Your Guide to Ring Settings
March 20th, 2023
If you're thinking about proposing, you likely know all about the 4 Cs of choosing a diamond, but don't overlook the importance of engagement ring settings. The setting holds that perfect diamond in place and determines the overall look of the ring. You'll find many unique designs in each type of ring setting at The Wedding Ring Shop, but understanding the basics of each setting type is the first step in choosing the perfect ring for your partner, so check out our guide to engagement ring settings!
THE PROS AND CONS OF PRONG SETTINGS
When it comes to diamond ring settings, nothing is more classic and popular than the prong setting. This type of setting uses little metal claw-like pieces to hold the diamond into place. Typical rings have four to six prongs per diamond. Prong settings let the diamond take center stage since there isn't a lot of metal holding the diamond in place. The more prongs the ring has, the more secure the diamond. However, too many prongs, especially on a small diamond, can take over and hide a large portion of the stone.
Prongs come in different shapes, including flat, pointed, rounded and V-shaped. The V-shaped prongs work best on certain stone shapes, including princess, heart, marquise and pear, to give the pointed corners of these diamonds proper protection. For emerald-cut stones, flat prongs are usually best.
The benefits of prong settings include:
- Stone view: The prongs are thin and placed strategically to let more of the stone show than on other setting styles.
- Increased light: Open edges and angles on the stone in the prong setting let more light shine through. On a diamond ring, this means greater brilliance. For darker-colored gemstones, the light exposure gives the gem a lighter look.
- Easy cleaning: Because more of the stone is exposed in a prong setting than in other setting types, the ring is easier to clean.
- Elevated stone: The prongs hold the diamond up for an elevated design. That adds to the visibility of the stone.
Consider the drawbacks of prong settings before making your purchase, which include:
- Slightly less security: Only thin pieces of metal hold the stone in place, which can increase the risk of the stone falling out of the ring. However, prong settings are generally reliable and secure. We encourage all of our customers to visit The Wedding Ring Shop every six months for a complimentary cleaning and inspection to ensure that their diamonds are secure in their rings.
- Less protection: Along the same lines, a prong setting provides less protection for the gemstone than do other settings. There is no metal along the sides to protect the diamond or gemstone from damage, so the stone's edges are susceptible to damage.
- Snagging: Because the prongs stick up, they can sometimes get caught on things, such as clothing or hair. This is particularly a problem with high-set prong settings. Low-set prong settings decrease snagging.
THE PROS AND CONS OF CHANNEL SETTINGS
As the name suggests, this type of setting uses a metal channel to hold the diamonds in place. Two horizontal metal pieces form the channel, with the diamonds touching both sides of the channel at the top and bottom. The diamonds encircle the entire ring, which makes it a popular option for wedding bands. Channel settings are used with small diamonds, with the diamonds sitting side-by-side without any metal or other material between them. The diamonds sit down in the channel rather than sticking up above the edges.
Advantages of this style of setting include:
- Small stone security: Channel settings offer greater security than prong and pave settings when it comes to small diamonds.
- Protection: Because the diamonds sit down in the channel, the setting provides a great deal of protection to the girdle of each diamond.
- No snagging: The edges of the channel are smooth, and the diamonds sit down in the channel, so this type of ring does't get caught on clothes or other items.
Some of the potential negatives of a channel setting include:
- Resizing difficulty: Since the diamonds go around the entire ring, resizing is often a challenge.
- Stone limitations: A channel setting isn't ideal for all stones. Emeralds, opals, tourmalines and other fragile gemstones are often not suitable for this setting type.
THE PROS AND CONS OF PAVE SETTINGS
In this setting method, holes drilled into the shank of the ring hold small diamonds in place. Diamonds are set closely together to look like the ring is encrusted, or paved, with diamonds. The technique uses metal beads to help secure the diamonds. Think of the beads as mini prongs. The small size of the beads means they aren't very noticeable. Pave settings ofteninclude at least three rows of the small stones.
Some of the advantages of pave settings are:
- Brilliant effect: The diamonds may be small, but the close setting style creates a brilliant effect.
- Girdle protection: Pavesettings provide a good amount of protection for the girdle of the stones because they are set together so closely.
- Center stone emphasis: When paired with a center diamond, the pave setting makes that center diamond sparkle and stand out even more.
Potential drawbacks include:
- Time-consuming construction: Because this ring setting uses lots of little diamonds, setting the stones in place takes some time. It is also challenging to position the diamonds in a way that makes them look as if they are covering the entire surface. This work can increase the price of pave settings.
- Gemstone limitations: The pave setting is another not recommended for fragile gemstones.
- Some snagging: While the diamonds are set low and at the same level, they aren't quite as smooth as some other setting types. For this reason, the ring may occasionally snag on hair or clothes.
- Less security: The beads used to hold the diamonds in place aren't as secure as some other settings. That lower reliability may mean lost stones.
- Sizing difficulty: Rings with stones set completely around the band are often difficult to resize.
THE PROS AND CONS OF BEZEL SETTINGS
A bezel setting uses a metal rim around the stone to hold it in place. That rim is custom designed for the specific stone used in the ring for a secure fit. You have two options — a full bezel or partial bezel. A full bezel goes around the entire perimeter of the stone. On a partial bezel, the sides remain open.
Bezel setting pros include:
- Security: A bezel setting uses a metal rim instead of just a few metal prongs, so the diamond sits securely inside the setting.
- Protection: The rim covers the stone's girdle to minimize potential damage.
- No snagging: The solid metal rim creates a smooth setting, so the ring is not likely to snag.
- Custom fit: Metal molds easily to fit the exact shape of the stone, creating a custom fit.
- Large stone appearance: If you opt for white metal around a diamond, the bezel setting creates the look of a larger stone.
- Hidden flaws: If the stone has a few minor flaws around the edge, the rim on the bezel setting helps cover it.
Consider these potential disadvantages with bezel settings:
- Yellowish diamonds: If you choose a yellow gold bezel for a diamond, the yellow from the setting reflects into the stone, giving it a yellowish hue.
- Covered stone: Because the rim covers the edge of the stone, it covers part of the diamond.
THE PROS AND CONS OF TENSION SETTINGS
Tension settings give stones a floating effect. The shank uses pressure to create enough tension to hold the stone in place. This setting requires a great deal of precision to get just the right amount of pressure to hold the stone in place. Jewelers use lasers to fit the setting to the exact stone dimensions.
Advantages of tension settings include:
- Light exposure: Since the shank only touches the stone in two spots, this setting leaves the stone exposed to a lot of light for a brilliant effect.
- Unique look: A tension setting is unlike most traditional settings. The floating effect makes the ring stand out as something unique.
- Custom made: Tension settings are difficult to resize, so the ring is made to fit the finger perfectly.
There are some disadvantages of tension settings to consider, including:
- Lack of protection: A tension setting doesn't use much metal to hold the ring in place, which leaves a large portion of the girdle exposed to potential damage.
- Difficult resizing: Because of the precise crafting to create the correct tension, it's often challenging to resize the ring.
- Gemstone limitations: The tension from the shank puts a lot of pressure on the stone, so this setting only works for very hard stones, such as diamonds.
THE PROS AND CONS OF BAR SETTINGS
A bar setting is similar to a channel setting in that stones encircle the ring and sit side-by-side. The main difference is how the stones stay in the ring. This type of setting uses vertical bars to separate the diamonds and hold them in place. Two sides of each stone remain exposed.
Consider these advantages of bar settings:
- Side protection: While two sides are left exposed, the remaining two sides feature protection from the thin metal bars to prevent damage.
- Smooth surface: Compared to some other settings, the bar setting has a relatively smooth surface to minimize snagging.
- Contemporary: Bar settings offer a more updated look than some traditional settings.
Potential drawbacks of bar settings include:
- Some exposure: The sides receive protection, but the top and bottom of each stone remain exposed with the potential for damage.
- Tightening: A bar setting may require occasional tightening to keep the stones secure.
THE PROS AND CONS OF FLUSH MOUNT SETTINGS
A flush mount setting, also called a gypsy setting, places the stone down in a hole, so it is flush with the ring. The stone does not stick out at all. The stone stays in place because the metal of the ring gets pressed and hammered down around its edge. This style of ring setting is popular for men's wedding bands.
Potential advantages of using a flush mount setting include:
- Protection: Because the diamond sits down in the ring with the metal surrounding it on all edges, the stone's girdle receives full protection on all sides.
- Secure: The metal surrounding the ring all around makes this setting type very secure.
- No snagging: Stones in flush mount settings are level with the ring and smooth, meaning you don't have to worry about snagging.
- Modern look: Gypsy settings provide a modern look.
- Subtle: If you're looking for subtlety, the flush mount setting is an option.
Consider the following drawbacks of flush mount settings before making your selection:
- Cost: This method takes more time to create than prong settings, and that often means a higher price.
- Stone limitations: Flush mount settings work best with harder stones. Avoid using this type of setting on emeralds, opals, tourmalines and other fragile stones.
THE PROS AND CONS OF HALO SETTINGS
A halo setting features a larger center stone with a row of smaller stones circling the center stone. The outer rim of diamonds or other stones often uses a pave setting, but some styles use other settings to hold them in place. Halo settings traditionally come in both squared and rounded shapes.
Benefits of the halo setting include:
- Larger appearance: The row of smaller stones makes the center stone look larger when you use the same type of stone in both. This is a great option if you love the look of a large center stone but it doesn't quite fit your budget.
- Hidden blemishes: The dazzling effect of the halo of diamonds can sometimes camouflage inclusions and other flaws in the center stone.
These rings come with a few drawbacks, including:
- Wedding band options: The curving of the halo design limits the bands that work well with the engagement ring. The wedding band has to fit that curve to allow the rings to rest side-by-side on the finger. Fortunately, The Wedding Ring Shop's designer engagement rings have wedding bands designed to complement them for a perfect fit and unified look.
- Too much sparkle: If you choose a large diamond, the halo setting can be a bit too much. A simpler setting that lets the center stone stand out on its own may be a better option.
TIPS FOR CHOOSING SETTINGS
Figuring out how to choose a ring setting can take some time. The first step is understanding the differences. If you need a little more help, here are some additional pointers for choosing a ring setting:
Does your special someone have an active lifestyle? Does she work with her hands or spend a lot of time outdoors? Opt for a ring setting that protects the stone well, such as a bezel or channel setting.
Settings that require more work tend to cost more, while simple settings are more affordable. A prong setting, for example, is a relatively affordable option. Gypsy and pave settings take more work and may end up costing more than simpler settings.
Budget and diamond size often go hand-in-hand. If your budget limits you to a smaller diamond, consider settings that create the illusion of bigger diamonds or more sparkle. Bezel and halo settings make the center stone look larger, for example. Pave settings use several small diamonds to create a dazzling effect. Choosing your setting strategically helps you maximize the budget without losing the wow factor.
Your significant other's preferences are often a deciding factor. Would she prefer a single, classic solitaire with the traditional prong setting, or does she want something that dazzles, such as a pave setting? The different types of settings often have vastly different looks, so paying attention to her style preferences helps narrow down the choices. Check her Pinterest boards or ask her BFF for ideas! Or, schedule an appointment with your Wedding Ring Shop diamond consultant, and he/she will help you find the perfect style.
Now that you know the answer to, "What are the different ring settings?," it's time to make the decision. Visit The Wedding Ring Shop to see the different types of settings in person. Our jewelry experts can answer your questions about setting styles to help you choose the best setting for your engagement ring. Regardless of which setting you choose, rest assured that your engagement ring will be protected by The Wedding Ring Shop's Lifetime Diamond Guarantee.