more prone to becoming dislodged. A ring with many melee diamonds may require regular maintenance to avoid the unsightly appearance of missing stones.


Diamond Chips


Diamond chips are small diamonds that, like melee diamonds, can be used in various settings but differ in that they are not fully faceted. Unlike properly cut melee diamonds, diamond chips have not been cut and polished to the usual standards, resulting in uneven, jagged shapes.


These chips often originate from fragments that break away during the cutting of a larger stone. They may also be very small diamonds that have not undergone the cutting process.


Professionally cut diamonds typically have more than 50 facets, which contribute to their alluring shine and sparkle. Without these facets, diamond chips lack the same impact. The only shine they produce comes from light reflecting off their uneven surfaces, resulting in a less brilliant and more irregular appearance.


Diamond Chip Prices


Diamond chips are rarely used today, often serving as a low-cost substitute for melee diamonds or other accent diamonds. Because they have not been cut and processed like traditional diamonds, they are significantly cheaper.


While cut melee diamonds can cost $300 or more per carat, diamond chips are much less expensive. However, using diamond chips as accent diamonds in a ring is not advisable. They can detract from the beauty of the center stone, and their sharp, jagged shapes can be hazardous. Investing in well-cut melee diamonds ensures your ring maintains its allure and durability over time.

Melee Diamond

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