You've decided it's time to propose, and you're ready to start shopping for the perfect ring. Though you may have mastered the diamond's "four C's," you should also consider the setting that will hold the dazzling jewel. Here's a quick engagement-ring setting overview to help you in the hunt for your honey's bling.
A ring setting usually depends on the shape and cut of the gem. While you should choose a design that complements her look, there are many different styles and options you should consider based on your beloved's lifestyle.
Prong settings: A prong is an elongated metal bracket that holds a gem securely to a ring band. Most jewelers recommend using at least six prongs in a setting to ensure the gem will stay put. However, four prongs and even three prongs have become quite common. The prongs should be evenly spaced around the gem, and above all, they should be strong. If the gem has corners or points, like in a marquis cut, make sure they are protected by sturdy prongs.
Prong settings are the most popular; however, they should be worn by women who are not heavily active in sports, gardening, etc. A movement as simple as putting a hand in a pants pocket can potentially pull on the prongs and loosen their hold on the diamond. Be sure to take special care and regularly check that the prongs are in good shape and securely holding your precious stone.
Channel settings: Channel settings have no individual prongs; instead, they hold gems in a groove set into the ring band. They can be an accent to the center stone or set in the band itself. Because the stones are fully set into the ring, channel settings are recommended for active women -- the gem being closer to the wearer's hand, cutting down on pulls, tugs, catches and other damage.
Other settings: Customers who favor traditional settings might prefer a high Tiffany setting -- simple, yet beautiful. Four or six prongs hold the thickest portion of the stone, elevating it above the band. The low baguette setting is popular with thin, long and flat gems. A practical and elegant choice is the bezel setting, in which the metal encases the sides of the gem. Providing just the opposite effect is an Illusion setting, for which several gems are laid side-by-side and the setting is largely hidden from view. A diamond appears to float in midair within the band of the ring itself in a tension setting. Another favorite is the pave setting, where the band appears to be "paved" with diamonds. Pave uses tiny prongs to hold each stone, maximizing the illusion of free-standing diamonds.