The Prong Setting: The Complete Guide

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ring

Courtesy of Michelle Oh / Design by Bailey Mariner

As ubiquitous as prong setting engagement rings may seem, there was a time when this silhouette was virtually nonexistent. Fast forward to the 19th-century, this sleek style burst onto the scene and forever changed the way jewelers feature remarkable gemstones.

What Is the Prong Setting?

The prong setting, also known as the claw setting, is a ring setting that typically has four or six metal prongs that extend up from the ring’s basket and over the gemstone. This effectively secures the diamond in place and allows more light to enter the stone.

Learn about the history of this ultra-popular ring setting, the best stone cuts to pair with them, and why their versatility is key when deciding what aesthetic is best for you.

Meet the Expert

  • Greg Fromont and his partner Claire Hammon founded New Zealand-based jewelry label Meadowlark back in 2006. Their designs have been worn by cult-favorite style icons including Grimes, Zoe Kravitz, FKA Twigs, and Lorde.
  • Kristen Lawler-Trustey is a spokesperson for Forevermark, a responsibly-sourced diamond brand from De Beers Group with a history spanning 130 years.

Pros and Cons of Prong Settings

Prong settings are popular because of their classic and timeless look. If you decide to go with a prong setting for your engagement ring, you will never have a problem with it going out of style. Prongs are also a great way to show the most of your engagement stone since they don't take up much room on the ring. The small shape of prongs also makes it easier to clean your stone. You are able to get to the sides and underside of the stone with this type of setting, ensuring that your ring has maximum shine after each clean.

A potential con that comes with a prong setting is getting something caught on one of the prongs. When looking for a prong setting, you’ll want to work with a trusted jeweler. “They should ensure the prongs are properly finished,” Kristen Lawler-Trustey of Forevermark tells Brides. “Prong settings that aren’t properly refined may catch or snag on fabric or skin.” If the stone is not set evenly within the prongs, it could wiggle loose. “Because they are so delicately set, prong settings can reveal inferior workmanship,” she adds.

What to Look For in a Prong Setting

  • What cuts work best with a prong setting? Prong settings are incredibly versatile and work with almost any stone cut, including round brilliant, pear, princess, emerald, cushion, and radiant.
  • Are there any cuts that will absolutely not work with this type of setting?
    Both experts agree that rare antique cuts, like cabochon, may be better suited with other setting techniques. “Prong settings can be quite labor-intensive,” Fromont explains. “Their proportions are often hand-cut and finished and each side has to be identical, particularly to suit the perfection of an impressively-cut stone.” Because of this, costs for prong settings can run the gamut.
  • Are there different types of prong settings? A four or six-prong setting is the most common type of prong setting, but you can find prongs that are rounded or tapered to a point to form a claw setting. “That’s a particularly hot trend right now,” Lawler-Trustey notes. “Claw settings can have an edgy, modern feel in comparison to their rounded counterparts.”
  • What stones work best with a prong setting? A prong setting works with just about any stone! This type of setting is essential if you choose a softer stone for your engagement ring, like morganite or emerald, because it gives less durable stones more protection against chipping or other damage. 

How to Care for Your Prong Setting

Both experts nod to a six-month cleaning and check-up with a trusted jeweler for ensuring your prong setting stands the test of time. “The jeweler will inspect the prongs of your jewelry for any weaknesses or trauma, making sure that the diamond(s) remain safe in the setting,” says Lawler-Trustey.

Fromont also explains that “over the course of a long time, the claws holding the stone in will need to be re-tipped, which can be done easily…the last thing you want is for your diamond to suddenly be missing one morning after a big night out.”

In terms of at-home care, Lawler-Trustey recommends using hot soapy water and a gentle brush with a soft-bristle or a non-abrasive jewelry cleaner followed up with a lint-free cloth. For a less-traditional approach to cleaning, Fromont suggests soap crystals and aluminum foil for a “mostly non-abrasive way to clean your jewelry.”

The History of Prong Settings

Prong settings experienced an uptick in popularity during the 19th century “as stone-cutting techniques and larger, more dramatic, less-included stones were unearthed,” says Meadowlark co-founder Greg Fromont. Prior to prongs, the majority of rings featured bezel or rub-over settings. “These older styles hid the stone away but as more fantastical stones were created, jewelers sought to show off the full personality of a stone.”

A prong setting helped create the illusion that the stone was floating above your finger for the first time. Perhaps the best-known purveyor of prong engagement ring settings was the now-iconic Tiffany setting, introduced in 1886.

Ahead, unique and beautiful engagement rings featuring a prong setting.

01
of 20

Meadowlark Signature 3-Stone Ring

Meadowlark Signature 3-Stone Ring

Courtesy of Meadowlark Jewellery 

An impressive three-stone engagement ring that will catch the light beautifully.

02
of 20

Forevermark Icon™ Setting Round Engagement Ring

Forevermark Icon™ Setting Round Engagement Ring

Courtesy of Forevermark  

A gorgeous, classic engagement ring that will never go out of style.

03
of 20

Tacori Petite Crescent Ring

Tacori Petite Crescent Ring

Courtesy of Tacori 

Opt for a pave band to add to the brilliance of your prong ring setting.

04
of 20

Michelle Fantaci Sapphire Pavo Ring

Michelle Fantaci Sapphire Pavo Ring

Courtesy of Michelle Fantaci  

The rose-cut sapphire on this simple-yet-striking ring is unheated, making it rare and all the more special.

05
of 20

Ashley Zhang Adela Ring

Ashley Zhang Adela Ring

Ashley Zhang Jewelry 

Another striking East-West option, this breathtaking ring features a 2ct center diamond flanked by baguette diamonds for a finishing touch that’s truly remarkable.

06
of 20

Lauren Wolf Green Montana Sapphire Ring

Lauren Wolf Green Montana Sapphire Ring

Courtesy of Lauren Wolf Jewelry 

If you’re looking for a center stone that’s not a diamond, consider this dreamy green Montana sapphire.

07
of 20

Katkim Floating Diamond Ring

Katkim Floating Diamond Ring

Courtesy of Katkim Fine Jewelry

The unique design on this engagement ring gives the illusion of a floating diamond, which enhances the prong setting and results in a truly covetable piece of jewelry.

08
of 20

Grace Lee Oval Rose-Cut Diamond Solitaire Ring

Grace Lee Oval Rose-Cut Diamond Solitaire Ring

Courtesy of Grace Lee 

The epitome of effortlessness, this simple-yet-striking engagement ring is perfect for the modern minimalist.

09
of 20

Michelle Oh Agnes Ring

Michelle Oh Agnes Ring

Courtesy of Michelle Oh 

Even if you opt for a non-diamond center stone, you can still incorporate them into your engagement ring design, as seen on this striking cornflower blue sapphire ring.

10
of 20

1stdibs Antique Edwardian Solitaire Diamond Ring

1stdibs Antique Edwardian Solitaire Diamond Ring

Courtesy of 1stdibs 

A beautiful antique engagement ring for the bride-to-be who wants something vintage.

11
of 20

Natalie Marie Precious Oval Solitaire White Sapphire

Natalie Marie Precious Oval Solitaire White Sapphire

Courtesy of Natalie Marie Jewellery

This sparkling white Ceylon sapphire ring featuring a sleek prong setting is a sentimental, understated option that will go with any other piece of jewelry on your hand.

12
of 20

Anna Sheffield Bea East/West Solitaire Ring

Anna Sheffield Bea East/West Solitaire Ring

Courtesy of Anna Sheffield

For something slightly out of the norm, go for an East-West engagement ring (that’s when your center stone has been flipped to lay horizontally).

13
of 20

Catbird Violette the Swan, Supreme

Catbird Violette the Swan

COURTESY OF CATBIRD

An array of cultivated diamonds make up this prong setting ring. Two pear shape diamonds flank the sparkling center rounded stone.

14
of 20

Tiffany & Co. Tiffany True® Engagement Ring

Tiffany & Co. Tiffany True® Engagement Ring

COURTESY OF TIFFANY & CO.

Yellow diamonds are some of the rarest and most eye catching stones on the market. This cushion-cut yellow diamond is in a prong setting in 18K yellow gold.

15
of 20

Gemist The Emerald Solitaire

Gemist Emerald Cut Ring

COURTESY OF GEMIST

Classy and timeless, this emerald-cut solitaire ring is the perfect forever piece.

16
of 20

Vrai The Knife-Edge

Vrai The Knife-Edge

COURTESY OF VRAI

This engagement ring features a six prong setting that holds a breathtaking oval shaped diamond. The knife-edge pavé band adds a unique twist.

17
of 20

KatKim Floating Diamond Arena Ring

KatKim Floating Diamond Arena Ring

COURTESY OF KATKIM

The juxtaposition between yellow gold and white gold sets this KatKim ring apart from others. The 1.4ct brilliant cut diamond is held in a four prong 18K yellow gold setting. The band is made of 18K white gold with pavé diamonds featured on the top and the bottom of the band.

18
of 20

Ruta Reifen Morganite Oval the Moon Yellow Gold Ring

Ruta Reifen Morganite Oval the Moon Yellow Gold Ring

COURTESY OF YLANG23

Morganite gemstones are a beautiful alternative to to diamonds because they give off a hint of peach while still holding a traditional look. These three morganite gemstones are each held in a four prong setting on 14K yellow gold band.

19
of 20

Kwiat Engagement Ring

Kwiat Engagement Ring

COURTESY OF KWIAT

This four-prong setting holds a glowing Ashoka cut diamond flanked by beautifully cut side stones. The Ashoka cut diamond is very rare and found at only a few diamond retailers, like Kwiat.

20
of 20

Capucinne Diamond Heart Ring

Capucinne Diamond Heart Ring

COURTESY OF CAPUCINNE

Forget wearing your heart on your sleeve. Wear your heart on your engagement ring instead! This heart-shaped diamond is held in a four-prong setting with a pavé rose gold band.

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