You will often notice smaller accent diamonds in jewelry to add decorative detail to a diamond or gemstone setting. Oftentimes, these smaller diamonds are referred to as diamond chips. However, the correct term for these diamond chips is melee. The majority of the diamonds mined, cut and produced in the world are melee and are sold in parcels and lots.
Carat Weight of Melee
Diamonds are considered melee if they are under 0.18 carats and can be as low as 0.001 carats in size. Because of their small size, they are normally sold in parcels and lots. Parcels can include 1.00 total carats of melee or hundreds of carats of melee. As far as price, in 2010 melee ranging from 0.01-0.07 carats is valued at $550 per carat. Price vary from retailer.
Diamond brokers facilitate the process of buying and selling melee diamonds. They have insider knowledge on diamond dealers, wholesalers and cutting houses. As of 2010, these brokers earn anywhere from 0.25 percent to 1.5 percent of the final sale of the melee parcels. On occasion, a single parcel of diamond melee can be sold and resold several times a day. They are flipped by diamond brokers for nominal profits.
A diamond sieve-or a diamond sifter-is used to sort melee into different carat weights. The sieve is a round stainless steel metal sheet with holes in it. Sieves are sold in sets with different size holes to accommodate different carat weights. The parcel of melee diamonds are poured into the sieve and shaken like a sifter. Tweezers are used to push borderline diamonds through the sieve.
When the melee are sorted, they are graded and matched together in groups. An experienced diamond grader sorts through each parcel of melee with basic and rudimentary tools and examines each melee diamond for grading. Grading melee diamond by color, clarity and cut is much more difficult than grading larger diamonds. It is very difficult to hold melee diamonds steady for grading because they tend to pop out of tweezers.
Uses of Melee Diamonds
Melee diamonds are often used for custom jewelry and accessories. A number of melee diamonds in different sizes are used to piece together patterns and accents in jewelry setting. Melee diamonds are also used for repairs and replacing lost diamonds in jewelry. Each melee diamond will have to be chosen for the appropriate match and fit. Jewelers have to be very steady and cautious when setting melee diamonds because they are more prone to break or chip due to their size.
References and ResourcesLoose Diamond Factory: What are Melee Diamonds?
Joseph P. Stachura Co. Inc.: Fine Diamond Melee