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The two factors that most impact the aesthetic of your engagement ring are the cut of the diamond and the setting of the ring. The former is a topic that most women have formed an opinion about long before the words "will you marry me?" have even been uttered. The setting, however, might be a decision you haven't quite landed on yet.
An engagement ring's setting can completely alter the style and appearance of the piece. It can be modern, sporty, traditional, and vintage just with the alteration of something as simple as the setting, which is why it's important to understand what best suits your personal taste.
Claw vs. Rubover Bezel
While there are seemingly infinite options for settings, it's most helpful to think of them in two main categories: claw (or prong) and rubover (or bezel). "Most settings are variations of these two basic types," Michelle Oh tells Brides.
Meet the Expert
Michelle Oh is a jewelry designer who trained at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London. She founded her eponymous line in 2011 and specializes in unique alternative engagement and wedding rings.
"As the name suggests, claw-set stones are held in place by little claws," Oh explains. "The number of claws [usually four or six] can vary to produce different looks. Within the claw style, you can also have variation in how the claws are shaped and finished." Examples of popular claw settings include rounded claws where each claw will look more like beads or grains holding the stone whereas, on talon claws, they are longer sharper pointed claws. The single-stone claw is arguably the most classic and popular ring setting.
The primary reason you'd opt for a claw setting is that it spotlights the center stone more prominently, therefore allowing more light to interact with the diamond resulting in more sparkle. It's a great option for those who want something that feels versatile and classic. It also works well with multiple diamond cuts. The disadvantage of going with a prong setting is the lack of protection. Because the stone is surrounded by less metal, the opportunity to chip it on a sharp surface is higher.
In rubover bezel settings, "the stone's perimeter is surrounded by a wall of metal casing," Oh explains. "These types of settings are more hard-wearing and usually provide greater protection for the stone." Oh shares that the rubover bezel setting style has not been as popular due to its "chunkier" appearance, but in certain shapes and depending on the style of design you are going for it can actually really suit the stone better than a claw setting.
In addition to protecting your stone better, a bezel setting can also disguise flaws more effectively, such as inclusions in the diamond or a chip in the stone. The downside of a bezel is that it can make your diamond look smaller than it actually is and less sparkly; though if it's set higher on the band that can help correct the issue.
Best of Both Worlds
If you're looking to mix it up with your engagement ring setting, you could consider fusing a claw and bezel for a unique result. "For example, for this ring, the three round stones to the middle are set in claws, and the last 2 stones on the ends are set in rubover style," Oh says.
Once you've nailed down the general aesthetics of prong vs. bezel, it's time to dive into the granular world of settings. Since they don't always fall neatly under one label or the other, continue ahead for a breakdown of what each looks like and why it might be the right choice for your engagement ring.