A diamond chip is a piece of diamond that is not faceted. Diamond chips are usually small (less than 0.2 carats in weight) and are often used as accent stones surrounding a bigger center diamond. Since chips are not polished, their surface is not smooth but is rough to the touch.
Diamond chips are much cheaper per carat compared with diamonds that are cut and polished. The reason for this is not only the small size of chips - they are also cheaper than cut and polished diamonds of the same size.
Diamond chips have low value manly because they are not faceted.
As a result, these stones do not bend and reflect light the same way faceted diamonds do. Because of this, chips have much lower brilliance than stones cut with facets.
The lack of polish also contributes to the low sparkle of diamond chips - the roughness of their surface further impedes the reflection of light.
If you happen to be looking at a piece of jewellery with diamond chips, here's what you should know about the characteristics that determine their price:
As with all diamonds, how much color a diamond chip has affects its value: The more visible yellowish color you can see in a stone, the less valuable it is.
It is also important for diamond chips to be uniform in terms of color when a lot of them are set together in a piece of jewellery: You don't want a patchwork of stones with visible darker and lighter clusters.
Also, if there is a center stone in the setting, the diamond chips surrounding it should match its color.
This characteristic affects the value of chips in much the same way as it does that of faceted diamonds: The fewer inclusions inside a stone, the more valuable it is.
However, for diamond chips, clarity is not as important as color because they are often so small that individual flaws are usually not visible from a normal viewing distance.
However, jewellery with diamond chips that have prominent flaws should be discounted.
As already mentioned, this characteristic is not really applicable to diamond chips as they are not cut and faceted. If anything, the lack of definite cut makes chips much less valuable than faceted stones of similar size.
In general, bigger diamonds are more expensive per unit of weight than smaller ones.
The reason for this is rarity: Larger diamonds are simply found much less often.
All else being equal, the same principle holds for chips of different sizes: Bigger ones cost more per carat than smaller diamond chips.
Since real diamond chips are rarely sold today, the prices you will find quoted for chips will most likely pertain to single-cut diamonds.
If the "chips" sold are referred to as "melee," "single cuts," "diamond accents" or something similar, then they are actually single-cut stones.
Just as the price of regular diamonds rises with their carat, so does the value of diamond chips.
A diamond (also referred to as "Stars") of 0.01-0.02 carats (or 1-2 points) can cost between $300 and $700 per carat depending on the stone's color and clarity as well as the seller (wholesale prices are lower than retail ones).
A 0.10-carat melee can cost more than $1,000 (again, retail prices are higher, and stones with better clarity and color sell for more).
Keep in mind that these prices can vary significantly over time.
Diamond chips were used in jewellery in the past, when cutting technologies were not precise enough to allow jewellers to cut small diamond pieces into faceted stones. Nowadays, single-cut diamonds are used instead of diamond chips.
Single-cut diamonds are small stones (usually less than 0.2 carats) that are faceted, but the number of facets they come with is smaller than that of bigger diamonds.
For example, single-cut diamonds tend to have 16-18 facets, whereas normal-size round diamonds have 57 or 58 facets (these stones are also called "full-cut" diamonds).
Single-cut diamonds are also called "melee diamonds," and many jewellers also refer to them as diamond accents (or accent diamonds). They are used to complement the center stone in some types of settings.
It is worth noting that single-cut diamonds can actually be referred to as chips, so when this term is used, you should clarify whether the diamonds are uncut or are actually faceted.
Although a lot of stones called chips these days are simply melee diamonds, some pieces of jewellery are made with real diamond chips. This is why you should look closely at any piece with small stones to check whether they are faceted or not.
In general, jewellery with diamond chips should be cheaper than that made with melee diamonds.
However, you should ask yourself whether it is worth it for you to buy such a piece. For one thing, because they are not faceted, chips don't have much brilliance.
If you are trying to decide whether to buy a ring with chips, for example, compare it with one made with real single-cut stones. You might find that the additional sparkle of melee stones is worth paying a little more and getting a ring with faceted diamonds.