In ring manufacturing, the setting is often influenced by the gems being worked with. Hardness, brilliance, play of color, and shape all impact the decision to choose one setting over another. Here, we break down some of the factors to consider when choosing a setting for a ring:
Make it Pop with Prongs
The classic claw is often the go-to setting that comes to mind for diamonds and colored gemstones. From the traditional four-prong and unique six-prong, to the unusual eight-prong setting, it raises the gem above the band, allowing light to enter from all sides. It is the best setting for showing off maximum fire in a brilliant cut diamond, and best displays sparkle on the surface—great for gems with a vitreous to adamantine luster.
The prong extends over the stone to hold it in place, and a notch in the prong fits the gemstone’s girdle, firmly securing it. Prongs are also made to accommodate shapes, such as the marquise and heart.
The downside of a prong setting is security. Although the stone is beautifully raised, it also becomes more susceptible to being banged by accident in day-to-day wear, risking the loosening of the setting or a direct hit to the stone itself. A loose prong makes it easy for a gem to dislodge, so it is essential to keep an eye on the claws being in good shape.
When Bezel is Best
When a secure fit is most important, a bezel setting is often the way to go. By encircling the gemstone, precious metal protects all sides, making it less prone to damage. Sleek and secure, it is often used for custom solutions, created to fit around the diamond or colored gemstone perfectly.
Opals and labradorite are renowned for their play of color. Cabochons are ideal cuts for these, where the beautiful, smooth surface is on display. These stones are also on the softer side, and react to outside chemicals more readily (think perfume and lotions). Therefore, the security of a setting is paramount for protection.
The disadvantages of a bezel are twofold. First, because there is more metal, there’s a higher cost to creating a setting. Secondly, having metal surrounded by a gem limits the amount of light entering the stone. Therefore, it won’t show off brilliance as much as a setting with prongs.
Take a Chance on a Channel
By suspending stones side by side between bars, the channel allows for a seamless transition of color. Slits are made in the bar to slide the gemstone into, and a small notch is cut into each wall. Often used to offset a center stone, or in a band, channels offer a classic look for all occasions, where many stones can be used. This setting is lovely for a flush of color, or for a long, sleek geometric look. It exhibits more light than a bezel passing through, though less than a prong when factoring brilliance. For those looking to add another dimension of style in a multi-stone setting, a channel is a beautiful touch. This setting is particularly popular for small emerald, princess, baguette and square cuts.
Ultimately, there is no set formula for setting, as a gem can look great in a variety of rings. However, select cuts and stone types do tend to be chosen when a setting needs to work alongside factors like security, brilliance, cost, style or shape. In these cases, it is worth keeping this in mind while designing for the manufacturing process.