Selecting an Engagement Ring Setting

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Engagement ring shoppers have lots to consider as they search for that special ring. The diamond or diamond alternative usually takes the forefront in the selection process with respect to the four C's - cut, color, clarity and carats, which are all important considerations. However, the setting or "mounting," as it's also called, is equally important and contributes significantly to the overall appearance of the ring. Below are some tips in finding that perfect setting.

Ring settings come in many unique styles, ranging from traditional to trendy to the eclectic. The setting is usually not considered until after the gem has been selected, as the gem's cut may have some bearing on setting selection. But in the final analysis, there is no right or wrong style; as with everything else that you wear, style is a reflection of personal taste. Lets examine some of the major styles which, in our estimation, are most popular and have enduring beauty.

The most popular, classic setting over the years is the prong setting. Prongs are the claws that secure a solitaire diamond in the setting, and the solitaire, by definition, stands alone in displaying its beauty and elegance. Four or six prongs usually comprise this type of setting. The prongs can be V-shaped, which are the typical prongs for princess-cut diamonds, but they can also be rounded or flat. Also, the four prong setting allows you to see more of the diamond, exhibiting more of its color and luster. Plus the more of the diamond exposed, the bigger it looks. For these reasons, four prong is more preferable than the six prong. On the other hand, if one of the four prongs loosens its grip through wear and tear, you run the risk of losing the stone. Six prong setting then provides more security, although there's that slight trade off in the visibility of the diamond. 

6 prong

Another consideration is the size of the prongs - they should be in proportion to the carats of the diamond. After all, large, thick prongs can over power a small diamond. This was likely an aesthetic consideration in the development of the Tiffany setting, which is a multi-prong setting developed in the late 1800's and trademarked by Tiffany & Co. Though not too unlike other multi-prong settings, the Tiffany's distinguishing factor is a six-prong setting with elegantly thin prongs and a base in which the diamond is harnessed.

If security of the diamond in its setting is a major objective, another style to consider is the bezel setting. In this setting, the precious metal of the mounting wraps completely around the stone, securing it in the center and displaying only the crown top. A full bezel or partial (half bezel) shows less of the stone and therefore changes the overall presentation. For this reason, the selection of the precious metal becomes as much of a consideration as the diamond itself. Somewhat comparable to the secure bezel setting is the tension setting, where the diamond is actually form fitted into grooves on the sides of the setting, with the "tension" of the precious metal created from pressing against the sides of the stone, holding it place.


If you like lots of shiny diamonds surrounding the main event, you might consider a channel setting. In this setting, small diamonds (I.e.smaller than the main diamond) are flanked along the band of the setting and thereby form a "channel" of diamonds. A channel setting may also be preferred when no singularly larger diamond exists, and lots of diamonds forming a channel surrounding the entire band are more desirable. If you want even more diamond glitter in the setting, you might consider the pave setting with micro-diamonds embedded all over the band (showing more diamond than metal) highlighting a center-mounted solitaire. The downside of these two styles of multiple diamonds is the possibility of one of more of the diamonds popping out over time.

If your selected diamond has a round or square cut, you might consider a halo setting, in which a center cut diamond is surrounded and enhanced by smaller diamonds, and thus the semblance of a halo. Taken a step further, you might additionally enhance the halo effect by placing a pave-like diamond arrangement on the band.

Another very elegant and classic setting is the cathedral setting, which can be a prong, bezel or tension style setting. With this setting, arches of the precious metal support the diamond, just as arches of a cathedral architecturally support the main structure. Th diamond can set above or below the arches. In the image below, we show the cathedral style with prongs elegantly supporting the diamond on the sides and extending beyond the diamond.


Other settings exist, but these are the main ones. Again, one is not necessarily better than the other; your selection comes down to personal preference. Lastly, a final but very important consideration in your setting selection is the precious metal. Gold - yellow, white and rose - has been a traditional favorite for settings. For the past decade, white gold has been the most popular of the three variations in the US. Karat level of the gold is another consideration regarding the metal's fineness, tint and, of course, cost. Silver, platinum and palladium are additional favorites, also with a wide range in cost.

One final message on finding the right setting - don't pursue it alone! Unless you're a jewelry expert, it's easy to become overwhelmed by the details. Let a reputable jeweler guide you through the process and answer your questions along the way. Your quest for the perfect setting will then become much more enjoyable.  

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