Diamonds are graded upside down and under magnification. So the months you spend learning about diamond quality and sifting through the options to find the best possible center stone for your engagement ring don’t necessarily result in an obvious quality difference when someone looks at the ring.
But there’s one small thing that most people overlook that does make a huge difference in how beautiful your ring is. And it might not even cost you extra. What is it? The other diamonds in your engagement ring. The ones you don’t pay any attention to.
These small size diamonds are called melee diamonds. And what you don’t know about the tiny diamonds in your ring can sabotage all the work you put into choosing the center stone and the diamond ring setting style. These melee diamonds are the difference between a diamond engagement ring that has an heirloom quality that lasts and one that won’t stand the test of time.
At RockHer we put a big emphasis on the little diamonds. Our motto is if you sweat the small details, you’ll be rewarded with a big difference in the quality of your jewelry.
Here are five tips on how to make sure that your melee diamonds make your piece of jewelry look better, now and forever, not worse.
1. Choose the Right Quality for the Melee Diamonds
You chose the quality of the center stone for your diamond engagement ring, obsessing over every detail on the GIA diamond grading report. The rest of the diamonds in your diamond ring should be complementary, even if their carat weight is much smaller. That means they should be the same color grade and eye clean.
At RockHer, if your center diamond is a high-quality F color grade set in platinum or white gold, the pave diamonds on the band will be F color too. If you don’t match the icy white color of your center stone, the accent diamonds will look dingy in comparison. Similarly, if you decide on a warm K color center stone in warm rose gold, at RockHer, your side stones will have the same warm hue so they won’t clash.
Most jewelry retailers, online or brick and mortar, sell off-the-shelf diamond engagement ring mountings set with accent stones in a single diamond quality. That quality may be different than the diamond you’ve chosen as your center stone. Make sure you ask if the small diamonds in the setting will match the color and clarity of the center diamond. The melee diamonds in your wedding ring should match too.
At RockHer we make each engagement ring and wedding ring we sell from scratch so we can choose the perfect complementary diamond color and clarity for your made-to-order diamond rings.
2. Make Sure Your Melee All Matches
Take a close look at the small size diamonds in that diamond ring setting. Can you pick out the brightest small diamond and the darkest small diamond? That’s a problem. In well-crafted diamond engagement rings, the small diamonds all match. They should all not only be the same color and the same clarity, but they should also be the same cut. At RockHer, you won't be able to pick out the best small diamond and the worst small diamond because they will all be equally good. This is particularly important in white gold diamond engagement rings where small differences in diamond color are easy to see.
3. Cut Quality is Just as Important for Small Diamonds
Cut quality is as important for the beauty of small diamonds as large ones. A well-cut diamond sparkles and dances in the light. Some jewelry manufacturers use single-cut round diamonds in pave settings. What is the difference between single cut melee diamonds vs full cut diamonds? Single cut diamonds have only 16 to 18 facets. Full cut diamonds have 57 to 58 facets, the full complement of a round brilliant cut. More facets mean more sparkle. At RockHer we always use full cut round brilliant diamonds for maximum brilliance and light reflection.
Pay attention to the facet patterns to make sure that the accent diamonds complement the center stone. If your engagement ring has a princess cut diamond center stone, accent diamonds should be princess cut and not French cut so the facet patterns match, not just the shape.
Side diamonds and diamonds in a halo setting catch the light from different angles than your center stone. When you see a piece of jewelry with beautiful accent diamonds it’s much brighter overall than a piece of jewelry with a beautiful center stone and dull accent diamonds.
And because badly cut diamonds are usually proportioned to save weight rather than for maximum beauty, these dull diamonds will weigh more too. Remember, you are paying for every carat! We often see rings that are one-carat total weight with a small center stone and overweight side stones that put the total over 1.00 carat. Because diamonds are sold by weight, you don’t want heavy small diamonds, you want high-quality diamonds that are cut for maximum light reflection instead. At RockHer, our small size diamonds are all well proportioned and sparkling with brilliance: you’ll never pay extra for dead carat weight.
4. Check the Setting of Your Small Diamonds
Every year, brides across the country look down at their beautiful new engagement ring and discover that one of the small diamonds is missing. (Just read the stories like this on Trust Pilot.) Why does this happen? A small percentage of these problems are due to the wearer: maybe she hit the ring on a countertop or caught it on a sweater that pulled the prong out of place. But most are due to a problem in the setting. Often it’s sloppy craftsmanship and a lack of QC. Many settings are mass manufactured overseas and mistakes happen.
But the number one reason why small diamonds fall out of the setting is that the setting was sized and the setting was weakened and bent during the sizing process. For the best quality, don’t buy a ring that has been sized. Of course, this means after purchase if you buy the wrong size. But it also means before purchase. MOST jewelers, online and brick and mortar, stock settings only in size 6.5 or 7. EVERY OTHER SIZE is sized before the diamond is set and it’s shipped to you. How do you know? Ask if the ring is on stock and if so, what size is it. Is the ring available in two days? It can’t be made from scratch that quickly.
To make sure that your ring is made in your size and not sized to fit you, only buy rings that are made to order from scratch for you to fit your finger. At RockHer we make every ring we sell to order, we never size. It takes longer but the quality difference is worth it.
When your ring arrives, check to make sure that all the diamonds are secure by tapping each of the small diamonds. No diamond should move at all in its setting. If one does, get the setting tightened by the jeweler.
5. Make Sure Your Small Diamonds Are Responsibly Sourced Too
The way the diamonds are sourced for your engagement ring is as important as the center diamond in your engagement ring. But many vendors only trace the center diamond in the rings they sell, not the smaller diamonds. At RockHer we trace the small diamonds we sell too. Many of our small diamonds are from our sister company of Lipari, which operates the largest diamond mine in South America, the Braúna mine in Brazil. We are proud to support the mine’s efforts to benefit its community and provide jobs, economic security, and productively reclaimed land for the people of Nordestina in Brazil.
Follow these five recommendations and you’ll be as proud of your small diamonds as your center diamond. The quality of your engagement ring will stand the test of time.