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Choosing your Engagement and Wedding Ring Setting Buying Guide

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The Jewelry Hut
Engagement and Wedding Rings
The Buying Guide

Engagement Rings and Wedding Rings through the Ages

Choosing your ring setting

The setting you choose will be determined primarily by personal taste. Nevertheless, it is a good idea to be familiar with a few of the most common settings so that you have a working vocabulary and some idea of what is available.
Bezel Setting. With setting, a rim holds the gemstone and completely surrounds the gem. Bezels can have straight edges, scalloped edges, or can be molded into any shape to accommodate the stone. The backs can be open or closed. One advantage of the bezel setting is that it can make a gemstone look larger. The bezel setting can also conceal nicks or chips on the girdle. It can also protect the girdle from being chipped or nicked.
Keep in mind that if you use yellow gold in a bezel setting, the yellow of the bezel surrounding the diamond will be reflected into the diamond, causing white diamonds to appear less white. On the other hand, a yellow gold bezel can make a red gemstone such as ruby look even more red, or an emerald look more green.
A variation on the bezel setting is the collet setting.  The collet has a similar appearance to bezel setting but involves the use of gold tubing.
Prong setting. Prong settings; those that have little “fingers” holding the gemstone, are perhaps the most common type of setting. They come in an almost infinite variety. These are four prong, six prong, and special styles such as fishtail and tiffany type.  In addition, prongs can be pointed, rounded, flat, or V-shaped. Extra prongs provide added security for the stone and cn make a gemstone look slightly larger.  However, too many prongs holding too small a gemstone can overpower the gemstone and make the stone look smaller, and the mounting look heavy.  When setting a marquise, heart, or pear shape, it is recommended that the point or points be held by a V-shaped prong, which will best protect point(s).  For emerald cut gemstones that have “canted” corners (a corner with a small diagonal edge rather than forming a 90 degree angle), flat prongs are the preferred choice.
Gypsy Setting. In this type of setting, the metal at the top of the ring (around the gemstone) is much heavier than the shank.  The gemstone is set flush into the hole at the top.
Illusion setting. The illusion setting is used to make the mounted gemstone appear larger. There are numerous styles from which to choose.
Channel setting. This setting is used extensively today, especially for wedding bands.  The gemstones are set into a channel with no metal separating them. In some cases the channel can continue completely around the ring, so that the piece has a continuos row of stones.
Bar setting. This setting, which resembles a channel setting, combines the contemporary and classic look. It is used in a circular band, and, rather than using prongs, each stone is held in the ring by a long thin bar, shared between two stones.
Pave Setting. This setting is used for numerous small gemstones set together in a cluster with no metal showing through. The impression is that the piece is entirely paved with gemstones. The setting can be flat or dome shaped, and can be worked so that the piece almost appears to be one larger single gemstone.  Fine pave work can be very expensive.
Cluster setting. A cluster setting usually consists of one large gemstone and several smaller gemstone as accents.  A cluster setting is designed to create a lovely larger piece from several small gemstones.

  • A few popular ring designs
    SolitaireThe solitaire is precisely what its name denotes: a single (solitary) gemstone mounted in a setting. The gemstone can be any shape (brilliant, emerald, pear, etc.), and the setting can be any style that sets off the gemstone to its best advantage (prong, illusion, fishtail, etc.).
    A solitaire can also have small side gemstones that enhance the important center gemstone. The most classic solitaire look using side stones normally has a tapered baguette on each side or, for a newer look, the trilliant.  This style is equally beautiful whether you use a diamond or colored center gemstone.  Today, diamond center stones with colored side gemstones are also seen.
    Multi-stone rings. Multi-gemstone rings usually contain several gemstones of comparable size. This ring style almost always contains an odd number of gemstones; three, five, or seven, that create the most pleasing aesthetic balance.  Some people , however, prefer the center stone slightly larger to achieve a slight tapering in the shape of the ring. Multi- stone rings offer many creative alternatives.  One can use diamonds alone, colored gemstones alone, a mixture of colored gemstones and diamonds, and/or a mixture of shapes.
    Multi-gemstone rings can create a very important look that will also be more affordable than a single, larger gemstone.  Today’s designers and jewelry manufacturers are showing some exciting multi-gemstone designs ever. A wide variety is available so be sure you take the time to shop around to see what is right for you.
  • Distinctive contemporary settings
    There is an increasing number of engagement and wedding ring designs that appeal to the more independent woman who seeks to make a more personal statement. There is also an increasing number of custom jewelry designers catering to the market.  the result is an almost limitless choice, ranging from wide, sculpted gold and platinum combination containing unusual fancy cut gemstones. The choice of metal yellow gold, white gold, platinum, or mixed metals; is a personal choice, but there are some differences between the metals that might affects your choice.
  • Wedding ring sets
    Many couples prefer wedding wedding ring sets. There are many lovely designs, textures, and shapes from which to choose.  Wedding ring sets offer the benefit of an interlocking or perfectly fitting wedding band, often with a matching band distinctive styling at a more affordable price than custom design.
  • Settings to suit your lifestyle
    It is to consider your life style when selecting the shape of the gemstone and the design of your ring.  Be realistic about the wear and tear your ring must take and realize that while “diamonds are forever,” no piece of jewelry is indestructible.  remember, even diamond, the hardest natural substance  known, can chip or break if exposed to a sharp accidental blow.
    Active outdoor types, for example, might be better off avoiding the marquise or pear shape.  The pear shape has a point at one end and marquise has two points, on at each end. Points are more vulnerable to chipping and breaking, which could result from a sudden or sharp blow to which a very active person might be more vulnerable.
    The shank as well as the prongs of a ring worn daily by a vary active person will also show the effects of wear; any detailing on your ring will blur over the time as the result of gardening, playing on the beach, mountain climbing, handling ski equipment or bicycles, etc.
    The classic four or six prong setting served a less active generation well, but may not be as well suited to today’s woman. If your daily schedule features a great deal of activity, you would be wise to consider a sturdier engagement ring and wedding band.  Remember: sturdy and graceful are not mutually exclusive. Bezel settings do not detract from a gemstone’s brilliance, yet they will afford you greater security.
    Note:  It is important to have a reputable jeweler check mountings and settings periodically, at least once a year.  Chlorine attacks soldering links and stress points, so if you swim regularly in a chlorinated pool, take your ring off when you swim and/or have it checked frequently.
    In terms of design, rings are usually round, fingers aren’t. Top heavy rings will turn on the finger unless the diameter, or outline, is square or stirrup-shaped to conform to the shape of the finger.  Also, remember that rings worn together side by side quickly begin to wear on each other.
    In considering which metal is best, remember that color is a personal choice.  The higher the gold karatage, the richer the color; but the higher the gold karatage, the softer the metal. Also, white gold is stronger than yellow gold. Platinum is expensive, but it is also tougher than gold; rather than abrading easily, platinum tends to “roll over itself” much like warm wax does when you roll it between your fingers.  This tends to make a platinum setting more durable than gold setting, but both metals dent and scratch easily.
  • Shopping tips
    1) Set a realistic budget range to eliminate confusion and temptation that can result in disappointment.
    2) Shop around and familiarize yourself with current styles to educate your eye and learn what appeals to you.
    3) Try different rings styles; ring look different on the hand than they do in the window.
    4) Decide what is important to you. Is size important? Do you prefer size to other qualities? Do you feel you need a smaller gemstone because you have very tiny fingers; or if you have very long fingers, do you feel you must have a larger gemstone so that it won’t look lost? What shape looks best? If you are considering colored gem, do you prefer lighter of darker shades of color?  Do you prefer yellow gold or white gold or platinum?  Will yellow gold or white gold provide the best setting for your gemstone?  What width should the ring be for your finger?
    5) Consider the wedding band when you select your engagement ring.  As you select you engagement ring, remember that you also be wearing a wedding band.  Be sure to select a style that will complement the type of wedding band you are considering.

Gold or Platinum for your ring

  • The gold ring
    Since primitive times, brides and bridegrooms have sealed their wedding vows with a symbolic exchange of rings.  As illustrated in folk-lure and fantasy, once this exchange take place, the marriage begins.
    The history of the gold wedding band is indeed and long illustrious. Before the introduction of coinage, gold rings were circulated as currency.  A man would gives his bride a gold ring as a sign that he trusted her with his property.  Under Roman law, a bridegroom would furnish a ring as a sign of security, a form of collateral to protect the interests of the pride to be. Some believe that the idea of using a ring to seal the pact dates back to a time in Iceland when a marriage pledge was made by a man passing his hand through a large iron ring to clasp the hand of his beloved.
    During the engagement period in Elizabethan times, three rings were distributed: one to be worn by the groom, one to be worn by the bride, and one to be worn by a witness.  At the time of the wedding, all three wound be united on the bride’s finger!
    The Pharaohs of Egypt wore their wedding ring on the fourth finger of the left hand because of the “vena amoris,” a vein that they believed ran from that finger directly to the heart. In many cultures, the wedding ring is worn on another finger, but the pharaoh’s finger remains the choice of most American brides and grooms.
    To the ancients, the circular shape of the ring symbolized eternity. Even today, in some religious ceremonies, the couple is married with rings that have no gemstones or other “interruptions” that might affect the heavenly circle; the circle of life and happiness that has no beginning and no end.
    In modern times, millions of couples exchange gold bands at their wedding ceremony.  The circlet of gold has become the universal symbol of trust and commitment between two loving people.  The simple gold wedding band probably uses more of the world’s gold than any other single type of jewelry.
  • What is Gold?
    Gold is one of the world’s most precious metals.  It combines four basic characteristics that have made it a treasured possession since the earliest times: lustrous beauty, easy workability, rarity, and virtual indestructibility. Gold is so soft and melleable.
    Throughout the years, gold has held a preeminent position as the metal most desired for jewelry. In Many parts of the world, the finest pieces of jewelry are fashioned in 18 or 22 karat gold.  In United States, 14 or 18 karat gold is often preferred for fine jewelry because it is more durable than higher karat gold.
  • Popular Gold finishes and techniques
    Gold has excellent working qualities that make it particularly desirable for fine jewelry. As you will see as you shop for your gold wedding bands, gold is available in a wide range of finishes and styles to suit individual tastes.
    1) Applique: Soldering a design worked in gold to another piece of gold; soldering on color gold to another.
    2) Chasing: Accent technique, outlining the detail of repousse.
    3) Diamond cut: Sections of the surface are cut to achieve bright reflections; can create interesting design effects.
    4) Embossing: Ornamentation to create a bas-refief-like impression.
    5) Enameling: Fusing colored glass into metal surface.
    6) Engraving: Cutting a design into the surface.
    7) Filigree: Gold wire twisted and soldered onto other metal in intricate patterns; also used to describe any intricate
                         openwork.

    8) Florentine: A finish created by texturing the surface with a special tool.
    9) Granulation: Tiny round balls fastened to another metal by a heating process.
    10)  Hammering: Forming indentations in metal to create interesting patterns and texture.
    11)  High Polish: Mirror like.
    12)  Matte: Soft, flat, non-reflective.
    13)  Milgraining: A detail that resembles a string of tiny beads applied as an ornamental border.
    14)  Repousse: Forming a design by punching or pressing out portions from inside the ring.
    15) Satin: Grained texture of satin cloth; has a softer shine than high polish.
  • The platinum ring
    Platinum is even more rare and valuable than gold. The platinum family is composed of six elements: platinum, palladium, iridium, rhodium, and ruthenium. These six silvery white metals are generally found together in nature, with platinum and palladium the most abundant and ruthenium and iridium the rarest (and most expensive). Platinum is rarer and heavier than other precious metals and is the purest metal; often referred to as the “noblest.”  Platinum is pure and much stronger than other precious metals. Because of its many excellent qualities, platinum makes an excellent choice for the fine jewelry.  Platinum prongs are preferred by many jewelers because they can be maneuvered around a fragile gemstone with less risk of damaging the stone.
  • Yellow gold, white gold, or platinum:  Which one?
    The first choice you must make is on of color. this selection usually depends on personal preference, skin tone, and the color of other jewelry you may own.  If your choice is yellow gold, keep in mind that it is available in several different shades, including a pure yellow, a pinkish yellow, and a greenish yellow.
  • Engraved messages add an intimate, romantic touch
    Engraving a message on a ring or hidden message inside the wedding band (or even on the girdle of a gemstone)  adds a very personal and intimate touch.  Secret messages have been engraved in ring for centuries, and today is no different from bygones eras.  To some extent, the size and width of the ring limit the message, but a creative couple can always find a way to convey a romantic thought!  It may simply be the couple’s initials and date of the wedding, a brief sentiment such as “Love always”, or a few words from a favorite song or poem. The cost is usually nominal and is based on the number of letters in the inscription. Your jeweler can arrange to have rings engraved or refer you to a reliable engraver. Hand engravers usually cost a little more, but they can add flourishes that may not be available by machine.

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To Web Masters:

The article above can be used on your web site or newsletter.

When it is published, May I request that you include my name and resource box (the bio., contact and copyright information that follows the article.  I would also appreciate if you could send me an e-mail of notification along with a complimentary copy of publication.

Bijan Aziz is the owner and Web Master for The Jewelry Hut.

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