Alongside the decision that needs to be taken on the engagement ring band and gemstone, you will also need to pay close consideration to the engagement ring setting. This article takes a closer look at the various engagement ring settings available and highlights the pro's and con's of each.
Engagement Ring Settings
Choosing the right setting for the engagement ring is just as important as choosing the right stone, and at the end of the day, having thought long and hard purchasing the gemstone, it would be a cardinal sin to simply pick the first setting that you see!
The setting defines the ring, gives it its character, and can showcase the stone to its best effect, but it is important that you consider other factors too, such as where the ring will be worn.
An engagement ring with a channel setting (see later) will be much more appropriate for a green-fingered or sporty bride-to-be than one with a prong setting (see below) for example. Also, if you have bought an expensive diamond, you will want it to be both secure and set in such a way that it allows more light to pass through it.
There are a wide range of engagement ring settings available, and the most common are outlined below.
Prong Engagement Ring Settings
One of the most common settings used in engagement rings, a prong setting effectively lifts up the stone, extending it skywards, gripping it in place. Normally this type of setting will involve 4 or 6 prongs that elevate the stone and allow it maximum exposure to light. Opting for 6 prongs will provide greater security but can overwhelm a small stone, whilst conversely 4 prongs can showcase the stone better but will not provide as great a protection.
This is undoubtedly one of the best engagement ring settings to ‘show off’ a diamond, but it also one of the least practical. Make sure that you really take the time to consider where and when the ring will be worn before opting for a prong setting.
Cluster Engagement Ring Settings
A very popular style, the cluster setting involves multiple smaller stones that surround a larger stone in the centre. Designs for the ‘cluster’ vary from simple circles to more elaborate petal designs. This is one of the best ways to showcase multi-stone based engagement ring settings but can be expensive and, as with the case for the prong setting, also tends to give potentially unwanted height to the ring.
Bezel Engagement Ring Settings
The bezel setting is also very popular. It is characterised by a metal rim that surrounds the rings’ circumference either partially or fully. Again, this setting does add height to the ring, but because it envelops the stone, it is a very safe setting.
Whilst secure and giving the impression that the stone is bigger than it actually is, a great deal of the gem is actually hidden from view (can have its advantages if the stone has blemishes or nicks). Very little light is allowed to pass through the stone, and a yellow gold setting can make it appear less white. As with all engagement ring settings, the phrase ‘swings and roundabouts’ springs to mind!
Flush / Gypsy Engagement Ring Settings
A design which has seen a rise in popularity over recent years, flush engagement ring settings, as its name implies, has the stone set into the band. The stone is, in effect, level with the surface with only the very top of the stone visible. This type of setting is also referred to as a gypsy setting.
Whilst subtle and unassuming in appearance, it does go against popular belief that you should choose a setting that allows as much light as possible to pass through the diamond, and as such may not be the best choice to showcase a large and expensive diamond. That said, the protection offered to stones in this setting is second to none, and smaller or slightly damaged stones, are presented in such a way that any flaws are hidden and the stones do appear slightly larger than they actually are.
These are ideal engagement ring settings for an active lady due to their practical design and are a fantastically safe and secure way to house a diamond. That said, the flush/gypsy is not recommended as a setting for more fragile alternative gems such as emeralds.
Tension Engagement Ring Settings
The Tension setting is not suitable for all types of stone – only hard gems such as diamonds or rubies can cope with the extreme pressure placed upon them by such a setting. Effectively, the stone is held in place by the pressure of the metal, allowing a lot of light into the stone but making resizing difficult. Not practical for all due to the lack of protection for the stone, and complex to repair, this is one of the more modern engagement ring settings which has only been around since about the middle of the last century. This setting has a contemporary, almost trendy, feel to it.
Pave Engagement Ring Settings
From the French word for ‘paved’, the name originates from the cobblestone appearance that the setting possesses. Multiple stones are used but the appearance is of a ring that houses many more gems. The stones are initially set into holes in the band with the surrounding metal (often platinum or white gold to enhance the look) raised to form beads which secure the diamonds in place.
Stunning in appearance, the setting is not recommended for more fragile gems and the beads are not as effective as other methods for securing the stones.
Channel Engagement Ring Settings
The Channel setting is characterised by multiple diamonds sitting alongside each other with no metal between them. Two horizontal channels sit at either end of the diamonds and sometimes a larger centre stone is present.
Offering good protection for the stones, with no edges exposed, the perfectly smooth surface helps for ring longevity.
Not suitable for more fragile gemstones, unless a significant proportion of the band is metal as opposed to stone. It can also be difficult to resize in the future. Channel settings are not only a very popular engagement ring setting, but they are also a common choice for eternity and wedding rings.
Bar Engagement Ring Settings
Similar in design to the Channel setting, the bar differs only in that the multiple stones are separated by thin vertical metal bars that hold them securely in place.
Whilst it isn't sometimes (but not always!) the most comfortable setting to wear, the contemporary look and feel offers excellent side protection for the stones, but perhaps at the expense of protection at the top and bottom of the gemstone. Diamonds can sometimes become loose or damaged but overall the smooth surface add a degree of practicality to the design.
Other, less common engagement ring settings may also be available at your local jewellers, it is simply a matter of discussing the options with them. Don't just think about look and feel of the setting, but also the practicality of it vis-à-vis your partner’s lifestyle, the diamond (or alternative gemstone) and the band metal. Take your time and consider all the factors carefully before choosing the ring.
For those of you wanting to find out more, we've a whole host of other engagement articles on our site packed full of expert information and helpful advice, not to mention our online wedding directory that's filled with jewellers, bespoke ring makers and more.
For friendly tips and helpful advice, take a look at our engagement forum and engagement Q&A's or check out the rings for sale and the 'links to pages & websites you may like' below.