What is a Solitaire Engagement Ring?

A classic for a reason, the solitaire engagement ring was designed to showcase the beauty and distinction of a center stone. It is one of the most popular setting styles with a very traditional, simple and minimalist appeal. One of the most timeless pieces of jewelry, it will never feel outdated, and complements the look of every type of finger. There are many ways to make the iconic solitaire engagement ring feel unique and like your very own, so let’s jump into what you need to know to do that.

What Is a Solitaire Engagement Ring?

A solitaire engagement ring is a ring with a single, central gemstone – typically a diamond – unaccompanied by side stones or accent gems. This ring represents a very traditional style that has been incredibly popular since it appeared. Being this well-known and loved, there’s a lot that can influence your choice in a solitaire engagement ring:


  • - The most classic style of engagement ring that will mix perfectly with any type of personal style.
  • - The minimalist design allows all emphasis to be on the stone that you choose.
  • - The simple composition of the ring makes it very easy to clean, repair, and resize over the years.
  • - Easy to pair with a matching style of wedding band or an intricate one with additional metalwork and stones.


  • - All the focus on the center stone demands a higher quality gem.
  • - Fewer stylistic options for the setting and the band create limitations for the overall look.
  • - Higher prong settings can be more easily snagged and risk damage to the stone.
  • - The stripped down design may feel too simple and lacking personality to some.

History of the Solitaire Engagement Ring

Engagement rings have existed as far back as Ancient Roman times in 200 B.C.E. For a long time these rings were seen more as a symbol of a financial agreement and less as a romantic gesture. But Archduke Maximillian changed all that in 1477 with a specially designed ring for his betrothed, Mary of Burgundy. It featured long, narrowly-set diamonds that made the shape of a letter ‘M’ – the first documented time diamonds appeared in an engagement ring. While not a solitaire setting, it heavily influenced the concept of engagement rings that would lead to the solitaire setting.

Diamonds would be a popular choice for engagement rings forever after that moment. However, it was famed jeweler Tiffany & Co. that first designed the modern solitaire engagement ring setting that helps set the standard for the iconic look. The jewelers created the “Tiffany Setting” in 1886. It featured a round brilliant cut diamond in a six prong setting on a glistening metal band. This setting type was seen as the epitome of style and elegance. It took the world by storm and hasn’t let up since.

Radiant & Cushion Cut Solitaire Engagement Rings

Settings Styles for Solitaire Engagement Ring    

Solitaire engagement rings come in a variety of styles, but they can all generally be classified into three categories: prong, bezel, and tension.

Prong settings are by far the most common type of setting used for solitaire rings and it’s what will likely offer the largest variety in settings. There are many different prong styles, but most are either based on a 4 prong or 6 prong foundation. Prongs, or claws as they’re also called, surround the girdle of the diamond to hold it securely in place. The prongs don’t inhibit the amount of light that enters the diamond, creating incredible brilliance and sparkle as it refracts off of facets.

Bezel settings surround the outline of the center stone with a ring of metal that fully protects the stone. Bezel settings are fantastic options for people with an active lifestyle or who use their hands heavily in their profession. The smooth edge of the metal surrounding the stone makes it a snag-free mounting style. It’s also typically a lower-profile setting than a prong giving it added protection. A more modern look, the bezel can help the diamond look bigger and hide inclusions near the edges of the stone.

Tension settings, which we generally do not recommend, are known for their unique appearance that features two metal arms that suspend a gemstone in between them. The tension setting uses tensile force to hold the stone in place without damaging it in any way. In this setting, there is no metal underneath the stone, so it can help the stone be extra sparkly. And while it is easier to clean the stone in this setting style, it is not as protective as a prong or bezel, and it’s very difficult to use the setting to hide any imperfections in the stone. It’s also quite an uncommon technique since it requires a lot of metal, can be a bulky design, and cannot be resized since that affects the tension. For those reasons, we do not recommend this setting to our clients.

Prong multi-stone ring (left) vs. a prong solitaire ring with diamond band

Prong multi-stone ring (left) vs. a prong solitaire ring with diamond band

Modern bezel set rings with rough diamonds

Designing Your Own Solitaire Engagement Ring  

Solitaire rings are known for their minimalism, but that doesn’t mean your ring needs to be simple. Many creative solitaire engagement ring designs can feature intricate details and delicate craftsmanship. Also, any shape or cut of diamond can be an excellent choice for a solitaire engagement ring, as well as any color of metal.

Since a solitaire setting focuses entirely on the ring’s center gemstone, a high quality stone is vital for the overall appearance of the ring. Understanding how to work with the 4Cs of diamonds will help you choose the best quality stone for your preferences and for the solitaire ring style you want to achieve.

Solitaire settings do not need to be traditional in their appearance. You can opt for an east-west or compass orientation for an unexpected look. Also, metal handiwork including milgrain, filigree, and etchings are a lovely way to add some visual interest as well as additional shine to complement a diamond’s sparkle. And while it’s not a traditional part of the design, adding a pavé diamond band or peek-a-boo halo is a modern way to enhance the solitaire setting.

Prong settings are a defining feature of a traditional solitaire engagement ring and create a sophisticated look. We combined a yellow gold band with a platinum mount to hold a beautiful emerald cut diamond for two beautiful looks:
- Autry features an east-west orientation for a twist on a classic solitaire, and Mackena showcases the traditional vertical orientation.
- Pembroke features a nature-inspired look complete with hand-engraved leaf details on the band and prongs to showcase an oval cut diamond.
- Belamy is a vintage-inspired take complete with a twisted rope band and flower petal basket with small round brilliant cut diamond adornments.

We love a bezel setting for the added protection to the stone, ease of wearability, and unique possibilities to add a personal touch.
- Estefania features small round diamonds line a rose gold band leading to a hand carved bezel mount holding a stunning oval cut diamond, a more embellished take on a classic bezel cut like Katie.
Marlowe features a nature-inspired band complete with an engraved, bark texture and leaf adornments flanking a round brilliant cut diamond.
Cordelia embellishes a .50 carat oval diamond with a milgrained bezel and intricate filigree work throughout for a supremely elegant look.

Tension settings are an incredibly interesting look, and we like adding the additional security of a half-prong setting. With Lexi, we placed a beautiful pear cut diamond supported by three prongs in a pavé-set band with a bypass, tension-inspired design. Kylie features the bypass design once again with a gorgeous 1.0 carat round brilliant cut diamond and a high polish band. Then for Aurora, we made the tension-inspired bypass design more subtle with an elegantly sculptural, wave-like band that contours to the finger as it showcases an oval cut diamond.

The solitaire diamond engagement ring is a classic for a reason – it will truly never go out of style. And with so many options for how you can design your ring from a traditional look to a modern twist, a solitaire engagement ring is sure to turn heads and be loved for a lifetime.

Have questions? We're happy to help.