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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.
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.”
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.
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.
What to Look For in a Prong Setting
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.
Meet the Expert
Kristen Lawler-Trustey is a spokesperson for Forevermark, a responsibly-sourced diamond brand from De Beers Group with a history spanning 130 years.
As previously mentioned, 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.” Prong settings are also incredibly versatile and work with almost any stone cut, including round brilliant, pear, princess, emerald, cushion, and radiant.
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.
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.”
Ahead, 15 unique and beautiful engagement rings featuring a prong setting.
Meadowlark Signature 3-Stone Ring
An impressive three-stone engagement ring that will catch the light beautifully.
SHOP NOW: Meadowlark Jewellery, $5,365
Porter Gulch Blue-Green Sapphire Felicity Ring
A stylish alternative to a diamond center stone, this sapphire ring is set alongside petite pear and round diamonds for a breathtaking finish.
SHOP NOW: No. 3, $2,535
Forevermark Icon™ Setting Round Engagement Ring
A gorgeous, classic engagement ring that will never go out of style.
SHOP NOW: Forevermark, $3,255
Tacori Petite Crescent Ring
Opt for a pave band to add to the brilliance of your prong ring setting.
SHOP NOW: Tacori, $3,780
Michelle Fantaci Sapphire Pavo Ring
The rose-cut sapphire on this simple-yet-striking ring is unheated, making it rare and all the more special.
SHOP NOW: Michelle Fantaci, $980
Ashley Zhang Adela Ring
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.
SHOP NOW: Ashley Zhang Jewelry, $23,100
Lauren Wolf Green Montana Sapphire Ring
If you’re looking for a center stone that’s not a diamond, consider this dreamy green Montana sapphire.
SHOP NOW: Lauren Wolf Jewelry, $4,600
Katkim Floating Diamond Ring
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.
SHOP NOW: Katkim Fine Jewelry, $12,800
Melissa Joy Manning Pear Shape White Diamond Ring
This pear-shaped diamond ring would look especially chic with a glistening wedding band.
SHOP NOW: Melissa Joy Manning, $8,000
Grace Lee Oval Rose-Cut Diamond Solitaire Ring
The epitome of effortlessness, this simple-yet-striking engagement ring is perfect for the modern minimalist.
SHOP NOW: Grace Lee, $5,388
Mociun Cordillera Ring
A stone cluster ring featuring old European-cut white diamonds — can’t get much more sparkly than that.
SHOP NOW: Mociun, $6,650
Michelle Oh Agnes Ring
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.
SHOP NOW: Michelle Oh, $3,755
1stdibs Antique Edwardian Solitaire Diamond Ring
A beautiful antique engagement ring for the bride-to-be who wants something vintage.
SHOP NOW: 1stdibs, $2,750
Natalie Marie Precious Oval Solitaire White Sapphire
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.
SHOP NOW: Natalie Marie Jewellery, $3,191
Anna Sheffield Bea East/West Solitaire Ring
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).
SHOP NOW: Anna Sheffield, $12,765