Setting the stage...
You’ve finally chosen the perfect diamond! Its cut is excellent, the clarity and color are stunning, and it’s even within the range of carat weight you were hoping for. 👉🏻You’ve stayed within budget, and you’re ready for the next big question: what type of setting should you get for your diamond?
A diamond’s setting is almost as important as the center stone. But there are so many settings to choose from, so how do you know which one is right for you?
Let’s discuss 15+ popular setting styles and how to choose the right one for you.
What is a ring setting?
The purpose of ring settings
A ring setting is a critical part of your jewelry piece. The setting must defend your diamond from trauma while remaining stylish. It must also place your gemstone on display and enhance its fire, brilliance, and scintillation.
The job is a tough one, and jewelry designers employ unique methods for crafting durable ring settings. While many regard ring settings as one whole unit, they typically consist of two pieces.
- The first part, the shank, is the round band of the ring that will fit around the wearer’s finger. The shank must be strong yet comfortable, and it can be made out of any material. However, gold, platinum, palladium, and silver are typically used to create engagement rings.
- The next part, the gallery, is the center of the shank that holds your gemstone in place. Typically, galleries are made of precious metals so gemstones are protected.
Ring settings: more than just engagement jewelry
While engagement rings are the most common type of ring, there are ring settings for any occasion.🌞 These settings would look just as lovely in casual or formal settings, and examples can include wedding bands, promise rings, anniversary bands, and even just fashion rings to wear daily. When it comes to primary gemstones, there are many vibrant options you can choose in place of a diamond. Popular options include sapphires, emeralds, rubies, morganite, tanzanite, aquamarine, and more!
There are also many ways to classify ring settings. You could divide them by band style, the method used to secure the diamonds, side stones, etc. Each ring setting is unique and comes with its own benefits and challenges. For instance, some enhance the sparkle of a diamond while others offer more protection. ✅Which setting is right for you comes down to what you value most in a ring.
15+ popular ring setting types
So which ring setting style is right for you? Here are 15+ popular types of ring settings for any occasion:
The most popular diamond ring setting, the prong setting—a typical solitaire ring setting—is the perfect way to show off a beautiful gemstone. Four to six prongs hold the diamond within the gallery, keeping it firmly in place. It’s a great round diamond setting, but it can hold any diamond shape with grace and ease!
The shape and amount of prongs vary based on setting style and diamond shape. Settings with six prongs provide a sturdier hold that is great for larger stones or active lifestyles. On the other hand, four-prong settings offer solid security while giving your diamond more light to sparkle. With fancy shaped diamonds, the clawed prongs may also be V-shaped.
You’ll love the fire and brilliance offered by the prong setting, but you do have to take care of it. 💡Because the diamond is set higher and is less protected, make sure you bring your piece to the jeweler yearly to have the prongs checked and tightened.
If you snag your rings on clothes other fabrics, consider the bezel setting for your ring. Modern and sophisticated, the bezel setting nestles your gemstone within the confines of a metal ring. The ring molds to the outer edges of your stone, providing protection and style.
Despite its contemporary appeal, a full bezel setting conceals about 10% of a diamond. That means less light for proper scintillation. However, half bezel settings, which only cover two sides of a gemstone, are a good option to keep the bezel style without losing any sparkle.
Bezel settings are great for any occasion, so opt for a colored gemstone instead of a diamond. Yellow gold bezel settings accentuate red and green gemstones, while white metal bezel settings enhance white gemstones. Or, choose a band setting with bezel edges. For wedding ring settings, try a matching bezel set engagement ring and wedding band for a refined yet bold statement!
Buyers with daring personalities may love the tension setting. In a tension setting, the dimensions of the diamond are measured to create a band that holds the stone in place with pressure. The band may be straight or stylized.
If a tension setting seems too risky, you may love the tension style setting. It’s a hybrid of the tension and bezel settings, providing suspension while still securing the gemstone within the band.
Both settings require thicker bands, so you may not like this setting if you choose a smaller gemstone. However, both settings maximize light reflection to provide a brilliant sparkle. You also may want to ensure you know what size you need, as these settings are difficult to resize. A high-quality gem is also recommended, because there are no hiding imperfections with these open settings!
Extremely popular, the halo setting is a secure option with a decadent display of sparkle.📈 The design includes a center stone surrounded by smaller diamonds. These diamonds may be pavé, micro-pavé, or even channel or invisible set. A small diamond can look much larger when embraced by a ring of smaller stones, and you can even opt for double or triple halos for added effect!
While the center stone of a halo setting is traditionally a diamond, new trends utilizing other gemstones have become increasingly popular. Sapphires and morganite are beloved options, and the halo can also include colored stones, such as pink diamonds.
Halos look great on every gemstone shape, and pear, oval, and marquise shapes are the newest additions to the halo trend. For a unique engagement setting, consider the flower setting. Delicate and bright, the halo on this setting resembles the petals of a flower. Or, try the infinity setting, with its two interlinked bands that signify eternal love.
Pavé derives from the French word for “paved”. Pavé settings include rows of smaller diamonds that accent the band or halo of a ring setting. These smaller diamonds fit into tiny holes across the band, and they’re secured with beads of metal. There are also “micro-pavé” settings, which include even more delicate diamonds!
Wearers who love sparkle will adore the pavé setting. Plus, because smaller diamonds keep the total carat weight rather low, you can add sparkle via pavé diamonds for significantly less of your budget. Pavé settings are also versatile, creating timeless, romantic looks or dynamic, modern pieces.
Despite its beauty, the pavé setting can be delicate for someone with an active lifestyle. Beads are not as strong as prongs, and so the smaller diamonds may fall out over time. 💡However, if you bring your ring for routine checks with a reputable jeweler, all should be well.
Pavé settings are great for any occasion, not just engagement jewelry! Add a beautiful sapphire or emerald to a pavé band for deep, rich color.
If you crave security and sparkle, try a channel setting. In a channel setting, a large groove is cut into the band of the ring. Jewelers set the diamonds close together within the channel, which protects them from damage. The channel setting offers a deeper, smoother place for the diamonds to sit, helping wearers avoid snagging or losing any stones.
For maximum security, opt for princess cut diamonds in your channel setting. Square shaped stones sit flush against one another, creating a solid wall of diamonds. It helps for cleaning purposes as well!
Channel settings are great for all occasions, but they’re a perfect gift for anniversaries.🎁 Stackable, channel set bands are a great way to celebrate another decade with your significant other, and they can be worn around an engagement ring or separately.
Consider the elegant, decadent look of a cluster setting, which won’t break the bank! A cluster setting includes one larger diamond surrounded by several smaller stones or a group of small stones with no center gem. These gemstones are close together to look as though they all sparkle as one large gem.
While the gemstones used for a cluster setting are typically round, there is also a “quad” variation for those who prefer square gems. Jewelers can even place the princess cut diamonds in a quad so close together that they look like one large stone!
If you’re a fan of the Twilight movies, you’ll recognize this cluster style setting. That’s right, it’s Bella Swan’s engagement ring! Bella’s ring is a popular example of the refinement the cluster setting provides.
While the lower price tag of a cluster setting is appealing, there is one major drawback to this style. Because so many smaller diamonds are used to create the cluster effect, many of them are often lower quality gems that may not shine as brightly as anticipated. If you’re interested in quality diamonds, you may want to check out similar settings, like the halo style.
The cathedral setting offers a stunning display of old-world beauty. Just like the graceful arches of a cathedral, long arches of metal elevate your gemstone high above the band, making the stone appear larger. This setting also allows more light to reach diamonds, enhancing brilliance.
Cathedral settings are ideal for solitaire designs, but they can be customized to fit each wearer. While cathedral settings typically require prongs, designers may also use a bezel or tension setting instead. Accent stones, filigree, engraving, and milgrain are other ways buyers can personalize their cathedral settings.
However, be wary of this setting if you are rough with your jewelry. The cathedral setting often snags and is susceptible to scratches and dents because the stone is set so high!
The antique or vintage setting is a piece with an abundance of character.
While “vintage” usually refers to fashion from the past, these settings can be old pieces with history or new ones designed to look like vintage jewelry. Antique settings take inspiration from the Victorian, Edwardian, and Art Deco periods.
These settings include insane amounts of detail, from filigree and milgrain to tons of smaller diamonds surrounding the main stone. They include elements from halos, clusters, three-stone styles, and just about any other setting you can think of.
There are a couple of drawbacks to antique and vintage settings. First, they can be a bit difficult to clean due to the intricate beading, twisting, and other elements. Additionally, these settings cost some serious cash if you’re not careful. Authentic antique pieces from auction houses can be quite expensive, and even a new version can be pricey due to the amount of work put into each piece.
Multi-stone settings allow for unlimited customization options. Multi-stone settings typically refer to either two stone or three stone designs. For the three-stone style, the side gems can be the same size as the center stone or a bit smaller to make the center stone look larger.
Multi-stone rings are beautiful engagement ring settings or anniversary gifts, as they symbolize a couple’s past, present, and future together.📝 Two stone styles are ideal for promise rings or holiday gifts for a loved one, and they can symbolize two hearts united as one.
You’ll love the customization options of this setting! Any color gemstone makes for a perfect side or center gem, and stone shapes range from the classic round and princess cuts to pear, oval, and even heart shapes.
Multi-stone rings are popular among celebrities, and some have become icons themselves. Meghan Markle’s three stone ring is classy and romantic. On the other side of fashion, Emily Ratajkowski’s bold statement engagement ring style includes two massive stones in different shapes to create contrast.
The split-shank setting is ideal for those who like a little something extra without paying more. In this setting, both sides of the band split as they approach the diamond, creating negative space.
Because the opening in the shank widens as it approaches the center stone, gems appear much larger in a split-shank setting. You can also purchase a diamond-encrusted band, creating additional sparkle for your piece.
Split-shank designs look great in everyday fashion as well. For example, David Yurman has a wonderful selection of elegant split-shank jewelry for all occasions. Split-shanks look great with any gemstone, and their broader width makes them perfect for larger hands.
The invisible setting offers a glamorous style through the art of illusion. In this setting, square diamonds are set flush against each other to look like a larger stone. However, the invisible setting appears to have no metal to hold these diamonds in, almost as if they could fall out at any moment!😁
This look is achieved through a particular metal setting beneath the cluster of diamonds. Designers carve tiny grooves into each diamond’s girdle, and these grooves attach the diamond to the unseen metal setting.
The invisible setting can help you save money by purchasing smaller diamonds, and they’re easy to clean. However, due to the metal construction under the gems, just keep in mind it won't shine as brightly as some of the other settings on this list.
However, you might not like the process of repairing this style if anything does happen to cause damage. Because each spot in the metal setting is crafted for a specific diamond, replacing a stone that falls out can be difficult. Additionally, resizing is complicated due to the large surface area of the diamond setting, meaning you have to get the size right the first time!
Somewhere between the tension and channel settings lies the bar setting. For a bar setting, designers surround two sides of a gemstone with metal. As a result, the diamonds appear suspended in the setting, and the stones can be round, baguette, or any shape.
Because the diamonds are not completely surrounded by metal like in a channel setting, they receive more light and sparkle more efficiently. However, the setting is also more secure than the tension setting, making it a good choice for those who work with their hands.
For active wearers who require more security, consider the flush setting. Also known as the hammer or gypsy setting, the flush setting involves a jeweler hammering the metal around a chosen diamond to keep it in place.
Flush settings are great for anyone worried about losing a diamond. They’re ideal for men’s wedding bands, and they only utilize smaller diamonds due to the necessary hammering.
However, if you like a brilliant diamond, you may not like the flush setting. Because the stone is set deep within the band, it’s not as bright as it would be in other settings.
The eternity setting is a common wedding band style for women. For eternity settings, diamonds encircle the entire band, creating an eternal sparkling hoop.
Although diamonds are most commonly used in eternity bands, you can also find versions with sapphires, rubies, emeralds, and other semi-precious stones. Any gemstone shines beautifully in an eternity band, which gives stones the necessary room to scintillate.
Despite the beauty of this setting, it’s a bit impractical. You may not like the diamonds that sit on the inside of your finger, as they’re constantly subject to much more abuse. In fact, it’s not uncommon to lose diamonds in an eternity band, and they cannot easily be resized.
Can I purchase a personalized ring setting?
What happens if you’ve searched for the perfect ring and haven’t found a style you like? Designer ring settings and custom pieces are both ways you can get the ring of your dreams!
Designer ring settings from retailers
Many retailers offer designer collections of ring settings from which you can choose. These designer settings may be offered by the retailer themselves as a collection, or they may be the product of a hand-selected designer who creates pieces for those who prefer something different.
Here are a few online retailers who carry designer lines:👇🏻
The James Allen “Unique” collection is their take on designer rings. In addition to their “Unique” line, James Allen also offers designer pieces from Verragio, Jeff Cooper, Martin Flyer, and Danhov, all of whom strive to provide stunning, quality settings.
Blue Nile also offers their own takes on classic favorites with the “Blue Nile Studio” designer collection. Similar to James Allen, Blue Nile partners with refined designers to offer dazzling collections that are sure to please. Noted designers include Monique Lhuillier, ZAC Zac Posen, The Gallery Collection, and Bella Vaughan.
Dedicated to ethically sourced diamonds, Brilliant Earth is a wonderful option for eco-friendly shoppers. Brilliant Earth carries several collections of carefully designed pieces, with whimsical names like P.S., Nature X, and Enchant.
Custom ring settings
If nothing seems to catch your eye while ring shopping, consider designing your own!😎 There are several shops that will help you craft a one-of-a-kind ring setting suited to your liking. Here are a few retailers who offer custom ring setting design services:
Equipped with a team of experienced design consultants, Custom Made can breathe life into any ring setting idea. Custom Made promises “only happy tears” once your ring is complete, and they’ll work with you to redesign the setting until it is exactly to your liking. Their gallery of recent customer engagement photos shows they’re dedicated to their craft!
To make designing your ring simple, Ritani has an online form you can fill out with all of your desired details. You can even send them links to settings that have inspired you, and they will create a CAD image from your links.
Whether you’re looking for a unique gemstone or a design all your own, James Allen can help you out. The process can be done in as little as 30 days, and the James Allen team promises satisfaction and the design of your dreams.
Taylor & Hart
Their complimentary custom design services and quick turnaround time make Taylor & Hart a great starting point for shoppers short on time. In fact, designs can be completed in as little as 17 days!
If you want to exercise ethical practices in your jewelry search, Brilliant Earth can help you create an eco-friendly ring setting. Brilliant Earth promises beyond conflict-free products, recycled precious materials, and compassionate business practices that include donating 5% of profits.
Jared can help you design an affordable custom engagement ring setting. Jared’s team of Jewelry Experts can meet with you in person during the process to discuss your design and ensure it is to your liking. They also work with heirloom stones and engraving for a personal touch.
5 things to consider when choosing a ring setting
There are a few key factors to keep in mind when searching for a new ring setting, and they can help guide you on your buying journey. Here are 5 factors to consider when choosing a ring setting:📝
Setting durability and wearing habits
Do you work with your hands? Does your clothing always seem to snag on your jewelry? Do you workout frequently? Your level of activity can influence the security your ring requires, and metals and settings differ greatly in durability.🤸🏻♀️
If you’re looking to buy an engagement ring, you’ll ideally want to wear your piece every moment you can. Platinum, palladium and 14K yellow, rose, or white gold are durable metals that you can use in almost any setting.
When looking for something sturdy, opt for prong, bezel, and flush settings. These settings will protect your gemstone from chips and scratches. Halo settings can also be durable depending on the method used to secure the stones, although the accent stones may fall out if you’re not careful.
Overall, if you’re concerned about the safety of your center stone, select a setting that doesn’t lift your gem too high up out of the setting. Cathedral, tension, and some antique settings may elevate your diamond too much, and if you’re not careful you could cause some damage!
Do you prefer classic, round diamonds? Or are you into modern cuts like pear, oval, and marquise?
Different diamond shapes look better in certain settings, so make sure you choose a setting that accentuates your gemstone’s features.
Prong and halo settings can accommodate any gemstone shape, as their simple designs are incredibly versatile. Both highlight a gemstone’s best features and allow for optimal sparkle. Channel, pavé, and bezel settings also offer security for any gemstone shape. In contrast, flush and cluster settings offer limited options for fancy gemstone shapes, as their need for smaller diamonds limits choices to typical silhouettes.
If you’re looking for a trendy option, consider prong or halo settings with pear, marquise, or oval-shaped diamonds. These settings offer plenty of opportunities for customization!
Potential wedding band options
If you’re buying an engagement ring, you should think about what type of wedding band you want to wear with it.
Some people opt for a matching set with similar setting styles. Having a matching set creates a cohesive look that exudes elegance and timeless beauty.
However, some people like to switch things up and go for a bold look. By mixing and matching settings and gemstone colors, you can create a look that’s uniquely your own!
Try a pavé setting with a solid gold band for classic yet eye-catching appeal. Or, try two different metals, to switch things up. You can also choose a solid metal solitaire setting and then add a wedding band filled with diamonds. Whatever you decide, make sure it’s in line with your personal taste.
So how much does a ring setting cost? If you need to be budget-conscious, make sure you weigh your options when it comes to settings. Ideally, you’ll want to put most of your budget into a high-quality diamond, but save a bit of money for a durable setting that can last for years to come.
💡Look for settings with fewer diamonds or accent stones, as solid metal bands tend to be cheaper. Prong, bezel, cathedral, and tension settings all have solid metal options. If you can’t afford the high price tag of a platinum ring setting but still want a white metal, white gold is always a great option for settings. Additionally, avoid spending extra money for 18K gold, as it is softer than 14K and will require more upkeep in the long run.
If you need to save a bit more money, look into yellow gold and rose gold ring settings. Because these metals are less popular and have different materials mixed in their alloys, they tend to sell for slightly lower prices. Plus, they offer a stylish, romantic look that is sure to please most brides!😊
Your (or your fiancée’s) personal style
Making sure your ring fits your style or that of the potential wearer is crucial to buying the right setting. Think about what you want in your new piece or what your fiancée would enjoy, and make a list of features you can look for.
Do you prefer a timeless look that can go with any outfit? Prong and bezel settings are great options for those who prefer an understated look with less bling. Or, does your fiancée like all things that glitter? Halo, pavé, channel, and cluster settings offer extra sparkle with a decadent flair. If you’re someone who prefers to stand out, you may like a tension setting or a vintage piece with milgrain or engraving.
Ring setting FAQ
Here are some frequently asked questions about ring settings that you may be asking yourself:
Which ring settings increase a diamond’s sparkle?
To increase your diamond’s sparkle, you’ll want to ensure it’s elevated within the setting. A diamond’s sparkle comes from the light refracting off its facets, shining through the table of the stone. To increase the amount of light filtering through the stone, you’ll need to keep as much metal away from it as possible.
- The settings that will enhance gemstone sparkle the most are the prong, cathedral, and tension settings. These three settings lift the stone out of the band, which creates plenty of opportunities for light to pass through the gem.
- Another way to increase sparkle is to add more diamonds to the mix. The more diamonds on a piece, the more sparkle all around! Halo, pavé, channel, cluster, multi-stone, and some antique settings add side or accent stones to your piece that will enhance its shine.
What if I want a colored gemstone for my ring? How can I choose the right setting?
You can highlight your colored gemstone’s depth and saturation by choosing the right metal for your setting.
- Yellow gold settings with fewer diamonds, such as solitaire prong or tension settings, are perfect for showing off the depth of a ruby or emerald.
- Similarly, white gold has the same effect on sapphires, tanzanites, and other deep stones.
- Finally, rose gold looks stunning when paired with morganite, pearls, and pink or champagne diamonds.
You can also offset the color of your stone with accent or side stones. Three stone, vintage, pavé, halo, and channel settings that incorporate smaller, white diamonds around a colored center stone can brighten its hue, creating a fiery brilliance and unique look!
Can the right ring setting make my lower quality diamond look brighter?
✅Yes, the right setting can make any diamond look higher quality! Choose the right setting for your chosen diamond, as it’s important to highlight its best features.
If your diamond is anywhere in the range of D to H color, adding a white gold or platinum setting will further illuminate it. For diamonds lower on the color scale, try a yellow gold or rose gold band to make the gem look brighter.
You can also hide imperfections in clarity with the right setting. Settings with multiple diamonds, such as halo, pavé, three stone, and antique settings, can improve both the color and clarity of your diamond by detracting from these qualities with the shine of multiple accent stones. Prong and bezel settings can also hide imperfections that are off-center within the diamond’s table, as the metal keeping the diamond in place will conceal them.
What if I want a softer stone like a pearl? What type of setting will properly protect it?
With softer stones that score a 5 or below on the Mohs Scale, it’s crucial that you choose a setting that will protect them. These gemstones can crack, chip, scratch, or take other forms of damage very easily, and so you should choose a setting that offers maximum protection.
The most secure settings for softer stones are bezel, halo, and antique settings. These settings offer extra rings of metal protection that properly secure the edges of your stone. A three-stone setting can also work if the soft stone is nestled safely in the center.
The worst settings for soft stones are prong, tension, and cathedral settings, as they lift these softer stones higher into the path of danger. Stay away from these settings if you’re looking at pearls, opals, amber, fluorite, azurite, and other soft stones.
What if I have smaller/larger hands? How will my ring setting affect my overall aesthetic?
The size of your hand and fingers plays a role in the appeal of your ring setting. Make sure you choose a setting that best fits your or your fiancée’s hand type!✋🏻
A solitaire or halo setting that has a long silhouetted stone—think pear, oval, marquise, or emerald—can add length to tiny fingers and further elongate slender fingers. Smaller hands also benefit from bezel settings, and a white bezel with a round white diamond can make the gem appear larger on a smaller hand.
If you have larger fingers or knuckles, try a three-stone or halo setting to conceal more of your skin. If you choose a setting that is too thin or delicate, it can make your hand look swollen. In the case of three-stone and halo settings, your fingers will appear smaller while your gemstones look larger!
Band thickness can also play a role in how a setting looks on your hand. Thinner bands or those with micro-pavé stones make smaller hands appear more delicate. In contrast, larger bands or those with larger silhouettes are better suited for bigger hands that can draw more attention.
Setting the tone: choose the right ring setting for your needs
Choosing a ring setting can be as personal as selecting a diamond. Metal, style, and detailing are all important factors that can change the personality of your piece. To ensure your ring setting is exactly what you’re looking for, consider shopping around until you find a style that truly speaks to you.
Custom pieces are another great way to make sure you get exactly what you want. They tend to cost a bit more, but they’re worth the investment for a one of a kind ring!
If you need to find a diamond before shopping for a setting consider reading our articles about diamond cut, color, clarity, and carat. Or, take a look at our 1 carat diamond buying guide for more information about the most popular diamond size!