Read this article to learn more about the wonderful world of melee diamonds. We’ll cover what they are, the main cuts, popular engagement rings that feature melee diamonds, how to care for them, and what to look for if you’re buying melee diamonds.
What are melee diamonds?
"Melee diamonds" refers to small round diamonds that are typically used for accenting larger stones in jewellery. They can be as small as 0.001 carats (about 0.6mm in diameter) and as large as 0.2 carats (about 4mm in diameter) and are often used in engagement rings, eternity rings, earrings, bracelets, and necklaces, as well as many other types of fine jewellery.
The term "melee" comes from the French word "mêlée," which means "mixture." It is used to describe these smaller diamonds because they are usually mixed together in large quantities.
The different cuts of melee diamonds
A "single cut" melee diamond has only 17 or 18 facets, including the table and culet, the top and bottom, respectively, and eight crown (above the girdle) and eight pavilion (below the girdle) facets.
Also known as "eight cuts," single cut melee diamonds are often used in vintage or antique-style jewellery, where they can lend a piece an authentic look and feel. They are also less expensive than full cut melee diamonds, making them a cost-effective choice for use in jewellery.
Full cut melee diamonds, also known as "brilliant cut" melee diamonds, are small diamonds that feature the traditional 57 or 58 facets found in larger brilliant cut diamonds. This type of cut is designed to maximise the diamond's sparkle and brilliance, and it includes facets on the crown (top), girdle (middle), and pavilion (bottom) of the stone.
The full cut is the standard for most diamonds, from the smallest melees to the largest solitaires, because of the way it enhances the diamond's natural properties. By directing light into the stone and reflecting it back out, a full cut can give a diamond a fiery sparkle that's hard to match with any other cut.
Because melee diamonds are so small, the additional facets of a full cut might not always significantly increase their visual impact compared to a single cut. However, full cut melees can add extra brilliance when viewed collectively, such as in a pave or channel setting.
Full cut melee diamonds require more precision and labour to cut than single cut melee diamonds due to the higher number of facets, so they may be priced slightly higher.
Popular engagement ring settings for melee diamonds
Melee diamonds are often used to enhance the overall beauty of an engagement ring and add sparkle to the setting. Here are some popular engagement ring settings that feature melee diamonds:
This setting, whose name comes from the French word for "paved," involves setting small diamonds closely together across the band or around the central stone to create a continuous sparkle. These diamonds are held in place with tiny beads or prongs, making the band look like it's been paved with diamonds.
A halo setting surrounds the central gemstone with a 'halo' of melee diamonds. This not only makes the central stone appear larger and more brilliant but also adds extra sparkle to the ring. If you'd like to see more, browse our selection of diamond halo engagement rings.
In a channel setting, melee diamonds are set into the band of the ring in a 'channel.' This setting offers a sleek, modern look and protects the diamonds by keeping them flush with the band.
Cut down setting
There are various forms of cut down settings (for example, scallop setting, fishtail setting, and castle setting), but these all share a common feature, whereby the melee diamonds in cut down settings almost fill the entire band of metal. The metal setting edge is (as the name suggests) cut down to expose the side of the diamonds, and leaving very little visible metal setting edge.
In this setting, the central diamond is flanked by two smaller diamonds or gemstones. These side stones can be melee diamonds to enhance the sparkle of the ring.
Remember, the right setting depends on personal style, lifestyle, and budget. Some settings (such as channel and bezel settings) offer more protection for the diamonds, while others (such as pavé setting) maximise sparkle.
How to care for melee diamonds
Caring for melee diamonds, as with any other diamonds or fine jewellery, involves occasional cleaning, careful storage, and protection from potential damage. Here's a simple guide on how to care for melee diamonds:
1. Cleaning: Gently clean your melee diamond jewellery using warm water, a mild detergent, and a soft-bristled toothbrush. Make sure to scrub gently, paying attention to the underside of the jewellery where grime can build up, reducing the sparkle of your diamonds. After cleaning, rinse the piece under warm running water and thoroughly dry it with a soft, lint-free cloth.
2. Safe Storage: Store your diamond jewellery separately to avoid scratching from other pieces. Each piece should have its own compartment or soft cloth bag. A fabric-lined jewellery box is ideal for storage.
3. Avoid Chemicals: Harsh chemicals found in household cleaners, chlorine, cosmetics, and perfumes can damage or discolour the mounting of your diamond jewellery. It's best to remove your jewellery when doing household chores or when swimming in chlorinated water.
4. Regular Inspections: Have your melee diamond jewellery inspected by a professional once a year. This can help catch any loose stones or weakened prongs early before any diamonds are lost.
5. Wear Carefully: While diamonds are one of the hardest substances on earth, they can still be chipped by a hard blow. Remove your melee diamond jewellery when doing heavy physical activities.
Remember, even with the best care, all jewellery will show signs of wear over time. Regular professional servicing can help maintain the beauty of your melee diamond pieces and ensure they last for generations.
Top tips when purchasing melee diamonds
Purchasing melee diamonds, while similar to purchasing larger diamonds, does have some nuances. Here are a few tips to consider when purchasing melee diamonds:
1. Quality Considerations: Since melee diamonds are so small, some imperfections won't be visible to the naked eye. This allows for a bit more flexibility when it comes to clarity grades. That being said, you still want to purchase melees that are cut well and have good colour to ensure they enhance, rather than detract from, the overall piece.
Like all diamonds, melee diamonds can vary greatly in terms of quality, but melee diamonds are not independently graded for colour, clarity and cut since the cost of grading would be disproportionate to their value. Instead, jewellers rely on their suppliers to grade melee diamonds honestly and then jewellers must confirm the quality for themselves.
Often suppliers will not grade melee diamonds to a single colour grade or clarity grade. For example, it is not usual for premium quality melee diamonds to be sold as D/E/F colour and VVS clarity rather than E VVS1 or D VVS2 for example. Likewise, slightly lower quality stones might be graded as G/H VS of I/J SI, for example.
Some jewellers use very high-quality melee diamonds to accentuate their pieces, while others may use lower-quality stones, and the overall value of a piece of jewellery can be influenced by the quality of its melee diamonds.
At Ingle & Rhode, we source D/E/F VS melee as standard, meaning the stones are colourless and flawless to the naked eye. However, let us know if you’re interested in having a ring made with melee diamonds of a different quality.
2. Consistency is Key: If the melee diamonds are going to be set together in a piece of jewellery, it's crucial that they match well in terms of colour and clarity. Consistency in the look of the diamonds will lead to a more beautiful finished piece.
3. Choose the Right Cut: Melee diamonds often come in brilliant (full) cut or single cut. Brilliant cut melee diamonds will offer more sparkle due to their additional facets but are more expensive. Single cut melee diamonds have fewer facets and are less costly.
4. Consider the Setting: The setting you choose for your melee diamonds can greatly affect the look of the finished piece. For example, a pavé setting can make the diamonds appear larger and more sparkly, while a channel setting offers a sleek, modern look.
5. Work with a Reputable Jeweller: Always work with a reputable jeweller who can guide you through the process and offer quality assurance. They should be able to provide information about the quality of the melee diamonds and offer a grading report if possible.
6. Understand Pricing: Pricing for melee diamonds can be complex. Unlike larger diamonds, melees are often sold by total carat weight, not by individual stone. Prices will also vary based on colour, clarity, and cut.
7. Insist on Conflict-Free: Always insist on conflict-free diamonds. Reputable jewellers should be able to provide assurance that their diamonds are sourced ethically.
Are melee diamonds real?
Yes, melee diamonds are real diamonds. The term "melee" refers to the size of the diamond, not its authenticity. Melee diamonds are typically small, ranging in size from just a few points (0.001 carats) to about 0.2 carats.
These small diamonds are often used in jewellery to accentuate larger diamonds or gemstones or to create a sparkling effect when used in large numbers, such as in pavé or channel settings. Despite their small size, melee diamonds are subject to the same grading standards for cut, colour, clarity, and carat weight as larger diamonds.
However, as with any diamond purchase, it's important to buy from reputable jewellers or dealers to ensure the authenticity and ethical sourcing of the diamonds. Always ask for grading reports or certificates when available.
How much are melee diamonds worth?
The price of melee diamonds can vary greatly depending on a variety of factors, including the quality of the diamonds, the market demand, and where you are purchasing them from. Unlike larger diamonds, melee diamonds are usually sold in parcels or lots rather than individually and are priced by total carat weight rather than per stone.
Factors that can influence the price include:
Cut: A well-cut diamond will reflect light better, increasing its brilliance and thus its price.
Colour: The most valuable melee diamonds are colourless or near colourless. Diamonds with a yellow or brown tinge will be less expensive.
Clarity: While flaws (known as inclusions) are less noticeable in smaller diamonds, a higher clarity grade will still command a higher price.
Carat Weight: The total weight of the diamonds in a parcel will affect the price. However, because melee diamonds are so small, this is often a less significant factor than cut, colour, and clarity.
Market Demand: The price of diamonds can fluctuate based on supply and demand in the market.
It's also worth noting that the pricing structure for melee diamonds is often different from that of larger diamonds. While larger diamonds are typically priced on a per-stone basis, melee diamonds are usually sold in parcels and priced by total carat weight.
Remember, it's important to work with a reputable jeweller or dealer when purchasing melee diamonds to ensure you are getting a fair price and high-quality diamonds.
What size are melee diamonds?
Melee diamonds are small round diamonds that typically range in size from 0.001 carats (about 0.6mm in diameter) up to about 0.2 carats (about 4mm in diameter). In terms of diameter, melee diamonds usually measure less than 4 millimetres across.
Melee diamonds are small round diamonds that range in size from approximately 0.001 carats to 0.2 carats. They are often used in jewellery as accents to larger, more prominent stones and are used to add sparkle and brilliance to a piece.
Melee diamonds are also commonly referred to as "small diamonds" or "accent diamonds"and are often used to enhance the overall look of a piece of jewellery. In an engagement ring, for example, melee diamonds might be set around the main diamond to add extra sparkle and create a more eye-catching and glamorous look.
When buying jewellery that features melee diamonds, it is important to consider their quality and size. While melee diamonds are typically smaller than other diamonds, they should still be well cut and of good quality in order to ensure that they provide the desired sparkle and brilliance. It is also important to consider the size of the melee diamonds in relation to the size of the larger diamonds or other stones in the piece, as well as the overall design and style of the jewellery.
One advantage of using melee diamonds in jewellery is that they are often more affordable than larger diamonds, making it possible to create pieces that are both beautiful and affordable. In addition, the use of small diamonds can make a piece of jewellery look larger and more expensive than it actually is, as the many points of light provided by the melee diamonds can give the impression of a much larger stone.
When choosing melee diamonds, it is important to consider their colour and clarity, as well as their cut. Colourless diamonds are often preferred for melee diamonds, as they will not detract from the colour of the larger diamonds or other stones in the piece. Similarly, melee diamonds with high clarity grades will also be less likely to have visible inclusions or blemishes, which can detract from the overall look of the jewellery.
It is also important to consider the quality of the setting used for the melee diamonds, as this will affect the overall look of the piece. A well-made setting will ensure that the melee diamonds are securely held in place and that they are positioned in a way that maximises their sparkle and brilliance.