There are many different things to consider when choosing a ring but one of the most important is what type of setting do you want?
The answer depends very much on the circumstances of the person who is going to be wearing the ring, things like jobs and hobbies can influence what setting the wearer is going to like but is also going to be practical. This is especially important when choosing an engagement ring. In my career I have guided many people through this choice from a lady who worked in construction and wanted a ring that was not going to break if she forgot to take it off for work to a kickboxer who wanted a ring she could comfortably wear under her gloves.
There are a lot of different styles but the majority are modifications of the styles I am going to go through below.
Claw setting is the most popular choice of setting for engagement rings. The setting really helps to show off the stone as the open sides let light into the back of the stone and the claws do not cover much of the top of the stone. On the design side of things, claw setting can offer lots of different options as the number of claws used can vary depending on what you prefer. The four claw setting that is pictured is one of the most popular as is the Tiffany & Co inspired six claw settings, I have seen the number of claws used range between three and ten.
Claw setting are usually very durable when done properly and taken care of, however the claws can occasionally get caught on clothing which can cause the claws to bend. It is also worth having the claws re-tightened every few years to make sure that they are gripping the stone properly.
Bezel setting are one of the most secure settings you can choose and are often ideal for people who work with their hands. As metal is pushed over the stone to keep it in place, the chances of losing the stone are reduced. The down side of many bezel setting is that due to the nature of the setting, not much light is let into the stone which can make stones, especially diamonds look a bit lifeless. Many people really like bezel settings and when they are finished properly, they do look amazing.
Channel settings are the most popular choice for eternity rings, not only do they look great but they also offer a lot of protection to the small diamonds often used it eternity rings. The stones a placed into a channel that has been cut out of the band before metal is pushed over the edges of the stones to hold them in place. The process of channel setting is very similar to the bezel setting mentioned above. As the stone are recessed into the ring, they do not suffer too much abuse on a daily basis and the fragile edges of the stones, whether round or princess cut are protected.
While this type of setting is often used on eternity rings, it can also be used to set accent stones on the shoulders of other styles of rings.
Pavé setting is a very popular way of setting small diamonds into jewellery and recently engagement rings. Pavé is a french word that means to cover and area, usually with stones and in jewellery this is often done with diamonds. The stones are held in by very small prongs that are made when the seats for the diamonds are cut and many times the results look just like small claw settings.
There are quite a few different variations of Pavé settings but I personally categorise them in to two different types, open and closed. Open pavé is when the sides of the stone are not covered by metal (as can be seen on the ring on the right), this allows more light to be let into the stone. While the stones may have more of a sparkle, they are not protected and as the stones are very small, they typically range from 1mm – 2mm in diameter and there is only a small amount of metal holding them in place, they can become dislodged. The closed pavé setting is a slightly different variation of the channel setting mentioned above as the stone are placed in a recessed channel in the ring but are held in with small prongs instead of metal being pushed over the stone. They are more protected than the open style due to the metal either side but do not let as much light in, so may not sparkle as much.
Micro-pavé setting is very similar to the pavé setting above, except it is done with very small stones, sometimes as small as 0.5mm. Micro-pavé is often done with rows of small diamonds so that it gives a very sparkly effect. Due to the stones being so small, the amount of metal holding them in place in miniscule and I generally would not advise using this setting if you are planning to wear the ring everyday as the chances of losing a stone are quite high with this type of setting.
Flush setting is very popular in mens rings and wedding as it gives a simple yet clean look. It is also a very secure setting as the stone is held in place by metal that has been pushed over the stone. This type of setting became very popular after Cartier used it in their love range.
Unfortunately I do not have a picture of a tension set ring. I really do not recommend this type of setting, especially for an engagement ring as there is a high chance that you will lose your stone. The stones are held in place by tension that is created in the metal but over time the metal will lose its memory and when this happens, the setting often becomes loose which results in the stone falling out. They are fantastic to look at but not to own.
I hope this has given you a little bit of information on the types of setting that are used in your jewellery and that it will help you make a more informed decision as to what is right for you.
I would like to thank Domino Jewellery and Hockley Mint for the images used in this post.