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If you’ve read any of our content about engagement ring settings, you’ll know that we’re fans of the pavé setting, which features a row of small diamonds that run along the shank of the ring to add additional brilliance.
Finding a diamond for a pavé setting can feel somewhat challenging, as it’s important to choose a center diamond that’s a little higher on the color scale than for a solitaire setting.
As a result of this, we often receive emails from readers asking for help choosing the right stone for a pavé engagement ring. These readers often have very understandable worries about their diamond appearing overly dark, yellow or blemished next to the small pavé-set diamonds.
Not so long ago, a reader contacted us to ask for help choosing the right diamond for a white gold pavé setting. They were looking for a diamond in the 0.50 carat range and wanted to spend $2,000 to $3,000 on the stone and setting.
Here’s the reader’s original email:
“I’ve been looking for a 14K white gold pave setting. I’m hoping to find a round .5ct near colorless center diamond that’s eye clean and be all-in for between $2,000 and $3,000.
I like settings on Blue Nile and James Allen and I love the prices and speed offered by BN and JA.
I have been pleased with some of the stones listed on BN, based on their GIA certs alone of course, being excellent in cut, polish, symmetry, etc. and listing just one flaw type.
The James Alen stones I’ve viewed, even in the VV clarity range, have all seemed to have rather glaring flaws (to me anyway) right in the middle.
Thanks so much for your time!”
There are several important topics to discuss here, including the best choices of diamond clarity and color for a pavé setting (as well as the art of selecting a diamond that’s eye-clean, or free of any visible inclusions).
Before we go into detail, let’s go over the basics. First, when it comes to clarity, a diamond in the VS or VVS range is unlikely to display inclusions in any real-life setting, provided it appears free of major blemishes in the magnified photos provided by James Allen or Blue Nile.
Second, for a white gold pavé setting, any round brilliant cut diamond with a color grade of I or better will appear colorless and match its surrounding diamonds.
We’ve gone into more detail about these topics below and provided a few examples of what to look for in a similar diamond for a pavé setting.
Before we cover finding and choosing a diamond, let’s discuss the pavé setting. As the GIA explains, this type of setting features many diamonds (or, in some cases, gemstones) that are held in place with small beads. The name comes from the diamond pattern, with the band “paved” with small, elegant diamonds that enhance the appearance of the ring.
The pavé setting offers a lot of advantages. Not only does it add extra brilliance to any ring, but it also has a timeless, elegant appearance that pairs nicely with diamonds of almost every carat weight and shape.
There are several things to consider when choosing a center diamond for a pavé ring. The first is the importance of choosing a center diamond with an adequate color grade that will prevent it from appearing overly tinted next to the smaller, pavé-set diamonds.
The second is the importance of choosing a diamond that has acceptable clarity. While the small pavé diamonds in this setting are unlikely to “clash” with a center diamond of a low clarity grade, a heavily included diamond can distract from this type of ring’s elegant appearance.
Let’s start with color. One advantage of the round brilliant cut diamond — a diamond shape this reader mentioned in an earlier message — is that its facet pattern is excellent at concealing any internal color in a diamond.
This is particularly important with a pavé setting in white gold, as the white color of the setting is likely to make any yellow tint in a diamond more visible.
In general, any round brilliant cut diamond with a color grade of I or better will look colorless in a white gold setting. This means that this reader has a large range of diamonds to choose from, at least when it comes to color grade.
For optimal value for money, choosing a diamond with a color grade of I or H is typically the way to go here.
When it comes to clarity, the round brilliant cut is also a great choice. Because round diamonds are so effective at reflecting and refracting light, they tend to hide small inclusions that would be visible in a less brilliant diamond with a larger table.
For an optimal combination of value for money and good clarity, we generally suggest selecting a round brilliant cut diamond with a clarity grade of VS1 – SI1, then manually checking the diamond to make sure that it’s eye-clean.
The term “eye-clean” refers to diamonds that don’t display any inclusions that are visible to the naked eye in a real life setting — for example, worn on a person’s finger, instead of under bright studio lighting.
One important thing to keep in mind when comparing diamonds for clarity is that the magnified, brightly-lit photographs provided by James Allen and Blue Nile often show inclusions that aren’t visible in everyday life.
In general, it’s uncommon for a round brilliant cut diamond in the VS clarity range to show large inclusions, and exceptionally uncommon for a diamond with a clarity grade in the VVS range to display any eye-visible inclusions.
Beyond color and clarity, it’s also important to prioritize cut quality, as this has the largest impact of any of the four Cs on a diamond’s appearance.
For a round brilliant cut diamond, this means limiting your search to diamonds with an Excellent (if graded by the GIA) or Ideal (if graded by the AGS) cut grade.
By sticking to these specifications, you can find a stunning 0.50 carat round diamond for $1,500 to $2,000, leaving $1,000 to $1,500 to choose a pavé setting.
For example, this beautiful 0.55 carat, H color, VVS1 clarity diamond from James Allen is priced at $1,530. This stunning 0.54 carat, H color, VS1 clarity diamond, which appears eye-clean and colorless, is also available for $1,480.
These diamonds can look absolutely stunning when paired with a high-quality pavé setting, such as this 14K white gold petite pavé engagement ring from James Allen.
When picking a diamond for a pavé style engagement ring, it’s important to pay close attention to its color and clarity to avoid it appearing tinted or blemished once it’s mounted in its setting.
For a white gold pavé setting, this generally means choosing a diamond with a color grade of I or better, then manually comparing different options to find a diamond that’s eye-clean and free of any visible inclusions.
In the end, the reader chose this gorgeous 0.50 carat, I color, VVS2 clarity diamond from Blue Nile. It’s an eye-clean, gorgeously cut diamond that will appear colorless in any pavé setting.
If you need help choosing a similar diamond, or have any diamond-related questions that you’d like to ask, feel free to contact us.
Our team is always available to help you compare your options and find a diamond, setting and other jewelry that matches your tastes and budget.
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