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Ask a Diamond Pro: Choosing a Diamond for a Rose Gold Pavé Setting

By Mike Fried,

When it comes to buying an engagement ring, many people start by picking out a diamond, then matching it with a setting. Others work backwards by choosing a setting they like, then picking a diamond that complements it beautifully.

Recently, a reader contacted us asking for help choosing the right diamond for an engagement ring. They had three requirements: that the setting was rose gold, that the diamond matched a solitaire or pavé setting, and that the ring cost less than £3,750 (around $5,060) in total.

We helped them select a beautiful 0.80 carat, I color, VS1 clarity round cut diamond that nicely complements their choice of setting. 

Here’s the reader’s original message:

“Hi there, 

I’m currently shopping for an engagement ring for my girlfriend. I have a budget of up to £3750. 

She loves rose gold, so that is a must for the setting; either solitaire or pave. I would like to get an Excellent or Ideal cut, whilst at the same time maximizing the carat for the price. I’m looking at colours of I and up and SI1 if possible all for the budget. The shape of diamond I’m looking for is round or oval.

I would very much appreciate any advice on this with your expert knowledge in this.

Many thanks and regards.”

Rose Gold Ring
An example of a rose gold pavé setting with a 0.80ct round cut center diamond (from Blue Nile)

This is a great opportunity to talk about several things that people often overlook when shopping for diamond jewelry, namely how the metal of a setting affects the choice of center diamond and how to choose a diamond for a pavé setting. 

It’s also a great opportunity to discuss how making small, simple compromises in your choice of diamond and setting can help you get much more for your budget.

When it comes to settings, colored metals such as rose gold or yellow gold give you much more flexibility with color grade than white metals such as platinum or white gold. This means that you can choose a diamond with a lower color grade, freeing up your budget for other things.

These small compromises — a lower color grade and an eye-clean clarity grade — have minimal effect on a diamond’s appearance, but let you spend more of your budget on a physically larger diamond with a higher cut quality.

We’ve discussed this in more detail below and provided an example of how making a modest, virtually unnoticeable compromise in color grade can result in much better value for money.

Choosing a Diamond for a White, Yellow or Rose Gold Setting

As we often mention, a diamond’s quality is determined to a large extent by the 4 Cs of diamonds — its cut quality, color, clarity and carat weight. 

Our general recommendation when purchasing an engagement ring is to select a diamond with an Excellent or Ideal cut grade, an eye-clean level of clarity and a color grade that makes it look colorless to the naked eye. 

When it comes to diamond color, one of the most important factors is the color of the metal used for the setting. White metals, such as white gold and platinum, display a diamond’s natural color quite clearly, meaning that any natural yellow coloration in the diamond may be visible.

In contrast, colored metals such as yellow and rose gold will give any diamond — including a D, E or F graded “colorless” diamond — the appearance of a yellow visible or pink-red tint. 

This tint comes from the additional metals that are used to produce this type of gold. As this Sotheby’s guide explains, rose gold contains a significant amount of copper, which is what gives the metal its pink tone. This pink coloration passes through any clear stone that’s put next to rose gold, such as a diamond.

This effect can work to your disadvantage (for example, by putting a colorless diamond inside a yellow gold ring, making it appear slightly tinted) or to your advantage (for example, by putting a slightly tinted diamond inside a setting that disguises its color grade). 

In this reader’s case, we picked out a diamond with an I color grade. This is the second-lowest grade in the “near colorless” range, meaning it will display some hints of yellow coloration when it’s viewed in a lab setting but will look colorless to the naked eye. 

Going above this color grade (for example, to a grade of H or G) isn’t worth it for this reader, as any minor improvements in the color of the diamond will be negated by the pink-red color of the rose gold setting.

Increasing the color grade of the diamond is paying for a feature that won’t be noticeable in any way once the diamond is mounted in its setting.

In fact, in this case, it’s actually possible to drop down even lower than an I color grade without the diamond appearing overly yellow in its setting.

Because round brilliant cut diamonds reflect light so well, it’s difficult to distinguish their color in any real-life setting. In a yellow or rose gold setting, dropping down to the J or K range is totally acceptable with a round diamond and can be a smart way to save money.

In this reader’s case, they specifically asked for color grades of “I and up,” leading to our I color grade suggestion. 

To show how big of an impact a diamond’s color grade can have on its price, take a look at the two round brilliant cut diamonds below, both from James Allen:

Comparison of J color and G color diamonds

The first diamond (on the left) has a color grade of J and costs $2,550. The second (on the right) has a color grade of G — three steps up on the GIA’s color grading scale — and costs $3,980. 

With a metal such as rose gold or yellow gold, the 56 percent premium you’ll pay for the G color diamond will go almost totally unnoticed. Instead of paying for a colorless diamond, it’s better to make a smart compromise on color and spend the savings on a larger diamond.

Pairing a Diamond With a Pavé Setting

This reader ended up selecting a pavé setting for their engagement ring. Pavé settings can look stunning and add lots of personality and depth to an engagement ring, all without serving as too much of a distraction from the center diamond. 

With three-stone and halo settings, it’s often important to choose a center diamond that’s similar in color to the side diamonds in order to avoid a visual mismatch.

With pavé settings, the side diamonds are so small that any minor color differences between the center diamond and pavé diamonds won’t be visible to the human eye, especially with a colored metal such as yellow or rose gold.

pavé setting in rose gold
An example of a pavé setting in rose gold (from James Allen)

Smart Compromises Help You Get More for Your Budget

In the end, this reader was able to purchase a stunning pavé engagement ring featuring a 0.80 carat center diamond at a very affordable price. 

In fact, they ended up spending significantly less than many people pay for much smaller, less impressive engagement rings from retail jewelry chains. 

There are two keys to getting value for money like this. The first is to buy your diamond jewelry online to take advantage of the 30 to 40 percent lower prices made possible by the economics of e-commerce.

The second is to make lots of smart compromises. This means spending more of your diamond budget on the features you will notice in a diamond, and as little as possible on the features you won’t notice. 

In this reader’s case, the obvious compromise was color. By selecting a rose gold setting and a round cut diamond, they were able to save money by avoiding the need to purchase a diamond with a high color grade. 

This freed up more of their budget to go towards a larger diamond, allowing them to purchase a beautiful pavé setting and a 0.80 carat diamond at a very reasonable total cost. 

For a ring like this, a second compromise could be choosing 14K gold, which provides a similar look and superior durability to 18K gold at a lower price. 

These choices have a minimal impact on a ring’s look, but can make a big difference behind the scenes when it comes to its value. Choose right and you’ll end up with a stunning diamond ring, without a shocking price tag to match.

Our Recommendation

Unless you have an unlimited budget, purchasing a diamond will always involve making certain compromises. This reader was able to get a beautiful engagement ring at a reasonable price by selecting their diamond based on what best matched their choice of setting. 

To get the best diamond engagement ring for your budget, take note of the four Cs and prioritize those that have the biggest impact on your ring’s appearance. 

If you need help, feel free to contact us. Our diamond experts assist hundreds of readers to buy their ideal engagement rings every month, and we’re happy to help you find the best setting and diamond for your tastes and budget.

James Allen James Allen is the leader in online diamond sales. Their imaging technology is the same as inspecting a diamond with a jeweler's loupe. They have the largest exclusive loose diamond inventory online and fantastic prices. They also have the nicest collection of lab-created diamonds online.
What we love about them:
  • No questions asked returns within 30 days of shipment. James Allen will send you a paid shipping label to return the ring.
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • Free International Shipping
  • Free prong tightening, repolishing, rhodium plating and cleaning every 6 months
  • Provide insurance appraisals
  • One free resizing within 60 days of purchase
  • Free ring inscriptions
  • Best-in-class high quality imagery of all diamonds in stock
  • 24/7 Customer Service
  • Best-in-class packaging
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Blue Nile Blue Nile is the largest and most well-known internet jewelry seller. They have a very large exclusive online inventory. Their high-quality images are catching up to James Allens' and their prices are amazing. Save 25% on settings at Blue Nile!

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What we love about them:
  • No questions asked returns within 30 days of shipment. Blue Nile will send you a paid shipping label to return the ring.
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • Free Shipping
  • Free prong tightening, repolishing, rhodium plating and cleaning every 6 months
  • Provide insurance appraisal
  • One free resizing within the first year of purchase
  • High quality images of about half of their diamonds
  • 24/7 Customer Service
  • 100% credit towards future upgrades (must be at least double in value)
  • Best in class fulfillment
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