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Melee diamonds are small diamonds that typically weigh less than 0.2 carats and are often used to accentuate larger stones in various types of jewelry, particularly engagement rings and wedding bands. Despite their small size, these diamonds can make a significant impact on the overall appearance of a jewelry piece, adding brilliance and sparkle. When purchasing a ring featuring melee diamonds, it’s important to pay attention to their quality. They may be small but low-quality melee diamonds can take away from the overall beauty of a ring.
Most jewelers will use melee diamonds that are consistent in quality to the centerpiece diamond, but it’s always a good idea to ask and ensure that they are well-cut and relatively free of inclusions. Since these diamonds are small, they are less expensive and usually cost between $300-400 per carat, for melees with an average grade.
”Melee diamonds are like the bridesmaids to the bride, the chorus line to a Broadway show or a side dish to a holiday meal. They are there to draw attention to the star of the show, adding intrigue and interest — but never detracting from the main event.” Gemological Institute of America (GIA)
What are melee diamonds?
How are melee diamonds cut?
How much do melee diamonds cost?
What settings are melee diamonds used for?
What to watch for when buying melee diamonds
What are diamond chips?
How much do diamond chips cost?
Bottom Line Recommendation:
Melee diamonds make a beautiful compliment to a larger center diamond and can take a plain, simple ring and make it dazzle. Melee diamonds are what make halo and pavé settings so alluring.
When buying melee diamonds or rings with melees, just be sure to buy from a reputable vendor, such as James Allen for rings or Abe Mor for loose diamonds. Otherwise, you run the risk of getting low-grade melee diamonds, or worse yet, diamond chips.
Melee diamonds are tiny diamonds used in diamond jewelry, often used to accentuate a single center stone on an engagement ring.
The little diamonds used for settings like a halo, pavé or channel setting? These are almost always melee diamonds.
Officially, the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) defines melee diamonds as diamonds that are less than 0.2 Carats. While this is the biggest melee diamonds get, they can come as small as 0.001 carats. De Beers has announced to launch a new screening device for easier and faster verification of melee diamonds. That will make it easier to verify which diamonds are lab-grown or natural even in the smallest size of 0.001ct.
A melee diamond is very small and thus not much on its own. However, a group of melee diamonds clustered together can add a stunning sparkle to an otherwise plain ring, giving it more presence and a significantly more impressive appearance.
Melee diamonds are often cut the same way as larger brilliant cut diamonds. Many melees will appear exactly like a scaled-down version of the kind of round brilliant diamond that would be used as a center stone.
Most melee diamonds are cut the same way as larger diamonds. This produces a finished product with 57-58 facets, a perfect downsized version of the kind of diamonds used as center stones.
These are known as Full Cut melees. There is another type of melee diamond known as Single Cut. These are produced through much simpler cutting methods, and only have 17 facets – 8 on the crown, 8 on the pavilion, plus the table. Single Cut melees don’t have the fire and sparkle that a Full Cut Brilliant diamond has.
Today, Single Cut diamonds are rarely used. Modern diamond cutting technology has advanced to the point that there is little reason to produce Single Cut melee diamonds. Thus the overwhelming majority of melee diamonds are Full Cut melees.
As with larger diamond cuts, the price of a melee diamond depends on the quality of the cut and the size of the diamond. As melee diamonds are much smaller diamonds, they are not very valuable individually.
Melee diamonds are rarely, if ever, sold individually or commercially. 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 then calculated by total carat weight of the parcel, rather than for each individual stone.
Melee diamonds commonly cost between $300-400 per carat, for melees with an average grade. Higher graded diamonds, such as those with VVS/VS in clarity and higher than H or I in color may cost up to $1,000 per carat.
Melee diamonds are used in ring settings to provide dazzling sparkle, fire and brilliance to an engagement ring.
Popular ring settings with melee diamonds include pavé, halo and channel settings. Melee diamonds are perfect to add volume and all-round shine, without taking away from the diamond at the center.
Melee diamonds are often placed along the ring’s band, as with this French Pavé Crown Setting from Blue Nile.
They can also be channel set:
They are also often set around the center stone in a halo setting such as this from James Allen. A halo setting is a great way to accentuate the size of a center stone, without paying a premium for a high-carat diamond.
Most times, when you’re buying a ring, there won’t be much opportunity to customize the melee diamonds used for your ring. However, you should still be sure the melee diamonds on your ring are a high enough grade, or it may end up detracting from the center stone.
Grading reports are available for the center stone, but not the smaller diamonds encircling it. Because of this, some jewelers may make false claims about the melee diamonds used in their jewelry, and use low-quality diamonds to cut down on prices. The best way to avoid this is to shop with reputable vendors such as James Allen and Blue Nile.
You generally want to make sure the melee diamonds don’t overshadow the center stone. While a collection of Brilliant melee diamonds can give an exquisite shine to a ring, you usually want the eye drawn to the larger diamond in the middle.
Also, consider that melee diamonds are more prone to becoming dislodged. There’s no better way for a diamond ring to lose its allure than to have an empty hole where a melee used to be. A ring with a lot of melee diamonds may need regular maintenance over time.
Diamonds Pro helped us pick a diamond, according to our budget and a few other criteria. We ended up buying a loose diamond from James Allen. We felt that we got very good value for money. The diamond was appraised by another jeweler where we live, confirming its characteristics and value. Finally, we had the diamond set in a ring by a local jeweler, and we’re very pleased with the result! Thank you Diamonds Pro 😊…see more
Received great in-depth assistance from Veronika on my quest to buy an engagement ring for my partner. It can be quite a minefield for someone without industry know-how to get a great, well-cut diamond on the online marketplace, so the second opinion was not only welcome but desperately sought. In the end, I received wonderful advice and am confident the diamond purchased was the best my budget could afford! Thank you…see more
Diamond chips are small diamonds that can be used in the same settings as melee diamonds but are not fully faceted. This means that they haven’t been cut and polished the way diamonds usually are. This results in uneven, jagged shapes, compared to a properly cut melee diamond.
Diamond chips often come from little bits that come away when cutting a larger stone. They could also simply be very small diamonds that have not been cut.
Regular, professionally-cut diamonds have more than 50 facets, which is what gives them their alluring shine and sparkle. Without these facets, diamond chips don’t have the same impact. The only shine that comes is from light reflecting off the surface which can come at odd and uneven angles.
Diamond chips are rarely used today. However, if they are, it’s often as a low-cost substitute for melee diamonds, or other accent diamonds. Since they haven’t been cut and processed like other diamonds, they are quite a bit cheaper.
If cut melee diamonds cost anywhere from $300 and up per carat, you can expect diamond chips to be much cheaper. However, if you’re having a ring made with accent diamonds, it’s not worth skimping on price by using diamond chips. They can easily detract from the center stone, and the sharp and jagged shape can also be dangerous. Well-cut melee diamonds make your ring stand the test of time.
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