Engagement ring settings:
When couples are shopping for engagement rings, they might have something particular in mind, but most often they look at a wide range of engagement ring settings - the precious metal that makes up the band and the mounting that holds the stone in place. Engagement ring settings are a very personal choice and there are many from which to choose. Unless a bride-to-be is being surprised with an engagement ring, she should try on a variety of rings to see which engagement ring setting best suits her hand ... and of course which one she likes the most!
The precious metals used in engagement ring settings are nearly always either platinum or white or yellow gold. Platinum, a white-toned metal, is the strongest and most durable, but it is also the most expensive. White gold is a popular, less expensive alternative to platinum in engagement ring settings. White gold is a mixture of pure yellow gold and other metals that lighten the color, and it is usually plated with rhodium (a white metal) for an even brighter finish. White gold engagement rings settings are generally stronger and more scratch resistant than those made with yellow gold - and white gold or platinum engagement ring settings enhance the color of a diamond, since the white metal is reflected into the stone.
Engagement ring settings can be solitaires, which showcase just one diamond without any side or accent stones, or multi-stone settings, which have a center diamond with smaller stones around it or on the sides. Multi-stone engagement ring settings usually have diamonds as accents but can also feature colored gemstones such as rubies, sapphires or emeralds.
Prong settings, where small claw-like spokes of metal support the stone at its upper edges, are the most common engagement ring settings, especially for solitaires. Some of the other popular engagement ring settings include:
A bezel setting, which features a ring of metal completely surrounding a diamond. A bezel setting is used most often with a round or square gemstone and can make a stone appear larger than it is; it can also conceal small nicks or flaws on the side edges.
A bar setting is an excellent way to display side stones in multi-stone engagement ring settings or bands, using narrow bars of metal to hold the diamonds in place. It is similar to a channel setting, in which similar-sized stones are securely placed in a channel inset between two parallel rows of metal with nothing between the stones themselves.
In a cluster setting, a larger central stone is surrounded by smaller stones - often colored semi-precious stones instead of diamonds - forming a floral or other design. Small stones are also featured in a pave (pronounced pah-vay) setting, but these would all be diamonds, set very close together with no metal showing through, so that it almost looks as though the gem surface is one large stone. Even though small stones are being used, engagement ring settings with pave designs can be very expensive, due to the careful and intricate work involved.