Channel-set size limit?

I have a quick question for the goldsmiths on this list: how small
(in diameter) can stones be when channel set and still look OK? I
guess an alternative way of asking this question is: what size stones
are normally used for channel-setting? For example, if the ridge of
metal holding the stones in needs to be 0.5mm wide on each side, then
you would not be able to see 1mm stones, and even 2mm rounds would
end up looking like 1x2mm rectangles. Thanks, Dave

I recently made a gents yellow gold wedding band with channel set
.01ct diamonds. It was a bit of a challenge but in the end looked
great and the customer was happy. Very thankful to have a microscope
for these types of challenges. Take care, Paul Le May, Bracebridge,

I have seen.8mm diamonds set in.35mm channel walls. The key is not
to have the channel too deep or the floor of the channel. We did this
with .8mm sapphires. The model was made in cad.

Russ Hyder
The Jewelry CAD Institute.

Dave- It depends on the design and look you want.

I prefer to have my interior channel width to be 80% of the diameter
of the stone. That leaves 10% on either side to set with. Too small a
stone and they look buried and don’t sparkle at all. Chanel set 1mm
stones just show .8 mm of the stones. Not a great look in my book,
but then that’s my personal taste.

Have fun and make lots of jewelry.

Jo Haemer

Hi Dave, I don’t think there is a size limit. I have had to channel
set 1/2 pointers, which are 1mm each, but that was unusual and the
bench scope made that easier. Thinking back, I don’t think I often
see anything much below 1.3mm channel set and usually it’s 1.5mm and
up. But there are no rules. Visually, as long as you don’t cover the
stones with too much metal (yet secure them well), a row of very
tiny channel set stones can have great impact. It’s like a fine line
in a pen and ink drawing and can be very pleasing to the eye I think.


I routinely set 0.8 and 0.9mm melee in the ends of graduated
channels. I also recently delivered a channel set ring set with 1/2
ct to 1.5 ct graduated diamonds, so there really isn’t a size limit,
per se. One issue concerning large stones is that there will be
triangular shaped gaps between the stones and channel walls; the
larger the stones, the more noticeable the gaps. It becomes
objectionable to most people around 4mm. For some, it becomes
objectionable with far smaller stones, for others it’s no problem at
all. This is a very important discussion to have when doing custom
design, especially when using a customer’s stones over 10 points, or

The width of the channel walls should be determined by the design of
the piece, not by the size of the melee. If you can’t see the melee
in channels with wide walls, try covering less of the stone, or maybe
use better quality melee. Making your channel walls clean, crisp and
straight and with sharp, well defined edges will help to make small
melee look better. Truth is, it will make everything else look better

Another thing that separates excellence in channel setting from the
merely good is the spacing. Most setters don’t pay enough attention
to spacing, in my humble opinion. In my work, I strive to get the
girdles close enough that a piece of tracing paper will not fit
between them. You can’t let them touch or one or both will chip, but
they should be so close as to look like they are touching to the
naked eye.

Spacing that’s tight - but not touching, even and flat tables whose
reflections “roll” fluidly when the piece is moved, sharp, straight
walls with minimal metal over the stones is what defines good channel
work, regardless of stone size or channel wall width.

Dave Phelps