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Channel Setting vs. Pave: How to Decide

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Channel Setting vs Pave

The center diamond doesn’t have to be the only gem on your piece of jewelry.

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

The main difference between channel and pave settings is the way the diamond is placed on the shank. In channel settings, they’re set in a shallow groove within the ring. Pave diamonds are often held by small prongs and sit on top of the band.

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

What are Channel Settings?

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

I’ve pointed out the channel in the engagement ring setting below.

Channel Setting

The design adds a level of security to the accents to keep them from falling out of the setting.

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

This ring is an example of that style.

It’s in contrast to a full eternity ring, where the channel goes all the way around. The full eternity is more common in wedding rings.

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.

It’s only when the piece is viewed close up that you learn the shank includes multiple diamonds.

Pros of Channel Settings

Available with Multiple Cuts

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

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 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.

In the example below, baguette cuts are placed horizontally in the channel to provide a distinct rectangular shape against the round cut in the middle.

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’ll have less worry about them falling out during everyday activities, but I still recommend removing the jewelry during this time.

The setting is also unlikely to snag. Some types, such as shared prong settings, have prongs that often catch 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


Maintenance is difficult because of the quantity 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.

Take a look at the setting below.

Diamond Ring with Channel Setting

Imagine the difficulty of fitting another diamond inside if one were to loosen, especially one in the middle.

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

I recommend having it cleaned once or twice per year to prevent buildup.

Don’t Reflect as Much Light

Buyers add accents to their ring because it enhances brilliance without a significant increase in cost. Several small diamonds often cost less than increasing the carat weight of the main one.

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

You’ll still have improved brilliance compared to a solitaire.

What are Pave Settings?

Pave settings feature diamonds on top the shank, though they’re often set in grooves that rise and fall. 

Their also 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.

The setting below is considered a half-eternity.

Pave Setting

Twenty diamonds that weigh a total of 0.15 carats complement the round cut on top.

This demonstrates how 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.

But they don’t have to be round cuts.

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

My recommendation is round-cut pave diamonds if the center is a step-cut like an Asscher or emerald. Those two exhibit a warm glow but lack brilliance, so the smaller diamonds compensate.

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

Pros of Pave Settings

Enhances Sparkle

An advantage of a pave setting is it enhances the sparkle of the whole piece. 

In the example below, you can tell how diamonds are placed on top of the shank.

Pave Set Diamond Ring

They’re positioned to capture and reflect light instead of hiding in a crevice.

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

Doesn’t Detract From Center Diamond

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

If your accents 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.

Variety of Designs

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

Other Gemstones Aren’t the Best Fit

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

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

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

Pave Ruby and Diamond Ring

Resizing is Difficult

Pave settings are also difficult to resize and modify. 

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

This problem can sometimes be avoided if the diamonds are only on one part of the ring and if the adjustment is only half a size.

Be certain it’s the correct size before purchasing a ring with pave.

How are Channel and Pave Settings Different?

1. Pave Settings are Less Secure

Diamonds are less secure when they’re in a pave setting compared to channel. 

The crevice where they sit in a channel setting provides a layer of protection. They aren’t as exposed to hits and bumps during everyday wear.

The difference is apparent when viewing the piece below at that angle.

14K White Gold Channel Setting

The diamonds are clearly set inside the shank. 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 exercise more caution when wearing a ring with pave setting compared to channel.

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

2. Channel Settings are More Expensive

With a wide band, the channel can hold larger diamonds. This results in channel settings often selling for a higher price than similar ones with pave.

For example, let’s compare the prices of a pave and channel setting from online jewelry retailer James Allen.

Both these settings 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 over channel.

3. Pave Increases the Apparent Size of the Center Diamond

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

Expect the diamond to look 20-30 percent larger with a pave setting because of 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 lacks in comparison.

Is a Channel or Pave Setting Right For You?

Channel and pave settings are two popular options for adding gems to the shank of a ring.

To help you decide between them, here are some guidelines.

Choose a channel setting if:

  • The accents are another gemstones like rubies or sapphires
  • 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

Opt for a pave setting for your ring if:

  • Maximizing the brilliance of the whole piece is important to you
  • You’re looking for an affordable setting that still has diamonds on the shank
  • You want the center diamond to appear larger without increasing its carat weight

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

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

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.

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