A Brief Guide To Accent Diamonds | Diamond Reserve

What Are Accent Diamonds?

Accent diamonds are smaller stones set on either side of a larger center stone that emphasize the bigger center stone, and are commonly used in engagement rings, bracelets, watches, pendants, earrings and gemstone rings. The intent of accent stones is not just to accentuate the beauty of the center diamond, but also to enhance the overall luxurious quality and impact of the jewelry or accessories in which they are set.

Melee Diamonds: Tiny Gems with a Big Impact

Accent diamonds, also known as side stones or melee diamonds, are small gems used to enhance and complement a center stone in a piece of jewelry like an engagement ring. These stones are used to add brilliance and visual interest to the overall design. The more diamonds there are in a ring, the more sparkle it has, and melee (pronounced meh-lee) diamonds are a popular way to add that extra sparkle. “Melee” is derived from the French verb “mêler”, which means to mix. Melee diamonds are usually sold in bulk, loads of gems mixed together, hence melee diamonds.

The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) defines melee as small diamonds weighing less than 1/5 carat; melee can be as small as 0.001 ct (1/1000 of a carat). Melee diamonds are cut the same way as larger brilliant cut stones, and appear as a scaled-down version of a gem that would be used as a center stone. While “single cut” melees with 17 facets exist, thanks to modern diamond cutting technology, most melees are “full cut” with 57-58 facets and the same fire and sparkle as a larger stone.

Due to their small size, melee diamonds are inexpensive when compared to larger center stones, so they’re often used generously in engagement ring designs to add more sparkle. You’ll also find them as dazzling accents in watch faces, earrings, pendants, or any piece of jewelry that calls for added sparkle and brilliance. Melee diamonds can be cut in a number of shapes, sizes and settings, and will complement any ring style with extra dazzle.

Accent Diamond Shapes and Settings

Accent diamonds are typically placed alongside a larger gemstone, like a solitaire diamond to create a more intricate and captivating look. They are often set in a row or a cluster around the center stone, highlighting its beauty and adding a touch of elegance to the piece. Accent and melee diamonds are faceted to maximize their brilliance and often set in a way that minimizes the appearance of metal and maximizes the visibility of the diamonds themselves. 

The size, shape, and number of accent diamonds and melees varies depending on the design of the ring, and are available in many shapes.

  • Round Brilliant Cut: are a popular choice due to their timeless and versatile appeal. They have a circular shape with multiple facets that maximize their brilliance and sparkle.
  • Princess Cut: have a square or rectangular shape and are known for their clean lines and modern look. They can be set in a row or in a diagonal pattern to create an interesting design element.
  • Baguette Cut: are elongated and rectangular in shape, with step-cut facets. They have a sleek and elegant appearance and are often used as side stones in engagement rings or as accents in other jewelry designs.
  • Marquise Cut: have an elongated shape with pointed ends, resembling a boat or football. This cut can create a unique and dramatic effect when used as side stones, especially when paired with a center stone.
  • Pear Cut: have a teardrop shape, with one pointed end and one rounded end. They can be used to add a touch of elegance and sophistication to a jewelry piece, particularly when set as side stones or in a drop pendant.
  • Oval Cut: have a classic and elongated shape, similar to a round diamond but with an elliptical outline. They are often chosen for their ability to create a flattering and elongating effect when used as side stones.

Melees are the building blocks for the popular halo setting, where tiny diamonds encircle the center stone. This style adds mega sparkle to a ring, draws attention to the center stone and can make it appear larger. Pavé, pronounced “pah-vey” from the French for “to pave,” is a style where many small gems, like melee diamonds, are set close together along the band of a ring to create a dramatic, sparkling look. A channel setting has a row of melee diamonds set into the band and are popular because they allow you to see all sides of your diamond, increasing its beauty and sparkle. 

When it comes to picking an accent diamond, choose a cut that is complementary to the shape of the center stone, with color and clarity consistent with the main stone. Want some design help? Make an appointment with one of our diamond experts.