Prong settings: sturdy, affordable, and bright...
One of the most recognizable ring styles is the prong setting. Simple but elegant, this setting is the top choice for engagement rings today.🏆 There are even prong setting wedding bands to match!
The prong setting is a surefire way to make any diamond shine brilliantly.
If you’re considering a prong setting for your next piece or an engagement ring, it’s important to find one that suits your needs and personal style. 💡While the idea of the setting may be the same across models, there are different prong options and other factors that can change the look of a prong setting.
In this article, we will look at:
- What is a prong setting?
- What types of prong settings can I purchase?
- How prong settings compare to other settings
- Facts, care tips, and buying resources for prong setting rings
Basics: What is a prong setting?
A history of the prong setting
A popular style today, the prong setting engagement ring actually made its debut in the early 19th century. The prong setting saw an increase in popularity as diamond cutting techniques made larger and more flawless stones possible for jewelry.
Before prong settings became a hit, bezel and rub-over settings were the popular choices. However, both settings conceal diamonds within metal settings that make it impossible for a diamond to shine brightly. As such, the prong setting seemed a refined but simple way to show off larger stones.
The prong setting is a perfect example of the adage: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” While gem cutters perfected diamond cuts over decades, the prong setting has been widely the same since its introduction.
The anatomy of the prong setting
All prong settings include a shank, a spot where the center diamond sits, and long, metal strips, or “prongs”, that extend from the shank to the top of the diamond to keep it in place. This design elevates diamonds for optimal light refraction, and it amplifies fire, brilliance, and scintillation.
Prong settings typically have either four or six prongs, but they can also have as many as eight to ten.
While the claw-like structure is always the same, details differ by designer, style, etc. For instance, the four-prong solitaire setting is classic, but the famous Tiffany six-prong setting creates a more ornate feel for the simple ring setting.
Additionally, these prongs can have pointed ends like talons, rounded edges, flat tabs with no points, and even double prongs. Pieces with fancy shaped diamonds, such as marquise cut stones, may even have v-shaped prongs to protect the sharp corners of the gem.
Let’s dig further into these different styles below to better understand our options!👇🏻
Different prong styles: What are they and how do they compare?
There are TONS of prong options that can completely change the look of a ring. Here are some common and unique prong styles:
The prongs in this setting are rounded at the tip, and they are the most common style used in commercial jewelry. The small profile of the prong means you can see more of the diamond itself, providing additional shine. There are four and six-prong variations of the rounded style, though the six-prong versions offer more security.
There are even eight and ten prong versions of the setting, often found in antique pieces. They accent bold and delicate designs alike, and they’re ideal for robust settings with larger stones as they are very secure.
Double rounded prongs are another variation of this style, where two prongs are placed together at each side of the diamond. This look adds more metal to the prong, creating a stronger hold. Plus, the doubled look is great for Asscher and emerald-cut stones to protect their edges!
Bold buyers prefer the fierce look of pointed or “claw” prongs. Claw prongs are slightly longer than rounded prongs, and they have a pointed tip that accentuates a diamond’s shape. They’re a safe choice for anyone worried about prongs loosening!
If you’re not a fan of the sharp, aggressive look of claw prongs, opt for baby claws instead.🥰 With rounded bases and very short points, they provide the visibility of a rounded prong setting with a bit of edge.
Similar to the round prong, you can find double claw prongs on select pieces. This style makes the prongs look much thinner, but it also provides additional protection against damage.
Flat Tab Prongs
If you’re someone who snags your jewelry on everything, consider the flat tab prong setting. Flat tab prongs are exactly as they sound: flatter with softer edges. As such, they offer a lower profile and less tugging on clothes, hair, etc. Flat tab prongs look great on rounded diamonds, and they provide more security for larger stones.
Romantic yet simple, heart prongs take on the traditional shape of a heart, expanding the typical prong shape and adding further security. They have soft edges that help with snagging, and they look stunning as a round diamond setting.
Button prongs are great for those buyers who want to see as much of their diamond as possible. Button prongs are small, round prongs that barely hug the edges of the diamond, and they’re often used for fancy shaped diamonds such as pear, heart, and hexagon. Though they offer less protection, their soft appeal is great for anyone who prefers delicate styles.
A great way to protect pointed diamonds is v-prongs. These prongs are longer and hug the corners of a stone to defend corners against chipping. While v-prongs are ideal for fancy shapes like pear, marquise, and heart-shaped diamonds, they’re also great protection for more pointed, standard diamond shapes. In truth, princess- and other square-cut diamonds look stunning with the extra metal around their corners!
Commonly found on vintage pieces, fishtail prongs provide decorative flair. Each prong is a triplet of decorative metal that provides a bit more security than the standard round prong. Fishtail prongs make smaller diamonds appear larger, and their triplet design creates squared edges on round diamonds.
For those who like a little more sparkle, shared prongs are the way to go. Shared prongs are an economical style that allows jewelers to use the same prong to secure both the center stone and additional diamonds around it. These additional stones offer additional sparkle that doesn’t overwhelm viewers for less cost.
There is no rule saying you can’t create your own prong setting! Many jewelers offer custom prong styles or give you the opportunity to design your own, meaning the possibilities are endless.
Prong settings vs. Other solitaire ring settings
What sets the prong setting apart from other solitaire ring styles? Here are a few other common ring settings and how they compare to prong settings:
The main difference between prong and cathedral settings is the cathedral’s two “arches” that extend above the band on either side of the diamond. Both offer an uninhibited view of the center stone, and light effortlessly flows through them. Additionally, both settings elevate center stones to make a smaller diamond appear much larger, although some cathedral settings may actually lift the diamond higher than the tallest prong setting.
The things that set the cathedral setting apart are also its biggest complications. The extra metal adorning the basket of the ring can create complications during cleaning. Plus, more metal means more ways to snag your ring on fabrics! Even though the prong setting may be a simpler design, it definitely offers easier maintenance and an equally stunning diamond presentation.
Dramatic and complex, tension settings are the antithesis of prong settings. While prong settings focus on securing a diamond with touchpoints, tension settings create the illusion that the diamond is not being held at all. In truth, the tension setting provides a sparkle that rivals the light refraction offered by the prong setting!
Unlike the delicate bands of prong settings, tension settings can appear bulky with their large bands, which makes the diamond appear smaller. Tension settings are also difficult to resize, so buyer beware!
The bezel setting surrounds a diamond with a strip of metal to protect the entire edge. Compared to the moderate security of the four-prong setting, a bezel setting is incredibly safe and can protect any diamond shape.
However, there are some setbacks to the bezel setting. Your diamond won’t be as luminous in a bezel setting, as it surrounds the stone in metal and impedes light from entering it. Additionally, your stone may not appear as large as it would in a prong setting. Finally, bezel settings are tougher to clean, even if they require less maintenance than a prong setting.
Wrapping up: Pros and cons of prong settings
In short, diamond prong settings offer many benefits, and it’s easy to see why they’re a favorite among first-time engagement ring buyers. Let’s quickly recap the pros and cons of a prong setting:
- Prong settings are the perfect style to showcase a diamond’s fire, brilliance, and scintillation.
- Prong settings can make smaller diamonds appear larger by elevating the stone.
- The classic, simple design means they’re perfect for every occasion, and you can customize them to suit your needs.
- Jewelers can typically fix a broken prong setting easily, and they require minimal maintenance.
- Prong settings are easy to clean. Just make sure you use a soft toothbrush and gentle pressure!
- A prong setting accommodates any gemstone shape.
- The simplistic design looks great with any color gemstone. Just make sure you choose a durable stone to avoid damage!
- Due to the minimalist design, they offer less protection from damage.
- Prong settings with fewer prongs put more strain on each one, meaning loosening over time and diamonds that shake in their setting are more likely.
- Prongs tend to snag on clothing and other fabrics.
- If you purchase a lower quality diamond, prong settings leave nothing to the imagination. Diamonds with larger tables may have their flaws on display if placed in a prong setting.
Advice for choosing a prong setting ring
Need some assistance choosing a prong setting that fits your personal style? Consider these factors when searching for a new ring:
Choose your prongs
Take time to think about what style of prong you would like, as well as how many.
As previously discussed, there are countless combinations of prong style and orientation. Even the difference between a four and six-prong setting is significant, as a six-prong engagement ring setting with a one carat stone creates a bulging effect compared to the lighter four-prong setting.
Do you want a simple four-prong setting that can still stand out in a crowd? Try a setting with the prongs in a “compass” position to add a distinctive change. Do you like the softer, classic look of rounded prongs or the edgy yet elegant appeal of claw prongs? ✅While they seem insignificant, prongs are an important part of your ring’s personality!
If you already know what shape you want for your stone, choose a prong setting that will compliment it.
If you’re looking at more ornate shapes like Asscher and emerald, a double prong can really accent those edges, and oval diamonds also look great with the added metal. Or, consider a shared prong setting if you’d like accent diamonds to amplify your sparkle. Finally, round diamonds can be set in pretty much any prong, as their neutral shape is perfect for dressing up or down.
Just because a gemstone is a higher carat doesn’t mean the prongs won’t be looked at by every admirer! Make sure your prongs support your chosen diamond’s size rather than making it look bulky. Thick prongs can create a metallic look that takes focus away from your diamond. In contrast, prongs that are too thin will make the stone appear swollen.
It’s extremely important to investigate where your stone falls on the Mohs scale of hardness to understand what level of protection you should expect from your prongs.
Certain stones, like pearl, turquoise, and opal, are better suited for settings that offer maximum protection. These stones are very soft and can easily chip or break if placed in a prong setting. But don’t fret: there are still plenty of options for prong settings! Prong settings are ideal for harder stones, such as diamond, emerald, ruby, sapphire, aquamarine, and more!
Dimensions play a role in choosing the right prongs for your gemstone as well. When searching for the right prongs, keep your gem’s crown height in mind. The prongs will sit on the surface of the crown, and a longer crown means longer prongs. Make sure your prong size is proportionate to the height of your stone’s crown.
Your prongs are only as strong as the metal they are made with, and selecting the right metal for your activity level can greatly decrease your maintenance over time.
The hardest metals you can choose are platinum and palladium. Both sturdy, white metals, they will resist most scratching to protect your stones efficiently. White, yellow, and rose gold are all great options for security as well, though they’re not as strong as platinum and palladium. However, commercial gold alloy typically comes in 14K and 18K options, and 18K is softer than 14K. If you’re someone who is rough with your jewelry or works with your hands, make sure you pick a metal that will last!
Where should I buy my prong setting ring?
Here are 4 well-respected jewelers where we recommend you begin your shopping experience:
Arguably the most popular online diamond retailer, James Allen has become synonymous with engagement rings. If the quality settings themselves don’t convince you to use James Allen, their service plan will. For starters, James Allen offers 24/7 customer service, and you can even speak to a diamond expert while shopping. Each diamond comes with a lifetime warranty, free resizing up to a year after purchase, hassle-free returns, and a lifetime upgrade promise.
With one of the largest inventories of unique settings, Blue Nile can captivate buyers for hours with their exceptional prong settings. Their search criteria help you narrow down your options, and GIA reports are available for each diamond. Blue Nile also offers a robust service plan that includes cleaning and complimentary sizing, free secure shipping and returns, professional jewelry appraisals, and a diamond price guarantee.
Another online retailer with an excellent reputation, Whiteflash offers quality diamonds and settings for a fair price. Peruse their “Solitaire” section to find the prong setting of your dreams, and take comfort in knowing you’re buying from a respected company. With 1-year service plans, tons of positive testimonials and reviews, and a GIA trained staff, Whiteflash is sure to provide you exactly what you’re looking for in a prong setting.
If you want a one of a kind prong setting, give CustomMade a try. CustomMade has revolutionized the custom ring market, and your personally designed prong setting is simply a consultation away! Just fill out the design form, speak with a diamond professional regarding the specifics, and wait for your new piece. All pieces come with a lifetime and accent stone loss warranty, lifetime customer service, and conflict-free sourcing.
Tips to care for your prong setting ring
While these settings are pretty strong, prongs loosen over time, which can put your diamond in peril. As such, you’ll want to make sure you provide proper prong maintenance to keep your diamond safe!
Most jewelers offer annual inspections for any piece you purchase, and this includes prong inspection and tightening. A jeweler can safely fix a broken prong or manipulate any loosened ones to restore your piece to its former glory. Blue Nile and James Allen both offer these services as part of your regular ring checkups!
You can also periodically check your prongs at home to see if they’ve loosened. If you have a jeweler’s loupe, you can inspect your ring and see if there are any visible gaps between the prongs and your diamond. Or, try placing your fingernail on the table of the diamond and gently move it back and forth to induce movement. If your diamond is secure, there should be no movement, so any rocking or shaking is a sign of a loose prong!
Dirt buildup underneath prongs can lead to loosening, so don’t let your ring go too long without a good cleaning! Avoid wearing your ring while sleeping, showering, cleaning, or working out to avoid getting sweat, dirt, or additional irritants stuck under your prongs.🚿
To clean your ring at home, fill a small bowl with warm water and a couple drops of dish soap. Add your ring and let it sit in the mixture for 15-20 minutes. Then, remove the ring and gently scrub it with a soft toothbrush. Don’t be afraid to carefully slide the bristles of the toothbrush between any holes and under the damond, but don’t force them under the prongs. Finally, rinse your ring under warm water and dry it with a clean, lint-free towel.
Even if you clean your ring at home regularly, take your piece to the jeweler at least once per year for a thorough deep cleaning. Jewelers use high tech tools that can reach the spots on your ring that you just can’t tackle with a toothbrush! You’ll also prolong your ring’s life and keep your diamond sparkling as bright as possible.
Choosing the right prong setting
Prong settings are timeless, and they make for classy engagement rings that dazzle the harshest critics. While prong settings may not be the strongest setting available, the extra height is worth it, as it can make your diamond sparkle brilliantly.
While prong settings are magnificent, there are several other setting types that may be more your style! Read our article about 15 popular ring settings to learn more about your options and see which one suits your fancy!