Rings are possibly the most favored jewelry piece and generally garner the most attention. There are many factors to consider in the ring design process: the side stones to use, the width of the band, prong-set, channel set, etc. The most important question asked by a designer is, “what will appeal to their customers?”
A well-designed ring showcases the center stone and the side stones in the best possible way, while staying true to the wearer’s style preference. As the jewelry industry continues to push the limits on style, the variations to choose from are endless.
Side stone settings have become one of the most popular styles in the rings section. The term ‘side stone setting’ refers to any setting in which the side stones (typically diamonds) are set around the band. It is a broad term, but within it there are many distinct styles that dramatically alter the appearance of a ring.
Some of the most popular styles of side stone settings are prongs, bezel, channel and pave settings.
The prong setting is probably the most known of all the side stone settings. The side stones are set on the band, with four small metal prongs securing them in place.
In a shared prong setting, the side stones share 2 prongs that it is set with. This allows more light to pass through the stone which in return creates a more brilliant look as there is less metal surrounding the stones. Individual prong settings may not let as much light through it, but they are more secure as each stone has its own set of prongs.
Another popular setting for side stones is the bezel setting. Instead of the side stones being held by prongs, each side stone is completely surrounded on the sides by metal. The metal is made to fit snugly around the side stone, making it one of the most durable and secure of all styles.
This is a great option for those who have an active lifestyle and wish to keep their ring on at all times. Because the side stones are set low and are partially covered, less light is let through than it does in a prong setting. However, it creates a sleek and modern look, and the side stones are truly protected from any chips or scratches. Also, the risk of losing the gemstone altogether is practically impossible.
This type of setting is often mistaken for a bezel, channel settings are very similar in appearance but are still a distinctly different style. A smaller row of metal is set into the band of the ring, and the side stones are set within the groove of that channel. Like the bezel setting, the side stones are set flush against the metal, however, they are not fully covered on all sides. This is a very secure setting and minimizes any potential damage or loss of side stones to the ring.
The main drawbacks of a channel setting are that they can be difficult to clean due to the tight space. However, a channel setting can offer the security of a bezel while letting a fair amount of light through like that of a prong setting.
One of the trendiest settings currently is the pave setting. It comes from the french word, meaning “to pave”. Small holes are drilled into the ring, and the side stones are placed in those holes, held in place by tiny beads that are set around them.
This minimalist look gives a stunning visual effect, making it seem as if the band is seamlessly covered with gemstones. While this design can be expensive due to the number of sidestones involved, it does an excellent job of highlighting the center stone and maximizing the overall brilliance of the ring.
Appearance and Comfort
Another main factor to consider with a side stone setting is how the appearance of the ring correlates to the comfort of the wearer. Side stone settings can extend anywhere from halfway down the ring band, to all the way around. While a band completely covered inside stones may look more brilliant, it also increases the possibility of damage to the ring, especially to the gemstones towards the bottom of the band.
Side stones in prong settings may be uncomfortable to the wearer, especially if they are not used to wearing ring jewelry. Conversely, bezel or channel settings may be more comfortable and secure, but may not give off the brilliance of the stone in its appearance in comparison to the prong settings.
It is up to the individual wearer to find the ring setting that is ideal for both comfort and personal style.