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Solitaire vs. Pavè Setting (Key Differences)

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Solitaire vs Pave

When you’re searching for the right diamond ring, don’t underestimate the impact its setting can have on the overall aesthetic and performance of the piece.

The center diamond is the focal point, but the type of shank that displays the diamond can add to its appeal.

Solitaire and pavè (pronounced “pa-vay”) are two popular types of settings.

The main difference between solitaire and pavè settings is solitaire settings have no diamonds lining the shank, so the focus is all on the center stone. Pavè settings have small diamonds placed on the band that are held in place by metal beads or prongs, which enhances the brilliance of the piece.

Let’s compare solitaire versus pavè settings for diamond rings, including an overview of each and the key differences, so you know which is right for you.

What is a Solitaire Setting?

Solitaire settings only include one diamond. There aren’t additional gemstones on the band or complementing the main one, like in a halo or three-stone design.

It’s the most common choice for engagement rings because of its simplistic design and the way it doesn’t draw attention away from the main diamond. 

In most cases, the diamond is held in place by three to six prongs. Fewer prongs often mean less security for the diamond, but it does maximize its exposure, which improves brilliance.

For example, this knife edge solitaire ring from James Allen holds the round-cut diamond with four prongs. 

Knife Edge Solitaire Ring

It’s a sleek, 14k white gold setting with a minimalist design.

But solitaires aren’t limited to round-cut diamonds or a thin band. They hold every diamond cut from princess and emerald to pear and marquise, and thicker bands provide better support for larger diamonds.

Other designs offer an alternative from the traditional one. This woven solitaire engagement ring has a split band that forms interlaced prongs.

Its elegant profile is the right choice for buyers who want a clean shank but also a unique touch that differentiates it from other solitaires.

Other jewelry like necklaces and earrings can also be referred to as solitaire if there’s a single diamond, but the term is generally referencing engagement rings.

What is a Pavè Setting?

Pavè settings feature small diamonds or other gemstone lining the shank. 

Pave Setting Engagement Ring

The name is derived from the French word that means “pavement.” 

In this way, it’s like gemstones are paved along the band. This creates an aesthetic where it appears the band is made of diamonds.

Like solitaire settings, pavè settings can hold any diamond cut. That’s because the pavè diamonds don’t interfere with the one on top of the setting. 

They’re placed away from the center diamond, so it doesn’t matter how large or small it is, or whether there are side stones or a certain type of halo.

As an example, this engagement ring from Blue Nile includes French pavè halfway down the shank and a halo of small diamonds encircling the main one.

Pave Setting with Halo

The added gems aren’t competing with each other. Instead, they increase the brilliance of the piece with an extra half carat of diamonds.

Pavè settings can include diamonds around the whole band or one half. If diamonds wrap the whole ring, it’s called an eternity setting. If they stop halfway, it’s called a half eternity.

Another style is a pave wrap, where they’re placed along the prongs holding the diamond.

If you decide on a pavè setting, you’ll have many additional considerations, like the specific type of pavè and whether to include gems other than the ones on the band.

What are the Differences Between Solitaire and Pavè?

If you’re comparing solitaire versus pavè settings, you should know their differences and what to expect from each. 

Don’t fall into the trap of spending all your time deciding on a center diamond and ignoring the effect a setting has on the ring’s appeal.

Here are five differences between pavè and solitaire settings.

1. Pavè Settings Have More Brilliance

One of the most coveted traits of a diamond ring is brilliance. It’s the white light that reflects off its facets and returns to the viewer when it’s twirled.

Even if a ring has a large center diamond, a lack of light performance diminishes its appeal.

Diamond rings with pavè settings have more brilliance because there are additional facets to reflect light. Instead of only the main diamond glimmering, the entire ring can sparkle.

This effect also causes the main diamond to look bigger. If you’re on a tight budget and can’t afford a large diamond, you can compensate for that with a pavè setting.

Pave Setting

This is also true if you choose a cut grade other than excellent, because a diamond’s cut grade is the factor that most impacts its brilliance. 

Pavè diamonds on the shank make up for a lack of brilliance from the center diamond and keep the piece from appearing too dull.

Solitaire settings don’t have this advantage. The ring’s brilliance is dependent on the cut, clarity, and color grade of the single diamond.

To maximize the light performance of a solitaire ring, choose an excellent cut with color and clarity grades that cause the diamond to appear colorless and flawless to the naked eye.

2. Solitaire Settings Focus Attention on the Center Diamond

Some buyers don’t want to distract from the center diamond. In this case, we recommend a solitaire setting because it keeps attention from being drawn toward other aspects of the ring.

In addition, choose a setting where the diamond sits high above the band. It’ll capture the most amount of light.

For example, this engagement ring from Serendipity Diamonds has a high setting. There’s a noticeable gap between the diamond’s culet and the setting.

As a contrast, this solitaire setting from Brilliant Earth is a more traditional height.

Solitaire Setting

There’s a small gap between the diamond setting, but it doesn’t sit too high above the band.

If you decide on a pavè setting, the main diamond is competing for attention. This is especially true if it sits low because it won’t stand out as much from all the pavè diamonds.

Take this petite pavè setting as an example. Pavè diamonds cascade down each side of the ring, and they also form the basket that holds the diamond.

Although the piece has strong brilliance with plenty of sparkle apart from the center diamond, most buyers wouldn’t consider this setting with a large center gem.

3. Pavè Settings are More Expensive

Pavè settings are often more expensive than solitaires because of the additional diamonds. All else being equal, the marginal price increase is for the small gems on the shank.

In fact, solitaire settings are often the least expensive. Its minimalist design is the easiest to manufacture and there are no added costs for diamonds. 

Let’s compare real examples of costs for pavè and solitaire settings.

This solitaire engagement ring in 14k white gold costs $780.

Solitaire Engagement Ring in 14K White Gold

This setting is made from the same metal but includes French cut petite pavè diamonds on the shank. It costs $1,030.

That’s a 32 percent increase in price, or $250, for a pavè setting versus solitaire.

Prices at Blue Nile are similar.

You’ll pay $890 for this petite solitaire setting in platinum.

Petite Solitaire Engagement Ring

The same design with micropavè diamonds costs $1,150.

It’s important to note pavè diamonds are a way to increase the total carat weight of your ring without the same price increase that would result from a larger center diamond.

If the pavè setting adds between 0.1-0.2 carats to the piece, you’d often pay more than $500 to add that weight to the main diamond.

But if you choose a solitaire setting, you can put the savings toward a larger center diamond or one with improved clarity, cut, and color grades.

4. Solitaire Settings Require Less Maintenance

Solitaire settings require less maintenance than pavè settings because there aren’t several diamonds that can loosen, fall out, or collect debris.

If you’ve chosen a strong metal for your engagement ring and protect it with prongs or another style like bezel settings, it requires minimal upkeep and cleaning.

If it becomes dirty, place it in warm water with mild dishwashing soap. Then gently brush it and air dry it, or use a soft cloth.

Pavè settings have a higher likelihood of maintenance issues. 

While we always recommend removing your ring during physical activity or during every day wear when it could experience a hit or bump, this is even more important with pavè settings.

They’re also more likely to snag on clothing or furniture because the space between the pavè diamonds are liable to catch and loosen.

Solitaire settings are also easier to resize. 

A jeweler can remove part of the ring and reform it to reduce its size. To make the ring larger, the jeweler can shave part of the inside.

These techniques are much more difficult if there are pavè diamonds on the shank. 

We recommend you have certainty on the size you’ll need if you’re searching for a pavè setting to avoid these maintenance issues.

5. Pavè Settings are Available in a Variety of Designs

You have more far choices available for pavè settings compared to solitaire settings.

With a solitaire setting, your main considerations are the type of metal and how the diamond is held. Most jewelry vendors offer yellow, rose, or white gold or platinum.

The diamond can be held by double claw prongs, V-prongs, a bezel setting, and more.

Pavè settings are available in these designs as well, but you can also choose from the different types of pavè.

Two popular options are French pavè and petite pavè.

French pavè settings are also called “fishtail pavè.” Diamonds fit into V-shaped grooves in the shank.

When you rotate the image of this French cut pavè ring from James Allen, you can view the eight grooves on each side of the main diamond.

Platinum French Cut Pave Diamond Ring

This petite pavè diamond ring has 0.28 carats of diamonds on the band. Because they’re such small pavè diamonds, a higher number can fit on the ring compared to other types.

Explore a variety of pavè settings to find which design is the right one for you.

Should You Choose a Solitaire or Pavè Setting For Your Ring?

Choosing between a solitaire versus pavè setting for your ring involves understanding your priorities and knowing what makes each style distinct.

Both are a common choice for engagement rings and other pieces of jewelry, so here are some tips to help you decide.

You should choose a solitaire setting if:

  • You have a large center diamond and don’t want to detract from it
  • You want to put the cost savings into the diamond’s cut, clarity, color grade or carat weight
  • The simplistic, sleek design is appealing to you

Consider a pavè setting if:

  • You want the entire ring to exhibit brilliance
  • You’re willing to pay a higher price for extra carats of diamond on the band
  • The center diamond is smaller or doesn’t have a strong cut, so you want to improve the ring’s overall aesthetic

By pairing diamonds with multiple pavè and solitaire settings, you’ll find the style 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