Looking at engagement rings can be an overwhelming experience. There are plenty of styles available and even more that are trending, so it can be hard to narrow down exactly what you like. Plus, some terms are always thrown around that can start to overlap and make the search even more confusing. After all, selecting an engagement ring is no task to take lightly.
This is one piece of jewelry you or your partner will wear for years. Of course, you want a ring style you'll love to look at for the next few decades. But since it's also a piece of jewelry you'll wear daily, there are other factors to consider that relate to the ring's integrity. Two of the most common settings for engagement rings are bezel and prong. And though they may both be among the most popular settings, they couldn't be more different. Before you go ring shopping, here's what you have to know about bezel and prong settings.
What's a bezel setting?
Let's start with definitions. A bezel setting has a metal ring that goes around and encases the edges of the stone to help keep it in place. "The bezel setting has probably been used since the beginning of jewelry design and stone setting," jewelry designer Emma Clarkson Webb says in an interview with Brides. The setting is old and characteristic of many antique rings but has also been growing in popularity for modern-made rings. So if you're looking for a ring style that has a vintage flare, bezel settings are a ring style to consider.
Bezel settings work best for stones in round, brilliant, or rose cuts because they allow for a low-set profile. However, that's not to say you can't get a bezel setting with other shapes or cuts. Many people also love how bezel settings look because the stone can appear larger, and its "settings create a trick of the eye to enhance the size of the stone," Webb says. "They create an illusion that the stone is larger than it actually is, particularly when the color of the metal is matched to the shade of the stone." And if you like the look of multiple stones, bezel settings can be combined with other settings to create multi-stone designs. However, one thing to note is that bezel stones can be more expensive than other settings because they require more metal and labor to create.
What's a prong setting?
Of all the setting styles for engagement rings, prong settings are the most common. Prongs are thin strips of metal that hold the stone in place. These strips create a cradle that extends from the ring band. The stone is inserted into the cradle, and the tips are bent to secure the stone in place. While prong settings are considered the most popular, they're relatively new in jewelry making. The style debuted in 1886 by Tiffany & Co. Though the style is over a century old, prong settings look sleek and modern and have become a timeless option for engagement rings.
Prong settings are loved because the minimal detailing shows off more of the stone, and more light can hit the jewel, allowing for maximum sparkle. This setting style is also highly customizable, allowing you to have a variety of shapes and cuts. Rings are typically available with four and six prongs. Four prongs obstruct the stone less but can be less secure, whereas the opposite is true for six prongs: more secure but covers the gem more. Prong settings are also easily combined with other settings, so a multi-stone engagement ring is possible.
Delicate vs. thick
Aesthetic is a top factor when choosing an engagement ring, and bezel and prong settings couldn't look more different. Bezel settings provide an overall thicker look to engagement rings because of the extra metal around the stone. Depending on the ring style, the band can also be thicker, resulting in a bulkier look. Bezel settings also tend to have a more antique look, especially with full bezel settings. But there are partial bezel settings with gaps or openings in the metal bezel, which can look more updated.
In general, rings that have prong settings are a lot more delicate and dainty in appearance. Because of the minimalist design, prong settings look sleeker and more modern, so they're ideal for those who prefer a contemporary look. Prong settings also tend to be more creative with stone shapes and combinations, making great non-traditional engagement rings. However, you should be cautious about going too dainty with the engagement ring band. The standard for a band is3 mm to 4 mm. Ultra-thin bands — those under 3 mm — might not be able to support a stone that's more than a carat.
Protection comes into play
Since an engagement ring will be worn daily for years, durability and protection should be a top priority. When it comes to protecting that center stone, bezel settings are no doubt better. The metal encasing the sides of the stone keeps it in place, and the risk of the stone falling out or the setting loosening is much lower. Unfortunately, a greater chance of losing a gem with a prong setting exists. The thin metal prongs can bend or become misshapen, leaving the stone vulnerable to falling out of the setting. The good news is that this doesn't happen randomly. You'll have to hit the ring or catch a prong on something to do enough damage to loosen the setting.
If you have a profession that requires extensive hand use, are very active, or are on the clumsier side, bezel settings might be the better option. The extra protection around the sides can help prevent damage to the stone. If you're active or use your hands a lot and are set on a prong setting, removing your ring to protect the stone is the best option.
Protection when creating the ring is also a factor. Because bezel setting requires hammering the metal to encase the stone, many jewelry designers shy away from colored gemstones and heirloom gems. Breaking or chipping from the hammer is risky, so placing them in a prong setting is best.
Keep cleaning in mind
Engagement rings can quickly become gunky with daily wear, so they'll need regular cleanings to maintain their sparkle. With both prong and bezel settings, dirt and grime can be between the tiny spaces. Prong settings are usually raised and have space between the metal strips, which can trap dirt after being worn daily. And the tiny crevice where the metal ring meets the stone can also capture dirt.
Luckily, both settings can easily be cleaned at home with gentle dish soap. Make a solution of warm water and dish soap and allow the ring to soak for 20 to 40 minutes before brushing the ring with a toothbrush to remove dirt or grime. Then run it under warm water to rinse away the soap. Use a soft cloth — not a paper towel — to dry off the ring or allow it to air dry. Cleaning about once a week removes dirt, oil, and buildup. But to have your ring sparkle, you'll want to take it to be professionally cleaned once or twice a year. Professional cleaners are especially adept at primping out those little crevices that collect dirt.
Bezel settings also tend to have a more antique look, especially with full bezel settings. But there are partial bezel settings with gaps or openings in the metal bezel, which can look more updated. In general, rings that have prong settings are a lot more delicate and dainty in appearance.What is the difference between prong and bezel? ›
Unlike a prong setting which holds gemstones in place with a strip of metal, a bezel setting has a metal rim that encloses the girdle of the diamond. Interestingly, this setting features flexibility wherein if a gemstone is round, the bezel setting will be in a circular metal.Does bezel setting reduce sparkle? ›
- A thicker bezel setting has the potential to limit the amount of light that can enter into the diamond, thus diminishing sparkle. - If you ever need to remove the stone from the setting, it is much more difficult to do than with other setting styles, like a prong.What is bezel prong setting? ›
A bezel prong setting is a signature Abby Sparks Jewelry setting that is a hybrid of prong setting and bezel setting. It features a pillow of metal surrounding the base of the stone, and has prongs coming over to secure the stone into the setting.What is a bezel on an engagement ring? ›
What Is a Bezel Setting? The bezel setting is characterized by a ring of metal that holds the ring's stone in place. This encasing of metal slightly overlaps the edges of the stone, which helps keep it safe.Should I get a prong or bezel ring? ›
Go with the bezel setting if you like a chunkier metal look. “The bezel doesn't allow as much light into the stone,” Page notes. “If you're looking for a lot of sparkle, I'd probably say go for the prong setting.”What are the disadvantages of bezel setting? ›
Hides More of the Diamond Than Other Settings
Although the metal rim of a bezel setting protects the diamond, it also hides more of its surface than other setting types. This can not only make the diamond appear smaller than it really is — it can also make its brilliance less prominent and powerful.
It is also the most popular as the stone is held in place with the minimal amount of metal – usually four or six prongs – allowing more light to pass through the diamond resulting in added brilliance.
On the other hand, a 6 prong setting helps your eyes focus on the round outline of the stone and makes it look larger. Also, prongs which are set higher can help the diamond to appear larger and allow more light to enter it.Does a bezel setting make a diamond look bigger? ›
Bezel settings make your stone appear larger
A rim of bright metal can make your center stone look bigger than it is. This means that you can use this setting to enhance the look of a smaller diamond, saving money.
The simple answer is that a watch bezel is a ring of material (usually either ceramic or metal) that secures the watch crystal in place. Watch bezels can be fixed, decorative pieces, or bezels can provide functionality like a countdown timer, GMT indicator or even a compass.Is bezel setting more expensive? ›
Bezel settings can be more expensive than other styles because more metal is used around the jewel. However, the price difference is slight, and with the extra layer of protection, you'll save on damage and maintenance costs in the long run.What is the benefit of a bezel ring? ›
Protective and Secure - Not only do bezels keep your stone protected and secure, they actually shield it from damage; if you drop your ring or otherwise damage it somehow, bezels take the brunt of it before the stone. They are also great at keeping your stone in place.What does bezel stand for? ›
A bezel is the border between the screen and frame of a computer monitor, smartphone or any other computing device. Though largely aesthetic, bezels can help protect brittle materials from damage, such as chipped edges on the glass of an LCD screen.