When it comes to choosing the perfect engagement ring, there are a lot of things to consider. Most people focus on the cut, color, clarity, and carat of the diamond – not to mention choices between precious metals for the band.
However, you also have to consider the number of prongs – 4 prong vs. 6 prong ring setting; would you know which one is better?
You see, everything comes down to personal preferences and the specific shape and size of the diamond you choose for the centerpiece. There are pros and cons to both prong setting, though.
In this article, we’ve covered the differences between four-prong and six-prong settings, along with some things you should consider when choosing a prong setting. So, without further ado, let’s jump in!
Prong Setting Defined
First off, before we move any further, we need to explain what a prong actually is.
To put it simply, prongs act similarly to claws – they hold the center stone in place by binding it to the band. That ensures the diamond is safely secured in the ring at all times.
However, the prongs on a ring shouldn’t be intrusive. Instead, apart from keeping the diamond safe, they should showcase the beauty of the stone by suspending it high enough to highlight its main characteristics – sparkle, color, and the like.
Related Read: Prong Settings: Everything You Need to Know
Myths Surrounding Prong-Settings: Debunked
It’s widely believed that the number of prongs affects the sparkle of the center stone. People are convinced that the diamond will shine more because a four-pronged setting allows more light to enter the diamond.
That is false: A diamond’s sparkle and overall appearance are determined by its cut quality and have nothing to do with the prong setting.
Learn More: Why Does A Diamond Sparkle?
The Advantages Of Four-Pronged Settings
There are many benefits to choosing a four-pronged ring setting. Primarily, the fewer prongs, the less precious metal covering the central stone. And that enables more of the diamond to be showcased so you can get a better look at it.
In addition, experts believe four-prong settings give diamonds a look that resembles a square – which isn’t surprising when you consider that the traditional four-prong ring settings boast a two, four, eight, and ten o’clock format.
So, when a jewelry designer spaces out these four prongs evenly, they create a stylish “boxy” appearance. The prongs act as distinct corners that outline the square, which makes it ideal for choosing one of the following diamond cuts:
Four prongs are also perfect for complementing smaller gems – tiny stones are quickly engulfed by six-prong settings that overshadow the diamond’s beauty.
Additionally, you can mount a four-prong setting in a North-West-South-East style orientation to form a kite shape. That’s becoming more and more popular amidst square-cut diamonds since it makes the gemstone appear more prominent – which is never a bad thing!
The Disadvantages Of Four-Pronged Settings
For all the benefits that four-prong settings provide, there are drawbacks to be considered here, too. The main one is that they generally don’t hold the center diamond as securely compared to a six-prong setting.
With that said, let’s look at six-prong settings.
Few Things About The Six-Pronged Settings
We have Tiffany & Co. to thank for introducing the six-pronged ring setting to us. They launched the design over 125 years ago, and it’s still going strong. Today, it’s a somewhat iconic look for most diamond engagement rings.
Fun fact: The six-prong ring setting aided in establishing the well-known tradition of diamond-embedded solitaire engagement rings. When these six prongs are evenly spaced around an oval-cut diamond, they form a hexagonal shape, making the stone look rounder and more prominent.
The Pros Of Six-Pronged Settings
As we previously implicated, six-prong settings hold diamonds more securely in place. However, as time goes by, prongs wear down – and when they’re subject to daily wear and tear, they tend to bend and even break.
Unfortunately, the center diamond can fall out relatively easily if a prong snaps off and is part of a four-prong setting. That would be a nightmare, especially if you didn’t sort out the insurance to cover for such losses.
Trying to retrace your steps in hopes of finding a missing stone can be nearly impossible.
However, if a prong breaks on a six-prong setting, you stand a better chance of the diamond staying in its place and noticing the damage before anything happens.
The same goes for the general “abuse” that your diamond endures from all the accidental hits it takes. The gem is at a much lower risk of chipping and breaking when you knock your ring since more prongs cover the stone – therefore, protecting it more.
On the other hand, the individual prongs showcased in a six-prong setting typically appear both thinner and lighter, and when designed well, can be less obstructive looking than a four-prong setting.
They can be so well made that they don’t overly cover the gorgeous appearance of your gem. In addition to all of this, six prongs can make a round-shaped diamond look rounder – if that’s something you find more appealing.
The Cons Of Six-Pronged Setting
When it comes to maintaining your diamond ring, a six-prong setting is somewhat tricky to look after. It can be much harder to access the center stone to clean it, especially the bottom areas – which is where the most dirt gathers.
Modern Jewelry Design
Yes, it’s true; a six-prong diamond ring is often more secure than a four-prong one. However, modern jewelry design has improved drastically over the last several years, both in structure and stability.
Today, you can find four-prong settings that are incredibly strong – you would have to hit the ring insanely hard to budge one of the prongs.
If you’re buying from a high-quality jewelry store, the decision to go with a 4 prong vs. 6 prong setting ring isn’t a massive one. Instead, focus on finding a model that exhibits both a high level of durability and a gorgeous overall design.
Take The Wearer’s Lifestyle Into Consideration
Before you make the final decision, think about the kind of activities the person who is going to wear the ring regularly engages in – and, while you’re at it, consider if they’ll wear it daily or not.
If you don’t have the budget for a top-notch jeweler, feel free to play it safe and stick to a six-prong setting. Also, would you say that the future wearer of the ring is a notorious worrier?
If the answer is yes, you’re probably better off buying a ring with six prongs. That way, you can avoid any anxiety connected with losing a diamond from a four-prong setting.
What’s The Best Metal For Your Ring?
The kind of metal you choose for your ring will also have a notable impact on your choice of prong setting.
For instance, if you’ve selected platinum, then it doesn’t really matter that much when it comes to security because platinum is generally famous for holding stones securely in place.
Did you know that platinum’s one of the densest metals in the world?
That means that platinum prongs are more likely to stay intact because there’s less chance for them to split, separate, or come loose.
However, for all of the pros of platinum, it comes at a cost: Not only is platinum more expensive due to its quality, but it’s also much rarer compared to gold – which boosts its value further.
If you can’t afford a platinum ring, then the perfect compromise is choosing a different precious metal – which is usually gold – and just using platinum prongs. Of course, this will bump the price a bit; however, it’s nowhere near as expensive as an entire ring made out of platinum.
Related Read: Diamond Vs. Platinum: Comparison Guide
General Maintenance Tips
No matter the number of prongs your ring has, you’ll want to get it inspected and cleaned once every six months.
On that note, remember to ask the experts to pay attention to the prongs. The last thing you’d want is to wear your ring without knowing there’s a crack in its prongs; that could result in the loss of your precious diamond.
How To Check If Your Diamond Is Loose?
There are several different methods that you can use if you want to check whether your gem is loose or not.
The first is to put a ring close to your ear and hold it tightly with two fingers. Tap the ring’s band and listen for a rattling sound – if you can hear it, your diamond is getting loose.
The second technique is to use your fingernail to feel along the other edge of the diamond. As you do this, try to gently push the stone to see if there’s any movement.
Another method is to position your ring so that the light reflects off of its surface. Push the stone down ever so lightly with the tip of pointed tweezers and observe if the reflected light shifts. This technique will show if the diamond can move within the setting.
You can also try moving the stone by applying tiny amounts of pressure with a pin positioned on the diamond’s girdle. Push the gem in all directions to see if it’s loose. A magnifying glass will help you visualize the position of the pin and any movements caused by it.
What To Do If Diamond Is Loose?
If you see any movement or hear a rattling sound while testing the diamond, rest assured your diamond is loose.
First, it’s vital to stop wearing the ring. You wouldn’t want to have the diamond fall out and lose it before you can bring it to the jeweler for inspection.
Put the ring in a tightly closed jewelry case as soon as possible.
After that, you’ll need to take your diamond ring to a trusted jeweler to get the setting tightened or repaired. We’d never recommend that you try to fix the ring on your own simply because this can invalidate the warranty or insurance policy on your stone.
Why Diamonds Become Loose?
There are many reasons why diamonds become loose. For example, catching the prong on something or a hard impact on the gemstone can result in the diamond becoming loose and ultimately falling out of the setting.
However, most diamonds are lost because of normal daily wear. That is especially true if you wear your diamond ring often; the metal in the mounting can become thinner and weaker over time.
In particular, the head of the prongs is the one that tends to get thinner with everyday wear. Not only will the stone become loose, but this makes it more possible that the prong can be bent or broken, releasing the diamond.
So, 4 prong vs. 6 prong setting, which one should you choose?
The setting you pick is a matter of individual preferences and the overall style of your diamond ring.
In general, if you’re unsure which one of these options to choose, it’s recommended to go for a six-prong setting, simply because it provides that extra bit of security.
At the end of the day, when choosing a prong setting, the most important thing is the quality of the craftsmanship. In addition to that, platinum is by far the best option as it’s the most durable precious metal out there – and won’t wear down that easily.
Whichever you end up choosing, be sure you get your prongs checked regularly so that you don’t have to worry about your diamond falling out of your ring.