When selecting an engagement ring, there seems to be an endless amount of choices. A well-stocked jewellery store frequently has hundreds of rings with various shapes and colors of diamonds. The array of rings for sale on the Internet is dazzling with hundreds of thousands available. It is easy to get intimidated while looking for that one special ring, but a little research can turn this headache into a fun celebration.

Other than the diamond, the most noticeable thing about an engagement ring is its setting. Also called the mounting, the setting is the metal frame that holds the stones and connects them to the band. A ring’s setting will determine how much light enters the gem to give it sparkle. The setting also protects the diamond and keeps it in place. The setting should complement the hand and make it and fingers appear balanced.

The most popular engagement ring mount is the prong setting. Created in 1886, it has become the classic design for solitaire rings. Small claws grip the diamond to a metal basket connected to the ring. This setting allows the maximum amount of light to enter the stone, giving it the sparkle that almost every bride-to-be craves.

Women looking to make big statements often gravitate to pave settings. Several rows of petite stones are fitted into holes in the band so the tops of the stones are level with the surface of the ring. Almost invisible prongs hold the stones in place, giving the ring’s surface a sparkling illusion. Pave settings put a lot of shine in a small amount of space. The micro setting is a variation of the pave that uses very small diamonds that must be set with the aid of a microscope.

Long used in men’s jewelry, the gypsy, or flush, setting now appears on women’s fingers, too. The gypsy setting places the stone in a hole in the band of the ring so it does not protrude above the surface. Some of the surrounding metal then is hammered over the edges of the diamond to keep it in place. Gypsy settings offer superior protection and security for stones, but they can be expensive to make and do not allow much light to hit the facets of the diamonds.

Similar to the gypsy setting, the bezel mounting also encases the edges of the diamond with a metal rim to hold it in place. However, while gypsy-set stones are flush with the band, bezel-set stones can be slightly raised, which allows light to enter the stone.

More popular for wedding bands than engagement rings, the channel setting presents a row of stones with no spaces between any of them. The row of gems is sandwiched between two horizontal bands of metal for all or part of the circumference of the ring. The bar mounting is another version of the channel setting. The diamonds are placed farther apart and secured with thin bars of metal between them.

The most modern setting is the tension mount. It makes the diamond appear to be floating in air. The stone actually is pinched through a cut in the band and held in place with compression.

For a bride who wants to show off her diamond, nothing will beat a prong setting. However, it may not be the best choice for a woman with an active lifestyle or less traditional tastes. When the time comes to select a ring, consult with a jeweler to find out which setting will be the best fit for a lifetime of beautiful wear.

Lisa Maher is a freelance blogger and writes on fashion

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