Perhaps you’ve heard the term “bezel setting” when discussing rings. If you’re not entirely sure what that means, or if you want to know what the pros and cons of bezel settings are, read on.
What Is a Bezel Setting?
A bezel setting is a popular way to mount gemstones on rings and other jewelry. Whereas a prong setting uses small pins to hold the stone in place, a bezel setting encircles all or part of the gemstone with a strip of metal.
Pros and Cons of Bezel Settings
One of the best things about a bezel setting is that it is very secure and holds the stone tight, not allowing it to loosen or fall off.
The metal band (the bezel) covers the especially vulnerable edge of the gemstone, protecting it from damage.
Unlike prong settings, bezel settings don’t have parts that can snag your clothes or other objects.
A downside to bezel settings is that they are more expensive.
Also, depending on the height of the bezel, it can conceal a significant part of the stone set in it.
Full vs. Partial Bezel Settings
Full bezel settings cover the gemstone from all sides, whereas partial bezel settings (also called half-bezel or semi-bezel) surround only part of it.
The advantage of a partial bezel setting is that it doesn’t hide as much of the stone as a full bezel setting does.
Diamonds and other transparent gemstones are good candidates for a partial bezel as this setting allows more light to enter the gemstone, enhancing its sparkle and brilliance.
Partial bezel settings are also preferable to full ones because the stones in them can be cleaned more easily.
The problem with partial bezel settings is that they leave part of the gemstone exposed, and that unprotected portion can chip more easily if hit.
Bezel Settings vs. Prong Settings
Prong settings are usually cheaper than bezel settings, making prongs a good choice if you’re on a budget. Prong settings also make the gemstone more prominent by leaving a bigger portion of it visible.
A prong setting is relatively easier to be adjusted to stones of different sizes if you ever decide to have your gemstone replaced, whereas a bezel is harder to change once it is set up.
The problem with prong settings is that they leave the stone more exposed to damage, while in a bezel setting the gemstone sits lower and is better protected.
Prong settings are also more easily damaged, and that’s why they require checking and maintenance more often.
If a prong bends or breaks, you may lose your gemstone, and for that reason, prongs need to be rebuilt after several years; bezels, on the other hand, are a lot more durable.
When to Choose a Bezel Setting
Bezel settings are a good choice for people who work with their hands a lot, in occupations where there is a higher risk of bumping or hitting your ring.
A stone held in a bezel is less likely to get loose and fall off, so this setting is a good choice for people who are very active.
If you have a gemstone that has visible defects such as prominent inclusions or chips on its side, you can have the stone set in a bezel to hide the flaws.
A bezel setting is great for softer gemstones, with hardness lower than 6-7 on the Mohs scale, as it will protect them from scratches and chips better than a prong setting would.
So, if you have a stone such as opal or turquoise, it would be better to have it set in a bezel.