How to Buy an Engagement Ring

The Diamond Setting

The Setting

The setting is essentially a small pocket that the diamond sits inside of. Remember the princess cut diamond we talked about in the previous page? You can see here below that it is affixed to the ring with 4 metal prongs. Its also ringed at the base by metal as well. The prongs and ring base are part of the setting. It’s called the setting because this is where you “set” the diamond, and fix it to the ring.

OK, so that’s it right? Not quite. In addition to knowing what a setting is, you’ll have to choose between a few types of setting styles.


Number of Prongs

Engagement ring settings typically use 4 or 6 prongs. Here are pictures of 4 and 6 prong setting rings.

Now what’s the big deal? Who cares if a ring has 6 or 4 prongs?

Prongs & Diamond Brilliance

First, prong settings affect the amount of light that is passing through a diamond (also known as brilliance). Diamonds look great and sparkly when light is passing through them and being bent by its many surfaces (or facets). Now prongs are a necessary cage to keep the diamond on the ring, but it covers some of the diamond, reducing the amount of light passing through. The best ring settings let the most light through by minimizing prong coverage over the diamond.

So why don’t diamond makers use fewer prongs? Why 4 or 6? Why not 2 or 3? Well with fewer prongs, the diamond is less secure. Additionally, prongs need to be strong enough to hold the diamond for decades. If jewelers use fewer prongs, each prong must be thicker, often times leading to less light getting into the diamond. After a lot of trial and error, jewelers found that 4 prongs tend to work pretty well. In the late 1800s, Tiffany & Co. invented the 6 prong setting, which allowed them to use slimmer prongs. They claim that this allows more light to pass through the diamond. Does that claim hold up? Check out some 6-prong settings below to judge for yourself. Ever since Tiffany introduced the 6 prong setting, most engagement rings feature 4 or 6 prongs.

Prongs & Diamond Framing

Now one of the other main aesthetic differences between a 4 and 6 prong setting is how they “frame” the diamond. To demonstrate I’ve put the 4 and 6 prong settings side by side, and added some “shape suggestions” to show you what I mean about how each prong setting frames the diamond.

The 4 prong setting puts a square frame around your diamond. – If you didn’t see it before, it should be pretty clear after seeing this picture how the 4 prongs make the diamond appear square.

The 6 prong setting gives the diamond both a circular and star like shape. – While aesthetics is a matter of opinion, there is a general consensus that the 6 prong setting imparts the shape of both a circle and a star to a diamond.

So now that we know about prong settings and aesthetics, what should we do? Which one is better? Which one should I choose?

My Opinion: Which prong setting should you choose (4 or 6 prong)? It depends. there are great 4 prong settings, and awful 6 prong settings. Be aware of how prongs frame the diamond, and then be open to both setting types.

I don’t think there is a “better” option per say. There are both good and bad 4 prong settings.

Notice I didn’t talk about any other prong numbers. That is because, you should avoid them.

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bakshijoon • February 10, 2019

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