Engagement Ring Settings: Frame That Beauty With Light

Engagement Ring Settings

If you don’t know what engagement ring settings are, then you might not know what you should be looking for.

More than just another part of the ring, engagement ring settings actually play an important role in the value and appearance of the finished ring as well as a major role in its function.

If you choose the wrong one, it can cause the ring to jiggle loose, cause scratches or get caught in everything. The wrong setting can also make the ring look cheap or even make the stone look smaller, duller or flawed in some way.

This is a guide to help you get the most bang for your buck. To help you through some of the difficult decisions you might have to make.

Don’t Break the Bank!

Broken Piggy Bank

According to tradition, a young man should spend about two month’s salary on the engagement ring he intends to give to his betrothed.  However, that suggestion may have been a marketing gimmick by the jewelry industry to make business more profitable, not to make better marriages.

In the modern era, that is not always appropriate to suggest, so set a budget that works for best for you. Cheap engagement rings can acomplish as much as the expensive ones. Never let anyone else tell you what the price of love is.

The marriage should be what is set in stone from the beginning, the ring can be upgraded.

This Can Make or Break Engagement Ring Settings

Of all of the parts of an engagement ring, most people probably think that the stone is the most important decision to make.

While the choice of size and cut of the stone is important, it is not as crucial as the choice of engagement ring settings. This is, after all, the part of the ring that holds the stone, cradling it in safety and security and can either enhance or take away from the appearance of the finished ring.

Certain metals are stronger than others, just because of the way they are created. While it might sound great to have a twenty four carat gold ring, gold is a peculiar metal that while valuable in some situations can be a serious negative in others.

Steer clear of high gold content when you are choosing your engagement ring settings because the higher the gold, the softer the metal.

All That Glitters Is Not Gold

Gold and silver are the first two metals that come to mind when choosing your engagement ring settings, but keep in mind that there are other choices that you can opt for as well. Gold itself comes in yellow, white or even pink while silver can be found in either a shiny or more matte finish. Silver can be the most budget friendly choice, allowing for a potentially larger stone.

Everything from steel to titanium can be made into your perfect ring. Platinum, which is typically more expensive than gold or silver is attractive and very durable. It is usually a white metal and while it can scratch, it will not wear away like some other metals. Over time, the platinum rings will take on an almost satiny finish which may make it even more attractive. Titanium is one of the toughest metals on earth and might be a perfect choice for people who are rough on rings and jewelry in general. It is a grayish color, almost a dark silver and can be made into very dramatical engagement ring styles.

Let it Shine!

Engagement ring settings do much more than just holding a stone in place. The average person will never judge a finished ring by its safety or security but by appearance.

There are certain engagement ring settings that allow more of the stone to be seen while others may hide small flaws or blemishes. That can be useful if you want to buy an eye popping stone but can’t afford a perfect one. The right setting can hide the little flaws and no one will ever need to know about them.

Bar Engagement Ring Settings: Stones in this type of setting are held in place by thin strips, or bars, of metal, that the stone rests between. Set opposing one another, as railroad tracks to, this setting allows for extraordinary brilliance and fire displayed by the gem by leaving the sides of it open to light. Larger stones set in a bar setting presents the gem while allowing its depth, the smooth flat plane of its surface and internal character to be admired.

Basket Engagement Ring Settings: This elegant variation on a Prong setting is created with 4 to 6 prongs of metal reaching gracefully up to curve around the gem, and cradle it snuggly against the base of the setting. It allows for a nice flow of light through the stone, and is very popular for diamonds, and other faceted beauties, which crave that kind of light flow. Under the surface, there is a recess where the base of the gem rests, providing a nice level of protection for the jewel.

Bead Engagement Ring Settings: Adapted from the Bezel setting, this was very common in the mid 20th century. The method has several variations, including the Pave and Burnish settings. Essentially, the stone is set into a recess created by the setter in the bands metal, and tiny slivers called ‘burrs’ are used to mount the stone securely into the recess created by the tool. In some cases the residual metal is cut away, in others a ‘collar’ is created for the stone. American actress Amy Smart chose a bead set cathedral to complete her lovely engagement ring, the beading on the band surrounding her center stone.

Bezel Engagement Ring Settings: One of history’s gifts, the bezel setting is found on many antique engagement rings. It’s one of the oldest methods of attaching stones to metal. A piece of metal called a ‘bezel’ the size and shape of the stone is soldered onto the band of the ring, a stone set into that. Then, the metal is brought up over the sides of the stone, holding it securely in place. Very secure for gems, it was chosen by film and television actress Debra Messing, of “Will & Grace” fame for her lovely 2 ½ oval diamond engagement ring. Considered to be a top contender for the #3 spot in the upcoming 2012 season of most popular engagement ring setting styles!

Burnish Engagement Ring Settings: Also referred to as ‘flush settings’ are not very different than the bead sets it evolved from. In this case, rather than using a tool to raise beads of metal around the stone(s), the setter pushes the stone securely into the metal, then smoothing it flat all around it. At times different color stones will be set into a band of metal, with the stones “faces’ only emerging from the setting. Surrounded by metal that has in some cases been sandblasted to create a ‘look’’ . Very elegant and cosmopolitan, this can be an excellent choice for a man’s ring.

Cathedral Engagement Ring Settings: Graceful arches characterize this setting, reminiscent of the arches in Cathedrals around the world. In the architecture, the arches frame open spaces, windows, alcoves, and help infuse the area with peace and a harmonious feeling. Similar feelings are induced in lovers of the Cathedral setting with gems, as the elegant graceful arches present and protect the Gem it contains. Just as the arches in the church buildings vary greatly from one to one, so also do the arches in a Cathedral ring setting. Customized to suit the stone, and the wearer, there are many variations one can opt for. Arch styles can be either concave or convex (meaning they arch in, or arch out), they may have square, round or tapered ends, and the arch can be adjusted depending on the stone it cradles. Regardless of any other features a setting may contain, it is the presence of these arches that define the fact that it is a Cathedral. I can be combined with components of other settings to customize it quite easily, and we’ll talk more about this trend in ‘Varied Settings”.

Channel Engagement Ring Settings: Similar to the bar setting, the Channel is used more often with somewhat smaller stones. However, the method is quite similar. Used to cradle multiple stones in a row, it has two sides and a bottom, with the top of the sides somewhat narrower than the width of the stones that it will hold. A grove is cut into the wall of the side, which will fit a notch in the stone, to further hold them in place.  . There is a special type of tool used to set the stones into the channel, a tiny reciprocating hammer, similar to a jackhammer only teeny tiny After each stone is set into the channel, the metal is smoothed around them,  then  polished to best complement the stones.  Occupying a spot on the 2012 seasons most popular engagement ring styles, this protective setting is easy to wear, as it is much less prone to catch on clothing than prong styles.

Cluster Engagement Ring Settings: With this setting, several gems are mounted close together, sometimes surrounding a larger stone, to create the illusion of a MUCH larger stone. Cluster settings can be used to create shapes, for example a flower, or a bow. Even initials! A popular setting on many vintage engagement rings. Featured as a very hot trend in the 2012 engagement ring world, diamonds along with other faceted gems are predicted to be lighting up the happy smiles of soon to be brides and grooms around the world.

Contour Engagement Ring Settings: An updated prong setting, the contour also lifts the diamond up on heavier prongs, allowing it to catch and reflect light. Tapering gracefully where they meet the gem, this elegant presentation is classic in appearance, while taking advantage of modern technique and knowledge of light refraction with stones.

Flush Engagement Ring Settings: Also called, rather exotically, the “Basic Gypsy” mount, this is an alluring variation of the Bezel setting. Created by setting the gem within a recess created for it in a mount of precious metal, most of the gem is beneath the surface of the band. Secure and classical, the flush mount works well with many gems, and are a favorite for men’s rings.

Illusion Engagement Ring Settings: Intended to enhance the apparent size of a stone, the illusion setting can do so with lovely and classic lines.  The gem is mounted to a mirror like plate, before being set into the stone. Fancy cut stones usually look larger than round cut stones, so selected one of those lovelies, and mounting in an illusion setting will create the look of a much larger gem.

Invisible Engagement Ring Settings: Just as the name suggests, an invisible setting is just that. Gems are set very close together, with the mounting completely hidden beneath them. Similar in effect to a well laid cobbled street, the stones join together to project the maximum brilliance possible from their icy hearts. A slit is cut into the stone just beneath its girdle (the widest point of the gem) and the slit is fit into the mount by the setter. The Girdle, being the widest part of the stone, completely conceals the mount. Due to the method of mounting, this setting is not easily adjusted, for example, should it need resizing. The luxury of an invisible ring setting will seldom need upgrading, and having the future wearer present pre crafting is no great sacrifice for the unique elegance inherent in one. This type of setting is among the contenders for the #1 style anticipated in 2012!

Pave Engagement Ring Settings: This setting employs the method used in a Bezel setting, where multiple stones are set very close together, creating the impression of the piece (of jewelry) having been rolled in the gems, picking them up and keeping them on their surface. Distinctive and classic, the look is similar to a cobblestoned street. A setters goal while creating a Pave is to minimize the amount of metal showing, so as to allow the greatest amount of light to shine through the gems. This works best with translucent gems, such as diamonds, emeralds, rubies, sapphires, and their elegant cousins. Many times a Pave setting will be combined with a Bezel set larger center stone, creating a brilliant background that safeguards the stones wonderfully. Nicole Riche, famous daughter of singer/songwriter Lionel Richie added a halo of pave set stones around her lovely center diamond.

Prong Engagement Ring Settings: Simple, elegant, and sophisticated as can be. A Prong setting lifts the gem for the world to see, while interfering with free flow of light into the jewel from all sides. Many settings have developed over the years based on this one, including the lovely Tiffany© setting introduced to the world in 1886, by the company of that name. Quickly, it became their signature piece, and to this day it is one of the most popular settings in engagement rings around the world. In the Tiffany©, four to six prongs grasp the stone at its “girdle’ which is the thickest part of the stone. Holding it firmly to a plain band, a maximum of light releases the brilliance and internal fire of a gem.

Split Shank Engagement Ring Settings: Timeless and appealing, Split Shank settings feature a band that is cleaved as it reaches the crown. Often the individual arms of the shank are encrusted with pave set gems, adding to the center pieces brilliance. American actress Jennifer Hudson’s 5 carat round diamond is gorgeous with a split shank setting of micro pave diamonds

Tension Engagement Ring Settings: Appearing as though floating in the air between the metal of this setting, the gem will display its internal icy fire to perfection, with a minimum of enclosing by setting. Not easy to resize, these rings should be precisely fit to the intended wearer’s finger before the artist completes the piece. These lovely settings are considered to be among the top 5 trends in engagement rings for 2012.

Trellis Engagement Ring Settings: Graceful and feminine, this style is inherently a Prong setting that’s all grown up.  What separates the two, prong and trellis that is, is that the shank of a trellis set begins thicker than it ends. In other words, where the shank of the prong is attached to the band of the ring, it is thicker, while the tip of the shank that is actually cradling the gem, it has tapered to a more thin aspect.  An elegant way of showcasing a gem, allowing light through from all sides, releasing the internal fire and brilliance of a stone.  Another benefit of course, is that it is a safe secure way to keep your gem attached to its band.

Tapered Engagement Ring Settings: Simple and clean, the tapered setting leads the observers eye to the center piece of your ring, the jewel. The taper can be either thinner at the point where the actual gem is mounted, or become thinner leading away from that gem. Elegant, this setting lends glamour to any stone you choose, and can complement beautifully almost any cut, fancy or round.

Varied Engagement Ring Settings: A setting that uses components of more than one setting style. For example, a lovely combination of a Cathedral mount, surrounded by a pave set smaller stones up the arches, or perhaps a Bezel set center stone with pave set smaller ones on the surrounding band.

Can Too Much Of A Good Thing Be Bad?

Engagement ring settings can be made even more attractive by having accent stones as well. These can be smaller diamonds set beside the main diamond, colored gemstones or a combination of colors. For the most attractive use of accents, stick to a single shape for all of the stones, unless you are using different colors. A round diamond surrounded by two smaller, tear drop shaped sapphires is especially beautiful and only one example of how creative you can be.

One lovely style has the main diamond flanked by the birthstone of each family member, perfect for a blended family. Some settings are better for these accent styles than others, so it is something that you should consider when designing the ring.

Arranging the Perfect Fit

In addition to the value and security of the ring, your setting can have major influence on the comfort and fit of the ring and should be considered. If the ring is going to be worn with the wedding ring, the setting must allow the two to stack on top of one another comfortably.

For some engagement ring settings, the fit is even more crucial to get right the first time because they are difficult to resize once they are completed. A good example of this is the channel setting because of the way the stones are affixed within the band. The cost can be extreme to resize or repair these types of settings.

Another thing to consider is whether the engagement ring settings, the stone and the woman’s fingers are all going to blend together well or if there will be discord.

A woman with long and graceful fingers can handle having a thicker style with more metal showing on the setting than a woman who has smaller, thicker fingers. The skin tone or skin color can also play a role in deciding the best setting. A warmer skin tone looks better with gold or deeper hues while a cooler skin tone looks better with silvers or lighter gray metals and stones.

Hair and eye color may also play a role in the type of engagement ring settings you choose as well as the color of stones for the final design. A girl with emerald eyes is a natural for a lovely emerald ring set in a gold bezel with smaller diamond accents.

Unique or Common Place?

The uniqueness of your bride may inspire you to seek the perfect ring. But, if you are not aware of the ability to design your own ring, you might settle for one that is already finished and ready to go. A designer can help you through the process, helping you to choose all of the elements that go into making the best ring for your needs.

Another option is to buy a ring that is a replica of one made popular by a celebrity or royalty. There are a number of retailers that specialize in these exact rings, allowing the everyday person have a ring that is the same as a princess or a movie star letting your future bride have her own taste of royalty or Hollywood glamour.

Putting it All Together

Start with her favorite stone or cut and then find the perfect engagement ring setting to make the most of that stone. Most web sites that sell engagement ring settings let you experiment with combinations so that you know that you are getting the perfect ring at the best price. It is the perfect stone and setting combination that makes unique engagement rings every time.

You didn’t just settle for the first girl that you dated, so why would you settle for the first ring that you see?

Engagement ring settings are meant to hold your stone, first and foremost. The right setting can make a stone pop and makes the ring more valuable, more beautiful and most of all, more enduring. From making a small stone look bigger to hiding flaws and more, the perfect design can make the most of your money, no matter what your budget might be.