When it comes to buying engagement rings, many people only think about the center stone, rather than the ring setting.
But a ring setting or style can make or break your engagement ring in terms of practicality, appearance, and the ultimate light return in that center diamond.
If you're not in the jewelry industry, you might only know a few of these settings such as the solitaire, halo setting, and the Tiffany setting.
But there is much more than meets the eye when it comes to engagement ring settings and styles.
We'll uncover everything you always wanted to know about ring settings, and hopefully teach you many things you didn't know! Let's check it out.
Solitaire Setting (Prong Setting)
Solitaire settings are the preferred choice for diamond engagement ring settings. A solitaire setting features a plain metal band usually made of a precious metal like gold, sterling silver, or platinum. But most of the time, you'll find solitaire rings in 14K white gold.
There are different styles of solitaire settings and combinations of styles you can find in a solitaire ring. Tiffany style solitaire settings and cathedral settings are among the most popular types of solitaire settings. Both of these settings feature prongs that creep up from underneath the diamond and hug the edges in order to protect and increase durability.
Solitaire settings have one diamond in the center stone. If there is a cluster or a halo, it's not a solitaire setting. Solitaires generally have a plain band. They are perfect for the person who wants their diamond to stand out.
But if you are choosing a solitaire with a plain band, you'll want to make sure you can get a diamond with high quality diamond grades. The center stone is all anyone will notice, so you'll want to make sure it is high quality by following the 4Cs. Always sacrifice carat weight before cut, color, or clarity.
- All the focus is on your center stone
- You can choose any wedding band of any ring style to go with a solitaire
- Many different diamond shapes
- Needs high diamond grades
- Easier to hit on objects throughout the day
- Thin solitaires don't look great on every finger shape
The Tiffany Setting Engagement Ring
Tiffany settings first emerged in 1886. Before then, most diamond engagement rings were in a bezel setting. The Tiffany setting is a solitaire setting in engagement rings. Tiffany settings are trademarked by one of the biggest jewelry companies, Tiffany's.
The metal band is less raised and looks as if the metal ends under your diamond. Most prongs in a Tiffany setting are small and shouldn't cover but the edge of your diamond. They give a claw-like appearance to rfirmly hold your diamond in place right on the band. The band is usually plain, but can also include pave or micropave diamonds.
Over time the Tiffany name became applied to certain style of setting. When I worked at Kay's, we were told our solitaires were either a Tiffany style band or cathedral style. This is a marketing ploy in which Tiffany's had to release statements about counterfeits.
Many of these style replicas are much weaker than the original Tiffany setting. I've seen a "tiffany style setting" ring get knocked and the entire head broke off from the band.
The last thing to think about is that Tiffany settings tend to snag because of the prongs. But, this usually happens when your prongs need to be re-tipped, so make sure to keep up with maintenance.
- Popular setting
- Uses less metal
- V shape Multi-prong secures diamond
- More prongs likely to snag
- Imposter companies using Tiffany name
Bezel Setting Engagement Ring
A bezel setting was the origin of jewelry settings when they became placing stones in jewelry. Up until the Tiffany settings, this was the only way jewelry was set. Bezel settings feature the metal that covers the entire girdle of the diamond, so only the crown of the diamond is visible.
Even though there are many different types of settings today, the bezel set remains a popular choice. While bezel set engagement rings aren't usually picked because of how much metal is used, they make great settings for those who need just a little more protection for their center stone, like a nurse, children's gemstone jewelry, or people with active lifestyles.
The bezel setting is also nice because it holds all different types of diamond shapes, so there's not a whole lot of limitation. However, be prepared to pay more with a bezel setting because they require careful metal work and craftsmanship
- Protects stone from knocking loose
- Low set for active lifestyles
- Doesn't snag
- takes from the brilliance of the diamond
- More expensive craftsmanship
Tension Setting Engagement Ring
Tension settings can be found in both engagement ring styles and wedding rings as well. A tension setting is a unique style for a ring and very striking. Tensions settings make it seem as if you diamond is floating in mid-air by use of prongs that wrap around all the girdle of a diamond.
Tension settings make you feel as if your diamond isn't safe or secure, but it's a misconception. Just because it looks like it's floating, doesn't actually mean it is. Depending on where the diamond is suspended, the prongs that go around the side or section of it is very secure.
Instead of a singular prong holding the girdle, you have metal that runs along half the girdle itself. It's actually more secure.
The downside to this is that tension settings are more vulnerable to chipping. Diamonds shouldn't chip easily, but they can be hit on the the right spot on the culet with just the right amount of pressure, so keep that in mind.
Tension Style Setting Engagement Ring
You already know about tension settings, but there are a few variations of tensions settings. Tension settings are often place within solitaire settings. The plain band makes sure that the tension style of your diamond or gemstone is the star of the show.
Another variation is a cathedral tension style setting, which can also have a plain band. Because cathedral settings concentrate on the bars and metalwork beneath the center stone, it's possible to be both.
If your tension setting has diamonds on the band, it will most likely have a twist/wave design that leads a thin row of diamonds from the shank to curve around the center stone top and bottom. I once heard of a tension design like that called a tornado ring.
- Mixes well with other setting styles
- Light from most angles
- Too many diamonds may detract
- Hard to find a matching band
Crown Setting Engagement Ring
You will find a lot of diamond jewelry with crown settings in heirloom and estate jewelry. The crown setting is an antique and vintage style setting. It's called a crown setting because when held up in profile view, the prongs look like a crown. A crown setting can have different styles and embellishments. It can even be combined with other settings, such as a cathedral setting or a Tiffany setting.
The crown part is just the style of the prongs, so it's possible to get a different setting with that same crown look. Milgrain and vintage detailing will be seen often in crown setting engagement rings.
Because of the claw look of the crown, you can be assured that your diamond center stone. While secure, the crown setting is a bit more of a pain to clean because dirt and lotion will get up under the crown.
- Aesthetically unique
- Popular Vintage design
- More likely to get dirty
- More expensive for more metal
Channel Setting Engagement Ring
In a channel setting, the smaller stones in an engagement ring are line up next to each other in a channel. The channel is cut into the diamond setting, creating a little pocket for the diamonds to be arrange snugly next to each other, instead of held by tiny prongs.
The channel setting is most effective when it has a backing for the diamonds to be set against. Round cut and other fluid diamond shapes will not be as secure in a channel.
Princess cut diamonds are the most secure in a channel setting because there are no spaces or gaps between the diamonds in the channel. They are secure on all four edges. Channel set diamonds are very popular and traditional in engagement rings today. So, if you're looking for a design that's fresh and new, this one might not be your best bet.
- Secure setting for princess cut side stones
- Classic design
- Does not catch or snag
- common setting
- Not great for all diamond shapes
Pavé Setting Engagement Ring
"Pavé" is the French word word for paved. The title is used to describe a ring setting in which the small diamonds are placed so closely together, they create a paved road with very little metal showing. Pavé diamonds the best setting for someone who might want to have a smaller center stone but not sacrifice any sparkle.
The downside of a pavé setting is that because the stones are so small they have to set them against the metal. The size of the stones makes it difficult for them to be set secure enough for being knocked around.
So while altogether beautiful, they aren't practical for people with active lifestyles. They also have to be cleaned more often because the crown of all those diamonds are exposed to dirt more so than other setting with more metal.
- Different styles of pavé
- More diamonds exposed than metal
- Small stones more likely to fall out
- Needs cleaning more often
Micro-pavé Setting Engagement Ring
Pave diamond settings have a little variation in their styles. French pave features little V shapes cut into the metal. Scalloped pavé diamonds feature little U shaped crevices in which the diamonds are lined next to each other. But these aren't as common. Micro-pave settings are more common be found in an engagement ring alongside the traditional pave settings.
Micro pave settings are even smaller diamonds lined up next to each other. These diamonds are usually diamond chips or diamond with under a .01 carat weight.
This setting is great for someone who may not be able to afford a large diamond carat weight, but still gets the luxury of an engagement ring that catches everyone's eyes. But they are only held by a bead of metal, making them impractical for everyday wear, unless you plan to be very careful.
- More expensive for careful craftsmanship
- Smaller diamond chips cost less
- Less fire because of shallow diamond chips
- Very fragile setting
Halo Setting Engagement Ring
Halo setting engagement rings are the most popular diamond ring setting in fine jewelry stores today. Most fancy diamond shapes from marquise to Asscher cut diamonds can be a halo ring. In fact, cushion cut diamond engagement rings in a halo setting are all the rage, especially Neil Lane engagement rings.
Halo settings always feature diamonds or gemstones in the ring surrounding the center stone. They give off the illusion of your center stone looking larger, which makes it perfect for smaller center stones, if that's important to you. Some people don't like halo diamond ring designs for that reason. Instead, some say a halo detracts from the center stone, which is supposed to be the star of the show.
- Makes smaller center stones look bigger
- Adds a layer of protection around your center stone
- Works with many different diamond shapes
- No protection around the halo itself
- May detract from center diamond
Cathedral Setting Engagement Ring
Most of the time, cathedral settings are referred to when talking about solitaire setting styles.
But it can be possible for an engagement ring with a halo or side diamonds to be set in a cathedral setting as well. Cathedral settings use extra metal by using it to build a bridge and raise your diamond up higher on the shank, almost like a cathedral shape.
Cathedral settings are very traditional in the jewelry world. They require extra craftsmanship and more metal to build, so they are definitely more expensive than a tiffany style ring.
You'll often find cathedral engagement rings with a bigger millimeter width as well. These are perfect choice as rings for larger or chubby fingers and also gives increased metal durability for the wearer.
For some, cathedral settings are impractical because they sit so high. This raised setting may not be suitable for people in professions like a hairdresser or nurse.
Read also: The good and bad about cathedral engagement rings
- Highlights your center stone
- Looks great in combination with a ring enhancer/jacket
- Work with multiple diamond shapes
- Raised setting not suitable for many professions
- More expensive because of more metals depending on intricacies
Bar Setting Engagement Ring
A bar setting is a less commonly used or displayed setting for an engagement ring. Bar setting are used to to support side stones in an engagement ring. These side stones are usually baguette or trapeze cut diamonds. Bar settings used this way for side diamonds are very secure and can give your center stone a high profile.
Bar settings can also be used to describe the way the center diamond is set in either a solitaire or a ring with many diamonds in the band. They are unique in their own way similar to a tension settings. There can be two bars of metal holding the diamond in place whether it is a round brilliant or any other type of diamond.
However, because the bar setting are just a strip of metal with flat ends, it will be more likely to catch or snag on materials, so you'll have to be careful. They are also vulnerable to chipping because some of the girdle of the diamond is exposed.
- Better light return from diamonds secured by bars
- Bars allow for better security
- Flat edges may snag
- Vulnerable to chipping
Basket Setting Engagement Ring
A basket setting refers to a type of prong setting that features a center stone held by many prongs that come down under the diamond to form a basket of prongs. Usually 4 or 6 prongs are used to create the basket. Basket settings create a security unparalleled to most settings. If a diamond is in a basket setting shaking around, then it has to be the setting itself.
While very secure, basket setting aren't all that aesthetically pleasing, especially in terms for your center diamond's brilliance. Because of all those metal prongs from the culet all the way up to the crown, they cover bits of the diamond. The light that enters a diamond and refracts out is impeded by the surrounding prongs. But, if you choose a 4 prong setting, it can actually optimize the light.
- Well crafted secure setting
- Perfect setting for 3 stone rings
- Ideal for people who need a low setting
- 6 prong impedes light return
Twist Setting Engagement Ring
A twist setting is used to describe the band style rather than the prongs. Twist settings are very popular for a more unique style at fine jewelry stores. While they're meant to be a little unique, they quickly became common. But there are various styles of twist bands. They can have small diamond chips or larger diamonds.
Typically, they're set with round diamonds because they are easier to arrange out of a straight line than other diamond shapes. So, if you're not a fan of round cut diamonds, you may not like this setting.
If you're going to buy a twist setting, you should choose one that leaves the bottom half of the shank straight. Some twist settings have the metal twist all around the band, referred to as braided twist settings.
Settings like these cause major issues with resizing because a jeweler is unable to cut, solder, and replicate without destroying the design. The other issue you might come across with an engagement ring with a twist setting is that it can be hard to find a matching band if it doesn't already come with one.
- More unique
- Can be protective for diamonds
- Many different styles
- May have resizing issues depending on style of twist
- Hard to find matching bands
Flush Setting Engagement Ring
A flush setting is similar to a bezel setting as the diamond sits flush within the metal. A bezel setting usually comes over the diamond a little bit, where as a flush setting meets the diamond at its edge.
They can also be referred to as gypsy or hammer style setting. Flush settings can look great for either men or women. You won't find many flush settings in general in jewelry stores, especially when it comes to engagement rings. You'll actually be more likely to find it in wedding bands.
Flush setting engagement rings are rare, but they are out there. There are also slight variations to the design, such as the metal meeting the diamond in different ways and directions. Some may swirl around the diamond while still being flush with it. They are extremely protective settings as well because they are held in so securely.
- Very secure diamond setting
- Different styles
- Hard to find
- Expensive metalwork
Flower Setting Engagement Ring
In a flower setting engagement ring, the center stone remains solid, but there is fancy metalwork around it done to imitate the look of petals. There may be a halo of smaller stones around the center, or a freeform halo setting.
One of the cool things about flower settings is that not only are they aesthetically pleasing to look at, but they are protective of that center stone by acting like a halo. Flower settings draw attention, especially if you mix both fancy colored diamonds and white diamonds for even more attention.
The drawback to a flower setting is that small stones are also more likely to fall out, so they'll definitely need to be cleaned and handled with care.
- Pretty flower design
- Less expensive
- Good option for colored stones
- More difficult to clean
- Small stones may fall out
Three Stone Setting Engagement Ring
A three stone engagement ring can be a great alternative to the traditional one center stone look of an engagement ring. While typically used as anniversary rings, the message of them can make a great little tidbit in a proposal, especially if paired with the best proposal song.
Three stone rings can have diamonds of all the same carat weight or two of the less than the middle diamonds. They can come in a variety of diamond shapes, but you're more likely to sport either round cut or princess cut three stone engagement rings.
Each stone is supposed to represent the past, present, and future of your love, giving it a great sentimental meaning for the wearer to cherish. Most three stone ring settings are high set, but it is possible to find a low set three stone diamond ring. You can find three stone engagement rings set most commonly set in white gold.
It'll also be easier to find a yellow gold three stone than a rose gold. And of course, they do make three stones in platinum, but platinum is hard to find at local jewelry stores.
- More diamonds for brilliance
- Timeless design that stays in fashion
- Multiple large stones
- High settings can get knocked around
- Harder to clean
Antique/Vintage Setting Engagement Ring
Antique and vintage settings can be a combination of prong and band styles. But even further than that, there are certain embellishments that can make an engagement ring described as vintage.
True vintage rings are considered to be dependent on how many years the ring has been around. It can range from 20 years to 70 years. Some of the most popular vintage detailing includes filigree and milgrain.
With milgrain, jewelers use what's called a knurling tool, which creates little indents in the metal. Sometimes they add beads of metals to the design. Milgrain is basically French for "a thousand grains", so it can be quite intricate. Filigree is when the jeweler creates separate pieces of metal and beads, forming them into intricate designs. Those designs are then soldered onto the ring.
A vintage ring is usually an heirloom or estate piece. Some have been passed from generation to generation. The durability of these pieces really depend on if the ring has been kept up with when it comes to jewelry maintenance. No matter which way you slice it, jewelry and the precious metals it's set in is not meant to last forever.
Furthermore, the metals are soft and if they've been worn for 40 years, you gotta keep up with it. If it is well taken care of, like rhodium plating and prong retipping. Those procedures need to be kept up with, as well as safe storing measures like a jewelry box. This will help keep the diamonds and gemstones safe in a vintage setting.
- Timeless and Sentimental
- Unique settings
- Unparalleled Beauty
- Can be hard to size because of detailing
- Not as much brilliance in older diamond cuts
Cluster Setting Engagement Ring
Cluster settings are one of the most popular ring styles for engagement rings in commercial jewelry stores, such as Kay Jewelers or Zales. In a cluster setting, smaller diamonds are put together in order to give off the illusion that it is one stone.
Of course, that isn't the only reason why people may choose a cluster setting. A group of smaller diamonds requires less strict diamond grades. You wouldn't need a high clarity
Clusters can be of different diamond shapes, usually geometric. You'll probably mainly find them in round cut diamonds creating shapes like flowers or sunbursts. Sometimes they make up the centerstone with a halo setting around it. There's another sub-category of clusters using 4 small princess cut diamonds called "quads". The 4 small princess diamonds are put together almost seamlessly to where only a faint line divides the diamonds.
But here's why I don't recommend buying a cluster. Because a cluster is filled with smaller stones, they don't need high diamond grades. For instance, if you have an ideal cut diamond center stone, that diamond is going to have the most beautiful brilliance. But if you replace it with 5 small diamonds, those diamonds are not going to have near the sparkle of a solid ideal cut center stone.
The other downside is that because clusters representing the center stone tend to be so tiny, they're more likely to fall out than with a solid center. You might be going to the jeweler to replace missing stones.
- Lower cost
- low diamond grades
- more likely to need work
Eternity Band Engagement Ring
Eternity bands are another type of ring that has sentimental meaning like a three stone. While the ring itself has been a representation of eternal love and marriage, eternity rings take it a step further by encrusting the entire metal band in diamonds or gemstones. While more often seen as wedding bands or anniversary bands, the eternity band engagement ring is a sight worth seeing.
The good news about eternity bands is that they are gorgeous. When the light reflects off of each stone, people will be blinded by the sparkle from every angle. But some people think that many diamonds takes away from the center stone. Eternity rings also have more than one style. They can be double banded, twist, vintage vine shaped, and many other styles.
I have an inner struggle with eternity bands because I don't understand why they are on the market with their impractical style. Rings don't traditionally have stones all around the band because they fall out. Even an office job can damage an eternity ring.
Each time you bump the bottom of the ring on a drawer, or tap it onto a cup when you grab it. Small things that we do day to day that we don't think can hurt it, does. Especially if the stones are tiny. Eternity bands are not for everyday wear, which is a bummer if it's your engagement ring.
- Sparkles at every angle
- Sentimental meaning
- Many different styles
- More expensive
- Most jewelers will not size
- Bottom diamonds likely to fall out
Shank/Split-Shank Engagement Ring
A split shank setting in an engagement ring is going to be describing the band style, rather than the center stone prong style. The ring shank is the metal band in a ring. A split shank is when the shank of the rings splits into two and back into one usually towards the bottom.
Split shanks have been seen in both antique and modern ring styles. A split shank is cool because it allows you to more room for encrusted diamonds, or fancy metalwork. You have more room for more sparkle than a regular shank. They are also usually wider bands as well, which is great durability and you don't have to worry about the shank breaking.
The angles in which the split almost creates a pathway to your center stone, drawing attention to it. It work the same way with lines when doing interior design. It's a unique style and should give off a striking appearance. The downside for split shank engagement rings is they require a little more upkeep. Lotions can get stuck in between the split, making you have to clean more often.
- Unique style
- Modern or Classic
- More surface area
- Needs cleaning more often
may be hard to find matching wedding band
Infinity Setting Engagement Ring
An infinity setting can a cross between an eternity engagement ring and a split shank engagement ring. With this setting, the infinity symbol is displayed by the shape of the metal shank. It can be similar to a twist with only half of the shank as an infinity sign, or it can be repeated around the entire shank like a eternity band.
Infinity signs have become very trendy and popular in the jewelry world. Many settings feature small diamond encrusted shanks that glitter when the light hits. Infinity settings can be made for any gemstone or diamond shape, though you'll commonly see cushion or round cut diamonds with cushion halo settings.
The infinity sign brings the sentimental value of forever and eternal and associates the notion that you and your partner's love will go on infinitely. It's a very romantic setting, perfect for those who picture the horse and carriage type of wedding. The curvy shape will have eyes follow it to the center stone, highlighting your center stone.
But for a couple drawbacks, infinity settings are more difficult to clean. Of course, this is with all intricately shaped or designed engagement rings like twists or split-shank. Sizing may also be difficult depending on if the band is an infinity eternity band.
- Romantic and representative
- Different styles
- Accentuates center stone
- Requires more cleaning
- Might be difficult to size
How To Pick The Right Engagement Setting?
Now that you've been presented with a multitude of different engagement ring settings and styles, you have quite the choice in front of you. Which is the one that you can picture on your hand forever? No pressure.
But, before you make your decision, I want to leave you with 3 tips to help you when picking out an engagement ring setting.
If you plan on wearing your engagement ring everyday, all day, you need to pick a setting that can stand up to the pressures of the the day to day.
Styles that could get damaged in hands-on jobs: eternity engagement rings, high-set cathedral settings, open-back channel set engagement rings, and twist setting with stones on the twist.
Bezel set, flush set, and prong settings are good options for hands-on jobs. The more prongs, the more secure your diamond is. But, you'll want to get them re-tipped over time when they start to snag. Consider the differences between claw and round prongs as well.
The metal should be long-lasting. Most wedding jewelry is set in 14K gold. You should not go up in gold carat weight such as 18K. Sterling silver is long lasting but not ideal for engagement rings. Platinum is the strongest, but it's also the most expensive.
2. Diamond Shape
Before you pick out an engagement ring setting or style, you should decide on which diamond shape you're wanting. The most popular diamond shapes are the round brilliant, princess cut, and cushion cut. Moderately popular engagement rings can be emerald cut, pear or teardrop, and marquise.
You might also want to check out our article on brilliant cut vs step cut diamonds.
The reason why you should pick the shape before the setting is because not all settings are suitable for all diamond shapes. The pear and marquise have a point, so it's best to put that in a protective setting such as a bezel, crown setting, or even a halo setting.
3. Wedding Band
Traditionally, you have a wedding band to wear with your engagement ring. For some ring settings like the twist and infinity settings, you may have trouble finding a matching wedding band if it isn't offered as a set. Easy settings to find a wedding band may include channel settings, pave settings, of course, solitaire settings.
You'll want to pick a wedding band that complements your engagement ring, not causes a state of confusion. If you have a channel set engagement ring, you might not want a vintage style band. But, if you were to put that vintage wedding band against a round cut solitaire of matching rose gold, it'll look much better. When it comes to the wedding band with the engagement ring, less is more. We don't want your wedding band upstaging your engagement ring!