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Which Diamond Setting To Choose From These Two?


Jesse
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Hi everyone,
 
I have looked at some previous threads on this forum, and the main focus seems to be on diamonds. In my case, I am trying to get some basic guidance about the durability and longevity of a couple diamond settings. Not sure if this is the right forum but I figured I'd give it a try.

I have looked at quite a few settings and a couple have caught my attention, but I'm having a hard time figuring out how to balance what looks good with what is likely to last. Since I'll be investing in a 1 ct diamond I'd like to make sure that the setting I choose will last and that my fiancé will not lose the diamond!! There are two settings in particular that I am considering...

https://www.engagement-rings-usa.com/rose-gold-engagement-rings-c-178/elite-solitaire-side-stone-diamond-setting-with-curved-shank-p-78922

At the moment, this is my first choice. My question is, will it be too fragile? I have read that prongs break easily, diamonds can fall out, and bezels protect the diamond better. Is this true? Should I jettison prong settings altogether? Unfortunately I haven't seen any settings with bezels that I like, which doesn't make this decision any easier.
 
https://www.engagement-rings-usa.com/rose-gold-engagement-rings-c-178/rose-gold-engagement-ring-pretty-split-shank-side-stone-bypass-diamond-p-78884
 
This is my second choice. To me this looks a bit less fragile, but then again it too has prongs. Would you say that either of these designs is more durable than the other? Is there a difference in the longevity between these two? Are there any specific things that could go wrong with either of these, that I should be aware of? Any professional input is appreciated!
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Welcome to DiamondReview!

1 hour ago, Jesse said:

this is my first choice. My question is, will it be too fragile? I have read that prongs break easily, diamonds can fall out, and bezels protect the diamond better. Is this true? Should I jettison prong settings altogether?

Let me address these questions in a slightly different order:

1. Bezels (if properly made) definitely protect a stone better and are harder to damage/lose stones from. That doesn't mean that prongs are fragile or commonly damaged.

2. "Too fragile" depends on the context. I remember a post by someone who was roping cattle frequently, and wanted to buy an 'alternative wedding ring' that would have a chance to withstand that sort of activity - clearly a normal 'thin' ring in gold or platinum would stand no chance, but those are pretty robust in everyday conditions and most people use them without any durability problem, day in - day out.

Some people are blessed with wonderful coordination and naturally graceful movements, and others bang into things and snag clothes on sharp corners regularly (yours truly). Where does your fiancé(e) fall on this continuum? 

Also bear in mind that people are a lot harder on their jewellery than they realise, and an engagement ring is subject to more wear and tear than most jewellery pieces since it's worn pretty much 24/7 for extended periods (a lifetime?).

3. All this considered, discarding prongs altogether seems a bit extreme. I have never seen statistics (except for our stock/sold rings - which is over 85% prongs-set), but prongs are by far the most popular way of setting a stone, and while losses and damage happen they are not particularly common. More "worrying" in a sense (if financially less concerning) is pavé, which is a fragile element, especially in a row on a thin ring that can bend.

1 hour ago, Jesse said:

Would you say that either of these designs is more durable than the other? Is there a difference in the longevity between these two? Are there any specific things that could go wrong with either of these, that I should be aware of?

There is some key 'durability' information missing for both of these rings - and nobody can supply it unless they have the items in hand: the quality of the manufacturing and the ability of the setter to set the prongs correctly.

I wouldn't call either one a high-quality design, and if your main concern is safety you can do better than a mass-produced peg-head setting but neither one has obvious design faults in terms of durability - I would say that the white gold one seems a bit more robust to me, and the presence of a channel to protect the side of the pavé on the shank is also a good thing from a 'security'  point of view.

Whether they are well made is a completely different question: there is exactly zero information available on either since the 'photos' are CAD renderings, and shoddy ones at that: note that the white gold shank is not drilled through to accommodate the pavé, and there are extra sets of pavé dots on the rose gold one with no pavé set in them.

The quality of the setting work itself is also completely unknown, but hugely influential on the durability - and the looks - of the final result. Don't go cheap, and ask to see examples of their setting work. I'll just point out that finding someone that will set a stone that you supply in a setting that you supply may be difficult, and getting them to take responsibility for any subsequent problems may be even more difficult.

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Thank you very much, and I really appreciate the details in your response. I have read and re-read your response a few times, and I think I now have even more questions.

3 hours ago, davidelevi said:

1. Bezels (if properly made) definitely protect a stone better and are harder to damage/lose stones from. That doesn't mean that prongs are fragile or commonly damaged.

It sounds like properly set prongs offer reasonably good diamond protection, but if I'm reading your comment correctly, even the best quality prongs still will not match a "properly made" bezel. So basically, this makes bezels a safer bet. Would you say that this is accurate?

3 hours ago, davidelevi said:

2. "Too fragile" depends on the context. I remember a post by someone who was roping cattle frequently, and wanted to buy an 'alternative wedding ring' that would have a chance to withstand that sort of activity - clearly a normal 'thin' ring in gold or platinum would stand no chance, but those are pretty robust in everyday conditions and most people use them without any durability problem, day in - day out.

Some people are blessed with wonderful coordination and naturally graceful movements, and others bang into things and snag clothes on sharp corners regularly (yours truly). Where does your fiancé(e) fall on this continuum? 

Thankfully she is not what I would call a klutz, but given how often she says things like, "Oh, I broke my nail", such as while cooking, I started thinking what this could mean once she starts wearing an engagement ring EVERY DAY. We do not work with cattle or perform any activities that would cause additional concerns - my main concerns are the daily routine and wear and tear.

3 hours ago, davidelevi said:

Also bear in mind that people are a lot harder on their jewellery than they realise, and an engagement ring is subject to more wear and tear than most jewellery pieces since it's worn pretty much 24/7 for extended periods (a lifetime?).

Agreed, which is why I have pumped the brakes on this whole process to seek guidance. I spent the last few weeks looking for something pretty. But pretty doesn't always mean long lasting.

3 hours ago, davidelevi said:

3. All this considered, discarding prongs altogether seems a bit extreme. I have never seen statistics (except for our stock/sold rings - which is over 85% prongs-set), but prongs are by far the most popular way of setting a stone, and while losses and damage happen they are not particularly common. More "worrying" in a sense (if financially less concerning) is pavé, which is a fragile element, especially in a row on a thin ring that can bend.

I have heard that prongs are the most "popular", which actually made me even more suspicious. I have virtually no experience with diamonds or especially engagement rings. But in my experience in other areas, "most popular" often means the cheapest and the lowest quality. Additionally, I remembered that one of our very good friends, whose now husband paid $7,400 for her engagement ring (back in 2004), lost her center diamond. The biggest takeaway for me was when I found out that this diamond accounted for about 80-85% of the $7,400 price tag.

3 hours ago, davidelevi said:

There is some key 'durability' information missing for both of these rings - and nobody can supply it unless they have the items in hand: the quality of the manufacturing and the ability of the setter to set the prongs correctly.

I wouldn't call either one a high-quality design, and if your main concern is safety you can do better than a mass-produced peg-head setting but neither one has obvious design faults in terms of durability - I would say that the white gold one seems a bit more robust to me, and the presence of a channel to protect the side of the pavé on the shank is also a good thing from a 'security'  point of view.

You lost me on this part. Could you please clarify what a "peg-head setting" is? Also, when you say, "set the prongs correctly", could you elaborate on what this means? I have easily seen hundreds of different settings with prongs on them, and now I wonder which were set correctly, which also begs the question, what does it mean when prongs are set incorrectly?

 

3 hours ago, davidelevi said:

Whether they are well made is a completely different question: there is exactly zero information available on either since the 'photos' are CAD renderings, and shoddy ones at that: note that the white gold shank is not drilled through to accommodate the pavé, and there are extra sets of pavé dots on the rose gold one with no pavé set in them.

You lost me here too. Could you please clarify what CAD renderings are? Are you referring to AutoCAD? Also, what do you mean by "the white gold shank is not drilled through to accommodate the pavé"? Is this something that needs to be asked of the seller?

 

3 hours ago, davidelevi said:

The quality of the setting work itself is also completely unknown, but hugely influential on the durability - and the looks - of the final result. Don't go cheap, and ask to see examples of their setting work. I'll just point out that finding someone that will set a stone that you supply in a setting that you supply may be difficult, and getting them to take responsibility for any subsequent problems may be even more difficult.

Got it. I am inclined to work with one company from start to finish. I have heard of some horror stories about people buying diamonds online, having them shipped to a jeweler and so on so forth...that whole process feels like a major hassle. Thank you again for the details and the help.

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1 hour ago, Jesse said:

Thank you very much, and I really appreciate the details in your response. I have read and re-read your response a few times, and I think I now have even more questions.

You are very welcome. Go ahead and ask!

1 hour ago, Jesse said:

So basically, this makes bezels a safer bet. Would you say that this is accurate?

In terms of protection of the stone, yes, definitely. They have disadvantages, though - they can seem heavier and bulkier; they obstruct to greater extent the light path; repairs and removal of the stone are difficult; especially for larger stones, they impose significant constraints on the overall shape of the ring; last but perhaps not least I would say that there are fewer people really skilled at making them (one of the reasons why bezel designs at times feel 'old' - they simply aren't made that much today!)

1 hour ago, Jesse said:

But in my experience in other areas, "most popular" often means the cheapest and the lowest quality.

That can be true, but there are other reasons for the popularity of prongs (see above)  - and a well made prong setting isn't costing much less (or much more) than a well made bezel.

1 hour ago, Jesse said:

The biggest takeaway for me was when I found out that this diamond accounted for about 80-85% of the $7,400 price tag.

Yep. Mind you, you can also go the other way - the ring in my avatar picture was about 50/50, but it's definitely not an engagement ring! 🙂

1 hour ago, Jesse said:

Could you please clarify what a "peg-head setting" is? Also, when you say, "set the prongs correctly", could you elaborate on what this means?

If you look at how those rings are made, the 'head' - that is, the part of the ring that directly supports and holds the stone - is a separate part, and it has a pin underneath, called a peg, that is inserted in a hole drilled in the shank and then soldered. The head by itself looks like this (these are 6 prong, but it was the first image I found!)

Platinum Round 6 Prong Peg Head Setting High Tall Style For Center Stone  USA | Findings Outlet

These peg heads are mass-manufactured in many sizes (hence the "all sizes available" in the image I borrowed) and are generally used in cheaper settings, since they reduce the amount of work significantly - but result in the diamond 'sticking out' considerably more than it would with a different ring construction, and this sticking out is generally speaking 'not as good' from a durability/exposure perspective. Also, because they are made to standard sizes they don't necessarily fit the stone perfectly - which takes us to your next question.

The prongs should be set so that they touch the stone from below, the side and above (or it you have what I would call a "proper" stone setting with a real basket cradling the stone from below, then the side and above). A recent discussion with some info on what good setting looks like (or doesn't) here: 

Note that whether a stone is set well or not is independent of the design of the setting, and this applies to a prong setting or a bezel; setting work is specialised and skilled enough that there are people that only do that in the jewellery industry.

1 hour ago, Jesse said:

Could you please clarify what CAD renderings are? Are you referring to AutoCAD?

A rendering is a (more or less) realistic image that is computer generated from CAD specifications. It could be from AutoCAD, but I think the jewellery industry tends to use specialised jewellery CAD packages, not least because highly reflective surfaces and the optics of gemstones require specific rendering algorithms. The problem with renderings is that lovely and 'relatively' realistic as they may look, they don't represent (usually at all) accurately the quality of the real manufacturing. However they are much cheaper to produce and post than making and then 360°-photographing a properly finished model/sample of the design.

This is a photo of a real (and high quality) setting:

pink diamond ringif you compare it to the rendering, you can see that this is more irregular, it shows tiny signs of the polishing process and all lines are rounded in slightly asymmetrical fashion. However, this is a real object, hand made (and magnified ~10x!). The rendering is a perfectly regular and symmetric idealisation that will not be realised when the physical object is complete... not least because a relatively cheap setting will not be produced to that level of precision (compare e.g. the real photos of the peg-heads above with the rendering below;)

image.png.d07ded7b2c4f2612a49ff6355d23c868.png

1 hour ago, Jesse said:

Also, what do you mean by "the white gold shank is not drilled through to accommodate the pavé"? Is this something that needs to be asked of the seller?

When you look at the smaller stones along the shank, there doesn't seem to be enough depth in the shank to accommodate them without actually drilling the shank through - I may be wrong on this, but I think the designer didn't account for this and therefore the rendering does not show the channel or holes. Then in the other setting - which actually is shown as pierced through, despite having smaller diamonds, they have added some extra beads for the pavé without putting the stones in them!

image.png.0bf65986a568f10236affc856eff1c73.pngimage.png.8990da6fc85c42aec5dc9e0924c7451a.png

This is by no means 'necessary' - you can have a setting that is not pierced through, but it seems to be indicative of the attention to detail paid to those two particular designs...

1 hour ago, Jesse said:

I am inclined to work with one company from start to finish.

This is generally a very good idea!

Edited by davidelevi
Clarified para on peg heads
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On 1/28/2021 at 5:04 PM, davidelevi said:

You are very welcome. Go ahead and ask!

In terms of protection of the stone, yes, definitely. They have disadvantages, though - they can seem heavier and bulkier; they obstruct to greater extent the light path; repairs and removal of the stone are difficult; especially for larger stones, they impose significant constraints on the overall shape of the ring; last but perhaps not least I would say that there are fewer people really skilled at making them (one of the reasons why bezel designs at times feel 'old' - they simply aren't made that much today!)

That can be true, but there are other reasons for the popularity of prongs (see above)  - and a well made prong setting isn't costing much less (or much more) than a well made bezel.

Yep. Mind you, you can also go the other way - the ring in my avatar picture was about 50/50, but it's definitely not an engagement ring! 🙂

If you look at how those rings are made, the 'head' - that is, the part of the ring that directly supports and holds the stone - is a separate part, and it has a pin underneath, called a peg, that is inserted in a hole drilled in the shank and then soldered. The head by itself looks like this (these are 6 prong, but it was the first image I found!)

Platinum Round 6 Prong Peg Head Setting High Tall Style For Center Stone  USA | Findings Outlet

These peg heads are mass-manufactured in many sizes (hence the "all sizes available" in the image I borrowed) and are generally used in cheaper settings, since they reduce the amount of work significantly - but result in the diamond 'sticking out' considerably more than it would with a different ring construction, and this sticking out is generally speaking 'not as good' from a durability/exposure perspective. Also, because they are made to standard sizes they don't necessarily fit the stone perfectly - which takes us to your next question.

The prongs should be set so that they touch the stone from below, the side and above (or it you have what I would call a "proper" stone setting with a real basket cradling the stone from below, then the side and above). A recent discussion with some info on what good setting looks like (or doesn't) here: 

Note that whether a stone is set well or not is independent of the design of the setting, and this applies to a prong setting or a bezel; setting work is specialised and skilled enough that there are people that only do that in the jewellery industry.

A rendering is a (more or less) realistic image that is computer generated from CAD specifications. It could be from AutoCAD, but I think the jewellery industry tends to use specialised jewellery CAD packages, not least because highly reflective surfaces and the optics of gemstones require specific rendering algorithms. The problem with renderings is that lovely and 'relatively' realistic as they may look, they don't represent (usually at all) accurately the quality of the real manufacturing. However they are much cheaper to produce and post than making and then 360°-photographing a properly finished model/sample of the design.

This is a photo of a real (and high quality) setting:

pink diamond ringif you compare it to the rendering, you can see that this is more irregular, it shows tiny signs of the polishing process and all lines are rounded in slightly asymmetrical fashion. However, this is a real object, hand made (and magnified ~10x!). The rendering is a perfectly regular and symmetric idealisation that will not be realised when the physical object is complete... not least because a relatively cheap setting will not be produced to that level of precision (compare e.g. the real photos of the peg-heads above with the rendering below;)

image.png.d07ded7b2c4f2612a49ff6355d23c868.png

When you look at the smaller stones along the shank, there doesn't seem to be enough depth in the shank to accommodate them without actually drilling the shank through - I may be wrong on this, but I think the designer didn't account for this and therefore the rendering does not show the channel or holes. Then in the other setting - which actually is shown as pierced through, despite having smaller diamonds, they have added some extra beads for the pavé without putting the stones in them!

image.png.0bf65986a568f10236affc856eff1c73.pngimage.png.8990da6fc85c42aec5dc9e0924c7451a.png

This is by no means 'necessary' - you can have a setting that is not pierced through, but it seems to be indicative of the attention to detail paid to those two particular designs...

This is generally a very good idea!

Thank you very much. You've given me a lot to think about. I will be scratching my head over the weekend and hopefully making my decision next week.

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