Choosing the Perfect Engagement Ring Design and Setting

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Choosing an engagement ring setting is critical in selecting the ideal engagement ring. This is the first step in the process of selecting a diamond ring because the setting dictates at some level the type of diamond ring that you will purchase. However, this is not an easy step. If you look into the selection below, there are a variety of designs of engagement ring settings that deciding the ideal one can be tricky.

You can cut short the overwhelming decision-making process if you look at the more recent list of popular engagement rings. Blue Nile and James Allen provide an extensive catalogue of engagement ring settings that might include your ideal ring.

Engagement Ring Designs: A Complete Walk Through

Is choosing a design from the variety of ring settings too perplexing for you? Will the selection process be easier if you can easily understand the terms and jargons used like bezel, channel and cathedral? Luckily, we prepared this article to walk you through and give you a clear picture of the diamond industry particularly of the different settings of engagement rings.

We give you a complete walkthrough of the different ring settings and the terms used along with helpful definitions and images. This will guide you to choosing an engagement ring, a token for your special someone or a personal investment piece to add your collection.

Once you have chosen the ideal ring setting, you can contact us to help you through the next steps in selecting the ideal diamond that suits your preference.

SETTING STYLE 1: PRONG AND SOLITAIRE

The Prone Setting is a popular setting because of its timeless design. A prong is distinguished by the use of miniature claws made of metal used to hold the diamond in place. Prong settings include flat prongs, rounded prongs, pointed prongs and V-shaped prongs. V-shaped prongs are commonly used to hold princess-cut diamonds that serve as center stones.

Commonly, the prongs have four to six clamps. The four-pronged setting allows you a better view of the diamond. But, the six-pronged setting holds the diamond in place better. The prong setting features barely the metal giving you a better view of the diamond. The prong also allows more light through the jewel giving you a more brilliant diamond.

Prong Setting Advantages

  • Positions the diamond in a raised setting highlighting the jewel
  • Harmonizes and boosts various types of Diamond Shapes as well as sizes
  • Allows the entry of more light intensifying the radiance and luster of the diamond
  • Gives an impression of simple elegance and timeless appearance
  • Easy to clean and preserve

Prong Setting Disadvantages

  • Can come loose with time and scuffing (it is recommended to have the prong setting checked every two years minimum to guarantee the integrity of the metal and the attachment of the stone)
  • High-set prong can catch on fabric and textile (if you have an active lifestyle, it is advisable to get a low-set prong)

The most popular type of prone setting is the solitaire. The solitaire highlights one diamond or jewel. The solitaire setting is popular because it places prominence the stone while little attention is drawn to other features such as additional stones or intricate metal designs.

SETTING STYLE 2: THE BEZEL

Contemporary and stylish, the bezel setting is a fad among those with modern and active lifestyles. The bezel setting features a thin rounded metal specifically made to wrap around the diamond or main jewel securing it in place. Instead of fastening the diamond in place with prongs, the bezel encircles the stone.

There are two types of bezel setting depending on the extent to which the metal wraps the stone. The first type is the full bezel setting where the metal rim completely encircles the diamond. The second type is the partial bezel setting where the metal rims are detached on both sides. The bezel setting is popular among teachers, nurses, field workers and those with active lifestyles because the ring does not easily catch on textile materials. The stone also does not easily loosen due to the metal rim that secures it in place.

Bezel Setting Advantages

  • Gives a contemporary impression and flawless design
  • Compared to the prong setting, the bezel holds the diamond more securely in place; this design is perfect for individuals who are always on the go
  • Protects the diamonds from wear and tear
  • Barely gets tangled in fabric
  • Minimum maintenance needed compared to prong setting

Bezel Setting Disadvantages

  • Covers a significant part of the stone compared to prongs
  • Allows less light to pass through giving less luminescence compared to prongs

SETTING STYLE 3: THE TIFFANY

The scientific development of the design, now popularly known as “The Tiffany Setting”, is attributed to Tiffany & Co.  in 1886. The design features six prongs and solitaire setting to ensure optimum brilliance of the diamond. The setting is distinct because of the “knife edge” design of the prongs.

The trademark design is unique. But, you can also find a similar setting at jewelry shops and online shops nowadays. It may not be the replica, but these Tiffany-inspired settings come close to the real one.

Tiffany Setting Advantages

  • Intensifies radiance and luminosity of the elevated diamond
  • Enhances different types of Diamond Shapes, sizes and carat
  • Always in style across time and ages
  • Easy to keep in good condition

Tiffany Setting Disadvantages

  • High-set prong can catch on fabric and textile (if you have an active lifestyle, it is advisable to get a low-set prong)
  • Can come loose with time and scuffing (it is recommended to have the prong setting checked every two years minimum to guarantee the integrity of the metal and the attachment of the stone)

SETTING STYLE 4: THE TENSION

The tension setting, as the name implies, makes use of the tension created by the design of the metal band to hold the diamond or center stone tightly in place. The setting gives an enchanting impression of a diamond in suspension between the ends of the metal band.

The setting makes use of lasers to gage the measurements of the stone accurately. The setting also requires the connoisseur hands and artistry of the jeweler to mold cavities into the bands. The diamond is set into the cavities and held in place by the tension between the ends of the metal bands.

The tension setting is quite similar in design to rings featuring suspended diamonds. They are, however, less costly and less complex in craftsmanship. The tension setting also uses prongs or rims similar to prong and bezel settings to hold the diamond firmly in place while allowing light passage and reflection throughout the stone.

Tension Setting Advantages

  • Holds the diamond securely in place
  • Maximizes the play of light into the diamond with little metal covering the stone thus, enhancing brilliance
  • Gives a distinct exquisite impression
  • Easy to maintain compared to the pronged-style setting
  • Offers a contemporary and fashionable impression

Tension Setting Disadvantages

  • Makes the stone appear smaller, not recommended for small carat weight diamonds if set on a thick band
  • Tricky and costly to redesign or refit
  • On rare occasions, the diamond set on the band could be loosened and removed when hit by a strong external energy

SETTING STYLE 5: THE TENSION-STYLE

The tension-style setting replicates the tension setting (above). But, the diamond is specifically set or suspended secured by a bezel setting. The difference between the two designs is illustrated in the two images below. The first photograph (the same ring shown above) shows a pear-shaped diamond, which is set in the traditional tension setting using a two-tone metal. Meanwhile, the second photograph shows a round-shaped diamond set in a tension-style setting, a hybrid between the tension setting and the bezel setting. The round metal rim encircling the diamond is a noticeable feature in the photo illustrating the tension-style setting.

Tension-Style Setting Advantages

  • Provides a classic appearance compared to the tension setting
  • Secures the diamond more compared to traditional tension setting
  • Permits ample amount of light to reflect through the diamond intensifying its radiance
  • Requires lesser care compared to the prong setting

Tension-Style Setting Disadvantages

  • Gives an illusion of a smaller-than-actual appearance of diamond, not advisable when a thick metal band will be used vis-à-vis a small stone
  • Challenging to change the design or size
  • In exceptional cases, the diamond could be loosened and removed with application of a sudden and overwhelming external force or pressure

SETTING STYLE 6: PAVÉ SETTING

The pavé (pronounced “pa-vay”) setting is a very intricate and exquisite design. The word, pavé, is a French word that means “to pave”. Literally, the ring is paved with little diamonds. The metal band is lined with small diamonds secured in place by metal prongs. The prongs are hardly visible giving an impression of an infinite circle of tiny glitters.

The jeweler expertly makes cavities into the metal band. The diamonds are then set into the cavities. The diamonds are then secured by miniature beads or small prongs protecting each diamond and setting them in place.

Pavé setting is also called the bead setting referring to the use of tiny beads. It is also known as a micro-pavé setting if small diamonds are used. Technically, pavé setting is the term used when diamonds set along the ring are within the range of .01 to .02 carats. The micro-pavé setting is the term used when diamonds set along the ring are smaller than .02 carats.

Pavé Setting Advantages

  • Amplifies the brilliance of the diamond and the ring through the small diamonds or stones
  • Complements contemporary designs as well as classic designs
  • Brings to focus the center diamond or stone
  • Boosts the brilliance of the center diamond or stone which low in setting and in brilliance

Pavé Setting Disadvantages

  • In rare instances, the side stones can be loosened and removed overtime
  • Any changes in the design and size can be challenging with full pavé setting completely encircling the metal band

If you opt for this type of setting, we advise a fitting at the early phase of the setting process to avoid any problems that will entail resizing especially if the ring is finally complete in its creation.

SETTING STYLE 7: THE CHANNEL

The channel setting sets a series of small diamonds anchored in flush along the ring band. The result is a ring channel of glittering diamonds or stones.

The diamonds or stones are placed adjacent each other into small cavities along the band and adorn partially or completely around the band. This setting is a trend among wedding rings or band and stackable rings. These rings feature a line of small glittering diamonds or stones without the larger center diamond or stone.

The lack of prongs makes the channel setting ideal for those with active lifestyles. The channel-set rings do not easily get tangled with fabric or other materials. The image below shows a diamond ring with a channel setting.

Channel Setting Advantages

  • Adds to the glitter of the ring due to the side stones lined around the band
  • Looks sleek and elegant
  • Provides ample anchoring of diamonds and stones
  • Rarely tangles in fabric and other textile materials

Channel Setting Disadvantages

  • Difficulties can be encountered when changing the size or design (the diamonds or stones along the band might fall out or the metal band or alignment of channels might become crooked with attempts to change or fix the ring)
  • Needs more care due to the dust that tends to accumulate along the grooves in the channel
  • Embedded diamonds are more hidden compared to those that are set by prongs

SETTING STYLE 8: THE CATHEDRAL

The cathedral setting is among the popular setting styles owing to its simplicity and timeless elegance. The setting derives its inspiration from the lovely arches of traditional cathedrals. Metal is designed into arches to secure the center diamond or stone.

The cathedral setting also employs the prong setting, bezel setting or tension setting to hold the diamond into place. The cathedral-inspired arches that are used to mount the center diamond are added for aesthetic purposes.

The cathedral-inspired arches also elevate the center stone highlighting the piece and giving it an illusion of a larger size. These arches also add beauty to the ring without placing additional diamonds or stones.

Cathedral Setting Advantages

  • Adds twist and charm to a plain design
  • Emphasizes and features the center diamond or stone
  • Adds prominence to the center diamond or stone by making it appear larger
  • Secures the center diamond or stone tightly in place
  • Provides additional elevation and appeal at a budget-friendly cost

Cathedral Setting Disadvantages

  • Inferior cathedral arch designs can also otherwise divert attention from the center diamond or stone
  • Less up-to-date compared to the bezel setting and previous settings
  • Tangles on fabric and other textile materials particularly with elevated setting
  • More care is needed due to intricacy in design particularly around the arches

SETTING STYLE 9: THE HALO

The halo setting is the setting of small diamonds or stones around the center diamond or stone. The placement of smaller stones can be concentric or square usually taking shape after the center diamond or stone. The center diamond or stone looks larger-than-actual with this type of setting. This is ideal to give the illusion of greater size for small center diamonds or stones. Also, this setting magnifies the brilliance of the ring.

The halo setting offers a budget-friendly solution to individuals with small-carat diamonds while maintaining the stylishness and elegance of the ring. This setting is also ideal for creating contrasting colors between halo diamonds and the center stone or the metal band.

Commonly, the halo setting is complemented with pavé setting such as the photo of the ring below to add artistry to the design. However, a pure halo setting is beautiful as it is without additional adornments on the band. The halo setting comes in single halo or double halo. The double halo setting features two concentric circles made out of small stones surrounding the center stone.

Halo Setting Advantages

  • Makes the ring more brilliant due to the halo stones
  • Makes a small carat center diamond appear larger
  • Suitable for different diamond shapes and sizes
  • Reinforces anchoring and protection of the center diamond
  • Adds artistry by using different halo stone colors or metal

Halo Setting Disadvantages

  • Challenges to resizing the stones set along the metal band with pavé setting
  • The halo stones tend to loosen easily when not set properly

SETTING STYLE 10: THE FLUSH

The flush setting is places the diamonds or stones into cavities drilled into the metal band, thus, the appearance of a “flush” effect. Another name used to refer to flush setting is gypsy setting.

The jeweler then sets the diamonds into the thick metal band by hammering the diamonds or stones. The force employed to hammer the stones into place along the metal band is strong. Thus, this type of setting is not recommended on soft stones.

The flush setting is appealing to many men. It is usually the design used for the grooms’ wedding bands. Burying the stones into the band, the flush setting protects and secures the stones from falling off or from wear and tear.

Flush Setting Advantages

  • Secures the stones in place making it the ideal setting for those with active lifestyle or for those whose hands are constantly at work
  • Protects valued diamonds and other stones
  • Places the wearers at ease without the worry of stones falling off the metal band
  • Very sensible and efficient
  • Provides clean lines and a sleek, smooth appearance

Flush Setting Disadvantages

  • Significantly reduces the light allowed by the stone decreasing the sparkle of the ring
  • Minimizes the prominence of the diamond or stone
  • Less noticeable

SETTING STYLE 11: THE BAR

The bar setting is a design that places the diamonds or stones separately between bars along the ring band.

The bar setting is comparable to the channel setting. In the bar setting, the diamonds or stones are separated by bars on two sides while the other two sides are unwrapped. In the channel setting, the diamonds or stones are separated by bars that wrapping all sides. Both bar and channel settings use the metal bars that not only separate but also hold the diamonds or stones in place.

The bar setting is an ideal design for wedding rings or stackable rings. It is also ideal to accentuate a center diamond or stone. The image below is an example of an eternity band with bar setting.

Bar Setting Advantages

  • Exposes more sides of the stones allowing more light and increasing the brilliance of the stones
  • Provides flexibility of designs from stackable rings, plain band rings to rings featuring a center stone
  • The diamonds are more visible compared to the full enclosure in channel setting
  • Holds the diamonds or stones using metal bars

Bar Setting Disadvantages

  • Difficult and expensive to resize
  • Exposed sides of the stones are more likely to chip, wear and tear
  • Secures the stones less than that of a channel setting

SETTING STYLE 12: THE ANTIQUE OR VINTAGE

Antique settings derive inspiration from particular eras marked by their distinct styles. The antique or vintage settings include Art Deco, Victorian or Edwardian designs. These designs feature exquisite artwork and details including the milgrain and the filigree designs.

The milgrain design involves intricate engravings that look like tiny grains adorning the metal band and crown of the ring and contributing to its antique appearance. The Filigree design involves exquisite metal work of vine-like curves or small beads.

See the photo below of a ring in an antique setting. The setting featured milgrain decorations made out of yellow gold and placed surrounding a round center diamond in a bezel setting. The milgrain design is also replicated along the band.

Antique or Vintage Setting Advantages

  • Highlights uniqueness and personality of wearer
  • Boosts overall charm of the ring and highlights the center diamond or stone
  • Captures the essence and spirit of the era chosen by the wearer
  • Features classic designs teeming with artistry and intricacy

Antique or Vintage Setting Disadvantages

  • The intricate details of the ring might steal the attention from the center diamond or stone especially if the design is inferior
  • Needs more care to ensure the beauty of the exquisite designs and gaps
  • Takes longer to securely set and preserve the stones compare to contemporary rings with antique-designs

SETTING STYLE 13: THE THREE-STONE

The three-stone setting utilizes three stones usually arranged closely to represent the past, present and the future of the wearer. This flexible setting is ideal for romantic events as well as for other special occasions.

Among the three stones, one stone usually serves as the center stone, which is the largest in size. All three stones can also be sized similarly. The stones are usually shaped to a round cut or a princess cut.

The stones can also differ in colors especially the two side stones. Sapphires, emeralds, rubies and other colorful stones can adorn and serve as side stones to the center diamond (see photo below).

Three-Stone Setting Advantages

  • Amplifies the luster of the stones
  • Highlights the center diamond or stone with the use of complementary side stones
  • Offers unique designs distinct to the wearer
  • Provides flexibility of designs using different larger stones and different stone with different colors
  • Offers more space for more stones compared to one-stone settings

Three-Stone Setting Disadvantages

  • With inferior design, the center stone can be overwhelmed by the two side stones diverting attention from its focus
  • Needs extra care compared to one-stone settings

SETTING STYLE 14: THE SHANK AND THE SPLIT-SHANK

The shank is the band, usually made of metal, that comprises the ring and that encloses the finger. It is a technical term used by jewelers. Shanks come in a variety of shapes such as round, square and other artistic shapes.

The split-shank, on the other hand, is a band that is split or separated into two. The image below illustrates a split-shank band set in pave setting.

Shank or Split-Shank Setting Advantages

  • Offers one of its kind designs that appeal to various tastes
  • Expertly-designed split-shank setting highlights the center diamond or stone
  • Provides extra space for additional setting styles, side stones, and overall brilliance
  • Applicable to contemporary or timeless designs

Shank or Split-Shank Setting Disadvantages

  • Not functional and practical, functions more for aesthetic purposes and not for individuals with active lifestyle
  • Needs frequent care compared to single bands

SETTING STYLE 15: THE CLUSTER

The cluster setting places the diamonds or stones closely to make it appear like one large entity. The “clusters” of diamonds or stones can serve as the center stone of the ring. The “clusters” can also contain a center diamond or stone, which is larger than the rest of the stones.

To clearly illustrate, the photo below shows a ring in a cluster setting. The “clusters” of stones appear like a 1.5-carat center diamond. In fact, the center stone is smaller and grouped together with other small stones. James Allen features a collection of beautiful rings including cluster-set rings in the “Royal Halo Collection.”

Cluster Setting Advantages

  • Ideal for wearers with small fingers and hands
  • Gives an illusion of a large center stone using clusters of small stones packed in the center.
  • Offers a variety of budget-friendly options compared to setting one large center stone
  • Offers versatile designs and variety of play in textures and facets
  • Offers wide range of design options for shapes

Cluster Setting Disadvantages

  • Small diamonds or stones tend to be undone and removed
  • Needs frequent care because of the multiple small diamonds or stones and gaps

SETTING STYLE 16: THE ETERNITY BAND

The eternity band is a fashionable piece intended for brides and romantic occasions. The eternity band is not a type of setting but a design of ring bands.

The center stone and side stones of the internal band are set in prongs, bezel, channel or flush. The eternal band is called as such due to the “eternal” diamonds or gemstones that surround the band that impresses upon the wearer an infinity of glitters.

Eternity Band Advantages

  • Enhances the beauty of a plain band by adding personalized touch and twist
  • Bestows the impression of eternal brilliance surrounding the finger
  • Offers versatility in setting styles from prong to channel setting
  • Complements engagement rings and other rings
  • Anchors the stones in place

Eternity Band Disadvantages

  • Needs frequent care to ensure cleanliness and brilliance of ring
  • Challenging to redesign including resizing

CHOOSING A RING SETTING

The ring setting lays the groundwork for the design of the ring. Choosing a ring setting will depend on your preferences and tastes. But, it is also practical to choose a ring setting based on your lifestyle. Specific ring settings are recommended to wearers who are always on the go due to their sturdy and secure foundation. Other ring settings are recommended purely for aesthetic purposes and investment pieces. Choosing a ring setting will also depend on the frequency and extent of care required to ensure the life and beauty of the ring. Some ring settings require extra care compared to the easy-to-maintain ring settings.

Choosing a ring setting is an initial step to choosing a ring ideal for you. The next step is to choose a diamond or stone that will go well with the setting style of your choice as well as the overall design of the ring. For expert advice to help you in choosing the perfect diamond or stone, get in touch with one of our experts who can guide through possible options without any worry of overpricing.

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About 

Kevin Lee is a former tech advisor who cut his teeth in Silicon Valley. He now spends his time sharing his passion for investing in diamonds and jewelry. You can reach Kevin for any comments by using this form.