The simple elegance of solitaire ring settings...
Nothing beats the classic beauty of a perfect, sparkling diamond on a simple gold band. The solitaire setting is one of the oldest engagement ring styles, and it’s clear to see why this timeless design has continued to be one of the most popular options for engaged couples. But did you know there are several variations to this basic setting?🤔 And each one offers its own touch of personality!
Let’s take a look at:
- Solitaire engagement ring setting basics
- Types of solitaires
- How the solitaire setting compares to multi-stone styles
- Customization and cost for solitaire settings
- Unique takes on the classic solitaire
- Pros and cons
So does any ring with a center stone count as a solitaire setting? Not exactly. A solitaire ring setting is a specific design, featuring one band and one center stone. There are no other gemstones anywhere else on the setting, and the design itself is rather straightforward. The term solitaire can even be used to describe necklaces, earrings, fashion rings, or men’s jewelry with the same simplistic style.😁
The solitaire is the oldest and most popular ring design, dating back to 1477 when Archduke Maximilian of Austria gifted his fiancée Mary of Burgundy a diamond ring. Diamonds were very rare at the time, so offering her such a valuable stone was seen as a sign of deep devotion.
In 1947, De Beers launched their “A diamond is forever” ad campaign, and the vision of the solitaire setting as the perfect symbol of love and marriage was sealed. While only 10% of brides received engagement rings in the 1930s, this slogan skyrocketed the solitaire diamond ring to fame, calling upon the diamond’s everlasting durability as a sign of one’s enduring love for a partner. By the 1990s, over 80% of new brides received an engagement ring!
Today, the solitaire setting is still the #1 engagement ring choice for most couples. A study by The Knot found that, out of 7,000 women surveyed, a staggering 25% of them received a solitaire ring from their partner! The solitaire continues to be a popular option because it was designed to promote a diamond’s sparkle. 🎈The minimalist setting and tiny prongs provide ample opportunities for light to pass through the center stone, enhancing its fire, brilliance, and scintillation.
While the basic structure of a solitaire is always the same (just a stone and a band), there are actually several styles to choose from! Each one offers its own spin on the solitaire design—from daring arches to diamonds that appear to float—so there’s a solitaire setting for everyone! Here are 5 major types of solitaire settings:
The prong setting is probably the ring you imagine when someone mentions a solitaire. This simple yet elegant ring design uses metal prongs to hold the diamond in place, lifting it slightly above the band for extra light. It usually has four or six prongs, but some designers add as many as eight or ten prongs for security and a unique look.
Many people think of the Tiffany setting when discussing solitaires, and we totally get it! Introduced in 1886, the Tiffany setting set the standard for solitaire styles, with a round diamond and six prongs that lift the stone away from the band for maximum lightplay. While there are many other options that offer similar sparkle nowadays, the Tiffany solitaire setting has a legacy that still draws shoppers in today.
Many also utilize different types of prongs and bands to spice up this simple style. Round prongs are the standard, but claw, tab, and v-prongs are also popular options. They can be set at the “corners” of the stone or in a compass orientation at the top, bottom, and sides of the diamond.
For bands, split shank, twisted, and knife-edge styles are popular choices, and they add just a hint of detail to the setting. Another fun way to switch up the standard look of a solitaire is placing a diamond with a long silhouette in the east-west orientation. By rotating the shape’s points into a horizontal position, you can create an entirely new design with just a diamond and a band.
The cathedral setting takes its job of lifting the diamond out of the setting very seriously! This daring design takes inspiration from Gothic cathedrals with their sweeping arches and dramatic heights. The band of a cathedral setting bends upward to lift the diamond away from the setting on its own sweeping arches, creating an elegant silhouette.
Some people believe these arches raise the stone too high which may cause snagging and damage, but the arches can be larger or smaller depending on your preferences. The diamond is typically held in place by prongs or a bezel, but you can also choose a Gothic-inspired basket for a hint of flair. Or, if you want more than a traditional solitaire offers, milgrain, accent stones, and other touches can be added.
Arguably the safest solitaire, bezel settings have the same classic design with an added bonus: a ring of metal that surrounds the stone and protects all of its edges and corners.🍅 There are also “semi bezels” which protect two sides of the stone rather than wrapping all the way around it.
We love bezel settings because they’re so versatile, and you can add a bezel to just about any ring. Solitaires like prong and cathedral settings look amazing with bezels, but you can even add them to halos, three stones, cluster settings, and more!
👉🏻Bezel-set solitaire rings are an excellent choice for anyone worried about banging their ring on hard surfaces or snagging fabrics, but they do have one major drawback. Due to their secure design, bezel settings allow less light to reach your diamond, which can mean a slightly subdued sparkle. However, choosing a semi-bezel or opting for a hollow basket rather than a solid one can promote more lightplay and enhance overall sparkle.
Also known as a gypsy or hammer setting, the flush setting is rarely seen but is very loved by those who choose this style. In this variation of the solitaire, the diamond is placed in a hole within the metal setting so it sits flush with the surface of the band. A craftsman then “burnishes” the metal around the diamond, which folds it over the edges of the gem for a secure hold.
The band itself is typically polished to reflect current trends, but you can find plenty of textured or brushed styles that offer a really unique look for an engagement ring.
The flush setting is ideal for maximum protection, but much like the bezel setting it can inhibit fire, brilliance, and scintillation. As such, it’s usually chosen as a wedding band design, but anyone seeking a minimalist appeal and a safely set diamond will fall in love with the understated flush setting!
If you can believe it, the tension setting gives your diamond the appearance of floating in midair!😜🌬️ There are no prongs, bezels, or other metal pieces, just a diamond suspended within a band. But how is that possible? It starts with a spring-loaded band that uses pressure to hold the diamond, usually resting on two different points of the stone. At these two points, there are small grooves in the band to keep the diamond in place, making the stone look like it’s floating.
Designers typically set round diamonds in tension settings, as this shape has the best features for withstanding pressure and avoiding major damage. There are also some creative takes on this already unique style, with elevated bands, crazy contours, and twisted bands being popular deviations from a simple metal ring.
If you love the idea of a tension setting but start sweating at the thought of a floating diamond, try a faux tension setting instead! These settings include a small bar of metal behind the stone that holds the ring together for extra security. A bypass setting can also give you a similar look without any risk.
Solitaire settings vs. Other engagement ring styles
While the solitaire may reign supreme among engagement rings, there are still several other styles out there that may better suit your needs. But how do they compare to the illustrious solitaire design? Let’s look at some major setting styles and how they stack up to solitaires:
The pavé setting is the third most popular engagement ring choice, and the shank of the ring is covered in tiny pavé diamonds. Similar to the solitaire setting, the pavé design lets the center stone do all the talking, but it adds smaller accent diamonds to the band for more overall sparkle. However, while they both draw attention to the center stone, a solitaire can make it appear larger, whereas this is less likely with a pavé setting.
Similar to the pavé setting, the channel setting includes multiple accent stones unlike the simple band of the solitaire. They’re called channel settings because there are two deep channels within the band on either side of the center stone. The accent stones are placed within the channels which safely keep them in place with a band of metal on every edge.
This setting offers a hint more sparkle than a solitaire but with larger stones than a pavé style ring. It’s also a popular style for wedding bands!
Solitaire styles are often compared to halo settings, since both focus on a single center stone. The halo setting is the second most popular design for engagement rings, and the halo of diamonds around the center stone makes it appear larger than it is (similar to a solitaire!). While the band of this setting may or may not have accent stones, most designs typically add them to accentuate the halo’s sparkle.
However, these designs separate the minimalists from the sparkle enthusiasts! Unlike solitaires, halos can come in many shapes and sizes, and there are even double and triple halos for the exceptionally daring. These rings sparkle far above a solitaire setting, and so they’re best suited for brides who don’t mind drawing attention.👰🏻 And the more pavé diamonds, the more expensive the ring, meaning halo settings can cost significantly more than solitaires with the same diamond.
If you want the simplicity of a solitaire but need just a little more sparkle, hidden halo settings place the pavé stones below the table of your center diamond, bringing just a hint of brilliance to the profile of your ring without the typical glittering halo.
The three-stone setting is also fairly similar to the solitaire, but instead of one center stone, there are three! The band may be plain like a solitaire, or it may be covered in diamonds or other accent stones. The three stones are often all the same size, or the center stone may be the largest one while the other two act as side stones. They can even come in different shapes and sizes for a unique silhouette!
A three-stone with a plain band has much of the same appeal as a solitaire setting, and it’s a great choice for couples who want a little more sparkle than a solitaire can offer without overdoing it. Just keep in mind that the three-stone setting may also be more expensive than a solitaire, as it essentially triples your diamond budget!
Toi et Moi Setting
Another close cousin of the solitaire setting, the toi et moi style takes the single center stone and adds another one…that’s right, it’s a ring with two center stones! “Toi et moi” is French for “you and me”, so couples who love the solitaire setting but want something sentimental often choose the toi et moi design to represent their partnership as they enter married life.
A toi et moi ring can have accent diamonds or sit on a simple band, much like a solitaire. You can also choose two entirely different diamond shapes, which is great for solitaire lovers who are having a hard time deciding on a stone. Also, you’ll probably have to double your diamond budget if you choose a toi et moi ring, but the symbolism of two diamonds instead of one is worth it!
A side stone setting is similar to the three-stone style, but it may not necessarily include three stones. There are typically more side stones—think at least 4—and they can be arranged alongside the center stone or in small clusters on either side. Like the three-stone style, the side stone setting is a good option for couples who like the simplicity of solitaire settings but want more sparkle. Some side stone designs can be rather audacious, but many can fit the minimalist appeal of a solitaire setting!
Similar to a halo setting, a cluster style ring surrounds the center stone with tons of smaller diamonds. Unlike the solitaire setting, the center stone isn’t always the main event, but rather the collection of diamonds as a whole is the true beauty of a cluster setting. That being said, the position of the clusters can make the center stone appear larger, but it’s a far cry from the singular diamond display of the solitaire setting.
Band Style Settings
Band style settings are becoming more and more popular as couples move away from the solitaires and similar settings for a more streamlined look. Band style rings usually have no center diamond to display, instead opting for plenty of smaller stones that create a unique pattern or design. The very modern appeal of this setting speaks to many young couples, and they can be as elaborate or minimalist as needed!
Because the solitaire design is so simple, many couples worry that their engagement ring may come off “boring” or “unoriginal”.🤣😝 Honestly, all solitaires are beautiful! But if you’re worried about buying a dull setting, here are a few ways to spice up your solitaire:
One of the easiest ways to customize your engagement ring is by switching up your metal color. Yellow and rose gold are two lesser seen options, but they’re swiftly rising in popularity. You can also add a different colored wedding band to your solitaire wedding ring set for a mixed metals look.
While adding diamonds may change your solitaire setting into something completely different, you can always include engraving or metalwork to produce a delicate pattern that won’t overpower your center diamond. Milgrain and filigree are two popular options for ornate bands, but you can also take inspiration from Celtic designs, Mother Nature, or anything that inspires you.
It can be exciting to step away from a traditional diamond and opt for something more colorful. Colored gemstone solitaires are all the rage, and we love a sophisticated sapphire or modern morganite just as much as any colorless diamond!💋
You can always switch it up and choose a less common stone as well. Alexandrite is really on the rise as an engagement stone, and citrine can bring a sunny warmth to your setting.
Your engagement ring may be simple, but that doesn’t mean your wedding band has to be!⚠️ In fact, adding details to your wedding band can be a fun way to incorporate some of your personality into your bridal set. And, you can always remove your wedding band and just wear your engagement ring when you want something simpler.
We love a wedding band with plenty of diamonds, or you could always go for a uniquely shaped band for your set. And why settle for one wedding band when you can have two for extra sparkle? The options are endless!
Pricing a solitaire can be a little tricky, as most of the value is in the center diamond. Solitaire settings can cost anywhere from $500 to $50,000 depending on the cut, color, clarity, and carat of your chosen diamond, and similar rules apply with the quality of colored gemstones. (color is the foremost factor, however)
Cut and carat are two major factors in a diamond’s price. For instance, a 1-carat diamond will cost anywhere from $3,500 to $16,500 depending on quality, but you can expect the price to climb to $8,000 to $60,000 for a 2-carat stone of equal quality. By doubling your carat weight, you’ve more than doubled your budget!
The solitaire is a reasonably affordable setting for most couples thanks to its simple design, and even shoppers with tight budgets will still have plenty of options to choose from. However, anyone looking for a top-quality diamond may have to budget accordingly!
Unique takes on the basic solitaire setting design🤗
Like we said before, just because solitaires are “simple” by design doesn’t mean you can’t spice them up! Here are a few stunning takes on the solitaire setting that really break the mold:
- The braided band on this solitaire adds so much detail to an otherwise simple white gold design, and it will look amazing in both casual and formal settings.
- We’re digging the Victorian flair of this vintage yellow gold solitaire with scrollwork below the diamond and an ornate basket.
- Speaking of ornate baskets, this basket resembles a crown for a sophisticated, regal touch.
- Modern solitaire engagement rings are works of art, and this pear-shaped beauty features a pointed wedding band with a matching drop gemstone for an even more luxe silhouette.
- Minimalist engagement rings are super popular, and we’re digging this ring that sticks to the general “diamond solitaire” theme while downsizing for a more casual yet refined appeal.
- Who said solitaires have to be polished? We love this brushed bridal set with a soft, matching finish.
- While we’re at it, you can get a solitaire without conforming to the thin band trends as well! Check out this band solitaire with a decadent emerald cut diamond.
- We love when rings imitate art, and this architectural-inspired wide band has a gentle, flowing movement about it as it wraps around the bride’s finger.
- Similar to the braided band, this knotted band adds just a touch of flair and a reminder of the loving promise that this solitaire setting represents.
- Does your fiancée have an August birthday? Then a peridot bezel setting may be just what you’re looking for, as it’s the birthstone of August and offers a unique, colorful look that’s still very bridal.
- But what about this lacy band, though? So feminine, so delicate, so unique!
- As if the rosy morganite at the center of this solitaire wasn’t sentimental enough, this design features a secret halo that can only be seen when viewing the ring’s profile.
- This modern aquamarine setting has an architectural band that screams fashion-forward bride!
Summing up: The pros and cons of solitaire settings
Got all that? If not, we’ve put together a list of pros and cons to help you decide whether a solitaire setting is right for you:
- Solitaire settings are timeless, elegant, and popular, so they’re easy to find while shopping.
- Their simple nature means they look great with any diamond shape or size.👏🏻
- The design elevates your diamond so it’s the center of attention.
- The minimalist setting allows lots of light to pass through the diamond for ample sparkle.🌟
- Solitaire settings are affordable and plentiful.
- They can match almost any wedding band, even the most complex designs!✅
- This setting is easy to clean and maintain.
- High profile solitaire settings or designs with prongs can snag on fabrics more frequently than protected settings
- A solitaire setting may appear simple or lacking personality when compared to other designs. But, for many, this simplicity is a major pro!
- There isn’t always a ton of variety among solitaire setting styles, and they tend to look similar.
Solitaire diamond ring settings are sure to sparkle with the best of them! Affordable with a timeless appeal, solitaires will continue to be a top choice among soon-to-be-engaged couples.🥇 But, is this basic setting right for you? Some couples love the unhindered sparkle of a solitaire diamond, but others prefer a bit more brilliance from accent and side stones or a more decorative design like a halo or cluster style.
If you’re not entirely sold on a solitaire just yet, take a look at some of our other pieces regarding multi-stone settings! Try our halo setting or three-stone ring guides, or dive into our pavé and ballerina setting guides instead.