Imagine your perfect engagement ring. You’re probably not thinking about how many prongs are holding the beautiful center stone in place. How your center stone is secured in its setting may seem like a little detail, but it has big implications for the aesthetics and durability of your ring. Your choice is likely to narrow down to 4 prongs vs. 6 prongs, so which should you choose? Let’s help you find out.
4 Prong Settings vs. 6 Prong Settings: Which Should You Choose?
What Is A Prong?
Most engagement ring settings will use prongs to secure the center stone. Prongs are welded to the band and suspend upward, creating what looks like a basket for the center stone to sit within. The prongs are designed to act as a claw, securely holding the center stone in place. Prongs vary in design, from rounded to square, flat to v-shaped, but their primary purpose is to secure your center stone.
While prongs are meant to be visually unobtrusive to experiencing the full beauty of the center stone, they can also be quite strategic in their placement. For gemstone cuts that feature points – the pear cut, marquise cut, and princess cut, for example – the prong is perfect for covering those weakened parts of the stone and increasing the durability of the stone.
Four petal-prong engagement ring
4 Prongs vs. 6 Prongs: A Quick Comparison
When it comes to prongs, your choice is likely to fall between the two most common settings: 4 prongs or 6 prongs. For each style there are some pros and cons to consider:
4 Prong Settings
- - Fewer prongs means less metal on the diamond, visually.
- - There are options for prong placement to give a unique look.
- - Good for smaller diamonds, as there is less metal to cover the stone.
- - Four prongs won’t hold a center stone as securely as six prongs.
- - Less protective of the gemstone’s girdle, the part of the stone separating the crown (top) from the pavilion (bottom).
- - Not the best choice for larger gemstones.
6 Prong Settings
- - Can make a round-shaped diamond appear even rounder.
- - Offers a superior, secure hold for the center stone.
- - Will provide much better protection for the girdle of the stone.
- - Six prongs can be overbearing for stones of half carat or smaller.
- - Could be slightly more expensive depending on the jeweler.
- - More prongs increase the chances of your ring snagging or catching on clothing.
A four prong oval diamond ring
A six prong round diamond ring
When to Choose a 4 Prong Setting
The main drawback of a 4 prong setting is that it’s less secure than a 6 prong setting. But it’s still a very secure setting and is actually preferred for smaller gemstones since there will be less metal obstructing the stone. Aside from this small difference in security, there’s a lot to love about the 4 prong setting.
The biggest advantage that the 4 prong setting has is an option for prong placement. The traditional design for a 4 prong setting features prongs at the 2, 4, 8, and 10 o’clock positions. This creates a slightly squarish look to the setting and will help squarish cuts like princess, Asscher, cushion, and even radiant look more square. But they also look lovely on an oval cut diamond, as seen with our Permelia. A classic three-stone engagement ring with sleek, claw-shaped prongs.
However, prongs can also be mounted in a north-east-south-west orientation where the prongs are at 12, 3, 6, and 9 o’clock. This is often referred to as a compass setting or kite setting and can look great with a lot of different cuts, offering a modern and unexpected look. The only drawback is that the compass setting makes it a bit harder for a wedding band to sit flush next to the engagement ring.
We’ve featured the compass setting on our Bianca - Oval. A glorious princess cut diamond is surrounded by clusters of sparkling diamonds in a variety of round sizes. For the compass setting itself, we chose v-shaped prongs to really highlight the points of the diamond.
Round diamond in a four prong ring vs. six prong engagement ring
Oval diamond in a 4 vs. 6 prong setting
When to Choose a 6 Prong Setting
With a 6 prong setting, the immediate benefit is a more secure setting. If a prong were to break in a 6 prong setting, it’s very unlikely that the stone would fall out because the other five are holding it in place. This also means that the girdle – the space between the top and bottom of the gemstone – is better protected as well. With a 4 prong setting, there’s simply more risk to the gemstone should a prong break.
The 6 prong setting itself was actually designed and introduced by famed jewelry house Tiffany over 125 years ago. It was created to accompany their iconic solitaire, round brilliant diamond engagement ring. The individual prongs in a 6 prong setting are often lighter and thinner in order to minimize coverage on the gemstone. You can see this feature in our Isabella, a classic 6 prong engagement ring set with a stunning round brilliant cut diamond.
When a round diamond is set in a 6 prong setting, the effect of the prong placement enhances the roundness of the stone and can make it appear larger. But it doesn’t always have a pleasing effect on one fancy shaped diamond, the oval cut. Placing prongs at the north and south positions on an oval cut would make the oval start to visually resemble a marquise cut. The prongs would give the diamond the appearance of having the elongated points of the marquise.
If you’re considering a larger diamond, especially when getting upwards of 3 carats, a 6 prong setting would likely be more desirable. Gemstones of that size and larger can get a big benefit from the more secure and durable setting offered by the 6 prong setting. It can even be a nice theme for the ring as you can see in our Guadeloupe. This vintage-inspired three-stone diamond engagement ring features a 3 carat round brilliant center stone flanked by two smaller round brilliant cut diamonds, all set with 6 prong settings.
As with most choices regarding your engagement ring, whether you choose a 4 prong setting or a 6 prong setting will likely come down to personal preference. Just remember that the main purpose of prongs is to securely hold the center stone in place. So, work with a jeweler known for high quality workmanship and you should get a ring that is durable and beautiful.
Three stone six prong set ring
Oval diamond in a 4 vs. 6 prong setting