Wedding ring settings and engagement ring settings are more than just about how a ring looks, they're also about protecting your diamond and any other precious stone.
So even though the setting you choose will have a big impact on the overall look of your ring, you need to make sure that the setting works for you and your lifestyle.
Rings courtesy of JamesAllen
Let's start with the basics. The first consideration for your setting (or ring mounting as it's sometimes called) is what metal to use and your most common options are platinum and gold.
Platinum is the strongest, purest, and the most expensive metal choice for engagement and wedding rings. It will last for generations, won't wear away, develops a great satin-like finish over time, and will never tarnish.
For the negatives, it's hard to repair and hard to polish (especially in comparison to gold). Given its strength and durability repairs are not very likely but if you want to keep that high gloss sheen as opposed to a satiny finish you will need to have the setting polished every few years.
Although gold is the most common metal in bridal jewelry and wedding ring settings it is never pure or exceeds 18K. If it did, it would simply be too soft and could never put up with the wear and tear that wedding bands and engagement ring settings require since most of us wear our rings every day.
So they mix pure gold with other metal alloys in order to give it strength and bring down its purity from 24K. And, depending on which alloys are used you will end up with yellow gold, white gold, and rose gold settings—they are all real gold and one color isn't less valuable or more valuable than the other.
With gold you simply have some color choices, like white gold which resembles platinum but is less expensive. Keep in mind though that many white gold rings are coated with rhodium to give it extra shine because it's naturally a little more dull than platinum. The end effect is a lustrous shine but over time the rhodium can wear away so if you're looking at white gold as an option for your setting, ask your jeweler about rhodium.
Engaging Fact: Approximately 15% of women are allergic to nickel. A nickel allergy can cause a rash or irritation. Many white gold wedding and engagement rings are mixed with nickel to create the gold alloy.
In comparison to platinum, gold in general is a softer, more malleable metal and can therefore get damaged more easily.
Over time, and we mean a really long time, it can wear away (especially in engagement ring settings when the ring is worn every day which causes a lot of stress on the setting) but the good news is that gold is very easy to repair and polish.
The most popular styles of settings or ring mount fall into 4 categories. Prong, Bezel, Tension, and Channel. The first three refer to how the diamond or center stone is mounted within the ring while a Channel setting almost always refers to detailing on the band.
The prong setting typically allows more light into the diamond for maximum brilliance and sparkle. Which is the reason why they are so common. Who doesn't want more bling!
The prongs themselves are delicate stems of metal folded over to secure your diamond in its setting. If done properly they provide safety without becoming the focus of the piece. They are often made of platinum regardless of the metal used in the overall setting because of its strength and durability.
If you have ever worn a ring that seems to constantly be snagging on everything, you know what a bad prong can do. We've had many a cashmere sweater ruined by a renegade prong.
Engaging Tip: You can do a quick and easy test to make sure that the prongs are not going to cause you heartache. Take a piece of paper and try to slip it under the prongs. If the paper fits between the prong and the stone, it is not secure enough and needs to be fixed by your jeweler.
Bezel Settings are great for protecting the diamond and are very secure and durable. They are the perfect setting for an active lifestyle.
They basically consist of a metal band that surrounds the stone and keeps it in place (kind of like a picture frame), so there is never any question of snagging.
Bezel set engagement rings can also make a diamond appear to be larger than it really is when white metal is used in the setting because the diamond and metal bezel blend together and makes the diamond appear bigger.
Tension settings are where the stone (usually a diamond because of its hardness) looks like it is squeezed between the two ends of the metal band of a ring.
Although it doesn't look like it, it is one of the more secure wedding ring settings since the girdle of the diamond is actually set within a groove on the band which holds it very securely in place.
Channel settings are just what you would think. A channel is created to hold the stones in place and are often found on a wedding band (many eternity bands are channel set) or on the band of an engagement ring.
The great thing about this type of setting is that the edges of the stones are completely protected much like a bezel setting so no chipping or snagging is likely. In bridal jewelry, the wedding ring settings are usually accompanied by a solitaire diamond held by a bezel or prong mount like the one shown on the right.
Need more inspiration on the perfect ring setting for your wedding and engagement?
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