When shopping for diamond jewelry, you’ll notice that there are a lot of different shapes and sizes of diamonds. You might not realize it at first glance, but many jewelry pieces feature tiny diamonds called melee diamonds.
These melee diamonds are there to enhance the appearance of the center stone and the overall beauty of the jewelry piece. This article will explain why these tiny diamonds are so essential and what you should look for when purchasing melees.
So, without further ado, let’s dive in!
What Are Melee Diamonds?
The term “melee diamonds” refers to small gems that are often too tiny to be used in jewelry. Usually, their primary use is to highlight a big center gemstone. These tiny diamonds work great for making more prominent diamonds pop and paving the sides of a bigger piece of jewelry.
For instance, some rings can have a lot of small diamonds surrounding the centerpiece, adding a stunning sparkle to the ring and elevating the appearance of the diamond in the center.
On the other hand, melee diamonds are sometimes set in a ring without a centerpiece diamond – and instead, multiple melees form various beautiful shapes.
In some bridal rings, the entire ring’s circumference is covered with melee diamonds. That creates an illusion of a band that’s eternal and where all gemstones are equal. That is one of the most popular types of wedding bands – and it’s highly sought after.
What Does “Melee” Mean?
If you’re wondering where the word “melee” comes from, it has French origins – and it means “ensemble of diverse elements.” Simply put, the word “melee” refers to the fact that melee diamonds are usually sold in bulk with lots of small diamonds mixed together.
However, by today’s standards, this can be a bit misleading since such parcels of melee gems don’t actually comprise diverse elements anymore. Instead, they include similar quality standardized gems.
Are Melee Diamonds Real Diamonds?
A common question that diamond buyers ask is: Are these tiny chips even real diamonds? That is a completely understandable question, given the size of these tiny gemstones.
The fact of the matter is that contrary to big diamond centerpieces where you are provided with specifics about the stone’s cut, carat weight, color, and clarity, most sellers won’t give you such options when it comes to the melee diamonds.
However, this doesn’t mean that melee diamonds are fake diamonds – it’s just a consequence of their size and the resulting economics of melee diamonds.
Grading such a small gemstone would be too time-consuming and costly to the point where the final price of melee diamonds would need to be increased unreasonably. Instead, the standard procedure is for melee diamonds to be sold and purchased in big parcels of similar quality.
Keep in mind that vendors tend to use melees of different quality, which could be an issue for the consumer. It’s not rare for unethical jewelry vendors to deceive customers about the quality of their melee diamonds. To avoid the chance of being lied to, it’s best to do business only with reputable and trustworthy jewelry vendors.
Melee Diamond Prices
As with bigger diamonds, the price of melees is based on the quality of the cut and the stone’s size. But since melee diamonds are smaller stones, they aren’t very valuable individually.
Melees are rarely if ever, sold on their own or commercially. They’re typically bundled in parcels containing dozen of small stones and sold wholesale. The price of melees is then calculated by the total carat weight of the said parcel rather than for each individual gem.
Melee diamonds generally cost between $300 and $400 per carat for melees with an average grade. However, higher graded gems, such as those with VVS in clarity and higher than H color, may even cost up to $1000 per carat.
Melee Diamonds Sizes
So, how tiny is a melee diamond?
These small gemstones can actually vary quite a bit in size. The smaller ones are less than a millimeter in diameter, and the biggest melee gems reach close to 4 millimeters in diameter.
Obviously, larger melee diamonds are more expensive – but smaller ones have plenty of uses, as well. They can create a beautiful vintage, pave, or designer setting when used in the proper manner.
We’ve provided a detailed table with the corresponding size and weight of different melee diamonds:
|Carat Weight||Minimum Diameter||Maximum Diameter|
|0.001 carat||0.97 mm||0.99 mm|
|0.005 carats||1.00 mm||1.15 mm|
|0.0075 carats||1.16 mm||1.23 mm|
|0.01 carat||1.24 mm||1.40 mm|
|0.02 carat||1.56 mm||1.80 mm|
|0.03 carat||1.89 mm||2.10 mm|
|0.04 carat||2.11 mm||2.23 mm|
|0.05 carat||2.24 mm||2.43 mm|
|0.10 carat||2.81 mm||3.10 mm|
|0.15 carat||3.24 mm||3.54 mm|
Types Of Melee Diamonds
When speaking about types of melee diamonds, the most common distinction is the way these tiny gems are cut. Just as their larger counterparts, melee diamonds can be either single-cut or full-cut.
Single-Cut Vs. Full-Cut Melee Diamonds
A single-cut melee diamond has 16 facets. Eight of those are on the diamond’s crown, and the remaining six are on the pavilion – just like a bigger single-cut diamond.
On the other hand, full-cut diamonds have a total of 57 facets (at least). Single-cut melee diamonds are pretty rare these days, with the full cut being a preferable option.
In the past, the single-cut was the only way for melees to be cut as they were just too tiny for a full cut by hand. Today, you can still find single-cut melee diamonds, but they are generally used in the high-end Swiss watches industry, where they’re highly prized.
Moreover, full-cut melees make up around 99% of all melees used in jewelry. That is due to the fact that melees are no longer cut by hand. Today, the cutting is done by specialized machines.
The Different Shapes Of Melee Diamonds
Most people would say that melee diamonds are always round – and that other shapes are not considered melee diamonds. However, no matter the shape, the fact remains that melee diamonds come in different variants.
Here are some of the most common melee diamond shapes:
- Small Round Melee Diamonds – The classic shape that’s also the most prevalent one. It has a multitude of accent uses, whether in a halo or a pave setting (or any other).
- Princess-Cut Melee Diamonds – Sometimes, you’ll find little square-shaped melee diamonds on jewelry, where they ensure a modern look.
- Tapered Baguette Melee Diamonds – Unique trapezoid diamond shape, perfect for following the curve of a piece of jewelry. It fits well in three-stone or side stone settings.
- Straight Baguette Melee Diamonds – Similar to the previous shape, straight ones are nearly perfectly rectangular in shape. These melees are used as accents to provide symmetry, and they look more prominent than they are.
- Trillion Cut Melee Diamonds – These tiny diamonds work fantastic as complimentary stones with their triangular shape as it tends to draw attention to the centerpiece stone without overpowering it.
How To Choose Melee Diamonds
As the cut, carat, color, and clarity of melee diamonds aren’t usually provided to the customers, there are three main factors on which you should select your ring – or any other piece of jewelry – that features melee diamonds:
- The reputation of the vendor – As we already stated, it’s crucial to buy from a trusted vendor with a good track record. You have to make sure that the diamond descriptions are correct and that you aren’t being ripped off.
- The design and visual appearance of the stones – The key point of accent stones is that they should be arranged and designed so that they highlight the centerpiece stone in the composition without overshadowing it.
- The overall cost of the jewelry – If you find that the price of the jewelry is too good to be true, it’s probably because it features something else instead of actual diamonds – such as cubic zirconia. Be sure to check that the jewelry piece price correlates with that of usual melee prices.
Of course, ensure that the jewelry piece is of high quality, too. You don’t want melee diamonds to start falling out. However, this all boils down to personal preference: If you happen to like a certain piece of jewelry with more prevalent accents or with no center diamond, no one can stop you from purchasing it.
Popular Engagement Ring Settings That Feature Melees
Melee diamonds are used in a lot of different ways across multiple kinds of jewelry. However, when it comes to engagement rings, there are several types of settings that utilize melees to their full potential:
The halo is a cost-effective and clever ring setting that has melees arranged in a halo around the bigger center stone. This setting makes the centerpiece appear more prominent than it is while keeping the price affordable.
Also, this setting maintains – and even enhances – the overall beauty of the ring. The sparkle of melee gems around the center stone accentuates the brilliance of the diamond.
This setting has a decorative purpose only. The pave setting has the melees lining the ring’s shank, making the whole hoop more eye-catching and brighter. It’s a great way to make the entire ring gorgeous instead of treating it as a mere carrier for the center stone.
Side Stone Setting
Similar to the previous setting, side stone settings usually have several large melees continuing down the ring’s shank in a single straight line. On the flip side, pave setting typically comprises a few parallel set lines of more minor melees.
Three Stone Setting
Three stone settings are created by adding two big melee diamonds on each side of the center stone. That makes a simple and clean design of only three diamonds in total, but it can be very captivating if the gems are of the proper quality and design.
Taking Care Of Melee Diamonds
If you decide to get an engagement ring that features melee diamonds, do note that the major downside of such a decision is that over time, with wear and tear, these gemstones tend to get dislodged or loose.
If you want to avoid this, take proper care of the ring – and take it to a professional jeweler from time to time to check the ring’s integrity and fix any loose diamonds it might have. One more difficulty with melee diamonds is that there are more crannies and nooks where dirt can get lodged.
We recommend avoiding the use of ultrasonic cleaners because the shock of the vibrations can result in melees becoming loose. It’s best to use a mild liquid soap, water, and a soft brush to remove any dirt and grime out of the ring setting.
Hopefully, we’ve provided you with a better understanding of why melee diamonds deserve more appreciation and love than they usually get.
These small gems may be less expensive than the popular bigger stones, and they may be not so captivating at first – but they play a vital role in every jewelry piece, nonetheless.
Melee accent diamonds can make a bland ring sparkle, and they can make smaller diamonds shine with new light. Additionally, when arranged in a gorgeous pattern, melees are even more capable of grabbing the spotlight.
Just remember to check the quality of the melee diamonds before you purchase them – and be sure to buy only from reputable and trustworthy vendors.