Welcome to the wonderful - and versatile - world of melee jewelry. While showstoppers and record-breakers like the Cullinan, Hope, and DeBeers Centenary Diamonds capture the imagination of the world, your customers and clients want wearable pieces that convey a sense of status, quality, value, and, of course, beauty. (Even if “wearable” means special occasions - or the red carpet!).
These small - but mighty - diamonds offer a wealth of possibilities in terms of creating signature styles, diversifying your inventory, and empowering you to deliver unique and sought-after pieces for your clientele. The key is setting melee diamonds properly - and with impact.
Melee Diamonds: Small Stones with Big Potential
Melee diamonds typically range in size from 0.07 - 0.15ct. (but, depending on the country in which they are cut and sold, they may be as small as 0.01ct.). They can be single cut (i.e. round girdle with 17 facets or 18 with cutlet) or full cut (i.e. round brilliant with 57 facets or 58 with cutlet).
Setting melee diamonds is meticulous work, given their size. But the effort is worth it. Melee adds sparkle and brilliance to pieces and can emphasize the beauty of centerstones (as in an engagement ring) in a cost-effective way for jewelers. They offer a tremendous return on investment.
The most common settings are:
- Halo. Here, melee is arranged around a center stone, making it appear larger and more dazzling.
- Pavé. The term comes from the French for “to pave.” You are “paving” the piece with melee in a honeycomb pattern. Pavé enables you to create intricate, complex designs that are both elegant and dramatic. It can also be a budget-friendly option as melee diamonds are less expensive than large stones. You can offer stunning pieces at a variety of price points, meeting the needs of your clientele.
- Channel: In this setting, the melee is placed between recessed metal walls. There are no prongs. (More on channel settings in a moment!)
There are other diamond melee settings to consider, including:
- Delicate French V-Split: When viewed from the side, the delicate split prongs form a lovely scalloped shape.
- Surface Prong: Here, melee is secured with small, shared prongs that are raised slightly above the surface of the metal.
- Shared Prong: Similar to the surface prong setting, the prongs are a bit more elevated and apparent. This setting is also suitable for larger stones.
- Bar: Small cuts are placed in metal “bars” on each side of the melee to hold them securely in place.
- Bezel: Each melee diamond is encircled by a slim rim of metal.
- Fishtail: Melee diamonds are set low into the metal and accented with delicate fishtail cuts.
- Flush: Each melee stone is set individually into the metal. There are no prongs, creating a sleek look.
Melee jewelry is incredibly versatile and allows you to expand your offerings, appeal to new and existing clientele, and keep costs in line.
Tips for Setting Diamond Melee in a Channel Setting
The channel is one of the most common options for utilizing melee. It is also a useful place to start as you explore setting melee diamonds. Let’s go through the steps of the process:1. Prepare Your Layout
Start at the beginning: where will the diamonds be set? There should be a very small gap between each stone in a table down position. The gaps will be closed when you turn them into the set position, table up. The deeper you set the diamonds into the mounting, the closer they will be.
When you have placed the diamonds in their layout position, mark the center line on both sides of the outside of the ring. Remove the diamonds, clean them, and keep them in their proper layout order.2. Cut the Seats
Take a break and get ready for some meticulous work! In this step, the melee are set into seats which have been grooved into the into the opposite parallel walls of the ring.
Cut the groove at each end of the ring. As you work, check that the diamonds fit into the grooves. Place each diamond individually, waxing each in place. There should be no visible gaps when you view the piece from the top.
Slowly and carefully tap and bend the channel walls downward onto the diamonds to keep them securely in place. Once the stones are set, remove the wax via steam or ultrasonic cleaning. Check that the melee are still tight and secure. If not, re-tighten.
Some helpful tips for setting melee diamonds in a channel:
- Make sure each melee diamond is positioned between two metal channels and that they do not rest on lower support bars or rings.
- Ensure there is a bar between each melee diamond OR a ring below each diamond. These connect the channel walls, keeping them stable and the diamonds secure.
- Check that the metal channel’s width is uniform. As a general rule, you should only cover 10-15% of the diamond’s total diameter with the channel.
- Confirm that the top of the diamond’s table is level with the top of the channel wall.
- Make sure the diamonds are evenly spaced with no gaps. You also don’t want them to overlap.
Melee jewelry is wonderfully versatile and allows you to appeal to a variety of customers. When you have designs and visions you want to realize, the experts at K. Rosengart can bring your CAD drawings or plans to life by setting the diamonds, polishing them, and returning your finished piece to you. This can streamline the process - and accelerate your business’s results.