Popular Settings For Diamond Engagement Rings

Settings for diamond engagement rings are more than just about style and how a ring looks. They’re also about protecting your diamond. This is the one piece of jewelry you’ll be wearing every day so you need to make sure that it works for you and your lifestyle.

Solitaire prong setting for a diamond engagement ring

Engagement Ring Settings and Styles

Strictly speaking, a setting is how a diamond or center stone is mounted: Prong, Bezel, and Tension fit into this category. There are other styles that are often referred to as settings but are more related to the design of the band: Channel settings, Split Shank and Pave style engagement rings. And finally, we often refer to Solitaire and Halo engagement rings as settings when they’re really about the treatment of the center stone.

Before we get into the specifics on each of these, first let’s look at the most common metals used in settings: Gold & Platinum.

Pros & Cons of Platinum Settings

Pros: Platinum is the strongest, purest, and most expensive metal choice for engagement rings. It will last for generations and won’t wear away. Over time, it develops a great satin-like finish and will never tarnish.

Cons: It’s harder and more expensive to repair and harder to polish, especially in comparison to gold. Given its strength and overall durability repairs are likely not going to be necessary.

Finally, if you want to keep a high gloss sheen as opposed to the satiny finish, you’ll need to have the setting polished every few years.

Pros & Cons of Gold Settings

Pros: 18K gold is the most common metal used in settings for diamond engagement rings.  Anything purer than 18K is too soft and couldn’t put up with the wear and tear required on a ring we wear every day. So pure gold is mixed with different metal alloys to give it strength and alter its color to produce yellow gold, white gold, and rose gold—all real gold and equally valuable.

Cons: In comparison to platinum, gold is a softer and more malleable. This means it can get damaged more easily however it is cheaper and easier to repair.

Prong Set Engagement Rings: The Prong Setting

Prong settings are the most common when it comes to diamond engagement rings. Also referred to as a claw setting, it consists of a series of prongs or claws that hold a diamond in place.

Princess cut prong set engagement ring in white goldThe prongs themselves are often platinum regardless of the metal used in the ring because of the fact that there is no stronger metal.

The intent of a prong setting is to give maximum exposure to the diamond and really highlight the stone. Some believe that the setting adds to a diamond’s brilliance but that actually has more to do with the cut than the setting.

Diagram of a prong setting

The number of prongs used in a setting can vary. The most common number of prongs is 4 to 6. Less prongs means more exposure but can also mean a less secure setting.

In terms of prong settings for diamond engagement rings, we prefer 6 prongs like the Classic Tiffany. Feeling confident that our engagement ring and diamond can withstand our day to day routine is important to us.

Anything above 6 prongs is more about style and design than about securing the diamond.

Takeaways: Pros & Cons of Prong Settings

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.

Prongs can sometimes twist, loosen, or warp so they should be checked every few months. If you’ve ever worn a ring that seems to constantly snag on everything, you know what a bad prong can do. We’ve had many a sweater ruined by a renegade prong.

A quick test is to take a piece of paper and try to slip it between each prong and the diamond. If the paper fits between the prong and the stone, it’s not secure enough and needs to be fixed by your jeweler.

Diamonds in prong set engagement rings should have a medium to thick girdle (the edge between a diamond’s upper and lower sections). Because so much of the girdle is exposed, especially in 4 prong settings, the girdle needs to be thicker in order to reduce the risk of chipping.

Finally, make sure that your engagement ring is insured. Although a prong setting is very secure it does come with some risk for chipping and loss if a prong is twisted or broken.

Half Bezel & Bezel Set Engagement Rings

Bezel set engagement rings are perfect for active girls who don’t want to fuss and worry about things.

Princess cut bezel set engagement ring in yellow goldThey’re ideal for protecting a diamond and consist of a metal band that surrounds the stone to keep it in place.

There are two variations on a bezel. A full bezel that completely envelops the diamond like the one shown, and a half bezel that only partially surrounds the stone. Although both are suitable for an active lifestyle, a full bezel will always be better for sporty girls who like getting their hands dirty.

Diagram of a bezel setting

The bezel is a collar. It’s grooved to hold the diamond in place with a lip above the groove to secure it even further. The lip should be even and symmetrical (both on the inside where it meets the stone and on the outside, with no sharp edges whatsoever. Known for durability bezel settings need to be both tight and secure otherwise you risk your diamond popping out.

Although some think that the diamond’s brilliance is reduced in this type of setting, it’s not true. The enemy of all diamonds, especially when it comes to brilliance is dirt. And, the bezel setting is one of the best settings to protect a diamond from dirt.

Takeaways: Pros & Cons of Bezel Set Engagement Rings

After durability, one of the best features of a full bezel set engagement rings is that they make your diamond look bigger. Due to the similarity in color between white gold or platinum and a diamond, and because the metal completely surrounds the stone, it fools the eye into thinking that most of the size is taken up by the diamond.

Because the setting is designed around the stone, it’s a little more difficult to create.  And, because of that and the fact that it uses more metal than a prong setting, it’s usually more expensive. On the plus side, that also means it the setting is suitable for any shape diamond.

Although bezel settings are durable and sturdy they still need tender loving care. If something gets caught between the diamond and lip never use a sharp object to loosen it, you could scratch the diamond. Take it to a professional.

Finally, with no exposed diamond edges the setting will never snag on something and your diamond can have no better protection.

The Tension Setting & Diamond Engagement Rings

Tension settings or a tension mount  describes a contemporary setting where a diamond appears to float between bands of metal.

Yellow gold tension set diamond engagement ringTension settings squeeze the diamond in place at the girdle (the edge between the top and bottom of the stone). The girdle is then set within a groove in the band keeping it securely in place. It’s the combination of forming the metal around the stone and the groove that gives the setting its durability.

You might think that the diamond would be less secure in this type of setting, but that isn’t the case. A tension set ring is often more secure than a traditional setting and in addition, helps protect the stone from chipping.

Diagram of tension set diamond ring

And, because of the way the stone is mounted, designers can come up with striking contemporary pieces that would not be possible with other types of setting.

Tension mount settings work well in platinum as well as gold. With gold however, you need to make sure that it has the proper alloys to be strong enough to support the setting.  Still a heated debate between professionals but many believe that because more metal (and stronger metal) is holding the stone in place that this setting is more secure than traditional prongs.

Takeaways: Pros & Cons of Tension Mount Engagement Rings

One of the main benefits of tension rings and one of the reasons why they’re becoming more popular today, is the freedom it allows designers. They can create all sorts of unique looking settings using a tension mount. The only real constraints are the hardness of the metal and the hardness of the stone which makes diamonds ideal.

Besides flexibility in design, tension settings allow more light to pass through and reflect off a stone which can lead to more brilliance and fire.

On the down side, they’re built to fit the finger securely so resizing is a little more difficult than with traditional settings. This also means that any engraving of the inner band needs to be done only after the ring is perfectly sized.

Unique Engagement Ring Settings & Styles

We’ve covered the main settings and mounts now we’ll take a look at some of the styles that have become so popular today.

Pave Engagement Rings

The most common style pave ring has small diamonds running along the band which makes the band look like it’s composed of stones and not metal—literally encrusted or paved with diamonds, as the name pave suggests. With the band covered in stones, even a smaller center stone has more sparkle and looks larger.

There are two basic settings when it comes to pave. A ‘full pave’ which means that the diamonds run around the entire band or a ‘half pave’ where the diamonds stop about halfway down the band. Although a ‘full pave’ is awesome visually, some find it uncomfortable due to the side and bottom diamonds rubbing against other fingers and the palm of their hands. (These pave rings and all the other rings in this article are courtesy of JamesAllen)

Different gold and platinum pave diamond engagement rings

There is also ‘micro-pave’.  Micro-pave is a term that describes the use of really small diamonds in the pave setting. It is a labor intensive setting and usually more costly. In fact, the diamonds are so small that it is really hard to distinguish one from the other and gives the impression of one solid band of sparkle. The issue is that the diamonds are so tiny and what’s holding them so disguised, that they become less durable because the small stones cannot be set quite as securely.

Finally, pave engagement rings also come with pave-set frames or ‘halos’ that surround the center stone.

Halo Engagement Rings

Halo engagement rings are named for the halo that surrounds a center diamond.
3 Different halo set diamond engagement rings Not only is the halo a beautiful style, it actually creates the illusion that the center diamond is bigger than it actually is. By surrounding a center stone with smaller diamonds the eye is fooled into thinking that more of the surface is taken up by the center stone.

Solitaire Engagement Rings

When it comes to the classic solitaire diamond ring, one isn’t the loneliest number. Simply put, solitaire means alone. For an engagement ring, by definition it’s supposed to mean that the ring has one diamond, with no side stones or accent stones.

However, today it can now loosely refer to any ring with a prominent center diamond.

The classic solitaire diamond ring setting for us is exactly that—a classic. It is simple and elegant and sophisticated. It never goes out of style because it’s always in style.

Split Shank Engagement Rings

Split shank engagement rings have a shank (the top part of the band that holds the setting in place) that is split in two or more pieces.
Diamond split shank pave engagement ring and halo setting
This allows the finger to be seen through the band/shank giving the ring a kind of a peek-a-boo quality.

Shanks have always been adorned and embellished. Engraving, filigree and pave being the most common form of decoration. None of that changes with a split shank.

Finally a few things to consider with split shank engagement rings:

Shank Width – These can be skinny or wide but just make sure that the end effect is proportionate to the size of the center stone and the ring as a whole.

Split Width – How far apart are the two bands? Does it look like the ring has a natural part or does it look somehow manipulated. Important to consider is the size of the diamond here because some splits can be very narrow while others quite wide and a small diamond floating in a wide split just doesn’t look right. It all needs to work together.

Split Depth – How deep is the split? Will it pinch in between your fingers?

Settings for diamond engagement rings not only dictate style but they also serve to protect the stone.  So choose a setting based on your lifestyle, and then look for a design that suits your sense of style.