The stone in an engagement ring can either be held by prongs, as in the so-called “Tiffany” setting, or it can be bezel set, where the stone is completely encircled by metal. Is one type better than the other? I would argue yes.
When Charles Tiffany invented his method of setting stones the prevailing method of the day was to bezel set or flush set the stones. Here are the two styles side by side:
As you look through examples of my work, you’ll see that most of the rings are bezel-set. The reason is that the bezel-set style protects the stone better where it is most vulnerable, at the girdle. Diamond is the hardest substance on the planet, but it will chip, as this image attests:
The reason I used a prong setting for the ring on the left has to do with the type of stone. In this case, the stone is an antique diamond called “Old Miner Cut” that was cut and polished by hand, before the advent of electrical machinery. You can imagine how laborious this must have been given the hardness of diamond. So the cutter was highly motivated to only cut as much as absolutely necessary in order to have the stone sparkle. This tends to make such hand-cut stones take on an irregular form, staying close to the original contours of the rock as it was mined out of the earth. These irregular-shaped stones do not lend themselves to bezel setting, and even the prongs have to be custom-made to conform to the shape of the stone.
Bezel setting requires more work and skill than prong setting, but where diamonds are concerned it is by far the more secure and safe method of holding the stone. It is claimed that a Tiffany setting allows more light to come into the stone, but a stone’s sparkle comes from light entering and being bounced back from the facets, not from light coming through it. In my experience the open spaces of a prong-set stone tend to trap dirt and grime which is none-to-pretty in itself. Also, prongs will wear out in time and need retipping. If not noticed, a worn prong will allow the diamond to come out unnoticed. And prongs are prone to catch on clothing, actually creating a risk of injury.
So all in all, Ricco recommends the bezel setting technique over prong setting.
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