Are you fluent in basic jewellery terms? The ability to use basic jewellery lingo will help you with the engagement ring shopping process and give you added confidence that you can make the right choice.
A ring’s “setting” refers to how the main stone is placed in the band. Jewellers use many different standard settings to design their pieces, and the setting plays a significant role in the ring’s overall look and feel.
In fact, women generally consider the setting to be a ring’s most prominent feature (men tend to focus on the quality of the main stone). Some settings, such as the prong, have an innately simple look while others, like the halo, exude glamour.
Let’s take a look at several of the most common stone settings and their pros and cons. If you can walk into a jewellery store and ask to see their selection of split-shank rings, for example, you’ll find shopping much more relaxed and straightforward.
With a channel setting, the band features a row of diamonds set between two strips of precious metal.
Pros: Channel settings are very sturdy and suitable for an active lifestyle. Since the diamonds don’t protrude from the band, they don’t get caught on your clothing. They provide ample sparkle without the high maintenance that sometimes accompanies multi-diamond settings.
Cons: Because of the careful alignment of the stones, it can be difficult to resize a channel-set engagement ring. Over time, dirt and debris can lodge in between the stones in the channel, which requires professional cleaning to remove.
A band of metal wraps around the outer edge of the main stone. This is a popular setting for minimalist engagement rings as it provides a clean, modern look. Full bezels wrap around the gem, and half- or partial-bezels leave portions of the stone’s edge exposed.
Pros: Bezel-set stones are held more securely than prong-set stones so that they can withstand more activity. They can also minimise stone flaws. For instance, a bezel could hide the fact that a stone has a chip in its edge.
Cons: Bezel settings can make diamonds appear smaller than they are, and they may also reduce diamonds’ brilliance. Because light can’t enter the stone from the side, it will seem less sparkly. Bezel settings also tend to be more expensive than prong settings because of the expertise necessary to customise the setting for each unique stone.
In a prong setting, metal claws hold the centre stone in place. It’s one of the most common settings seen in engagement rings and has been a perennial favourite.
Pros: The prong setting shows off as much of the diamond as possible, allowing maximum light to both enter and leave the stone. In other words, it enhances both the fire and brilliance of the diamond in ways that a bezel setting just can’t.
Cons: Unfortunately, prong settings can get caught on clothing and become loose over time. Since the diamond is open to impact, it can also become chipped along its edges.
A row of diamonds (or other gemstones) surrounds a large centre stone. This setting has been trending for several years now and is perfect for brides who love sparkle. It also allows you to pair unique stones with diamonds, like Kate Middleton’s halo-set sapphire ring.
Pros: One of the best attributes of this setting is that it makes your centre diamond appear significantly larger than its carat weight. It also adds plenty of sparkle.
Cons: Because this trend has been so hot, the setting will likely date your ring to this point in time. That said, if you love a halo setting, go for it. It’s a beautiful look.
Two smaller stones flank the more substantial central stone in a straight line across the band. With this setting, the stones don’t have to be the same size or even colour.
Pros: If you can’t decide between a diamond and a different gemstone (such as sapphire, ruby or emerald), you can have both! Or you can incorporate family gems into the design as Prince Harry did when he used two diamonds from his mother’s collection to flank the central stone in Meghan Markle’s engagement ring.
Cons: Most three-stone rings have a high profile, meaning the stones stand up high above the rest of the bend. Because of the height, the ring can knock against hard objects or snag on clothing.
In this setting, the band has a split effect. It almost looks like two bands in one. Brides who love the split shank are often drawn to its sophistication and symmetry.
Pros: The dual construction of a split-shank setting means that it’s highly secure. It also works well for many different diamond shapes and can even accommodate halos.
Cons: Because of the unique shape of the band, it can be tricky to find a wedding band that complements a split-shank engagement ring. If you like the look of a wedding band, this may not be the right setting for you.
The band includes a row of diamonds set very closely together. In other words, the band is “paved” with diamonds. This setting has a lush feel as the band catches the light no matter how your hand rests.
Pros: The aesthetics of pave settings are impressive and complement virtually any setting for the centre stone. Pave stones can also help to disguise any larger stones with flaws, as the glitter from the tiny diamonds makes up less-than-perfect brilliance in the centre stone.
Cons: Unfortunately, pave settings are prone to stone loss, and since the stones are so small, you may not immediately notice that you’ve lost one. Also, pave settings have more nooks and crannies than most other settings, so they seem to attract dirt and grime. Regular checkups with the jeweller can keep a pave setting looking healthy and sparkly.
Tension settings have a unique, modern feel. Pressure holds the centre stone in place; the ring’s metal presses together tightly and has grooves to keep the stone in place. This is a less conventional setting, which makes it perfect for a bride who doesn’t follow crowds.
Pros: Tension settings provide a durable and secure way to keep your diamond in place, and since the diamond isn’t surrounded by metal, it can show off its brilliance and fire. Its simple design is easy to clean and maintain.
Cons: Tension settings are very difficult (sometimes impossible) to resize. Because of the labour-intensive design, they can also be more expensive than other settings.
In a flush setting, the stone is entirely even with the surface of the metal band. This setting is prevalent in men’s wedding bands.
Pros: Because the diamond doesn’t stand up above the band, it’s very safe. Your diamond won’t snag on clothing or risk getting its edges chipped.
Cons: Since the diamond is set down in the metal, it has less contact with surrounding light, and hence, it can’t show off its brilliance and fire.
With so many alluring engagement ring settings, how will you choose one? If you don’t know where to start, visit a jeweller and try on your favourites. You may like the fit and feel of some settings over others.
Whichever setting you ultimately choose, protect your ring with Q Report jewellery insurance. If a prong breaks and your diamond falls out, you’ll want to be able to repair or replace it. We have a passion for jewellery, and we pride ourselves on restoring our clients' treasures to them after a loss.