When you choose a solitaire engagement ring setting for your diamond, you're choosing a timeless classic that still remains the most popular ring setting today.
People love the way solitaires highlight a singular stone.
The brilliance of a well-cut center diamond will draw eyes everywhere. Solitaires come in many different styles, not just with a plain metal band.
Being a setting that only holds a singular stone, you'll want to make sure you've considered the 4Cs, or the quality factors of diamond grading. Understanding the 4Cs will help you determine if a solitaire ring engagement ring setting is really for you.
Let's get into it!
What Is a Solitaire Engagement Ring Setting?
The solitaire is by far the most popular ring setting for diamond engagement rings. Original solitaire diamond rings traditionally feature a round brilliant diamond or a fancy diamond shape placed on a plain metal band that can be white gold, yellow gold, or even rose gold. Solitaires are most often set in white gold in stores.
Even though we call them solitaires, solitaire is more of a style than a specific ring setting. There are different variations of solitaire rings as well as in other types of jewelry such as solitaire diamond earrings and solitaire diamond pendants.
The name "solitaire" is meant to describe the presence of one singular diamond or gemstone in a jewelry piece. With diamond engagement rings, you might here solitaire settings referred to as prong settings.
Prongs are like a little claw that wraps itself around your diamond by means of either 4 or 6 prongs. There are many styles of prong settings, each tailored to hold your solitaire diamond in place safely.
Read More: Our complete guide to engagement ring setting and style
Should You Choose a Solitaire Setting for Your Engagement Ring?
Even though solitaires are the most popular ring setting for spouses-to-be, they may not be the ideal option for everyone's situation. While there are many positives to owning a gorgeous diamond solitaire engagement ring, there might be some drawbacks that are deal-breakers for you.
One of the biggest reasons solitaires are chosen as the choice style of diamond engagement rings is because all of the focus is that stone. A singular high quality center diamond commands attention and beauty. There are no other stones to detract from the beauty of that diamond.
Because most solitaires feature a plain metal band, it can be very versatile with any diamond shape or any wedding band. If you have a knife-edge solitaire setting, it can still look great with an infinity setting wedding band.
You can mix and match wedding band styles. With other engagement ring styles, using different wedding bands may look too busy. With solitaires, you can be sure there is a balanced and beautiful look.
While solitaires seem like a plain setting, they really have many variations. The most popular styles in the jewelry world are Tiffany-set solitaires and cathedral solitaire engagement rings. The Tiffany setting comes up from underneath the diamond to form a basket.
True Tiffany settings are copyrighted by the company, but there are look alikes for cheaper in the market. Cathedral styles solitaires feature a metal bar that goes across the top of the ring shank, underneath the diamond. These styles are many of the high set solitaires you'll find in the industry.
Aside from these, there are many different styles of prongs and prong baskets that you can choose for your solitaire engagement ring as well. The band styles may also change from split shank to twisty shank.
As long as there isn't an overwhelmingly amount of gold or platinum, solitaire engagement rings are the least expensive settings, which frees up more of your wallet to choose a high quality center stone.
Just like every other ring setting or style, the solitaire engagement ring does have some drawbacks. But are they deal-breakers for your lifestyle or your future fiance's? That will help determine if a diamond solitaire engagement ring is for you.
The biggest deal breaker of the downsides is also its greatest strength. Your center diamond is the star of the show. But because there is only one diamond atop a metal band, you'll need a diamond with a larger carat weight, especially if you or fiance has larger fingers. The thin band beneath the one diamond visually looks small, and even if you get a wider band, that can make your stone look even smaller.
I recommend that if you're going to do a solitaire engagement ring, your center stone needs to be at least a 1/2 carat. Any carat weight less than that, it'll look really awkward and small.
But not only does the price increase with a larger carat weight, your color grade and clarity grades may need to be higher in order to really be beautiful.
Remember, with a solitaire setting, you don't have other side stones to detract from color or clarity in order to add more sparkle. Your center stone' quality alone is what determines the overall beauty of your solitaire ring.
Tip: If you want to get away with a lower color grade in order to save some money on your solitaire ring, consider choosing to set your diamond in yellow gold. The yellow in the metal will make lower color grades appear more white than they would in white or rose gold.
If you're looking at corporate mega retailers for your solitaire, don't be surprised if your options for ring settings is limited. Most jewelry stores that I know limit their styles to cathedral and imitation Tiffany style. But if you go online, you can set diamonds in metal bands with etching, twists, milgrain, and filigree.
These styles add embellishments to your band while keeping your single diamond. If you want something like that, you'll have to go online or maybe to a local jeweler. It will be difficult to find. Thankfully, our recommended online retailers are trusted and cost less than the big guys.
Lastly, you'll have to watch out for those high set solitaires. Most solitaire rings are high set, which means they're more likely to snag on various fabrics over time, as well as bang into stuff on a regular basis.
We don't realize how often we knock our hands on things, even if we're not doing manual labor, maybe just working at an office. Solitaires require just a little extra care is all.
Solitaire Settings vs Other Popular Settings
While solitaires may be the most common sort of ring setting, there are a couple other ring settings that are often compared with it. Let's see how the solitaire setting compares to other popular diamond cuts.
Solitaire Setting vs Halo Setting
One of the advantages that solitaire engagement ring settings have over a halo setting is that all of the attention is on your center diamond.
For those who are really taking into account the 4Cs and are carefully selecting a high quality and ideal cut diamond, a halo will add too much sparkle and your gorgeous (and probably expensive) center stone will be lost in the glitter.
Read Also: What do you need to know about the Halo setting for engagement rings?
Solitaire settings are also among the cheapest ring settings because they are usually just made of a precious metal. Halo settings have other diamonds that will increase the price in addition to the metal band.
Also, with little diamonds like most halo settings, those are more likely to fall out than for your prong setting solitaire to actually be knocked out of place.
However, solitaires also look smaller. The extra ring around the diamonds in a halo setting make the center stone look bigger, if that's something you're looking for.
Also, like mentioned before, most solitaires are high set, making them vulnerable to damage. You'll be able to find a wider selection of low set halo settings than solitaires.
Tip: One of my favorite ring settings is almost a combination of a halo setting and a solitaire setting. The band is plain metal like a solitaire, but instead has a halo around the center diamond, and it's low set.
Check out this gorgeous and uniquely styled ring setting from James Allen.
Solitaire Setting vs Bezel Setting
Because a bezel setting encases a diamond in metal, the brillance and sparkle of that diamond is dulled a little. With a solitaire setting, the light is able to pass through all angles of the diamond for a much better brilliance.
But, with a bezel setting, that extra layer of metal and the way it's low set and flush will ultimately protect the diamond better than a solitaire diamond that sticks up with exposed edges between the prongs. This leaves vulnerability to chipping, but it's not too likely that it happens without hard impact.
Bezel settings are pretty much standard. They don't have too many variations. Solitaire settings have many different options, but you'll probably have to go online. Even though they're the most popular, you can make a solitaire ring styled to your unique taste.
Where to Buy Solitaire Diamond Engagement Rings
Being the most popular engagement ring setting, you can find solitaire diamond engagement rings anywhere that carries fine jewelry. Most people buy from large corporate retailers like Jared or Zales.
But in recent years, engagement ring seekers are flocking to online fine jewelry retailers like James Allen, Blue Nile, and Whiteflash.
James Allen should be your #1 go-to when searching for any style of diamond engagement ring. Always look at James Allen first because they have some of the best pricing.
On their website, they have a library of thousands of loose diamonds varying in different shapes and even fancy color diamonds. You can choose from their collection of natural diamonds as well as lab-created.
In the loose diamond library, you can tailor your diamond grades to the range you want selected for the 4cs: cut, clarity, color, and carat. But the best part, especially for the apprehensive first-time online diamond buyer, is that you can see the stone very clearly straight from your seat.
James Allen has this incredible 360 degree viewing technology for all of their colorless diamonds.
That's right. You will be able to see every blemish and inclusion, as well as their placements, before you buy it. This is incredibly helpful because the placement of inclusions vary on diamonds with the same clarity grade.
You can also narrow your results to engagement rings that have either a GIA or AGS grading report. My recommendation is that no matter what diamond your purchase, it needs to have a GIA or AGS grading report, which many retailers don't have in store.
If you have any questions about the diamond grades, grading report, or any of their policies, James Allen's customer service is open 24/7 for their customers and they ship all over the world. You can even talk with a gemologist and go over every detail of the diamond you've chosen, as well as its report.
The truth is, James Allen knows more about diamonds than most retailers around. Or rather, they want you have complete transparency when buying such and important purchase. You deserve to have lots of options and be able to carefully choose without the pressure of an employee trying to hit their sales goal for the day.
Lastly, with James Allen, you'll get free returns and a lifetime warranty for all routine work like rhodium plating for white gold and prong retipping.
Read More: Our Complete Review of James Allen
Blue Nile is the runner-up of my favorite jewelry stores for solitaire engagement rings. They also have 3D viewing technology, but it's not as smooth or as close up as James Allen. And that technology is only available for a certain amount of their catalog of loose diamonds.
But, Blue Nile has one of the best reputations around. While James Allen is not as well-known, Blue Nile is a frontrunner for legitimate places to buy diamond engagement rings from.
Very similar to James Allen, they also have a library of loose diamonds of all varying shapes. You'll also notice that Blue Nile has more reviews on their website as well as a larger selection of engagement ring settings to choose from. If you want a 14K rose gold vintage milgrain solitaire ring, they'll have it. Very wide selection.
I like that they offer so many different experiences with diamonds other than your purchase. If you're looking to sell a diamond of your own, they have a program. Need jewelry insurance? They have a partner. Want to upgrade? They do that too. There are so many different possibilities.
Blue Nile is very involved with their customers making sure that you have all the tools and answers to your diamond questions before you even hit the checkout button.
Read More: Blue Nile Review: Is their jewelry quality?
Whiteflash is another awesome online diamond jeweler to find gorgeous diamonds at lower prices than your corporate retailer as well as many solitaire ring styles for your engagement ring. Whiteflash prides themselves on having only the best of the best when it comes to center stone brilliance.
Their patented collection, A Cut Above, is perfect to be set on a solitaire setting to create the ultimate fire in a solitaire engagement ring. I really like the way they let you look at their library of loose diamonds, even if it is a smaller collection than James Allen and Blue Nile.
Whiteflash has 360 video technology of their highly brilliant diamonds. Look at this gorgeous princess cut diamond from the A Cut Above Collection:
Their staff is American Gem Society (AGS) trained and they have staff with their Graduate Gemologist degrees from the GIA, which is the highest education and accomplishment in the field of gemology and jewelry.
You can shop with confidence with a well-educated staff that is there waited with unbiased information. Like other online jewelers, Whiteflash's staff doesn't work off commission, so you can be sure you're getting proper advice with no pressure.
Need some time to think about it? Just tell your diamond expert. Just leave it in your wish list to return to later. Simple. No pressure.
Aside from their very sparkly diamonds and well-educated staff, Whiteflash offers a few other perks when you shop with them.
If you're a frequent jewelry buyer or might be in the future, this online store is an excellent option for all your jewelry needs. They offer a customer loyalty program for returning customers.
One of my favorite things about Whiteflash is that they also offer all of their customers 1 year of free service. Their one year service plan includes rhodium plating white gold, tightening stones, retipping prongs, and changing ring size if needed.
This is a better warranty than Blue Nile's, but not quite as good as James Allen's. Whiteflash also offers lifetime trade ups for their diamonds as well as a partner for jewelry insurance.
No matter which of these companies you choose to purchase your solitaire engagement ring from, you can be assured that you are picking a high quality solitaire ring at a fantastic price, cheaper than anything you'd find at a Jared or Kay.
The solitaire diamond ring setting is a timeless choice and can be tailored to fit any budget. It is simple yet elegant, and symbolizes strength and sophistication, which makes it an ideal choice for couples who want to make an everlasting statement of their commitment and devotion.