All About Engagement Rings II
An Engagement Ring Guide
This is the second post of a three part article. If this is your first visit to the Engagement Ring Choice website, you may wish to read Part I first. Taken together, these three posts will cover all of the areas that you should be considering as you choose your perfect engagement ring. As I publish more articles, I will start to cover the various aspects of engagement rings in detail. Feel free to sign up so that I can notify you as these posts are published. I would love to accompany you on your journey!
Engagement Ring Settings
The metal and style of the setting define the look of an engagement ring. The setting should showcase your stone to its best advantage but also be a style that you love. The choices are endless, from simple solitaire settings to elaborate styles with several stones.
Research shows that many women are more concerned about the setting of their ring than the stone, despite their relative costs!
Choice of Metal
The metal used for engagement rings needs to be strong enough to survive years of wear. Preferred metals are gold, platinum and palladium. Silver and other soft metals are not strong enough for a ring that will be worn every day for a lifetime.
Gold is the most malleable of all precious metals. Together with its beautiful lustre, this makes it extremely well suited for use in jewelry making. Gold does not tarnish or corrode and it can even be re-melted and used again for new designs.
For use in fine jewelry, gold is mixed with various other metals such as silver, copper, nickel and zinc to give it strength and durability. The purity of gold is measured in Karats (K). 24 Karat (24K) gold is 100% pure. 14 Karat (14K) and 18 Karat (18K) gold are recommended for engagement rings and other fine jewelry as they balance durability with high gold content.
The majority of gold used in jewelry is alloyed with silver, copper and small amounts of zinc to produce varying shades of yellow gold.
On the whole, yellow gold should not be used with diamonds of a very high colour grade as it may add a yellow tint to the diamond. However, varying shades of yellow gold can work very well with diamonds of a lower colour grade, giving a lovely warm overall effect to the engagement ring. Yellow gold is also used with high quality rubies to neutralize blue hints and give a pure red appearance to the ruby.
Gold is usually mixed with nickel, copper and zinc to create white gold. The colour of these gold alloys goes from yellow to white as the proportion of nickel increases. Other white alloys, such as palladium or platinum, are also used to produce white gold. The finished jewelry is plated with rhodium to complete the effect. White gold yellows with time and needs to be re-plated.
Note that some people are allergic to nickel, in which case platinum may be a good alternative to white gold.
Gold is alloyed with copper to create what is known as pink or rose gold. This is an attractive and slightly more unusual metal, which suits most skin tones.
Similar to yellow gold, you should probably avoid rose gold if you have chosen a diamond with a particularly high colour grade. Otherwise, rose gold can be used to create a beautiful and unique engagement ring. Subtle pink morganite and rose gold are a particularly lovely match.
Platinum is extremely durable and less likely to scratch than gold. The silver white metal has a silky sheen and develops a soft patina over time. Platinum pairs beautifully with diamonds, allowing their brilliance and fire to shine through. Unlike other metals used in fine jewelry, it is up to 95% pure, making it hypoallergenic and so a good choice for brides and grooms with sensitive skin. However, it is 30 times rarer than gold, which is reflected in its high price.
Palladium is the new kid on the block when it comes to engagement ring metals. It has a natural whiteness with a slightly grayer hue than platinum and does not tarnish. Palladium is lightweight, hypoallergenic and more affordable than either gold or platinum.
It is becoming increasingly popular to choose recycled metal for an engagement ring setting. This can be a good way to incorporate both ‘something old’ and ‘something new’ into your wedding day! Recycled metal bands often include a mix of gold and platinum.
Engagement Ring Style
If you are attracted to simple engagement rings then a solitaire setting with a single diamond may be for you. Solitaire rings convey classic elegance and timelessness and come in a variety of styles. However, if you prefer a more elaborate ring, there are many other options. You may choose three (or more) larger stones or flank your centre stone with smaller side stones such as tapered baguettes or trilliants for a tapered look with lots of sparkle. If your centre stone is a diamond, you may decide to pair it with coloured gemstones for some added flair. The choices are endless.
Six Prong Setting
The six pronged Tiffany mount was introduced by Tiffany & Co. in 1886. It used six ‘claws’ to hold the stone high above the band, thereby permitting greater amounts of light to pass through the stone. The six prongs are very secure but may overwhelm a smaller stone.
Four Prong Setting
Four pronged settings are a more modern variation of the original Tiffany mount. They are very popular and give a slightly more modern squared off look to an engagement ring. Similar to the six prong setting, the four prongs allow maximum light exposure and brilliance.
The cathedral setting is a type of solitaire setting. It is slightly wider than the simple pronged settings and includes arches that frame the mounting. The arches provide some protection to the stone so this solitaire setting can work well for a slightly softer gemstone.
The bezel setting can be a solitaire setting, or additional diamonds or other gemstones can be added. A bezel set diamond is completely surrounded by metal (and sometimes other diamonds or coloured gemstones). It is a very secure setting so great for an active lifestyle.
The tension setting is an elegant and unique version of the solitaire setting. The diamond appears to be floating between the two pieces of metal holding it in place. Tension set rings are not as easy to resize as other styles, but they are very eye-catching.
The halo setting surrounds the centre diamond with a frame of pave diamonds giving the illusion of a bigger diamond and adding significantly to the overall sparkle of the ring. This is a beautiful and classy look, which has become very popular in recent years.
Often confused with halo settings, a cluster setting groups several smaller stones together, with or without a centre stone, giving the illusion of a single large stone. This setting is less well known than the halo setting but has been gaining in popularity recently.
A channel setting includes accent diamonds or colour gemstones set into a groove in the band of the ring. Channel set gemstones do not have metal separating them, which adds to their radiance. The grooves of metal at the side hold the gemstones firmly in place.
Tiny diamonds cover the surface of the band, giving a dazzling, diamond encrusted appearance to the engagement ring. The whole surface seems to glitter and sparkle. Creating a pave setting is time consuming work, which will be reflected in the price.
Split Shank Setting
The split shank ring has become very popular. It features a band where the shank splits from the head of the ring, creating the look of two, or even three, separate bands. A split shank engagement ring is a great option for brides with large fingers.
Three Stone Setting
Also known as trinity rings or trilogy rings, three stone rings have three matching diamonds set horizontally in a row with the bigger stone placed in the centre. The three diamonds on the ring are said to represent the couple’s past, present and future.
Tapered Baguette Setting
A diamond ring with tapered baguettes is one of the most classic and elegant looks in engagement rings. Baguettes are a simple narrow step cut. They have a glowing lustre rather than sparkle and serve to draw the eye towards the centre stone.
The gemstones in a bar setting are held by slim bars of metal between each stone, accentuating the metal without obscuring the stones. Bar set diamonds or gemstones can accompany a centre stone for an engagement ring or stand alone for a wedding ring.
The stones are embedded into the band of a flush or gypsy setting, giving the ring a contemporary feel. This style is popular for men’s rings. Flush-set tones are protected since they are level with the band. Flush stones can also accompany a prominent centre stone.
The trellis setting is a variation on the prong setting. It looks like a typical prong setting from above but, when viewed from the side, the interlaced prongs add a beautiful elegance to the ring. The trellis setting can be used for single or multiple stones.
When choosing an engagement ring setting, it is important to keep your wedding ring in mind, particularly if you are intending to stack both rings on one finger. One way to pre-empt any mismatch is to buy a wedding set, or bridal set, comprising an engagement ring and a wedding band that match. The rings may simply be two individual rings, designed to be worn together; or they may form two halves of a ‘whole’ ring and look incomplete if worn separately.
I hope you have enjoyed reading Part II of All About Engagement Rings. In Part III you will learn about the multitude of beautiful coloured gemstones that can be used as alternatives to a diamond or as an addition to a diamond centre stone. I also summarize several other considerations that you should be aware of when choosing an engagement ring. See you there!