melee, noun

melée, mêlèeShow more Also melée, mêlèe, mélèe.
French, DutchShow more Unknown, perhaps from French mêlé, mêlée mixed; the word mêlée is also found in Dutch in the sense of ‘mixed small diamonds’.
Small diamonds (usually of less than one carat each in weight). Also attributive. See also cleavage, splint.
1911 L. Cohen Reminisc. of Kimberley 267On a certain day I entrusted him with two or three hundred carats of melée — small stones — to sell.
1931 Kraus & Holden Gems & Gem Materials 82The term melee is applied to stones cut from small fragments of the diamond, the result either of cleavage or sawing. Many of these small stones, of which from eight to sixteen are required to make a carat, are cut with the usual fifty-eight facets. Smaller stones are called small melee.
1931 Kraus & Holden Gems & Gem Materials 86The smaller portions of the stone resulting from cleavage or sawing may be cut and polished as melee.
1946 J.R. McCarthy Fire in Earth 110One great diamond importing house moaned that if melee weren’t supplied soon it would have to go out of business.
1962 Smith & Phillips Gemstones 264Mélée are small stones of mixed sizes, weighing less than ¼ carat, and mélange is the term used for larger stones of mixed sizes.
1973 A. Hocking Diamonds 9When it comes to gemstones..the first step is to divide them into two broad categories according to bulk. The division comes at about the one carat mark. Anything above this limit is ‘size’, anything below is ‘melee’.
Small diamonds (usually of less than one carat each in weight). Also attributive.

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