Checking Out Channel Settings: The Ins and Outs of Channel-Set Rings

Choosing a channel-set ring...

There’s something so lovely about an engagement ring with a glittering diamond surrounded by smaller white stones. We love the extra sparkle, and there are several ways to achieve this added brilliance nowadays.🌟 One of the most popular ways to include additional diamonds or gemstones into an engagement ring is the channel setting. Channel-set rings offer protection and amped-up sparkle without detracting from the center stone, and brides have chosen this particular setting for decades!

But what makes the channel setting so special? Let’s dive into:

  • Channel setting basics
  • 10 examples of channel-set engagement rings
  • Comparisons between channel settings and similar styles
  • Cleaning and maintaining your channel-set ring
  • Pros and cons
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Basics: What is a channel setting?

As we mentioned, the channel ring setting has actually been around for a hundred years! This design was part of the Art Deco period of the 1920s, where clean, architectural lines and geometric appeal were favored in engagement and cocktail jewelry. The channel setting offered a sleek, understated way for women to add more diamonds to their ring for extra sparkle, and the design became increasingly popular, reaching its peak in the 1980s and 1990s.

So how do the stones in a channel-set diamond ring stay in place? Designers place the tiny diamonds in small holes within a “channel” that sits inside the band of the ring.🔬 The diamonds sit beside each other without prongs, beads, or a bezel to secure them, but instead two bands of metal are set across the top and bottom of the channel to keep the stones flush with the rest of the setting and hold them in place.

Channel Set Ring With Princess-Cut Diamonds
Image: James Allen

These metal walls completely cover each diamond’s girdle, meaning fewer chances for damage and no prongs that can lead to snagging. They also make it easier to hide any small size differences among the diamonds, meaning you can save money and time in trying to find stones that are equal in size.👍🏻

Speaking of saving money, channel settings are typically pretty affordable, but there are some factors that affect the price you should be aware of. The number of accent diamonds or stones, their shape and overall quality (the 4Cs), and the metal you choose for your setting are all things that can impact the price of your ring. So just keep these in mind as you begin your ring buying journey!

The channel setting continues to be popular among engagement jewelry, and it’s also a well-loved option for eternity and wedding bands as it’s the safest way to incorporate diamonds all the way around a band with little worry about them getting damaged.😊 It’s safe to say that with its promise of security and budget-friendly pricing, the channel-set ring isn’t going anywhere in the next few decades!

10 stunning channel-set engagement rings

There are several ways to design your channel setting, and we’ve collected a few below to give you some inspiration for your own ring! Here are 10 channel-set ring designs that show just how versatile this style really is:

Classic channel setting (the “OG”)

Nothing beats a classically designed ring, and a channel-set ring may actually be what you think of when you imagine an engagement ring! This princess-cut channel set ring is simple yet elegant, with 10 brilliant round diamonds set on both sides of the glittering center stone. The classic channel-set design provides sophistication and decadence on any budget!🙌🏻

Three-stone

Why choose only one center stone when you can have three? This three-stone channel setting features three gorgeous princess-cut diamonds at its center, and they’re surrounded by round brilliant channel-set diamonds for abundant sparkle. If you’re a lover of all things that glitter, a channel setting is an affordable way to enhance the brilliance of a three-stone design without breaking the bank.

Colorful gemstones

Adding a splash of color to your channel-set ring is a fun way to commemorate a favorite color, birthstone, the month you met, or the month of your engagement! This channel-set sapphire ring features both diamond and sapphire accent stones in the band for a pop of deep blue that brings out the icy tones in the emerald-cut center diamond and white metal. Rubies, emeralds, morganite, amethyst, citrine, and tanzanite are also popular options that couples choose to bring some colorful personality to their engagement ring.

Brilliant cut diamonds

The brilliant cut was designed specifically for maximizing a diamond’s fire, brilliance, and scintillation, and so it’s the perfect cut for ample sparkle. This princess-cut channel set engagement ring incorporates matching brilliant princess accent stones within each channel to produce as much sparkle as possible, and we can’t stop staring! Also, just look at that beautiful milgrain border along the yellow gold band—it’s perfect for a vintage bride.

Step cut accents

Step cut stones don’t offer the same dazzling sparkle as brilliant cut diamonds, but they do produce a delicate shine and mirror-like glow that is perfect for modern brides or lovers of Old Hollywood glam!🎞️ In this channel-set baguette engagement ring, 16 tapered stones flank the Asscher-cut center stone, and they bring out that geometric shine and contemporary appeal that the step cut is famous for.

Mixed cuts

And why not combine brilliant and step cuts to create something entirely custom? This channel-set emerald cut ring has 6 princess-cut diamonds on either side of the center stone, bringing that fractal, brilliant cut sparkle to the shining step cut. You get the best of both worlds when combining these cuts, getting a hint of that scintillating sparkle alongside an elegant step-cut center stone.

Unique configurations

With a crafty jeweler, you can make just about any design a channel setting! This illusion setting features a round center stone that appears to float between the two sides of the band. The upper portion of the shank has 10 cubic zirconia accents set in a channel for extra sparkle, and they really draw your attention to that center stone.

Mix and match setting styles

There’s no rule that says you can’t combine diamond setting styles for a completely unique piece as well! This round brilliant channel set engagement ring has both a row of graduated pink sapphires in a channel setting and two rows of pavé diamonds surrounding it. The channel-set sapphires offer a pop of color and bring some space to the design while the pavé diamonds offer sparkle and a bright white contrast for those dazzling pink gems.

Eternity designs

A channel setting isn’t exclusively for bridal jewelry, and some couples like to use eternity bands to signify an anniversary, birth of a child, and more. This channel-set eternity band actually has two whole rows of princess-cut diamonds that span all the way around the band for a seamless, brilliant sparkle. 👉🏻Eternity bands are also great for stacking, and you can mix and match diamond bands with colored gemstones for a personalized look.

Wedding band

Channel-set wedding rings can match just about any engagement ring, and their neutral beauty is perfect for complementing diamonds with different settings as well. This round brilliant channel-set wedding band could easily match a solitaire, pavé setting, halo, three stone, or any other ring design you can think of!

Channel-set rings vs. Similar styles

When it comes to adding diamonds to your setting, there are so many ways to do it! The channel setting is just one option for couples looking to bring a little sparkle to their engagement ring or wedding band. Here’s how channel-set rings compare to other diamond-heavy designs:🔍

Channel-set rings vs. Pavé settings

Channel settings are often confused with pavé designs, but they couldn’t be less alike! Both do feature smaller diamonds arranged in one or two rows set into an engagement or wedding band. But, how they achieve this look is rather different.

Channel-Set Setting vs. Pave Setting
Rings in the image: Brilliant Earth

Unlike the channel and metal bars of the channel setting that set the diamonds within the band, pavé rings require setting small diamonds into pre-drilled holes and holding them in place with tiny beads. As such, all of the diamond is visible and sitting on the surface of the band, whereas channel settings mask the part of the crown of the stone. This gives the diamonds room to sparkle to their fullest, but also leaves them open to possible damage over time. In contrast, the diamonds in a channel setting are safe and secure.🔐

Another major difference is the diamond shapes used for each setting. Channel settings can accommodate most shapes, as the stones simply sit together within the channel. However, pavé settings usually require round diamonds to cover as much of the band’s surface as possible.

Finally, channel and pavé settings serve different purposes. Channel set diamonds are meant to draw the eye inward toward the center stone, offering a soft sparkle to complement the main stone’s brilliance. On the other hand, pavé settings bring more fire, brilliance, and scintillation to the overall setting and offer extra sparkle to supplement the center stone.

Shared prong

Shared prong settings are a popular option for wedding bands just like channels, but their methodology is much different. As the name suggests, shared prong settings utilize prongs to hold diamonds in place, whereas there are no prongs in a channel setting. These prongs are set between the diamonds to secure them in a single line, using less metal than traditional prong settings for maximum sparkle.

This is a far cry from the lack of prongs and close quarters living diamonds experience in a channel setting, and there are a few tradeoffs between these two designs.⚖️ A channel setting is more secure and offers a more seamless sparkle, but your diamonds won’t shine quite as much as they would in a shared prong setting. In contrast, the shared prong setting produces optimal sparkle, but the many prongs and exposed position of the diamonds means they’re less secure.

Finally, like the channel setting, shared prong styles can use multiple different diamond shapes to achieve their seamless look. Round brilliants are the most popular, but you may find shared prong settings with emerald, marquise, oval, and other fancy shapes as well.

Bar

The bar setting is actually a close relative of the channel setting, and it tweaks a few of its signature features to create an entirely unique look. Like the channel setting, a bar setting features diamonds secured in place by two metal bars, but these bars are much smaller and sit vertically along either side of the stone.

Because the bars are vertical unlike the horizontal metal strips of a channel setting, the bar setting allows more light to pass through each diamond for increased sparkle. Both designs are popular options for wedding bands, and they offer similar levels of protection from dings and scratches. So if you’re trying to decide between these two designs, you really can’t go wrong!

Gypsy

Also known as flush setting, gypsy and channel settings are kindred spirits when it comes to their desire to protect your diamonds! Their methods are just a little different.

A gypsy setting requires diamonds to be placed inside the band, where designers then hammer the metal around the stone to create a seamless seal where the diamond sits flush with the surface of the band. These diamonds are individually set unlike in a channel setting, and the channel setting also allows more light to hit the diamonds for more sparkle. However, when it comes to security, a gypsy setting is tough and surrounds your stone on all sides. Both settings are ideal for wearers who tend to bang their hands on hard surfaces or snag on fabrics, though!

Tips for cleaning and maintaining your channel-set ring

Looking to clean your channel setting? Luckily, channel-set rings are fairly easy to clean at home with a little dish soap and warm water.

Simply combine the soap and water in a small container and let your ring soak in the solution for roughly 15-20 minutes. Once time is up, you can brush all of the surfaces of your ring with a soft toothbrush to get in between the metal bars of your channel setting, and don't forget to scrub around your center stone as well! When you’re done, rinse your ring under warm running water and dry with a lint-free towel for a clean sparkle.

Be sure to bring your channel-set ring to a trusted jeweler regularly, as it can be very difficult to reach underneath the stones in your ring even with regular at-home cleanings!💡 The equipment used in professional cleanings utilizes high pressure and other methods to get between those diamonds and make your ring look like new.

Don’t want to visit the jeweler every month? Then we recommend weekly or biweekly cleanings at home to prevent any buildup in the channels of your ring. You should also remove your ring during any physical activity—cleaning, showering, gardening, exercising, etc.—to prevent dirt or grime from getting between your stones!

Pros and cons of channel settings

We know you’ve been hanging on every word regarding the benefits of channel-set rings, but just in case here’s a handy summary of all the good and not-so-good when shopping for a channel setting:

Pros

  • The channel setting holds diamonds securely and protects them from damage or falling out.✅
  • It’s reasonably affordable and doesn’t require high-quality diamonds which can be pricey.
  • The channels of diamonds add extra sparkle to your ring and enhance the brilliance of the center stone.
  • It can accommodate most diamond shapes so you can create the ring of your dreams with ease.🦄
  • It’s versatile and able to combine with other setting styles for a one-of-a-kind look.
  • No prongs means no snagging or tearing.👍🏻
  • This setting can withstand the wear and tear of an active lifestyle, so it suits most needs.

Cons

  • The setting can be time-consuming to clean due to the deep channels and may require more regular professional cleanings to get below the diamonds.
  • The channels don’t always give diamonds as much room to sparkle their best as less light reaches the stones (but they’re still very sparkly!).
  • Resizing and repairs can be difficult due to the complex nature of the channel design so make sure you get the right size the first time.

Is a channel setting right for you?

The channel setting is a tried and true favorite among couples shopping for bridal jewelry, and we love the extra brilliance this setting can bring to your center diamond. It’s cost-effective and secure, which are two major selling points as you begin putting together your ring budget. However, a channel-set ring isn’t for everyone, and maybe you’d prefer the allure of a pavé or three-stone setting instead. Be sure to check out our guide to popular engagement ring settings as well if you’re still looking for inspiration!

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