First, let us examine the difference between a pave setting and a regular prong stetting. A pave set diamond engagement ring has tiny holes drilled into the band's metal surface. The diamonds are then placed into these miniscule pores, and are held in place by small metal beads or tiny metal prongs, which are fitted in between the small precious gemstones. The tiny chips of metal used in this setting are meant to be nearly invisible, since this setting is designed to accentuate the diamonds' natural brilliance, while using as little metal as possible. The diamonds are fitted snugly together, and close to the band, which creates an illusion of a uniform line of diamonds, which stretches along the ring's metal band. As such, the pave setting utilizes small sized diamonds, diamonds which are mounted close together, to create the appearance of a smooth diamond surface. Pave settings come in three basic designs:
1. The pave setting is used to house accent stones which are mounted around a large center stone. With this design, the pave setting is used to add a little glitz and glamour to the ring's overall appearance.
2. The pave setting covers the entire band. In this ring design, the engagement ring's band lacks a center stone. This particular setting design is increasingly popular not only in engagement rings, but also in anniversary rings (such as the eternity ring) and promise rings.
3. The band is set with a multitude of pave set diamond rows. This design creates a thicker band, but is increasingly versatile, since the rows can be set in virtually any direction (vertical or horizontal to the center stone), a technique which creates a unique geometrically patterned band.
With a prong setting, the diamond is placed within a slim metal cradle, which is meant to house the diamond's culet (its lower half), and is held in place with small and slim metal prongs, or claws, which grip the diamond's girdle (its sides) and its table. This particular setting is very popular when it comes to diamond engagement ring settings, due to its simplicity and versatility. The prong setting complements high carat precious gemstones, as well as low carat gemstones, unusual shaped diamonds, as well as traditional diamond cuts, fancy colored diamonds, as well as colorless diamonds. Also, the setting is commonly used in diamond engagement rings since its manufacturing is a relatively simple (and as such, affordable) process. The prong settings are designed to leave most of the diamond's body exposed, so as to allow light to travel freely within the diamond's crystalline structure. The amplified amount of light traveling through the diamond increases the diamond's natural brilliance, or 'sparkle'. A shared prong setting is used when one wishes to mount more than a single, solitaire diamond into an engagement ring. As such, the pave setting and the shared prong setting are similar in that they are both designed to accommodate more than one precious gemstone, and that they both use tiny metal prongs to hold the gemstones in place. However, there are a few noticeable differences between a shared prong setting and a pave setting. For instance, pave set diamonds are usually smaller than diamonds mounted into a shared prong setting. Pave set diamonds are cut smaller so that they can fit closely together, without making the engagement ring's band appear too bulky or overdone. On the other hand, a shared prong setting can incorporate larger sized precious gemstone, since the gemstones do not necessarily need to fit together. In addition, the common practice is for a smaller number of precious gemstones to be used in a shared prong setting as opposed to the large number of diamonds used in a pave setting. However, since we have already surmised that diamonds mounted into a pave setting are of a smaller size, their total carat weight will usually amount to less than the total carat weight of diamonds used in a shared prong setting. In terms of appearance, prong set precious gemstones tend to stick out of the band (so as to ensure that an increasing amount of light is allowed to travel through the diamonds' bodies) while precious gemstones mounted into a pave setting are meant to form a smooth surface, level with the ring's band. As such, pave set gemstones are not as prominent as gemstones mounted into a shared prong setting. As for affordability, it highly depends on the quality of materials used in making the engagement ring. For instance, an engagement ring made out of high karat yellow gold will cost more than a ring made with white gold, or with lesser metals (such as stainless steel or sterling silver). An engagement ring mounted with a large number of high quality diamonds will be more valuable than a ring set with small amounts of precious gemstones. Not to mention that the higher the quality of the gemstones utilized in making the engagement ring the higher its price will be. Generally speaking, pave set engagement rings can be less expensive than shared prong set engagement rings, since the diamonds used in a pave setting are so small, and since their total carat weight isn't that high. Also, since pave set diamonds are so small, and since they are set so snugly together, any possible inclusions and imperfections which they may possess become less visible. Subsequently, it is not that uncommon for jewelers to use gemstones with a lower clarity grade in pave set engagement rings. As such, engagement rings set with lower quality gemstones will naturally, be more affordable than high quality gemstones mounted into a shared prong setting.