If you’ve looked at a beautiful pave or halo engagement ring, you probably noticed the extra sparkle from tiny diamonds on the setting. These small stones are known as melee diamonds. And in this article, we reveal the key things you need to know about them.
A list of things we will cover in this write-up:
Melee diamonds are tiny diamonds that weigh less than 0.15 carat and they are either single cut or full cut (we’ll cover this in the next section). Given their small sizes, they are usually sold in parcels which are sorted according to their carat weight.
Melees serve a variety of purposes in the jewelry industry. Some of their most common uses include custom work where jewelry designers utilize them as cost effective methods adding a layer of brilliance. They are also frequently used in repair and replacement work.
Differences in facet diagram of single cut melee vs full cut melee.
The single cut is a simple 16 facet cutting style that has 8 facets on the crown and 8 facets on the pavilion. It was the first iteration of polishing tiny diamonds dated back to the 20th century and these melees are extremely rare now.
The full cut melee is the most widely used melee found in jewelry today (almost 99% of melees used are full cut). Basically, the full cut has exactly the same cutting style employed in modern round diamonds (57 facets) except that it is scaled down to a tinier size.
On a practical note, the differences between these 2 cutting styles of melees lie in appearance and performance. Single cut diamonds will not have a vibrant scintillation patterning or sparkle when compared with full cut diamonds.
Unlike buying a diamond center stone where you can make specific choices on the 4Cs (cut, color, clarity & carat), most vendors will not give you much choices of choosing the quality of melees used.
One key difference is that there are no grading reports available for individual melees due to economic reasons. i.e. the cost of grading a diamond far outweighs the few dollars that the melee costs. As a result, you will have to rely on the jeweler’s words or claims about the quality of melees used.
Also, when melee diamonds are used in a piece of jewelry, their weight is usually aggregated and represented using carat total weight (CTW).
Now, there are many unethical jewelers who use sub par melees that are misrepresented just to earn a few extra dollars at YOUR expense. One common way they do this is to overstate the quality melees and use inferior goods that are abraided/chipped instead.
And this is one of those myopic practices that pisses me off. The fact is, these jewelers would be far better off in the long run by delivering a better quality product at the expense of a few dollars.
So, when an unethical vendors says their melees are G VS2, they are actually J SI2 instead. And there’s no way for the average consumer to know unless you are somewhat skilled in the trade.
As mentioned earlier, the use of melee diamonds can lead to creative designs and versatility. Besides adding sparkle and brilliance, melees can also be used as accent stones to draw attention towards the center stone.
Here are some of my favorite ways in which melees are used in jewelry and diamond rings.
Diamond earrings with fancy geometric shapes: Together with carefully crafted metal settings, melees can be used to accent a geometric shape and create a shimmering appearance.
Pave settings: Smaller diamonds lining the shank of the ring can accent and lead the viewing eye to place more emphasis on the center stone. For a more detailed look on pave settings, click here…
Halo setting: Using melees to create a halo effect around a center diamond is a cost efficient way to get a larger looking diamond without actually paying the premium for one.
When it comes to buying a high quality piece of jewelry, the details matter. I often hear people saying that quality doesn’t matter as much in smaller stones but this is far from the truth. With that, I hope you’ve learnt something useful in this write up and if you have any questions, feel free to get in touch!