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At the peak of its popularity in the late 1980s through the 1990s, the channel ring setting was beloved for its ideal combination of extra sparkle, extra gemstone protection, and a clean, modern look. Today, the channel setting is most commonly seen in wedding and anniversary bands, but it still makes a great option for an engagement ring.
What Is the Channel Setting?
The channel setting is a type of ring setting where stones on the shank of the ring are set along a track between two walls of metal. The stones are nestled against one another and not separated by prongs, beads, or bezels.
We consulted with industry experts Corina Madilian and Nicole Wegman to learn more about the pros, cons, and all of the noteworthy details about channel-set engagement rings.
Meet the Expert
Pros and Cons of the Channel Setting
If you're concerned about finding a gorgeous ring on a tight budget, this type of setting allows you to select less expensive diamonds because it minimizes imperfections and maximizes small stones. “A channel-set ring is more cost-effective,” says Madilian. “You can hide variations in sizes of diamonds, and you don’t have to set each stone individually. That lowers prices.”
Because the metal walls on the shank completely cover the fragile girdle of a diamond, a channel setting is also more protective than pavé or bead-set bands. A channel-set band is also less likely to snag clothes.
The biggest con of a channel-set ring is how quickly it gathers dirt. “Once dirt or lotion gets between the stones, it can take the sparkle away pretty quickly,” Madilian says. “You don’t want to let anything accumulate.”
What to Look for in a Channel Setting
- What stones, cuts, and materials pair best with a channel-set ring? "Channel settings look best with round or princess-cut diamonds," says Wegman. "We love when they are made using yellow gold." She explains that this type of metal really enhances the diamonds and makes them pop against the edges.
- How can I tell if the ring is high quality? Wegman says that this question is centered around how the ring was made. "For example, was it mass produced overseas or handcrafted here in the U.S.?" Pieces that are carefully handcrafted are preferred. Brides should also be conscientious of how secure the stones are. "You also want to be sure none of the diamonds wiggle when you tap on the ring."
- Wearability? "Because there are no prongs, channel settings are very smooth and won't snag your clothes," Wegman explains. "The metal edges also help protect the diamonds, making this a very durable setting. You can safely wear them for most activities."
How to Care for a Channel Setting
The secure design of channel settings allow caring for your engagement ring easier than other styles. "Channel settings are excellent for protecting the stones, so you don't have to be as cautious as you do with prong-set or pavé diamonds," says Wegman.
While the all-encompassing design of the metal keeps your stones safe, it does makes the ring more prone to trapping substances such as dirt or lotion. Wegman says that this makes channel-set rings more difficult to clean. "Because of this, I recommend cleaning at home at least once a week and an annual steam clean from your jeweler."
It's also possible to do a deep clean on your ring right at home. “The easiest thing to do is boil a little water, take it off the stove, add some clear detergent, and let the ring sit for a bit,” Madilian explains. “Let the hot water dissolve whatever is between the stones, then use an old toothbrush to gently brush away any residue. Rinse it, and then you’re done.”
Ready to shop for your own channel-set engagement ring? Here are 20 stunning options.
FerkosFineJewelry 14K Gold Baguette Diamond Band
A channel setting is the perfect style for an engagement ring if you're going the non-traditional route by opting for a simple band. Although a little less flashy, the striking contrast between the 14k yellow gold and baguette diamonds is all the glitz you need.
Mark Broumand Old European Cut Diamond Engagement Ring
In this jaw-dropping engagement ring, diamonds fill the channel-set shank and surround the basket underneath the 3.84ct Old European cut center diamond. This platinum stunner is for the bride who wants nothing less than for sparkle to practically drip off her hand.
J.R. Dunn Noam Carver Round Channel-Set Engagement Ring Setting
Rose gold, a round-cut diamond, and filigree detailing on the channel-set band make this engagement ring setting feel especially sweet. The especially intricate profile underneath this solitaire only accentuates the brilliance of the diamond that much more.