Once you’ve chosen a stone for your engagement ring, then the fun part starts: choosing a setting. Although the stone can account for up to 90% of the cost of the ring, the setting is what defines its look and showcases the stone to its best advantage. When shopping, be sure to check out a variety of rings, even those you might not like — these things can surprise you!
Below are the advantages and disadvantages of the most popular basic settings from Adiamor Diamonds & Fine Jewelry. The choices are endless, from a simple solitaire to a number of stones and combination of settings on the same ring.
What It Is: This most common type of engagement ring setting involves three to six “claws” that hold a stone firmly in a metal “head” or “basket”. Prongs can be pointed, rounded, flat, or V-shaped, and act as “pockets” for a square stone’s corners. When deciding between four and six prongs, know that four prongs show more of the diamond, while six prongs are more secure, but can overwhelm a small stone.
If you have heart-, marquise-, or pear-shaped stone, be sure its points are cradled in a V-shaped prong for protection. Flat prongs are recommended for emerald-cut stones.
- Permits the most light exposure from all angles and therefore maximizes a diamond’s brilliance and “lightens up” richly colored gems.
- Less metal means less time and money is required than other setting styles.
- Allows easy cleaning of the stone.
- Holds even the most fragile (soft) gems securely.
- Offers less protection to the stone than other styles since most of the girdle (the perimeter of the stone) is exposed.
- Can get caught in hair or snag clothing (especially when pulling on a long-sleeved shirt) and panty hose.
- High-set prong settings can scratch and hurt other people if brushed against, and are hard to fit in gloves. (Lower prong settings are available and more practical for those on the go.)
What It Is: A metal rim with edges fully or partially surrounds the perimeter of the stone.
- Protects a stone’s girdle from being nicked or chipped.
- Conceals existing nicks or chips on a stone’s girdle.
- Secures a stone well.
- The ring surface is completely smooth.
- Metal can be molded to fit any stone shape snugly.
- A white metal encircling a white stone can make the stone appear larger.
- A yellow gold bezel setting can enhance the color of red or green gemstones.
- A yellow gold bezel setting can make a “white” stone such as a diamond appear less white because the yellow tint of the setting is reflected in the stone.
What It Is: Popular for wedding bands also, this setting sandwiches a row of stones — with no metal separating them — between two horizontal channels for part or all of the ring.
Special Note: Round stones cost less to set than square or rectangular ones.
- Protects the girdle of the stones.
- Provides better security for small stones than a prong or pave setting.
- The surface is completely smooth and unobtrusive.
- A ring set with stones all the way around can be difficult to resize (leave at least one third of the shank unset for greatest flexibility — this saves money, too)
- Not recommended for fragile gems such as emeralds, opals, or tourmalines.
What It Is: The French word for “paved”, a pavé setting (pronounced “pah-vay”) involves two or more rows of several small stones fitted into holes that set them level with the surface of the ring. Surrounding metal is then raised to form beads that secure the gems. The setting can be flat or domed.
- Gives the illusion of more and bigger diamonds than they really are.
- Allows an uninterrupted design flow of varying width.
- Not recommended for fragile gems, although the proximity of the stones offers good protection for the girdle of each stone.
- The surface is level but not as smooth as a bezel or channel setting.
- Beads are not as reliable as other settings for securing stones.
Photo Credits: Adiamor Diamonds & Fine Jewelry