Melee diamonds may be small diamonds, but carat weight doesn’t stop them from being the shining stars of accessibly priced small stone rings or from creating a beautiful texture of light in diamond bands, cluster rings, and halo rings.
“I don’t think of melee as accent stones,” says Bario Neal Principal + Lead Designer Anna Bario. “At Bario Neal, we don’t value things according to size. Some of our favorite pieces are solitaire rings with smaller stones.” The Lash Mini Champagne Diamond Ring, for example, glimmers with a .02 carat gemstone.
Melee diamonds come in all colors, from champagne diamonds to black diamonds. How small a diamond has to be in order to be considered melee varies depending on the country. The size is typically less than .18 carat though.
Gemstory: Melee Diamonds
Origin: Our melee diamonds are either recycled, or come from Australian or Canadian diamond mines.
Color: Color is best known by letter grades for white diamonds, from D to Z, with a D being the most colorless diamond and the end of the alphabet having the most color. Grade I is Bario Neal’s st andard, but with all diamonds, including recycled ones, we can get a stone that matches a client’s style and budget. We can also source melee diamonds in many colors.
Treatment: Some diamonds have been heat-treated to enhance color or drilled to remove flaws and increase clarity; this is more common with recycled melee diamonds.
Mohs hardness scale: 10 (Diamonds are the hardest gemstone.)
Sizes: Melee diamonds are 0.18 carat and smaller.
Design notes: Instead of one point of reflected light with a single gemstone, there’s a diffuse glow with melee diamonds. They can be used in small stone solitaire rings, halo rings, cluster rings, and eternity bands.
Custom designing jewelry with melee is akin to painting. You can encircle a center stone, like the melee diamonds that dance around a morganite in our Stellium Morganite with Diamond Halo Ring. Or play with contrast and light like our Quince Emerald with Black Diamond Halo Ring or Arc Diamond Halo Ring with Robin's Egg Blue Enamel.
“In many of our cluster rings, half the stones are melee,” Anna says. “You can use them texturally to create a landscape.” Melee diamonds in the mix help bring a sunset after a day at the beach feel to our Sway Cluster Morganite, Diamond and Sapphire Ombré Ring.
Ensuring melee diamonds come from an ethical source is challenging. Many suppliers don’t want to do the extra legwork necessary for full traceability for such small gemstones. Additionally, with larger stones, traceability can be achieved by laser-inscribing a unique tracking number on each stone, a process that is cost-prohibitive or even impossible for smaller stones. However, at Bario Neal, we’re committed to handcrafting ethical jewelry. Our newly mined melee diamonds are fully traceable, from Australia or Canada. Our recycled melee diamonds are repurposed from old stock or other jewelry, which means we can’t know for sure what original mining conditions were. But as no new mining is required, recycled melee diamonds diminish the human and environmental impact of mining.
Whether you’re drawn to melee diamonds for an understated solitaire ring or you want to add an array of light to jewelry, the Bario Neal team loves to design with these small stones. Fill out our custom design questionnaire or make an appointment with us today to visit a showroom in Philadelphia or New York City. We also work with remote clients around the world virtually.