Knowing the difference between stone setting styles is important for any piece of jewelry. Some styles are more trendy at times than others, but also some require more maintenance than others as well. Below are the current most common setting styles and examples of each.
Prong set- Probably the most common setting, metal prongs (typically 4) hold a stone in place. Prongs are usually set at the corners. When prong setting round stones in tennis necklace, 3 prongs may be used. Oval shaped stones may be set with 4 or 6 prongs. Some of the more rare fancy shape cuts like trillions may also be prong set with less than 4 prongs.
Bezel set- Stone is encircled with metal to hold it into place. When using a white gold or platinum metal color, it often makes the stone look larger. Bezel settings are typically more expensive than prong settings because they need to be made to the exact size of the stone being set
Tension Set- A stone is suspended in place held by each end of metal using compression which gives the piece the appearance that the stone is floating. Tension settings are an amore unique setting style and are typically more expensive, as they require the skills of a bench jeweler who can properly make a tension setting. In addition, they should not be resized, as this will likely reduce the integrity and compression fro the tension setting.
Channel Set- Multiple stones are set into a grooved metal channel. This is a very secure way to set stones of the same size. Channel settings had a peak of popularity in the 1990's although still common today.
Flush Set- Diamonds are set flush with the surface of the metal used in the piece. Flush settings are most commonly used with bangles and gold wedding bands and likely the most well known flush setting is the Cartier Love line of bangles and rings.
Pave Set- Tiny stones are set close together to attempt to give the appearance of a solid surface of diamonds. The idea is to set them so close together that the metal underneath them can not be distinguished from the stones themselves. Especially small diamonds used for pave settings are called micro pave.
Claw Prong Setting- VERY similar to prong settings except that they prongs are typically a little longer and extend onto the stone a little further. They also tend to be more pointed at the end of the prong.
Illusion Set- An illusion setting is a setting style that gives the piece the "illusion" of a larger stone. This is typically done in one of 2 ways. The first, as shown in the image to the left is by using a grouping of smaller diamonds that are prong set together to give the piece the perception that a larger stone was used. The second is by using more metal surrounding the stone, typically in a fluted (accordion style) pattern to mimic the facets of the stone. This is traditionally the least expensive setting style, as the stones that are used are much smaller to give a larger look.
Pie Cut- Similar to illusion settings, pie cuts are diamond slices that are cut to the exact size and proportion of each "step" or facet of a step cut stone style. Step cut stones styles are emerald cuts and asscher cuts where the stone facets look like "steps". Therefore a very unique and detailed craftsmanship is used to cut these smaller stones and piece them together to look like a larger stone. Pie cuts are typically more expensive than illusion settings because they require more skill and time to create, but also look much more like the intended stone type. Pie cuts are almost always set in a prong or bezel setting.
Shared Prong Set- The shared prong setting has had a resurgence in popularity lately due to it's ability to showcase the shape of each diamond, specifically in a diamond band with multiple stones of the same size. Similar to a tension setting, it can often make the stones look like they are suspended or floating between each prong, however theres typically a basket type setting underneath that cradles the stone. Shared prongs have a little more stability than a tension setting, but are one of the most fragile setting styles, and are more likely to have stones loose or fall out due to the single prong between each stone.
This blog details the most common setting styles of 2023, however, when discussion setting styles of tennis bracelets and necklaces, there are a few more common setting styles to consider. See the tennis necklace buying guide for more on choosing the correct setting style for your tennis necklace.