Choosing Engagement Ring Prongs

Prongs play a vital role in various jewelry settings, particularly in securing your stone of choice in place. When it comes to engagement rings, making sure your stones are properly secured is incredibly important, so choosing your prong type (or not to use prongs at all) is a decision worth considering. 

Before you can determine if you’d like prongs, and which type, in your engagement ring, it’s important to understand what the options are. When discussing prongs, you can consider them for your center stone, as well as your side stones. Let’s explore this in a bit more detail. 

How are prongs created?

The process of creating prongs is done by an experienced jewelry designer, who would determine the design, specifying the number, size, and positioning of the prongs. Then the jeweler would, in the metal of your choice, create the design and use specialized tools like pliers and tweezers to fashion individual prongs according to the design specifications. These prongs are carefully bent and manipulated to achieve the desired shape and angle, ensuring a secure hold for the gemstone. Following shaping, the prongs are soldered, adjusted, and polished.

What types of prongs are available?

  1. Round Prongs: Round prongs are the most traditionally seen with solitaires. They have a rounded shape and offer good security for holding gemstones in place. 
  1. V-Prongs: V-prongs taper to a point where it meets the gemstone. They are modern and are seen when setting princess cut stones, as well as marquise and pear. 
  1. Double Prongs: Double prongs, or split prongs, consist of two prongs placed next to each other. It is mostly for visual appeal, as it’s often the same amount of metal as a traditional prong, but just split down the center.
  1. Tapered Prongs: Tapered prongs have a gradually narrowing shape that tapers towards the top, providing a delicate and refined appearance. These prongs are also sometimes called claw prongs.

Yellow Gold | Reflection-engagement-ring

How to select prongs for an engagement ring

Selecting the perfect prongs for an engagement ring should be determined by several different factors. 

First, select your metal choice. You may want to review metal options here. You should also consider the shape and size of your center stone (or side stones) since certain types of prongs offer more security than others, or look better with different types of stones. Also, think about your own personal style. If you’re more traditional, then round prongs might be the best choice. But if you are looking for a more modern design, double or claw prongs might be more your style. Prong height is another important aspect that is sometimes overlooked. Depending upon your lifestyle, a lower setting might be necessary for the safety of your stones. But if you prefer that your ring make a statement and stand out, a high profile look with taller prongs is a good choice. 

You shouldn't feel like you have to make this decision alone. The guidance of a jeweler can assist with prong selection by discussing your preferences, budget, and lifestyle, ensuring your engagement ring not only dazzles but endures. Collaborate with a skilled professional to curate prongs that harmonize with your vision, culminating in a timeless symbol of love and commitment.

You should first consider the security of your stone. The purpose of prongs is to hold your gemstone in place, so you may want to consult your jeweler to make sure that your desired prong type will be sufficient to protect your stone. You should also consider the visibility of your stone. Different types of prongs will cover more or less surface area of your stone. The more of your stone that is exposed, the more it will sparkle, but also the less protected it will be. It’s important to find a happy medium here. You should also evaluate your personal style and comfort desires. Prong type can change how often and in what situations (work, home, etc.) you can wear your ring, depending upon how high or low the stone is set and if it will interfere with your lifestyle. 

When considering prongs for your side stones, pavé is a popular choice because it features many small diamonds set close together, making them shine brightly. The name comes from the French word for cobblestone, and just like cobblestones, the diamonds are arranged tightly side by side. This style minimizes the amount of metal you see between the stones, making the ring sparkle even more. The diamonds are held in place with tiny prongs, which can be made for each stone or shared between several.

Crafting a pavé setting takes skill and care from a trained jeweler. They start by drilling small holes in the metal where each diamond will go. Then, they carefully put each diamond in its place at the same height to keep everything even. After that, they make delicate prongs from the metal around the diamonds to hold them securely. Finally, they polish the metal to finish the ring.

However, pavé settings have their downsides. Because the diamonds are so close together, they can collect dirt over time and need regular cleaning by a jeweler. Also, the small prongs can get damaged or worn down, which might put the diamonds at risk of coming loose. If you lead an active lifestyle, a pavé setting might not be the best choice because the ring is more likely to get damaged. Despite these concerns, pavé-set diamonds can be stunning as long as you take good care of them.

What are some alternatives to prongs?

If prong setting your engagement ring center stone isn’t ideal for you, there is also the option of bezel setting, which offers a contemporary look where the stone’s girdle is completely surrounded with a circle of metal. This is a very secure way to set your stone because it’s not exposed and therefore will be more difficult to chip if your ring is accidentally damaged. The bezel setting is an excellent choice for those with active lifestyles or professions that involve frequent hand use, such as doctors or nurses. One downside to the bezel setting is that less light enters the stone, which may reduce the brilliant appearance of your stone. With a bezel setting, it’s also important to think about the color of metal you’re choosing. Since the stone is completely encircled, the color of the metal will reflect into the stone. Therefore, a D color diamond (colorless) may appear slightly yellow if you choose yellow gold. In a full bezel setting, the metal completely encircles the diamond. Whereas in a semi-bezel setting, the metal encircles part of the diamond, while leaving part of it exposed. 

If you’re looking for something other than prong setting (also known as pavé when discussing side stones), you have the option of channel setting. A channel setting is a popular way to secure diamonds that creates a smooth and sleek appearance. It is characterized by stones that are held in place by a metal channel on either side. It is typically created by carving a groove into the metal band of the ring, and then the diamonds are set into this groove. While the majority of setting styles use prongs to secure the stones, channel setting is not one of them. Instead, the diamonds are held in the channel, which allows for the diamonds to be viewed uninterrupted. The metal is flush with the surface of the diamonds, which makes for a smooth surface and a contemporary look. The metal also protects the edges of the diamonds and minimizes the opportunity for the ring to snag on clothing or get damaged. Many different diamond shapes can be set in a channel–round, princess, baguette, etc.

Ultimately, the decision to use prongs or a different setting style can be based upon many factors about your life, style, budget, and what is best for your stone. It’s important to consider all aspects of your ring design and consult an experienced jeweler to make sure that your ring will reflect your personal desires and also protect your stone. Now that you’re more fully informed about the prong options available, you can make a decision that will best suit your perfect engagement ring.