Home » Diamonds » Channel Setting vs. Pave: How to Decide

Channel Setting vs. Pave: How to Decide

We’re reader-supported. Posts may contain links that provide a commission at no cost to you. Learn how we make money.

Channel Setting vs Pave

The center diamond on top of your ring doesn’t have to be the only gemstone on the piece. There are a variety of settings available that include additional gems on the shank for even more sparkle.

Both channel and pave settings feature small diamonds cascading down the band to complement the center diamond.

Let’s compare channel settings versus pave, including their pros and cons, how they’re different, and how to decide which is right for you.

What is a Channel Setting?

The distinguishing feature in a channel setting is the crevice on its shank that’s filled with small diamonds or gems. It includes a lip that reaches over the edges of the gems to secure them in place. 

Channel Setting

This design adds a level of security to the accents to keep them from falling off the setting.

Most channel settings are in the style of a half eternity ring, which means the diamonds wrap halfway around the shank. 

This is in contrast to a full eternity ring, where the channel goes all the way around.

The gemstones in a channel setting are often the same size and cut. They’re placed tightly together for a uniform appearance of a single row of diamonds.

Pros of Channel Settings

There are several advantages to channel settings that make it one of the most popular types for wedding and engagement rings. 

The first pro is that multiple cuts of diamonds can be used, whether to match or contrast the main diamond. 

Princess, round, baguette, and emerald cuts can each be placed side by side in the channel without significant gaps between them.

If you choose a traditional round brilliant cut as the main diamond, you can pair that with more round diamonds in the channel or with princess cuts. Emerald and baguette cuts have a similar shape, so you can have an emerald on top paired with baguettes on the shank.

14K White Gold Baguette Diamond with Channel

Channel settings also best secure the diamonds. The cut in the shank is sized specifically for the diamonds, so they sit snug inside. 

For those with an active lifestyle who still want gems on the band, channel settings are the right choice. 

You won’t have to worry about the gems falling out during everyday activities.

The setting is also unlikely to snag. Some types, such as shared prong settings, have prongs that often snag on clothing, furniture, and hair. 

Channel settings don’t include any prongs on the band, so the only concern is if the main diamond is held by them.

Cons of Channel Settings

A channel setting isn’t without downsides. Maintenance is difficult because of the number of small diamonds. 

If some do fall out, you’ll have to find ones of the exact size and have a professional replace them.

A gap because of a missing gem would be noticeable, so you’d need to have it replaced quickly.

Channel Set Diamond Ring

Dirt can also get trapped between the gems. Even though they’re pressed against each other, there are still gaps large enough for dirt and debris to accumulate. 

It’s recommended you have channel settings cleaned once or twice per year to prevent buildup.

Many buyers add accents to their ring’s shank because it adds brilliance without a significant increase in cost. 

A disadvantage of channel settings is the diamonds don’t add as much brilliance to the piece. They’re placed inside the shank’s crevice, so they don’t collect and reflect light as well.

What is a Pave Setting?

A pave setting features diamonds along the shank. They’re held in place by mini-prongs or small beads. Some pave designs include these diamonds around the whole shank, but in other cases, they stop halfway.

Pave Setting

Pave diamonds are often between 0.01 and 0.02 carats. 

From a distance, it can be hard to distinguish between each one, so it creates a row of glimmer along the band. Thin bands such as knife edge rings use micro-pave diamonds.

The pave diamonds don’t have to be round cut. 

Pave settings can include emerald, cushion, or princess cut diamonds. Your choice of pave can either match or contrast the center stone.

Pave settings contrast with solitaire settings, which have no other diamonds aside from the main one.

Pros of Pave Settings

An advantage of a pave setting is it enhances the sparkle of the whole piece. The diamonds are placed on top of the shank, so they’re positioned to capture and reflect light instead of hiding in a crevice. 

It’s an effective way to add brilliance to the ring without the cost of a larger center diamond. 

Pave Set Diamond Ring

Even though the total carat weight (CTTW) increases, it’s less expensive than adding that same additional carat weight to the main diamond.

Another benefit is the small pave diamonds don’t compete with the main stone. 

If your accent diamonds are too large, it may detract from the prominence of the most important part of the ring. 

Pave settings are about complementing the main stone with glimmer on the shank, not drawing attention away from it.

Pave settings also come in many designs and can be added to different types of shanks. The most popular is a single row of small diamonds, but some include two or three. 

Wide bands have room to fit dozens of pave diamonds for maximum brilliance.

Whether it’s a cathedral or Tiffany setting, or one with a split shank, pave diamonds are an option.

Cons of Pave Settings

One downside of pave settings is they aren’t the best fit for types of gems other than diamonds. 

Rubies, emeralds, and sapphires are more delicate than diamonds.

You can still find those options on the market, but it’s recommended you avoid them because of the difficulty in repairing the setting if it’s damaged.

Pave Ruby and Diamond Ring

Pave settings are also difficult to resize and modify. 

There’s dozens of small gems to deal with, and the prongs or beads that hold them in place can weaken throughout the resizing process. 

This problem can sometimes be avoided if the diamonds are only on one part of the ring and if the adjustment is only a half size. It’s best to be certain it’s the correct size before purchasing a ring with pave.

Another disadvantage is they aren’t fit for active lifestyles and need to be cleaned frequently. You should remove the ring when it has the potential to collect grime because there are plenty of small areas for dirt and debris to get lodged inside.

How are Channel and Pave Settings Different?

If you’re deciding between a channel setting versus pave, it’s important to understand their key distinctions. 

Although the settings may look the same from a distance because of the small diamonds around the shank, they have many differences in their design, functionality, and appearance.

Channel Settings Offer More Security for Diamonds

Diamonds are more secure in a channel setting versus pave. The crevice where they sit provides a layer of protection because they aren’t as exposed to hits and bumps. 

14K White Gold Channel Setting

Diamonds are set inside the shank, so they don’t knock loose as easily.

Pave diamonds on the band don’t have that level of security. The entire gem is vulnerable to hits, so you need to be more careful wearing a ring with pave setting compared to channel.

Channel settings can still lose diamonds, but if you have an active lifestyle, you should opt for channel over pave.

Pave Settings Better Enhance the Shank’s Sparkle

If you’re looking to maximize the ring’s sparkle, choose a pave setting. Channel set diamonds are partially hidden inside the ring, which subdues brilliance. 

Pave diamonds are on full display. Light can often hit its table and multiple sides, which creates more brilliance. An example is this lab-created diamond engagement ring with pave from Clean Origin.

Pave Setting Engagement Ring

It’s an effective way to improve the shine of the whole piece without the added costs of increasing the size of the main diamond.

Channel Settings are More Expensive Than Pave

Pave settings feature smaller diamonds compared to channel settings, so they’re less expensive. The small beads and prongs on pave settings aren’t designed to hold large gems. In fact, micro-pave settings include diamonds below 0.01 carats.

With a wide band, the channel can hold larger diamonds.

For example, let’s compare the prices of a pave and channel setting from online jewelry retailer James Allen. Both are made from 14K white gold and feature diamonds cascading halfway down each side of the shank.

Pave vs Channel Price Comparison

The diamonds on the shank are the same shape and clarity and have a similar color. The difference is the average CTTW of the pave setting is 0.16 and 0.36 for the channel setting. 

The channel setting only has four more diamonds, but it’s more than double the CTTW.

This pave setting costs $840, and this channel setting costs $1,275. This is because more diamond can fit in the channel setting, which adds up to a higher CTTW and increases the price.

If you’re looking for a more affordable option, or want to put any cost savings toward the main diamond, choose pave versus a channel setting.

Pave Settings Make the Main Diamond Appear Larger

Not only does the whole ring have more brilliance with a pave setting, the center diamond appears larger.

Scalloped Pave Diamond Engagement Ring

You can expect the diamond to look 20-30 percent larger with a pave setting because of the enhanced light performance.

Channel settings don’t create this effect because of the position of the gems on the shank. They blend in with the shank’s metal more than they produce brilliance. 

It’s an added touch for more glimmer but it pales in comparison to the effects of pave.

Should You Choose a Channel or Pave Setting?

Channel and pave settings are two of the most popular options for adding diamonds to the shank of a ring. The focus of an engagement ring will always be the center diamond, but that shouldn’t be the only aspect you consider.

To help you decide whether you should choose a channel or pave setting, here are some guidelines.

You should choose a channel setting if:

  • You want the accents to be a type of gem other than diamonds
  • You’re most concerned about the security of the gems in the setting
  • You have an active lifestyle and want to avoid prongs that snag

You should opt for a pave setting for your ring if:

  • Maximizing the brilliance of the whole piece is important to you
  • You want small diamonds on the band that don’t detract from the main stone
  • You’re looking for an affordable setting that still has gems on the shank
  • You want the center diamond to appear larger without increasing its carat size

Selecting the perfect setting is about understanding which factors are most important to you and knowing which one meets those criteria. 

Channel settings and pave offer unique designs and functionality, so explore the options available for each to find the right fit for you.

Devon Tyler

Devon Tyler

Devon Tyler is the founder of TeachJewelry.com.

He earned an Applied Jewelry Professional Diploma from the Gemological Institute of America and now brings you essential information about diamonds, settings, and more.

Devon has consulted with leading jewelry brands, and his work has been cited in Diamond Nexus and other industry publications.

He's also a member of the International Gem Society.

Devon enjoys discussing jewelry with readers, so contact him with any questions at tyler.devon@teachjewelry.com.

Learn More About Devon