One of the most common settings in diamond jewelry is the prong setting. But what exactly is this setting and what are the different types of prong settings you can choose from for your diamond?
What Is a Prong Setting?
Prong settings hold diamonds and other gemstones in place by using metal projections called prongs.
Prongs are popular in jewelry because they are easier to make and repair compared with more complex settings, and also because they leave a significant part of the stone visible.
Types of Prong Settings
Different types of prong settings are most commonly distinguished based on the number of prongs they have, but they can also be classified according to the prongs’ shape (e.g., round prongs, V-prongs, etc.).
4-prong settings are among the most popular variations of this type of setting.
They are recommended for diamonds of 1 carat or less, as bigger stones are heavier and might need more prongs to hold them securely.
The good thing about 4-prong settings is that they leave most of the diamond visible and are easier to repair because of the low number of prongs.
The downside to having a setting with only four prongs is that there are fewer of them to hold the diamond, especially if some of them become worn out or broken.
6-prong settings are more secure than 4-prong ones simply because there are more parts holding the diamond and keeping it from falling off.
If you have a diamond larger than 1 carat, it is recommended that you opt for a 6-prong setting.
The downside to 6-prong settings is that they hide more of the stone compared with 4-prong settings, especially if the diamond is small.
It is also more expensive to repair and maintain 6-prong settings simply because there are more prongs to rebuild or replace if they wear out or break.
Prong Settings with More Than 6 Prongs
Settings with more than six prongs are less common, but they are sometimes used to hold diamonds that are very big or shaped in such a way that additional support is needed.
In general, the more prongs you have, the harder and more expensive it is to maintain them, although they make the setting safer.
Most prongs have a flat (incl. rectangular) or round profile, but the so-called V-shaped prongs deserve special attention.
These prongs are shaped like the letter V and are used to hold the corners of diamonds that have sharp ends.
For such stones, V-prongs provide additional protection by wrapping their vulnerable corners with metal and guarding them against hits, which could chip them.
So, if you have a princess-cut diamond, for example, a V-prong setting would be a better choice than one with regular prongs.
Prong Settings and Metal
One of the decisions you have to make when selecting a prong setting is the metal it should be made of. Here you need to consider two main factors: durability and color.
As far as durability goes, one of the best metals for prongs is platinum, followed closely by white gold. Yellow gold is soft and wears out more easily, so you would need to have prongs made of this metal rebuilt and repaired more often.
The color of the metal is another consideration.
In general, white gold or platinum is preferred over yellow gold because white metals do not add color to the diamond, whereas yellow gold tends to make the stone look more yellowish.
This is why yellow prongs are not recommended unless the diamond is of a lower color grade and has visible yellow tints – in such cases, a yellow gold setting may absorb the tint and make the stone look whiter.
Common Problems with Prong Settings
The most common issue with prong settings is that they can bend or break, making it easy for your diamond to fall out of the mounting. This is more likely to happen if the prongs are worn out.
That’s why it is important to have your prongs checked regularly and have them rebuilt or strengthened if they have become weak.
Another problem with prong settings is that they can catch on your hair, clothes, or other items, and when this happens, you can easily bend or break some of your prongs.
This is why some diamond rings with prongs, for example, should not be worn if you are doing something that requires a lot of work with your hands.
Prongs are more likely to catch on things when their tips have become thinned out from wear and tear, so if that starts to happen often, be sure to have them checked by a jeweler.
Prong Settings Compared with Other Settings
When compared with bezel or channel settings, it becomes obvious that prong settings make more of the diamond visible, letting more light enter the stone, thus improving its brilliance.
That improved visibility comes at a cost, however – the diamond’s safety.
Prong settings are less safe than some of the settings that cover more of the diamond with metal. This is especially true for bezel settings, which can hold a stone more securely than a prong setting can.
So, if you are concerned about safety, it is recommended that you choose a bezel setting over a prong setting for your diamond.
Where to Buy a Diamond Ring?
For diamond rings, we highly recommend James Allen (read our review) because it shows real photos and videos for each diamond so you can take a 360-degree look at any stone before having it set in a ring.
For colored diamonds, we recommend Leibish & Co., which specializes in fancy color diamonds (use code JewelryNotes200 at checkout to get a 5% discount).
Also read our Diamond Buying Guide and check out our selection of eye-clean diamonds that we've vetted for quality.