What Does a Bezel-Set Ring Mean? September 2, 2014 – Posted in: Jewelry Blog
When we talk about ring settings, it’s usually in a very non-specific way. At least as far as the type of setting foes. We’ll wax lyrical about the stones, the band, the filigrees work or anything else, but rarely about how the stones are kept in place.
Types Of Setting
If you’re now thinking “I didn’t realize there was more than one”, then prepare to be educated if not entirely amazed.
There are actually several types of setting, including names like Bar, Gypsy, Illusion, and Channel, amongst others. By far the two most common types are prong (example) and bezel (example). One of the benefits of both types is that they can also be used in earrings and pendants. as well as rings. This versatility makes them an easy and well-practiced method for jewelry makers.
Bezel settings do have several advantages over prong and other settings, but they also come with a disadvantage or two which can make prongs more suitable for some designs.
What Exactly Is A Bezel Setting?
First, we should really say a little about what a prong setting is, in order to understand the bezel a little better.
A prong setting is very much like it sounds. There are usually 3 or more pins which are angled in order to hold the stone in place. If you think of a claw, that’s how a prong setting works. And that’s about it, really. It’s very secure but, at the same time, a little unsightly as the pins are very visible.
A bezel setting is very different to a prong setting and offers a much greater level of protection. The bezel itself is a type of collar which surrounds the stone entirely. This makes it less likely that the stone will work loose or get damaged so easily.
Around the girdle, in particular, a diamond is exposed to knocks which may cause chips in the diamond. Although diamonds are the hardest of all known natural materials, this doesn’t mean it is unbreakable. A carefully planned bezel setting prevents this, and can even hide flaws or existing problems on the diamond.
Bezel settings have been around for hundreds of years.
The Benefits Of A Bezel Setting
The upsides of a bezel set ring, as opposed to a prong set ring, are quite significant. As we’ve already said, the protection a bezel gives goes far beyond that provided by a prong setting. This makes the ring far more wearable on a day to day basis. The bezel also provides an optical illusion which can make a diamond appear larger than it actually is. It also helps to improve the reflective properties of the light.
The separation of the diamond and the rest of the ring in a prong setting doesn’t allow the same advantages.
Occasionally, diamonds do work loose in prong settings and can be lost. With a bezel setting, this is much less likely, as the bezel firmly grips the diamond all the way around. Multiple bezels can also be employed in a single ring, unlike the singular prong setting.
As well as making the diamond look larger than it really is, the color of a diamond can also be improved in a bezel setting. Because of the enclosed nature of a bezel setting, any yellow color in the stone is neutralized slightly when set in white gold or platinum, making the diamond appear whiter than is the case. At the same time, when set in yellow gold, the color is presented with a beautiful warmth that is missing when set in other metals.
Bezel settings also work well for stones like sapphires, rubies, and emeralds which, by being softer than diamonds benefit from the extra protection.
And The Downsides
To be fair, there are far more pros than cons with a bezel setting, but it’s not all perfect.
The first consideration is the cost. Bezel settings use more metal and have to be precisely made to size. With prongs, there’s a lot of flexibility in how each prong holds the diamond. With a bezel, there simply isn’t that freedom, and so time must be taken to fit the bezel correctly.
A bezel, by design, covers more of the diamond than a prong setting ever would. This can be an advantage with less than perfect stones, but can also detract slightly as more of the diamond is below the line.
Sometimes, makers will use a partial bezel to hold a diamond in place. If you imagine picking up a large coffee mug with both hands around it, you’ll have an idea of what a partial bezel looks like.
This allows more of the stone to be visible and helps the stone remain largely secure. It can, though, make the setting look a little quirky and sometimes incomplete. For that reason, a full bezel is usually preferred.
A bezel setting may not be everyone’s cup of tea but, when done well, is a spectacular way to show off diamonds in an engagement ring.