Arguably the most typical engagement ring is a solitaire diamond in a Tiffany setting–that’s the one with prongs holding the stone. This type of setting was invented by Charles Tiffany in 1886. Prior to then, diamonds were set deep and surrounded by metal. Tiffany’s idea was to elevate the stone above the shank and hold it with prongs.  That way, the stone can be clearly seen and appreciated.

There are some drawbacks to this type of setting, however.  For one, the stone’s sharp-edged rim, the girdle, is exposed and vulnerable to chipping, as this image shows.

There are some drawbacks to this type of setting, however.  For one, the stone’s sharp-edged rim, the girdle, is exposed and vulnerable to chipping, as this image shows.

chipped diamond

Another issue with prongs is that, over time, they may wear out and allow the stone to come out of the setting.  Also, prongs can catch on clothing and become deformed which can also lead to the stone coming out.

Another issue with prongs is that, over time, they may wear out and allow the stone to come out of the setting.  Also, prongs can catch on clothing and become deformed which can lead to the stone coming out as well.

Among the supposed advantages of the prong setting, apart from the ability to see the stone in its setting, is that it “allows light to enter” and makes the stone sparkle more.  A little investigation (Google it) will show you that a diamond’s sparkle is due to light coming in from the top and then refracted back from the facets, so light coming into the stone from the sides has no effect whatever on the stone’s brilliance.

Among the supposed advantages of the prong setting, apart from the ability to see the stone in its setting, is that it “allows light to enter” and makes the stone sparkle more.  A little investigation (google it) will show you that a diamond’s sparkle is due to light coming in from the top and then refracted back from the facets, so light coming into the stone from the sides has no effect whatever on the stone’s brilliance.  In my experience, instead of light getting in, dirt and grime get in under the stone and that does influence the sparkle.

The popularity of the prong setting probably has more to do with it being a cheaper, faster, and easier method of stone setting, compared with a bezel setting where the metal goes all the way around the stone.  That’s why you will see the bezel setting in just about all of Ricco’s rings.  (One exception is a ring with  an antique diamond whose irregular shape makes it impossible to bezel set, shown below.)