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Understanding Melee Diamonds

Melee Diamonds: Small Diamonds, Big Impact

Look at a beautiful engagement ring and you might see small diamonds, called melee diamonds (pronounced meh-lee), that accent the center diamond and make the ring pop. Melee diamonds are a popular way to add sparkle to diamond engagement rings.

So what do you need to know about melee diamonds to make an informed purchase?

What Are Melee Diamonds?

GIA defines melee as small diamonds, either single cut or full cut (see definitions below), weighing less than 1/5 carat (ct). However, the exact size range of melee varies from country to country and from one segment of the trade to another. Melee diamonds can be as small as 0.001 ct (1/1000 of a carat). They are often cut into tiny round diamonds and set around a center stone or on the band.

How Are Melee Diamonds Cut?

Melee diamonds are produced in large quantities in factories that use the latest diamond cutting equipment. High-tech machines have reduced the amount of labor required and improved the quality of the finished product, but cutting and sorting melee is still a labor intensive business. The city of Surat in India is an important manufacturing hub for diamonds, including melee which are faceted, sorted, and sold in parcels of 100 carats or more to jewelry manufacturers who then set them in a wide array of jewelry.

Melee diamonds
Melee diamonds being assorted in our Antwerp office

Typical faceting styles for melee include:

Single cut: A cutting style with a round girdle outline and 17 or 18 facets, depending on whether a culet is present, including a table, eight crown facets, eight pavilion facets and (very rarely) a culet

Full cut: A round brilliant-cut with 57 or 58 facets, depending on whether a culet is present, including 32 crown facets, 24 pavilion facets, a table and (usually) a culet. At melee-express we only provide Full Cut Melee Diamonds.

Melee Diamonds and Your Engagement Ring

While you’ll have to make decisions about the color, clarity, cut, and carat weight of your diamond center stone, it’s unlikely you’ll have to select the melee for your engagement ring. Melee diamonds are sorted by color and clarity prior to being packaged into parcels and sold to jewelry manufacturers, who will then match them to the diamond center stone.

An independent diamond grading report is a must-have for your diamond center stone given its cost and any reputable jeweler will provide one. A grading report is your assurance that your diamond is natural and discloses any known treatments that may have altered its color or clarity. However, don’t expect to receive grading reports for your melee diamonds. There are a number of reasons why, but the overriding one is economic: The cost of grading for melee is too high in relation to their value. Melee are sold in large parcels often containing hundreds of diamonds so it is not practical to have each one graded.

Carat Weight vs Total Carat Weight

When buying a diamond engagement ring with melee diamonds, it’s important to understand the difference between “carat weight” and “total carat weight,” because diamond weight is a driving factor in determining price. Total carat weight, often abbreviated “tcw” in the jewelry industry, is used to describe the combined weight of all the diamonds in a piece of jewelry that only contains diamonds. The description carat weight, abbreviated “ct,” only applies to an individual stone, like the center stone. A ring with many small diamonds with a combined total weight of 2.50 carats (or tcw) can cost significantly less than a solitaire engagement ring with a single diamond weighing 2.50 ct. That’s because larger diamonds are rarer than smaller ones of comparable quality, and therefore they cost more per carat.

Our Sources

Polished. Not re-polished. All our diamonds originate from respected diamond mining companies. Not from prior used Jewelry. Not from blood diamonds.

Our Assortments

We know how frustrating it is to have different qualities in the same jewel. If you to reorder diamonds for a previously made jewel, be assured that the second batch will be exactly the same as the first.

Our Calibration

We are as meticulous as you are. Your settings are perfectly calibrated so are our diamonds. They’ll always fit, guaranteed.

Our Packaging

Each size and for each sub-project is individually packed, and labeled. On the label you’ll have standard; the size, number of stones, color, purity, and carat weight. We will also add any reference information you should need, should you so desire.

NO LAB-GROWN!

We offer you 100% natural earthed diamonds. All our diamonds are “NO LAB-GROWN” tested with the foremost advanced technologies the industry has.

Express Delivery

From our table to your bench. We know how crucial the timing is for the diamond setter or the jeweler to get the jewelry delivered on time. We offer you over night delivery of your melee. We go out of our way, to make your day!