In this blog, we’ll break down the major factors that contribute to both the style and cost of an engagement ring and take a deep dive into the most popular types of engagement ring styles.
Types of Engagement Ring Settings
The term “setting” refers to the way a stone is mounted, or “set”, into a ring band, typically crafted from a metal like gold or platinum. The setting of a diamond should serve to enhance the diamond’s brilliance, fire, and overall beauty; it should complement the cut of the diamond.
There are many types of engagement ring settings, some of which are synonymous with the ring’s “style,” or the overall look and feel of the ring. For example, a “solitaire” is both a setting—a single stone mounted in the center of the band—and a style: one stone as a simple, elegant statement.
If you’re confused, don’t worry: The terms “ring setting,” “ring type,” and “ring style” are often used interchangeably. Your local jeweler will know what you’re looking for regardless of whether you ask to see a “halo setting” or “halo-style” engagement ring!
Below, we’ll explore some of the most popular types of engagement ring styles:
As briefly mentioned above, a solitaire setting showcases a single diamond in a prong setting designed to maximize that diamond’s sparkle and brilliance. Virtually any diamond cut can be set as a solitaire, though the most popular cuts for this setting include round, oval, and emerald. Solitaire ring designs tend to have a higher profile (i.e. the diamond itself sits higher above the finger) than other settings, especially if the ring is antique or vintage.
Solitaire settings are often considered the basic engagement ring setting that can be further gussied-up with enhancement bands if the wearer chooses. Solitaire settings generally make for the least expensive engagement rings as they only require one stone—but by the same token, with only one stone to draw the eye, many feel compelled to select a larger diamond, which can quickly drive up the price of a solitaire engagement ring.
A bezel setting describes a ring that surrounds and holds the center stone with a continuous band of metal. Only the crown, i.e. the top facets of the stone, are exposed in this setting. The diamond may be set flush with the band for a low-profile ring or project outwards as in the solitaire style. The simple bezel works with any cut of diamond, but is especially flattering to round, pear, and oval cuts.
This type of setting is also called a “rubover” setting, describing the ring’s lack of sharp edges if one were to “rub over” the stone with their hand. A bezel setting is ideal for brides who prefer a comfortable low-profile ring, a protective setting for their diamond, or a modern look, though this setting can reduce the sparkle of a stone by limiting the facets that are exposed.
Pavé (pronounced pah-vay), from the French word for “paving,” is a setting that accentuates the main stone with several smaller diamonds or gemstones for maximum sparkle. The pavé setting is designed to give the illusion of one large diamond (read: one big bling) rather than multiple smaller ones; as such, most pavé settings are crafted in white gold or platinum so the metal prongs that hold the diamonds in place are less visible and distinguishable from the stones.
There are multiple styles of pavé rings that you may encounter while shopping for a pavé engagement ring, including but not limited to:
- Micro-pavé styles, which feature tiny diamonds packed closely together across the ring band with either small prongs or metal beads holding them.
- French pavé, which is similar to micro-pavé but adds a small V-shaped cut-out beneath each stone, allowing more light to come through and therefore more sparkle.
- Surface prong pavé, the most common style of pavé setting, which holds each diamond in place with a tiny metal prong visible on the surface of the ring.
- Bar pavé, which holds the diamonds in place with bars of metal on either side of the stone. This setting style is especially secure and is typically used for baguette diamonds in three-stone rings or eternity bands.
- Bezel pavé, which holds each small diamond in place with metal on all sides, exposing only the top facets. Like the bar pavé setting, this is another protective setting style.
A channel setting is a type of engagement ring setting in which the diamonds or gemstones on the shank of the ring are set within a track, or “channel,” within the ring band itself. The stones are nestled tightly against one another between two “walls” of metal and are not separated or held by prongs, beads, or bezels.
The channel setting is as budget-friendly as it is striking. The setting minimizes any imperfections or variations in the smaller stones, allowing you to select less-expensive diamonds. The diamonds also do not have to be individually set in a channel setting, further reducing costs. A channel setting is also considered a more protective setting than a pavé or bead-set band thanks to the metal walls encasing the more fragile parts of the stones. A channel-set band is also less likely to snag clothes, given its low profile and lack of exposed corners or edges.
One of the most popular settings of the last two decades, the halo setting encircles a center stone or stones with one or more rings of smaller diamonds, usually pavé-set. The cut of the diamonds used in a halo can be the same as the center stone or different, and any cut can present beautifully in a halo setting. A round center stone is the most popular choice for a halo engagement ring, with emerald and cushion cut stones following close behind.
The popularity of halo engagement rings can be attributed to the setting’s ability to seemingly add size and brilliance to a ring in an affordable way. A halo of very small diamonds is much more cost-effective than adding one or more diamonds of an equal size to the center stone and adds just as much (if not more!) sparkle. Still, it’s not always the more wallet-friendly option when compared to simpler engagement ring designs like a solitaire, since more diamonds and more metal do amount to a higher price tag. If a halo engagement ring is on your wishlist, shop around for styles that balance both bling and budget!
A prong-set engagement ring is a simple, elegant engagement ring setting that features four or six metal prongs that extend up from the ring’s basket and over the stone, holding it securely in place and allowing light to enter the stone from beneath and around it. Prong settings entered the jewelry world in the 1800s and quickly became ubiquitous in engagement rings thanks to its seemingly-magic illusion that the diamond is “floating” above the finger. Perhaps the most iconic example of this setting is the Tiffany setting, the jeweler’s proprietary setting introduced in the late 1800s that is still wildly popular today.
Prong settings are quite versatile and work well with a variety of diamond cuts, providing a classic, timeless aesthetic. They are inherently a higher-profile setting, so those seeking a comfortable, no-snag ring will likely want to avoid a prong-set engagement ring. For non-traditional center stones like morganite or emerald, a prong setting is critical, as it reinforces softer stones against chipping or other damage.
Types of Engagement Ring Stone Cuts
The “cut” of an engagement ring refers to the way in which a diamond or other stone was shaped, both in terms of its overall contours (i.e. round vs. square) and its facets, the flat surfaces on a stone. A diamond’s shape affects its ability to reflect light, so each cut has its own unique properties in terms of brilliance and sparkle. There are many types of engagement ring stone cuts, each with its own pros and cons for the wearer.
Below, we’ll break down the nuances of some of the most popular engagement ring shapes by name:
An extremely traditional cut, round cut diamonds are immensely popular among brides thanks to their pleasing symmetry that maximizes the fire of the stone in the right lighting. Round diamonds hold their own as solitaires, in two-stone “moi et toi” settings, and in three-stone settings. A round diamond also makes a stunning centerpiece in a halo setting. Round diamond engagement rings have a classic feel that will appeal to brides with a more traditional sense of style.
The cushion cut diamond has been around since the 1700s and is so named for its rounded corners on an otherwise square cut, reminiscent of a pillow. A classic cushion-cut diamond has 58 facets to increase the stone’s brilliance and fire. In the 1800s, this cut was referred to as “mine cut;” you may encounter vintage and antique rings on the market today advertised as “old mine cut.” By any name, the cushion diamond is a lovely choice for brides desiring an old-world feel for their engagement ring.
A cut fit for royalty, princess diamonds feature a face-up shape with square or rectangular sides. The princess cut arrived on the scene in the early 1960s and has been wildly popular ever since. Princess-cut engagement rings benefit from this cut’s modern, geometrical aesthetic and tons of sparkle while also being generally less expensive than the uber-popular round cut.
Brides eyeing a princess cut for their engagement ring should be sure to select a protective setting, however; the princess cut’s delicate corners are known for chipping, leading to loose stones that may fall out of less-secure settings.
Brides who love the modern yet glitzy appeal of the Art Deco era will undoubtedly find themselves drawn to emerald-cut diamonds. Emerald cuts are characterized primarily by their rectangular step cut, large table (the flat facet across the top of the stone that increases brilliance), and cropped or slightly rounded corners. Emerald cut diamonds are known for their “hall of mirrors” effect, an understated sparkle that’s ideal for a minimalist bride.
When selecting an emerald-cut diamond for your engagement ring, clarity and color should be prioritized. Emerald cut diamonds have fewer facets than other cuts, resulting in less “action” (i.e. sparkle and movement) to distract the eye from flaws. An emerald diamond in a vertical setting will give the illusion of a longer, more slender finger, while a horizontal or “east-west” setting will put a modern spin on this elegant classic.
For brides who want the timeless quality of a round-cut diamond with a twist, an oval-cut diamond engagement ring is a perfect choice. Oval diamonds have the same number of facets as round diamonds and therefore the same amount of sparkle, but with an added bonus of more “spread,” i.e. finger coverage due to the elongated shape. Oval cut diamonds make especially striking solitaires, providing a look that is at once elegant and unique.
Like emerald diamonds, oval cut diamonds in a vertical setting can elongate the finger, and—also like emerald cut diamonds—are more likely to show flaws and inclusions. As you shop for your oval-shaped diamond, prioritize a truly impeccable cut from an experienced jeweler to help ensure your diamond presents its best.
If your bridal jewelry style leans toward nontraditional, you may also consider an oval cut for a salt-and-pepper diamond, a yellow or “fancy” colored diamond, or another intentionally “imperfect” diamond. The oval cut will ensure that the unique features of your diamond are appreciated for the stunning statements they are! One word of caution, though: If you’re shopping for diamonds with visible inclusions, have the diamond vetted by a respected jeweler with experience in such stones to ensure the inclusions are not so significant as to jeopardize the structural integrity and longevity of your ring.
Pear-cut diamonds date as far back as the early 1400s, so consider the pear cut a classic in the truest sense of the word! Also called “teardrop” shaped diamonds, pear-cut diamonds are a sort of hybrid cut between oval and marquise (a long, narrowed football shape) cuts. Pear cut engagement rings are generally great fits for vintage-inspired brides who also want as much bang for their buck as possible, as this cut tends to make diamonds appear larger than their actual carat size.
Like its distant cousin, the princess cut, pear cuts are prone to chipping due to their single, delicate tip. A protective setting like a bezel or half-V will give your pear-shaped diamond the best chance at longevity for a lifetime.
Difference Between an Engagement Ring and a Wedding Ring
The difference between an engagement ring and a wedding ring is the time at which they are worn (the engagement period vs. the wedding ceremony and beyond) and, generally, the style. Engagement rings usually feature one or more diamonds or other stones; wedding ring styles tend to favor traditional bands that may or may not include additional diamonds or gemstones.
- Engagement Ring: A ring presented during a proposal of marriage, usually featuring a diamond or other stone. Engagement rings are worn from the acceptance of the proposal throughout the “engagement,” i.e. the period of time leading up to a wedding. They are often worn after the wedding in addition to a wedding ring.
- Wedding Ring: A ring presented during the wedding ceremony, usually in a band style that may or may not include diamonds or other gemstones. Wedding rings are worn from the moment of exchange during the ceremony for the duration of the marriage, so it is important that couples choose rings they can commit to for a lifetime! Wedding rings are often worn with the engagement ring, either as a planned “bridal set” or “wedding set” or as two distinct but complementary pieces.
While the styles of an engagement ring vs. a wedding ring may differ, if a wedding ring is to include a diamond or other gemstone, the basic shopping principles are the same: Prioritize the elements that are most important to you, like the size or quality of the stone, and balance the other factors to achieve a price point that works for you. There are many different styles of wedding rings out there, so don’t worry—you’ll be able to find one that checks all your boxes!
Make Your Wedding Memorable at Heritage Center
You’ve got the perfect ring—now it’s time to plan the perfect wedding! The Heritage Center of Brooklyn Center offers couples a historic venue for their wedding day, complete with versatile event spaces, full-service catering, and expert event planners to help guide you through the process. We’d be honored to make your wedding day sparkle as bright as your ring! Contact us today to connect with one of our friendly planners. We can’t wait to meet you!