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," jewelry designer Michelle Oh tells Brides.
"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.
Solitaire Engagement Rings
Perhaps the most popular of them all, this prong real bride engagement ring setting makes your center stone the star of the show while. It’s timeless and classic, and a smart pick for those who like to keep it simple.
Price at time of publish: $890 for Setting Only
Tiffany Engagement Rings
This six-prong solitaire setting is well-known thanks to its namesake associations and focus on the center stone, which results in a "floating" effect.
Price at time of publish: $15,700 for 18K Yellow Gold, 1 Carat
Cathedral Engagement Rings
The cathedral is similar to the solitaire but in addition to prongs, it includes arches of metal to hold up your stone. Its aesthetic is regal and sophisticated—a great pick for a bride who wants something traditional and beautiful.
Price at time of publish: $1,759
Channel Engagement Rings
Channel features diamonds set in a row sandwiched between the band's two metal edges. A more secure option for your diamonds while still looking delicate and sparkly, with no need for a diamond rest any time soon.
Price available upon request
Split-Shank Engagement Rings
This setting has negative space alongside the side of the diamond, allowing for a subtly unique silhouette that still feels classic. It also provides more support for your center stone.
Price at time of publish: $2,850 for Setting Alone
Bar Engagement Rings
Similar to a channel setting, the bar features a diamond-encrusted band but with metal bars positioned between each stone. It's a less popular pick but when done well can be exquisite.
Price at time of publish: $8,750
Bezel Engagement Rings
As previously mentioned, the bezel setting is when the stone's perimeter is surrounded by a wall of metal casing. This often results in a vintage aesthetic that's ideal for the bride who wants something unique, nostalgic, or the latest trend as an engagement ring.
Price at time of publish: $1,639
Pave Engagement Rings
If you're all about the sparkle then pave should be on your list of settings to consider. It's similar to a solitaire but features a band that's encrusted with small diamonds either all the way around or half-way down the band.
Price at time of publish: $21,669
Cluster Engagement Rings
Another smart pick for the lover of all things that glisten in the light, a cluster setting incorporates several stones that can resemble different silhouettes.
Price at time of publish: $2,200
Halo Engagement Rings
This setting features small stones that encircle the center stone for a result that's glamorous and extra-sparkly. It can also make your diamond appear larger than it is, which is a welcomed side effect.
Tension Engagement Rings
This sleek setting creates the illusion that the stone is floating between the band. It speaks to an artful, modern vibe that's great if you're looking for a setting outside the norm.
Price at time of publish: $2,711
East-West Engagement Rings
East-west set engagement rings are when the stones are placed horizontally on the band. It's an unconventional twist that will still give your ring a classic and timeless feel.
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.