Have you ever wondered why you can look at two rings with very similar center diamond stones and love one, but not really care for the other? That’s the power of the ring’s setting. The type of engagement ring setting you choose has everything to do with your own personal flair, likes and dislikes, and what just makes you smile when you look at it. So we’re breaking down exactly what you need to know about ring setting types so you can pick the best one for you.
Complete Guide to Ring Settings
What is a Ring Setting?
An engagement ring’s setting refers to the entirety of the ring. In particular, the focus is on how the ring’s gemstones are mounted, or held in place. A ring is made up of a lot of parts, but the two most important to grasp for the setting are the head and the shank. The head of the ring describes the top of the ring that includes the gemstones. The shank is often also called the band as it is the part of the ring that encircles the finger.
Ring settings are varied and each comes with its own pros and cons. Some use less metal and may feel light, airy, and elegant while others are more intricate with added metalwork. Some are designed with a low-profile and more durability while others elevate the stone so it stands front and center off your finger. When it comes to ring settings, whatever your personal preferences, there will be at least one that should strike your fancy.
Types of Ring Settings
For engagement ring settings, it can be easy to get caught up in the variety and pros and cons until you’re overwhelmed. But focus on your first impressions, what fits your lifestyle, and what just makes you incredibly joyful to look at it, and you can’t go wrong. First, we'll explain the different types of methods gemstone is held in place to the ring.
Prong settings are easily the most well-known and classic solitaire engagement ring setting. It commonly features 4 or 6 metal prongs that hold the stone in place. They gently curve over the stone’s surface to securely hold it in place. There are many options for the design and look of the prong, and while they’re all secure, some are more secure than others. A favorite feature of the prong setting is that the placement of the prongs allow for maximum light return from a diamond, thus enhancing its brilliance. Additionally, the versatility of prongs allow for different placement options. Traditionally, prongs are placed at the 2, 4, 8 and 10 o’clock locations, but the compass setting, where the prongs are placed at 12, 3, 6 and 9 o’clock, has become increasingly popular as a subtly unexpected look.
The basket setting is a type of prong setting that has an additional feature added to the prongs to help secure the center stone. Horizontal bands wrap around the vertical prongs creating a visual ‘basket’ to cradle the gemstone. A ring with a basket setting will typically sit lower on the finger than a traditional prong setting, offering more security along with the added durability of reinforced prongs from the basket.
A super sophisticated and classic look, the cathedral setting uses sweeping arcs extending from the shank to the outer mount of the center stone. They have a decidedly sculpted look based on the stunning architecture of the Gothic era of design. The elegance of the cathedral setting is very unique and can allow for additional hidden details in the crown of the ring. It’s also an ideal way to accentuate the center stone as it allows the ring to sit higher off the finger.
Prong setting ring
Basket setting ring
Cathedral setting ring
Often confused for the cathedral setting, the trellis setting features prongs that interweave or overlap creating a distinctive X at the bottom of the setting where the mounting connects with the shank. It’s a distinctly elegant look that is nonexistent unless viewing the ring from a profile angle, so it’s often appreciated as a subtle way to add some intrigue that doesn’t detract from the center stone. Also similar to the cathedral setting though, the trellis also provides small crevices for dirt and debris to build up, so it’s more work to keep clean.
The bezel setting has achieved its popularity due to how securely it holds a gemstone in place. In a very modern and clean look, the bezel encircles the center stone with a thin metal rim that is custommade to hold the stone tightly in place. Since it’s custom to each stone, any shape and size of center stone can be accommodated in either a full or partial bezel. This is an ideal setting type for active lifestyles or those whose professions involve a constant use of their hands.
The channel setting features a row of gemstones sandwiched together between two horizontal parallel channels for part or all of the ring’s band. The unique feature is that there’s no metal separating the gemstones and they’re held securely in place by a small lip of metal at the top of the channels. The channel setting creates a smooth look of unobstructed stones that are quite protected within the setting, although they may be slightly less brilliant and sparkly.
A tension setting is quite unique incorporating the tension of the metal band to secure the center stone in place. The resulting look is that the gemstone appears delicately suspended between the split shank of the band. This setting requires exact calibrations of the stone’s dimensions so that tiny grooves can be cut into the band to hold the stone in place with a precise pressure. People who love this setting type will most often opt for a tension-style setting to achieve some added security for the gemstone. These setting types achieve the look of a tension setting, but they use a bezel or prong on the side or underneath to firmly anchor the gemstone.
Trellis setting ring
Bezel setting ring
Channel set ring
Types of Ring Setting Layouts & Design Elements
The following are also often referred to as ring settings, but we'd like to distinguish them from the mechanism that holds the gemstone in place (see above) - and refer to these as ring setting layouts. Ring setting layouts differ from ring settings in that they describe the overall look or effect of a ring, and can also be combined together.
The halo ring setting features one center stone framed with small round diamonds that increase the appearance and overall sparkle of the ring. The term ‘halo’ calls to mind an ethereal look, which is a big plus for those wanting a romantic style with a big visual impact. The halo can be achieved in multiple ways including hidden halos which offer a more subtle effect with the diamond surround beneath the center stone rather than around it. The halo setting is incredibly versatile, capable of being incorporated with a multitude of mounting types like prong, basket, cathedral and trellis. And there’s nothing stopping you from going for a big look with a double halo or even vintage-inspired sunbursts.
A very popular setting method, pavé involves rows of tiny stones fit into holes that place them level with the surface of the ring. The result is an incredibly sparkly setting that looks like a road paved with diamonds, hence the French word for paved, ‘pavé, naming this setting. This setting is a perfect accompaniment to any center stone since it adds a stunning visual impact without drawing the attention away from the centerpiece. As a decorative effect to any combination of setting types, pavé can add a lot of visual appeal by accentuating gemstones or metalwork like filigree or milgrain. However, because of their small and intricate setting, pavé-set diamonds are more susceptible to loosening and falling out of the setting.
Oval halo ring
Double halo ring
Pavè detail, decorative basket ring
A solitaire setting features a single gemstone in the mounting at the head of the ring with just a metal band for the shank to complete the look. Some have narrower bands which will have the effect to make the stone appear larger and compliment small fingers. However, thicker bands will allow for more options in the way the diamond is set. The most common type of setting for a solitaire ring is a prong or basket setting, but a solitaire can actually be accomplished with many of the types of ring settings.
A three-stone ring features a larger center stone that is flanked on either side by two usually slightly smaller stones of equal size in a complimentary shape to the center stone. The center stone is customarily set in a raised mounting so the ring’s composition focuses the visual interest on that stone leaving the flanking stones as accents. Many love this type of setting for the incredible sparkle you can achieve and also for its versatility; it’s a perfect option for including some color with sapphire, ruby, or emerald side stones.
Most traditional engagement rings feature a single band supporting varying design compositions for the center stone mount and any accenting stones. But there are rings with more elaborate designs involving the shank of the ring. The most common is the split shank where around mid-finger, the band on either side splits into two separate shanks that continue to shift further apart as they culminate around the center stone at the head of the ring. It’s a unique and unexpected look that brings focus to the center stone and can make it appear larger.
Pear solitaire ring with pavè band
Three stone ring with leaf + v-prong setting
Split shank ring, with prong setting
How To Pick Your Ring Setting
Choosing the perfect ring setting for you depends on what center stone you choose and your own personal style and preferences. Most traditional diamond engagement ring settings have 4 prongs holding the stone in place, but you may want to opt for 6 prongs if your center stone is larger or you want something more secure. Our Isabella is the perfect example of a 6 prong setting being a perfect match for a lovely round brilliant cut diamond.
Considering your daily habits and the types of leisure activities you tend to enjoy is always a great place to start. If you are pretty active and use your hands a lot in your profession, opting for a low-profile setting or something like a bezel or channel setting will help protect your ring from bumps and bangs while also making sure it doesn’t easily snag on clothes or furniture. Our Hanem combines a low-profile bezel set diamond in a three-stone ring setting that would perfectly fit this bill.
If you really want to amplify the size of your center stone, a halo setting or three-stone ring will help maximize the apparent size. Any sort of halo setting that features smaller diamonds surrounding the center stone will make that stone look larger to the naked eye. Similarly, a three-stone ring will take up more surface area on your finger, thus making the stones look larger. In a beautiful sunburst halo, our Caldonia highlights a lovely center diamond with a double halo of mixed diamond shapes and sizes.
And if maximum sparkle is your aim, consider a pavé band paired with a solitaire stone in a prong or cathedral setting. The addition of smaller diamonds, especially on the shank, will illuminate your ring from all angles and give the illusion of a strikingly bright ring. Adding a prong or cathedral setting lifts the center stone up and gives maximum light return. Our Adelane pulls a cathedral setting together with a pavé-set shank for a stunning, bright and shiny ring.
Once you’ve narrowed your search to some types of ring settings that you like and work for your lifestyle, consider how often you’ll want to realistically clean and perform maintenance on your ring and how you’d like to pair a wedding band with it, and you should be able to come to the perfect ring setting for you!