Solitaire engagement rings

All you need to know about the most popular shape of engagement rings

Solitaire Engagement Rings

Classic, simple and timeless

Solitaire engagement rings are undoubtedly the most popular style of ring out there. In fact, in a recent survey by theknot.com, over 25% of the respondents had received a solitaire ring, and 53% of them had received a round brilliant diamond.

Solitaire rings are popular for a couple of good reasons. The first is that it’s classic, classy and elegant design, which lets the center stone take pride of place with no distractions. The second is that they’re extremely well-priced, which means that there is more budget left for an incredible center stone.

We’re going to look at:

  • What’s good about solitaire engagement rings
  • What’s bad about solitaire engagement rings
  • A range of solitaire setting styles

By the end of this page you should have a great idea of what your different options are when it comes to solitiare engagement rings.

What is a solitaire engagement ring?

Technically, a solitaire setting isn’t called a solitaire setting at all – in the jewelry trade they’re known as ‘prong settings’, referring to the 4 or 6 prongs that hold the center stone in place.

The word ‘solitaire’ refers to any piece of jewelry where a single diamond is used – this could be a ring, earrings or a brooch. But, most people refer to prong ring settings as solitaire, so to avoid confusion that’s what we’re going to do here!

prongs

 

Diamond engagement ring prong setting
Solitaire settings use thing metal prongs to hold the center stone (usually a diamond) high in place above the ring band.

Most prong settings feature either four or six prongs and try to strike a balance between prongs that are unobtrusive enough to allow the diamond to catch as much light and sparkle as much as possible, but also ensure that the stone is held securely and won’t come loose and possibly become lost.

What’s good about solitaire engagement rings?

Price

A huge benefit of a solitaire engagement ring is a result of its simplicity: solitaire settings are comfortably the least expensive settings style.

While other setting styles use more precious metal or feature additional diamonds to support the main center stone, the elegant and simple design of the solitaire means that a relatively small amount of valuable raw materials are required

Solitaire settings are also simple for jewelers to make, meaning much less skilled workmanship and man-hours are needed to create them. While a halo pave setting may have 100 tiny diamonds which all need to be set by hand, with prongs formed and bent into place to keep the tiny stones safe and secure, the solitaire setting just has the main 4 or 6 prongs to get right and then bosh – that’s it.

Solitiare vs. halo setting:

6 prong solitaire diamond ring

Platinum: $1,100
18k White Gold: $850
Palladium: $600
14k White Gold: $600

Halo cathedral diamond engagement ring in palladium setting

Platinum: $2,400
18k White Gold: $1,950
Palladium: $1,680
14k White Gold: $1,680

 

By saving money on the setting style, you could focus more of your budget onto other parts of the ring e.g. by plumping for a higher quality metal – platinum instead of white gold – or by upgrading the center stone, either in size or quality. Or, you could be sensible and put any money you have saved by choosing a simple setting towards your wedding or your honeymoon.

Maximum sparkle

Another advantage of solitaire settings is that the prongs cover only a very small amount of the stone. This means that as much light as possible can enter the diamond, maximising its brilliance and sparkle.

Some ring settings completely enclose the sides of the stone, preventing light entering, which reduces the amount of light which can then be reflected by the stone into your eyes – reducing the sparkle.

Princess cut diamond engagement ring sparkling brightly

Flexible

The solitaire setting is also extremely flexible. While some other ring settings may only be suitable for specific diamond shapes, the solitaire setting will look great with any stone shapes, including the shapes that aren’t used so often e.g. pear, heart or marquise.

Princess_220

Princess Cut

Heart_220

Heart shaped

Marquise_220

Marquise

Pear_200

Pear shaped

Worry-free

Lastly, prong settings are easy to clean and maintain. While with more complicated settings you need to check that the tiny diamonds in a halo or pave setting are still secure, and none are coming loose or have even been lost, with a solitaire setting you just need to check the prongs very occasionally to ensure that they are holding the center stone safe.

What’s bad about solitaire engagement rings?

Snag City

Solitaire settings put the diamond front and center and raises it up above the ring band, to be admired and gawped at by everyone who will inevitably ask to see the ring shortly after the required engagement Facebook status update and Instagram ring pic have been taken.

While this is great because it brings focus to the diamond, it can also be a disadvantage – particularly if the wearer has an active lifestyle.

The high profile of the ring can mean that it is more likely to snag and get caught, either on objects or on hair and clothing.

Some diamond shapes can make this more likely, too. Heart, marquise and pear shaped diamonds each have at least one sharp point

Side-view-200

Exposed

Princess cut diamond with chipped corner

Solitaire settings also don’t provide as much protection to the edges of stones as some other seting styles. While the bezel setting surrounds the whole of the ‘girdle’ of the diamond (the rim around the edge of the stone), the solitaire setting leaves the girdle expose, apart from on the sections with the prongs.

Although diamonds are extremely hard the girdle is still vulnerable to chipping because it’s so thin. With normal day-to-day wear this shouldn’t be anything to worry about, but if the wearer is particularly active then a setting that it is worth considering a setting that will offer more protection. A bezel setting adds the ultimate in security without adding any extra cost.

Solitaire engagement ring settings

There’s a huge amount of variety available in the solitaire setting, from subtle differences in the shape of the ring band to tiny diamonds hidden underneath the main stone. Each setting is also available with pretty much any shape of diamond and in several types of metal, to add even more variety.

This list below is by no means definitive, but it’s a representation of just some of the variations of solitiare setting that are out there. Click through a ring to find out more about it, or to see the other options at each of the retailers.


Timeless and elegant, the classic 4 prong solitaire engagement ring  highlights the center diamond and allows it to sparkle to the very best of its ability. This ring has a gentle curve to the ring band and a relatively low-profile setting, to reduce the likelihood that it will get snagged.

See more information on this Four Prong Solitaire from Blue Nile
Or check out one of the 67 other solitaire setting styles at Blue Nile here

4 prong solitaire round brilliant engagement ring

Tweaking the ring band shape can give a ring a very different feel – the flared band here makes the ring feel much more ornate, and brings even more focus to the center stone.

Click here to get more information on this ring


Subtle changes, like changing the position of where the prongs that hold the diamond are located, can make a ring feel more unique. This settings is called a ‘east west solitaire ring’ because the prongs are set at the points of the compass to provide an interesting variation on the traditional 4 prong solitaire setting.

Find out more about this East West solitaire engagement ring

East west solitaire engagement ring

The 6 prong solitaire setting is sometimes called the ‘Tiffany setting’, as it was a style that was originally created by Tiffany & Co. in 1886. Today, many jewelers offer a 6 prong setting, and by buying smartly and not going for the brand name, you can get a much more impressive ring, rather than just a turquoise box.

Learn more about this Tiffany engagement ring setting


Making changes to the ring band is a great way of changing the character of a solitaire engagement ring, while keeping the benefits of the elegant design. This ‘twisted cable’ band gives the ring an interesting vintage look without adding extra expense or distracting from the center stone.

Find out more about this Twisted cable solitaire engagement ring at James Allen.
Or, check out all of James Allen’s solitaire settings here

solitaire engagement ring with twisted cable band

Another vintage-inspired solitiare ring, this ring uses an ornate millgrain effect (the dots on the edges), and an etched rope detail to hark back to the Art Nouveau period of the early 20th Century.

Click here to learn more about this vintage-style solitaire engagement ring.


While this is technically a bezel ring setting, rather than a solitaire, I wanted to include it here in case there are any readers with a particularly active lifestyle who are worried that a solitaire setting may not be robust enough for them.

A bezel setting surrounds the diamond with a rim of protective  metal, protecting it from being chipped or damaged, while still allowing the diamond to take center stage and sparkle brilliantly.

Learn more about this bezel ring from Zoara, my most value-focused recommended retailer here.
Or, click here to see Zoara’s 95 other solitaire diamond ring options.

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Verragio is a ‘designer’ ring creator, with a focus on ultra-ornate and feminine designs.  This ring is from their ‘Parisien’ range, with subtle rose gold detailing and intricate metalwork which enhances the ring but doesn’t distract from the center stone.

Learn more about this Verragio solitiare engagement ring here.
Or, see all click here to see all of Whiteflash’s designer engagement ring settings.


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