The mounting of your engagement ring influences the ring’s design — so consider your ring setting carefully.
If a diamond is indeed forever, you need a setting that’s going to last. It’s important to consider the engagement ring setting, or mounting, as part of the overall design — and also understand how it can contribute to the diamond’s everlasting beauty.
People can mean different things when they refer to a diamond’s setting. Sometimes you’ll hear jewelers refer to the overall ring as the setting when describing the ring that you choose to have a diamond set into.
Technically, a ring is made up of two parts: the shank, or body of the ring, and the head or gallery — the metal that sets the diamond into place. The setting provides more than security for your diamond. It’s an important feature of the diamond’s look. Here’s a primer on the basic kinds of ring settings.
Prong settings are the most common and popular settings for diamond engagement rings. They act like small claws, rising up to grasp the diamond. They can hold any size stone in place, but are typically used to hold a larger center stone (or multiple featured stones).
Prong settings vary based on the shape of the diamond. With round brilliant diamonds, you most often see four or six prongs boosting a diamond upward. Both ring settings are considered to be safe, and the four-prong setting allows you to see more of the stone. For fancy-shaped diamonds (such as a princess-cut or pear shape), prongs can take on “V” shapes to protect the sharply angled corners.
These settings put diamonds on a pedestal, quite literally. Raised up and unhindered by a lot of metal, a diamond can disperse light more easily, creating the flash and display of rainbow colors that make a diamond so uniquely beautiful.
While prong settings are extremely safe — especially platinum prongs — some people feel safer with a setting that tucks the diamond down below the metal more securely. You’ll want to have your ring examined periodically to make sure the prongs are still tight and your diamond is secure. Also, for people whose work or hobbies require them to use their hands a lot, prong settings might snag, scratch or potentially even put the diamond at risk of loss or damage.
The halo setting secures the ring’s center stone underneath a rim adorned with pavé, invisible-set or channel-set diamonds. Popular with celebrities, the halo setting creates a spectacular diamond look that is feminine and delicate. Halo settings can be round or squared off on the sides.
The halo setting combines the security of a prong and the allure of multiple diamonds. The diamond-encrusted collar that holds the center diamond in place keeps the center diamond from knocking or scratching against surfaces and gives wearers peace of mind without compromising the dazzling diamond radiance. The multiple-diamond setting can make the prong-set center diamond look larger.
Because many halo settings use pavé or micro-pavé diamonds around the perimeter of the center stone, there can sometimes be problems with diamonds coming loose (see the section on pavé below).
Looking like a channel of sparkling water, a channel setting in a ring features a row of diamonds side by side, suspended by individual seats cut into each side of the channel. This setting is often used in wedding band designs or for side stones accenting the center diamond of an engagement ring.
The fact that the diamonds can fit snugly around the ring makes the channel setting popular for eternity, anniversary or wedding bands — it can symbolize the harmonious continuity of love and commitment. Sometimes you’ll also see channel-set stones with a bar between each stone, known as a bar setting.
The channel setting, when executed professionally, locks each diamond safely into individual seats in the band, keeping them from being knocked out of place. The flush diamonds create a spectacular sparkle and “big diamond” look. Because they’re set below or flush with the metal rows that hold them, the diamonds are protected and convenient for women with active lifestyles.
Channel settings can be a bit more expensive because of the metal and labor required. The total cost of the ring will also be higher for multiple diamonds and gemstones.
Imagine a palace floor made entirely of diamonds. That’s the impression created by the invisible setting, which assembles a grid of princess-cut, or square diamonds set side by side to appear as an all-diamond surface.
Invisible-set diamonds have special channels cut into them which allow them to be set from underneath, and typically set flush to metal surrounding the diamond’s grid pattern, thus giving the illusion nothing is holding them together.
Invisible settings create a big diamond look, and a unique, contemporary style.
These settings are riskier than most, because it’s harder to keep the diamonds in place. It is also difficult and expensive to find jewelry-repair people who can fix them if the diamonds do come loose. Be sure to only buy your invisible-set diamond ring from a reputable jeweler, and to insure the ring in case the diamonds get damaged or fall out.
Pavé and micro-pavé
Hollywood glamour. Sophisticated Italian elegance. Pavé diamond rings call up so many romantic images, and can be a perfect choice for a woman who’s in love — with her fiancé and with timeless fashion.
Literally “paving” a ring’s surface with tiny diamonds, a pavé ring sparkles but still allows the design to be subtle, avoiding large diamonds that some women may see as gaudy. The technique involves creating tiny beads or prongs from the surrounding metal to hold the diamonds in place. Designs that use many very small diamonds or gemstones are known as “micro-pavé.”
Pavé diamonds create a lot of flair and flash. Because they’re smaller, the overall total weight of the diamonds used in the ring is lower, thus bringing down cost. Pavé creates a smooth surface that works with active lifestyles. The design is unique and contemporary but can also offer a vintage look.
Pavé and micro-pavé settings, because they use tiny diamonds set on the surface of a ring, carry the risk of diamonds falling out. As with invisible and channel settings, be sure you work with a reputable jeweler to ensure your pavé settings are well done, so you won’t have to replace any diamonds.
In a bezel-set ring, metal is formed around the shape of the diamond, and the top of the stone sits flush to the perimeter of the setting. While this setting is the old-fashioned way of setting a gemstone, popular until the late 19th century, the bezel setting reemerged in the 1990s as a popular choice for admirers of simple, contemporary jewelry.
There are two options for bezel settings: a full bezel (which encircles the entire stone) and a partial bezel (which holds two sides of the stone but leaves openings on the other two). A full bezel covers about 10% of the diamond, though most people only see the top of the diamond when a woman is wearing the ring.
For people who work directly with other people, play sports or use their hands a lot, the bezel keeps diamonds snug and prevents them from snagging on things, knocking against surfaces or scratching other people. Many people also value the bezel setting for its unique and clean, modern look.
Some people believe the bezel setting doesn’t allow as much light into the diamond because so much metal surrounds it. Others argue a well-cut diamond’s light primarily enters and exits through the top of the diamond and the diamond’s hidden underside shouldn’t matter. Regardless of who’s right, the fact that the bezel setting hides some of the diamond might not appeal to everyone. A bezel-set ring may also be more expensive because of the extra metal and labor involved in creating the bezel.
Look at your bride-to-be’s overall style and taste when thinking about the right diamond setting for the engagement ring you buy, and make sure you’re comfortable with the costs and risks of a setting before you invest in it. And always be sure to buy with a warranty and insure your ring.