Diamonds don’t have to be big and shiny to contribute to a piece of jewelry. In fact, there are several size ranges for diamonds smaller than the ones we would typically put in jewelry. Most of them have names such as ⅕ Diamonds or +11 Diamonds to notate specifics in their size.
However, when you get to the extremely small carat range, you run into two terms: Melee Diamonds and Star Diamonds.
Melee Diamonds are extraordinarily small at less than 0.1 carats. The actual size range is between 0.021 and 0.074 carats for a diamond to be considered a “melee diamond”.
As you can probably imagine, melee diamonds are generally used to add sparkle and are not typically centerpieces. They’re usually set in a certain pattern around a band or gem to give a sparkling effect. If you’ve seen rings with white gold bands and diamonds lining the entire thing then those diamonds were likely in the melee range.
As it takes several melee diamonds to have an effect, the focus on quality isn’t as high with them. They’re typically too small to closely examine with the naked eye as well, so the focus is mainly on the sparkle they create. A good jeweler will melee diamonds in the color range of G-H and clarity range between VS-S1.
As small as melee diamonds are, there’s one smaller diamond: star diamonds. These typically resemble more of a “diamond dust” appearance and sit in the size range between 0.009 and 0.021 carats. The biggest a star diamond typically gets is just 1.8mm in size.
Star diamonds aren’t used as often, but they do have their applications. For example, fraternities and sororities will often give the new members a “pin” once they become an official member. That pin typically has a star diamond in it (as they don’t want it to be too expensive). It’s a way of giving someone a diamond without really paying for a diamond.
They’re also used in some pre-created set pieces, but their size tends to be a detriment and even getting a sparkle out of them requires a large amount. A lot of handmade jewelry on sites like Etsy contain star diamonds to keep the price down.
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