Education: Engagement Ring Settings

When shopping for a mounting (the industry term for a setting before it is  set with a stone), never let the addition of a wedding band stray far from your  thoughts. (An engagement ring may represent a promise but the wedding band  ultimately outranks it in significance, and will likely be worn every day.)  Consider whether you would rather stack the two (you can always customize a band  to fit) or wear the engagement ring on the right hand and/or for special  occasions only.

Double Up

One foolproof way to solve this dilemma — and save time and money  —  is to buy a wedding set. This will include an engagement ring and woman’s  wedding band (duo) or an engagement ring and his-and-hers wedding bands (trio).  The advantage of these sets is that the woman’s engagement ring and wedding band  fit together perfectly — most also look good separately — and share cohesive  design elements. Sets can also save you money over buying each ring separately  (as much as 50% less according to the Diamond Information Center).

Set Your Sights

Whether you are buying a set or building an engagement ring from scratch,  every aspect of said ring — the stone, metal, and mounting — should be chosen  with your lifestyle and budget in mind. Below are the advantages and  disadvantages of the most popular basic settings from Renée Newman, GG, MA,  author of Gold & Platinum Jewelry Buying Guide (International Jewelry  Publications). The choices are endless, from a simple solitaire to a number of  stones and combination of settings on the same ring. Luckily, it’s relatively  easy to reset your stone — and add stones — as your bank account and lifestyle  permit.

 

The Settings…

Prong

What It Is: This most common type of engagement-ring  setting involves three to six “claws” that hold a stone firmly in a metal “head”  or “basket”. Prongs can be pointed, rounded, flat, or V-shaped, and act as  “pockets” for a square stone’s corners. When deciding between four and six  prongs, know that four prongs show more of the diamond, while six prongs are  more secure, but can overwhelm a small stone. If you have heart-, marquise-, or  pear-shaped stone, be sure its points are cradled in a V-shaped prong for  protection. Flat prongs are recommended for emerald-cut  stones.

4prong6prong

Advantages:

  • Permits the most light exposure from all angles and therefore maximizes a  diamond’s brilliance and “lightens up” richly colored gems.
  • Less metal means less time and money is required than other setting  styles.
  • Allows easy cleaning of the stone.
  • Holds even the most fragile (soft) gems securely.

Disadvantages:

  • Offers less protection to the stone than other styles since most of the  girdle (the perimeter of the stone) is exposed.
  • Can get caught in hair or snag clothing (especially when pulling on a  long-sleeved shirt) and panty hose.
  • High-set prong settings can scratch and hurt other people if brushed  against, and are hard to fit in gloves. (Lower prong settings are available and  more practical for those on the go.)

Tension

What It Is: A design in which the compression-spring pressure of the  shank holds the stone firmly in place. The minimal interference of metal can  give the impression that the stone is “floating”. Note: Only  extremely hard stones such as diamonds, sapphires, and rubies can withstand the  required pressure.

tension setting 2tensionsetting1

Advantages:

  • Allows a lot of light into the stone.

Disadvantages:

  • Ring is built to fit and difficult to resize at a later date.
  • Repair options are limited
  • Less metal means less protection to the girdle of the stone; recommended for  less active people or for special occasions only (not everyday wear).
  • Not recommended for gems other than diamonds, sapphires, or  rubies.

Bezel

What It Is: A metal rim with edges fully or partially surrounds the  perimeter of the stone.

bezel2bazel-setting-copy

Advantages:

  • Protects a stone’s girdle from being nicked or chipped.
  • Conceals existing nicks or chips on a stone’s girdle.
  • Secures a stone well.
  • The ring surface is completely smooth.
  • Metal can be molded to fit any stone shape snugly.
  • A white metal encircling a white stone can make the stone appear  larger.
  • A yellow gold bezel setting can enhance the color of red or green  gemstones.

Disadvantages:

  • A yellow gold bezel setting can make a “white” stone such as a diamond  appear less white because the yellow tint of the setting is reflected in the  stone.

Channel

What It Is: Popular for wedding bands, this setting sandwiches a row  of stones — with no metal separating them — between two horizontal channels  for part or all of the ring.

channel-settingchannelset2

Advantages:

  • Protects the girdle of the stones.
  • Provides better security for small stones than a prong or pave  setting.
  • The surface is completely smooth and unobtrusive.

Disadvantages:

  • A ring set with stones all the way around can be difficult to resize (leave  at least one third of the shank unset for greatest flexibility — this saves  money, too)
  • Not recommended for fragile gems such as emeralds, opals, or  tourmalines.

Bar

What It Is: This setting can also be applied around some or all of the  ring, but instead of channels holding the stones, thin vertical bars of metal  between stones secure them firmly in place.

barsetting3barsetting2

Advantages:

  • Protects the sides of each stone’s girdle.
  • The surface is relatively smooth and unobtrusive.
  • Puts a contemporary spin on a classic look.

Disadvantages:

  • Leaves the top and bottom of the stone exposed.
  • The uneven edges of some designs may cause discomfort.

Pave

What It Is: The French word for “paved”, a pavé setting (pronounced  “pah-vay”) involves three or more rows of several small stones fitted into holes  that set them level with the surface of the ring. Surrounding metal — white  gold or platinum for white stones so as to be unnoticeable — is then raised to  form beads that secure the gems. The setting can be flat or domed.

pavesetting1pave2

Advantages::

  • Gives the illusion of more and bigger diamonds than they really  are.
  • Allows an uninterrupted design flow of varying width.

Disadvantages::

  • Not recommended for fragile gems, although the proximity of the stones  offers good protection for the girdle of each stone.
  • The surface is level but not as smooth as a bezel, channel, or gypsy  setting.
  • Beads are not as reliable as other settings for securing stones.

Gypsy

What It Is: Popular for men’s rings, this setting sets the stone  “flush” into a hole in the ring so that it does not protrude at all. The ring’s  metal is then pressed and hammered around the stone’s perimeter to secure  it.

gypsy2gypsy

Advantages::

  • Protects a stone’s girdle from being nicked or chipped.
  • Conceals existing nicks or chips on a stone’s girdle.
  • Secures a stone well.
  • The ring surface is completely smooth.

Disadvantages::

  • More time-intensive to set and expensive than a prong setting.
  • Not recommended for fragile gems such as emeralds, opals, or  tourmalines.

Read more:  Engagement Rings: Settings 101TheKnot.com – http://wedding.theknot.com/getting-engaged/engagement-rings/articles/engagement-ring-settings-101.aspx#ixzz2U8Y0YDTx