How Does Gemstone Hardness Vary?

Have you ever wondered why there are so many different diamond engagement rings, but most are set with diamonds? Our customers often ask us whether they can get a specific gemstone set in their engagement ring. There’s nothing stopping you from using an emerald or an amethyst. However, they are not the most recommended gemstones by jewelers for us in an engagement ring.

If you’ve looked for an answer to this question you’ve likely come across something called the Mohs Scale of Hardness. And among the many specs and diagrams, you may have missed how this scale impacts which gemstones are the most suitable for an engagement ring. Fortunately, our experts are here to provide an answer as to why you’ll see mostly sapphire, ruby, or diamond engagement rings, while others like amethyst and aquamarine are less often used for that purpose.

What is the Mohs Scale?

Gemstones exhibit different degrees of “hardness” that range from the more fragile ones like pearls to the harder ones like diamonds. To compare the level of hardness, jewelers refer to the Mohs Scale of Hardness. The scale was first conceived by a German geologist named Friedrich Mohs back in 1812. He referred to it as the “scratchability scale.” The more resistant a gem is to being scratched, the higher its number on the list.

The highest-ranking gemstone on the list is diamond, ranking at number 10. This means that nothing can scratch it – except another diamond. On the other hand, the lowest entry on the list is talc. As you might have guessed, any other mineral on the list is able to scratch it. Similarly, a topaz ranking at a number 8 can scratch a quartz ranked number 7, but not vice versa.

Now, pay close attention to this part. The Mohs scale is an ordinal one, which means that even though the gemstones are linearly listed according to their hardness, the differences between these levels vary widely. For example, the list-topping diamond at number 10 is four times harder than corundum (rubies, sapphires) ranking at number 9. However, corundum is only two times harder than topaz that is ranked number 8. It’s generally recommended that gemstones used in rings that will be worn daily are at least a 7 on the Mohs scale since our hands are more likely to suffer impacts as we go through our busy days.

Loose princess cut diamond held by tweezer.
Jeweler holding round cut green gemstone with tweezers.

Hardness vs. Toughness & Stability

The hardness is only one of the factors that jewelers consider when recommending the gemstone for your unique engagement ring. Every gemstone has different properties and varying tolerances to environmental factors. When choosing which gemstone to use in engagement rings, experts look at three factors: hardness, toughness, and durability. We’ve already covered what hardness means for gemstones used in rings, so let’s talk a bit about toughness.

Toughness is determined by the strength of the atomic bonds of a particular gemstone and the way these bonds are formed. The toughness scale measures how much work is required to separate two surfaces along a specific crystallographic plane. This means that there are certain angles along which the uber-hard diamond is more vulnerable to breaking, and a solid blow along these angles can fracture it.

That’s why diamonds with thin girdles or exposed culets may be vulnerable to chipping or breaking. Therefore, diamond is not rated as the toughest gemstone; actually, jadeite jade is by far the toughest gemstone, extremely difficult to crack or break. Finally, gem stability determines how resistant the mineral is to outside factors such as temperature, chemicals, light, and humidity. So again, even though diamonds top the Mohs scale, they can be vulnerable to sudden or extreme temperature changes.

Gems like iolite, opal, or kunzite are also vulnerable to this “thermal shock,” as jewelers refer to it. Other gemstones are prone to damage due to different levels of humidity. While opals can crack due to low humidity, other gemstones like azurite can be damaged if exposed to water. Similarly, some gems like amethyst or topaz can lose color if exposed to intense light for long periods of time. Finally, some common chemicals can damage other gems: pearls can get damaged if exposed to something as mild as perfume.

How Do You Pick the Perfect Ring?

Knowing all these facts you now realize why it’s recommended to choose a durable gemstone for your engagement ring. It’s generally suggested that gemstones used in rings that will be worn daily are at least a 7 on the Mohs scale, since our hands are more likely to suffer impacts as we go through our busy days. And the higher on the scale, the better the gemstone will hold up over time. Therefore, jewelers don’t recommend using gems like amethyst or emerald in engagement rings, as these minerals can be more vulnerable to damage.

But don’t despair – if you adore a less durable gemstone, you can still have it set in your engagement ring! The expert jewelers at Leo Hamel Fine Jewelers can help you choose a setting that will offer your gemstone as much protection as possible. You’ll just want to be more careful when wearing it, take extra care when cleaning and storing it, as well as remove it for swimming or hot tubbing.

How Vintage Engagement Rings Reflect Your Style

Similar to Shakespeare’s famous quote “What’s in a name?”, you should know what a vintage engagement ring would say about your choice. But first off, let’s be precise what a vintage engagement ring is. A vintage ring is one that was originally created/purchased and worn anywhere from 1 day ago to 99 years ago. Because it was previously worn, it is no longer considered “new,” and so it is considered “vintage.” Jewelry that was created 100 years ago or more is also considered “antique.” And this is what it says.

You’ve Broken the Mold

Many vintage rings were handcrafted and created through a long and slow process which demanded an enviable amount of skill and patience. These vintage rings are unique in their craftsmanship and in their design. You won’t find another one like it.  These rings are excellent matches for brides who are fond of the old and who like to show off their originality.

You Are Bold & Intense

One of the periods that vintage engagement rings come from if the Art Deco period (1915/1920-1935). Art Deco is all about gemological shapes, hosts of diamonds and bold designs. Art Deco jewelry is part of a much broader movement which took place around WWI. After the Great War ended, the belief in progress was what kept society moving forward. A new woman emerged – one who smoked, played tennis, drove, and danced all night to the sound of jazz. Corsets were abandoned and there was palpable freedom in artistic and fashionable expression. It’s truly hard to miss an Art Deco vintage engagement ring when you come across one.

Vintage white gold diamond engagement ring.

You Are Feminine & Charismatic

The Retro period lasted from 1935-1950. Retro rings vibrate with a “larger than life” energy. These rings were inspired by the glamour of Hollywood and the express femininity of Hollywood actresses such as Marily Monroe. They feature fluid lines, asymmetry, sculptural dimensions, and a multitude of diamonds.

You Like Old Values

The 1950s mark the beginning of the Modern period for rings. The most prominent vintage ring detail of that period is the use of clean lines, platinum & diamonds, and textural features. The 60s, however, were an age of family values and family traditions. It was around the sixties that the diamond solitaire (especially with fancy cut center stones) became the classic engagement ring.

And let’s not forget what we have already said. The jewelry-making process in the past decades was much more about craftsmanship and devotion. Today’s market is flooded with mass-produced pieces of uniform design patterns barely distinguishable from one another. This is in stark contrast with how jewelry was made decades ago.

You Are Caring & Thoughtful

Vintage engagement rings are a beautiful choice, but some will come with advice to exercise caution and care during the everyday wear. In truth, any and every ring requires some level of caution or at least careful consideration of the design with respect to the fiancée’s lifestyle. Still, some vintage engagement rings (like some modern rings as well) could have a design which would require a more frequent care routine. This would include vintage engagement rings with pearls as center stones, for example, or those with a lot of filigree.

If you are in the market for a vintage engagement ring in San Diego, make sure you stop by our San Diego Avenue showroom. Here at Leo Hamel Fine Jewelers, you will find a vast and carefully curated selection of the finest quality vintage engagement rings. All have been meticulously restored by our master jewelers to appear like new but have a lower price tag than new. Let us help you make a choice that will make you – and your fiancée – happy!

Which Engagement Rings Are Better For Active Lifestyles?

Most women dream of the day the love of their life pops the question. They envision their beautiful engagement ring shining on their hand and can’t wait to show it off to the world. Most women also lead very active lives and are terrified of losing or damaging their sparkling symbol of love. Constantly removing your engagement ring for fear of losing it actually increases your chances of misplacing it!

So, when shopping for your future fiancé’s dream ring her lifestyle needs to be taken into consideration. You wouldn’t want to buy a ring she’ll rarely be able to wear, right? When purchasing an engagement ring most people are solely focused on the appearance. But when looking for the best engagement ring for active women there are other things that need to be considered as well – durability and comfort. If your future bride-to-be is always on the go, you want to be sure you find a ring that will perfectly fit in with her life. But how do you balance beauty with practicality?

The Bezel Setting

The bezel setting is an active woman’s best friend. Bezel settings offer a ring of protective metal around the girdle of the center stone. This protects the delicate stone from being chipped or damaged. This also helps prevent any potential snagging or scratching, which is a common issue with prong or claw set rings. This setting is great for women who:

  • Participate in extreme or contact sports like soccer, softball, basketball, snowboarding, etc.
  • Regularly go to the gym and lift weights
  • Enjoy hobbies that require constant use of the hands like pottery, woodworking, kitting, etc.
  • Constantly use their hands at work (doctors, hair stylists, chefs, etc.)
  • Seem to be especially clumsy – always tripping or bumping into tables and walls, etc.
Yellow gold engagement ring centered with an oval cut bezel set diamond and two pear cut bezel set diamonds.

Center Stone Shape

Another factor to consider when looking for the best engagement ring for active women is the shape of the diamond or colored gemstone you choose. Sharp points and corners, like those seen on princess, pear, and marquise cuts, can more easily snag on clothes and hair. They are also more at risk of chipping or breaking when accidentally banged on a hard surface. The ideal cut for an active woman’s engagement ring should have smooth edges. The gentle curves of round or oval cuts are a great way to ensure the center stone of your engagement ring stays looking impeccable and remains unblemished.

Metal Type

Last, but most certainly not least, is the type of metal you choose for an active woman’s engagement ring. There are many different precious metal options, and you should go with the one that best fits her style. However, platinum is recommended for those who lead active lives. Platinum is the most durable precious metal and will be better able to handle hard blows and rough wearing. Platinum is a popular choice due to its hardness (resistance to being scratched), toughness (resistance to being bent), and natural white sheen. It’s also naturally hypo-allergenic, making it even more irresistible!

The best engagement ring for active women is comprised of three main factors: a bezel setting, a round or oval shape, and a platinum band. These factors will ensure a beautiful, comfortable, and secure ring that she’ll be able to show off no matter what she’s doing. You can also find a gorgeous bezel set wedding band to perfectly match her engagement ring!

If you think a bezel set ring is the perfect fit for your future wife, visit Leo Hamel Fine Jewelers on San Diego Avenue. Our vast collection of bezel set rings features everything from classic solitaires to unique, vintage three stone rings. The active woman in your life will be grateful you thought about her love for adventurous activities. She’ll cherish her ring – and you – for a lifetime.

What Are Lab-Grown Diamonds?

Three Diamonds and Tweezers

There are a lot of questions to consider when it comes to buying diamonds. Amidst the questions of size, cut, or clarity, have you ever considered choosing between a lab-grown or mined diamond?

What is a Lab-Grown Diamond?

Mined diamonds are formed deep inside the earth’s surface. Through the combination of extreme pressure and heat applied over billions of years, they are brought to the surface by volcanic eruptions. Until recently, this natural phenomenon was the only way that a diamond could be created. But now technology has advanced. Scientists can duplicate this process in a highly controlled laboratory environment using specialized equipment.

Like what happens 100 miles underneath the Earth, a lab diamond is created as carbon atoms bond together to form a diamond crystal, which is then cut into a sparkly diamond. And just like Earth-made diamonds, they have unique characteristics, including carat weight, color, or clarity. The only difference between the two is their origin (the Earth versus a laboratory) and how long they take to make (billions of years versus 6-10 weeks)!

Lab-Grown Diamonds vs. Moissanite vs. Cubic Zirconia

Not to be confused with gemstones such as the moissanite or cubic zirconia, a lab-grown diamond is a 100% genuine diamond. The cubic zirconia is a colorless synthetic gemstone often used to mimic diamond. They are easily spotted when held underneath a light. Cubic zirconia reflects light at a lower rate, so their sparkle is just not comparable to that of a diamond. They reflect a rainbow of light as opposed to white light (a.k.a. brilliance).

The same goes for Moissanite: a laboratory-created gemstone with an entirely different genetic makeup from that of a diamond. Moissanite is known for its “disco-ball” effect as it emits a rainbow as opposed to a diamond’s white light. These two diamond substitutes have their pros and cons, but they have no connection to a diamond.

This is not the case with lab-grown diamonds. A lab-grown diamond is identical to a mined diamond in every single way. They share the same chemical composition, light refractions, hardness, and density, to name a few elements. The untrained and even trained eye can’t notice a difference – because there isn’t any!

Some rather expensive equipment is being developed to distinguish lab-grown diamonds from mined by tiny internal differences caused by their growth patterns, but most jewelers will not have this to hand. A lab-grown diamond is graded for cut, color, and clarity using the same scales as a mined diamond, and many will come with certificates. Many lab-grown diamonds will also have an inscription on the girdle that identifies them as lab-grown.

Two Diamonds and Tweezers

Purchasing Lab-Grown Diamond Jewelry

Given the efficiency of technology, these lab-grown diamonds reduce the cost, time, and equipment required to become the dazzling gemstones we love to wear. Mining the earth has a tremendously negative impact on the environment. Mining requires extensive machinery that erodes soil, ruins forests, and overall causes devastating ecological destruction. You can have peace of mind wearing a lab-grown diamond, knowing they don’t cause damage to the earth and are not involved with humanitarian or ethical concerns.

Since it requires less expense to grow diamonds rather than mine them from the Earth, they are more affordable. You can purchase a larger diamond of higher quality for the same price when investing in a lab-grown diamond.

As you narrow down what you are looking for when buying a diamond, consider adding lab-grown to your list. Lab-grown diamonds have the brilliant shine and sparkle that you want for your engagement ring or diamond jewelry. You can own an authentic diamond with less damage to the environment and your wallet.

You can find beautiful lab-grown and mined diamond jewelry here at Leo Hamel Fine Jewelers. We offer a tremendous selection of dazzling diamond jewelry for every taste and budget. Whether you’re preparing to pop the question or simply want to spoil yourself, you’re sure to find exactly what you’re looking for at Leo Hamel’s!

Picking the Perfect Men’s Wedding Band

Five various men's wedding bands on marble background.
So, you’ve found the perfect wedding set for your sweetheart and it’s time to select your own wedding band. Men’s wedding bands come in a variety of different styles, not just the classic smooth band. You may feel even more overwhelmed by your ring choices than you were by hers. But there’s no need to fret because we will help you navigate the process!

Consider Your Budget & Lifestyle

Considering how much you want to spend could help when it comes to choosing some of your options, such as higher-end metals or embellishments like precious gemstones. But you don’t have to know your budget before visiting your jeweler to try on a variety of bands. Once you find one that is appealing, then you can decide whether to fit it into your budget. After all, a wedding band is meant to be a lifetime investment, so this splurge for the groom is allowed.

When choosing a wedding band, it is important to examine your lifestyle. Perhaps you work in a profession that requires you to work with your hands or use certain tools that could potentially damage your ring. There are certain metals like platinum and titanium that are known for durability. Are you an exceptionally active person? Maybe you’d prefer a ring that is more understated with no fuss. Remember, this is a piece of jewelry that you’ll likely wear daily and seldom remove. You want to make sure it can stand up to your daily activities.

Choose Your Metal & Fit

There are a variety of metals to choose from when selecting a men’s wedding band. Some of the most popular metals include platinum, titanium, stainless steel, and white, yellow, or rose gold. These metals vary in price and durability. For example, platinum is typically more expensive but is also very tough.

One of men’s biggest concerns when shopping for wedding bands is getting used to wearing a ring every day. If you’re not accustomed to wearing jewelry, this can certainly be an adjustment. This is exactly why making sure your band is the perfect fit is so important! Minor details like whether the edges of your band are flat or rounded can make a difference in the fit and feel of the ring. Trying on as many styles as possible will reveal what feels right for you.

Fitting Your Personality

Last, but certainly not least, you want to make sure that the wedding band you choose expresses your personality. This symbol of love and commitment is meant to be worn for a lifetime, so you want to make sure it accurately represents your unique style and identity. If your style is more reserved, you can opt for a classic wedding band with few embellishments. For a more modern look, you can consider adding extra detail or picking a less traditional metal like rose gold. If you’re a guy who doesn’t mind standing out, add some sparkle to your band. You can do this with round or square cut diamonds set in a channel through the center of the band.

Remember these tips and you’ll find the process to be less overwhelming than it may seem. And don’t forget, Leo Hamel Fine Jewelers has an exceptional selection of new and vintage men’s wedding bands in all price ranges! Visit our showroom today, meet with one of our friendly experts, and we’ll help you find the wedding band that is perfect for you!

Choose Yellow Diamonds for a Unique Engagement Ring

Drop earrings, stud earrings, and three rings all set with yellow diamonds surrounded by white diamonds.

Thinking of an engagement ring might evoke an image of a colorless diamond solitaire. Although that is certainly a classic choice, there are many other options when it comes to getting engaged. Engagement rings are highly personal items of jewelry and can be set with colored stones as well as colored diamonds rather than colorless ones. The 2017 trends saw a marked increase of interest in non-solitaire rings. Similarly, fancy yellow diamonds have grown in popularity over the past few decades. These gorgeous gemstones can be set in antique style settings as well as modern ones. If making the decision between a fancy yellow diamond versus a colorless diamond is a tough one for you, we’re here to help.

Diamonds are a mineral that is composed of 99.95% carbon. The remaining percentage is trace elements, some of which can affect a diamond’s color. One of the trace elements that can be found in diamonds is nitrogen, which is the source of a yellow diamond’s color.

Colorless diamonds are graded for their color on a scale D-Z, with D being the most transparent, like a drop of pure water. A vast majority of diamonds are graded somewhere between D and Z, which is to say that most diamonds have varying degrees of trace nitrogen. Diamonds which have no nitrogen at all are extremely rare. However, intensely colored or “fancy” yellow diamonds are even rarer than colorless diamonds.

Fancy colored diamonds are not graded on the D-Z scale. For instance, yellow diamonds are graded on a special scale: fancy light yellow – fancy yellow – fancy intense yellow – fancy deep yellow – fancy vivid yellow.

Jewelry connoisseurs associate Tiffany & Co. with fancy yellow diamonds nearly as much as their trademark blue color. In fact, for quite some time Tiffany had exclusive access to yellow diamonds mined in Ellendale, Australia – the largest yellow diamond mine until it closed in 2015. The world-famous Tiffany Diamond was mined in 1877 in South Africa. Once cut and faceted, this impressive fancy yellow diamond weighed a whopping 128.54 carats. It was once set in an enchanting necklace by jean Schlumberger for Audrey Hepburn to wear while promoting the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Remarkably, this famous yellow diamond was never sold, and remains on display in Tiffany’s flagship Fifth Avenue store.

Today, yellow diamond rings are rising in popularity. Many celebrities flaunt their sparklers of the rising sun wearing fancy yellow diamond engagement rings, yellow diamond wedding bands, and yellow diamond right-hand rings. Some of them include Kelly Clarkson, Jennifer Lopez, Carrie Underwood, Hillary Clinton, Heidi Klum, and Rebecca Romjin.

Our culture already attaches certain symbolism to diamond rings. The striking color of fancy yellow diamonds only adds to the meanings of strength and eternity. Yellow diamond engagement rings evoke joy, happiness, and prosperity. Therefore, yellow diamonds make a fantastic choice for an engagement ring.

Leo Hamel Fine Jewelers has been the largest independent and family-owned jewelry store in San Diego for over 44 years. Visit our vast and luxurious showroom on San Diego Avenue, just east of the 5 across from the airport. We carry an extensive collection of fancy yellow diamonds of a variety of cuts and carat weights. If we don’t have exactly what you’re looking for, we will go to work to find it for you!

How Are Diamonds Cut?

Woman's hand featuring diamond stud earrings, diamond engagement ring, and diamond pendant necklace.

Looking at a Hearts On Fire Dream diamond, you may wonder how it is possible to extract such a magnificently cut object from a rough crystal? If the diamond is supposed to be the hardest substance known to man, how do they cut it in the first place?

It generally takes another diamond to cut a diamond, since they are equal in hardness, although in modern times, lasers are used in some stages of shaping finished gemstones out of rough crystals. Diamond cutting is a slow and meticulous process that requires superior skill, mastery, and equipment to get first-class results. Here are some of the steps.

Cleaving or Sawing

A rough crystal is carefully inspected to determine if it’s fit to be cut into gemstones. What is also determined is the number and shape of gemstones it can yield while minimizing waste. The crystal is then separated into smaller parts which can be further processed. This can be achieved with a precise blow of a specialized hammer (cleaving). However, as this technique can result in inaccurate splitting, it has generally been surpassed with other equipment. Rough crystals can now be cut into individual pieces with a laser or a diamond saw. Each piece will become a finished gemstone.

Cutting

To give the cleaved diamond pieces a more concrete shape, a diamond saw is used. The saw is covered in linseed oil and diamond dust. The oil serves as an adhesive for the dust, and it also gathers more dust in the process of cutting. This step gets the diamond closer to the desired measurements.

Bruting/Grinding

This step gives the diamond the desired shape in a crude form. For example, a round, pear, princess, or marquise cut, etc. The diamond is often put into a specialized lathe and cut against another rotating diamond. Lasers and diamond disks are also utilized.

Ten diamond in various cuts including, emerald, pear, asscher, marquise, princess, oval, round, and heart.

Faceting

It is this, almost final, step that gives the diamonds the look and allure we know. It is the number and symmetry of facets relative to the overall shape of the diamond that dictates how much light the final product will reflect. Facets are created with equipment and methods like the second step – either with a laser or a blade covered in linseed oil and diamond dust. The final stage involves a thorough cleaning of the diamond in acids.

Grading

The quality of a diamond is described using the 4Cs – carat weight, color, clarity, and cut. The relative quality of each diamond establishes its market value as compared to other diamonds, generally based on relative rarity. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) established a standard grading scale with which to identify each of the 4Cs of diamonds. Some jewelers send their diamonds to the GIA to get a grading report that lists the 4Cs of a diamond. You should always avoid buying a significant diamond without a grading report from the GIA, as without that objective report, the quality of that diamond could be unintentionally (or intentionally) misrepresented and sold for a higher price than the quality would justify.

Hearts On Fire Dream Diamond

Hearts On Fire already boasts the title of The World’s Most Perfectly Cut Diamond®. The HOF Dream diamond is a fancy-shaped diamond, which simply means it’s not a traditional round cut. It’s sometimes difficult to achieve fancy cuts that have the brilliance and fire of a round brilliant cut. However, the HOF Dream diamond has 70 facets and reflects around 93% of light, which is the highest level of reflection achieved in fancy diamond shapes.

What generally sets all Hearts On Fire diamonds apart are these three facts:

  • They are uncompromising in their choice of rough diamonds. Only 0.1% of the world’s rough diamonds are selected by HOF to be processed into faceted and polished gemstones.
  • Their diamonds are cut only by a handful of master diamond cutters around the world, using only cutting-edge anti-vibration technology.
  • Their diamonds are cut under a 100x magnification, which is ten times higher than industry standard of 10x magnification, thus ensuring a much more precise faceting and maximizing each diamond’s brilliance and fire.

Would you like to browse the largest new and vintage Hearts On Fire jewelry collection in San Diego? Stop by our luxurious showroom on San Diego Avenue and see the difference for yourself. We also offer you exquisite choices in designer jewelry, as well as new, antique, and vintage jewelry!

Best Tips for Picking Out Ring Settings

White gold and yellow gold engagement rings with different settings and various colored diamonds.

The diamond, or any other gemstone, is the center of attention in any engagement ring. But the way it sparkles and shines can be affected by one important factor that many people tend to overlook – the setting. There are many different choices for engagement ring settings, also referred to as a mounting or semi-mounts. From the classic prong setting to bezel settings, to the modern tension setting, it can quickly become very overwhelming. But that doesn’t mean your decision shouldn’t involve careful consideration.

As you may already know, the 4Cs of a diamond determine its overall quality and appearance. However, engagement ring settings also play an important role. The mounting defines the look of your ring and displays the diamond to its best advantage. The way the diamond is set, and the color of metal chosen, can significantly impact the final look of your ring.

You don’t want to fall in love with a loose diamond, select a style of setting you’ve always admired, and then ultimately decide you don’t like how they look together on your finger. You’d have to start the entire process all over again! That’s why it’s best to consider the ring mounting before making any purchases.

It’s also wise to think about your lifestyle and budget. If you lead a more active lifestyle and plan to wear your engagement ring every day, it’s best to choose a setting that offers more protection for the diamond. Think about your ring being snagged on clothes or in hair, getting banged against your desk or walls, etc.

Additionally, it’s always smart to think about your budget. While the diamond itself can make up a significant part of the overall cost of the ring, the type and amount of precious metal plus additional diamonds or gemstones used in the setting helps determine the total price.

And don’t forget about the wedding band! Do you plan on wearing your engagement ring and wedding band together? If so, you more than likely want them to sit perfectly together and share cohesive design elements. A great way to ensure this is by purchasing a wedding set.

A duo will include an engagement ring and women’s wedding band, while a trio will include an engagement ring plus his-and-hers matching wedding bands. This can help you save money, but you always have the choice of purchasing each ring separately, and even custom designing your rings.

As you can tell, there are many different factors that go into selecting the perfect engagement ring setting for you. Luckily, we’re here to help you make your decision. Below are some of the many different types of ring settings with a brief list of pros and cons for each one.

Classic Prong Setting - Solitaire

This is the most common setting for engagement rings. Prong settings involve three to six prongs, or claws, that hold a stone firmly in place in a metal “basket.” This type of setting offers a few different options: prongs can be round, flat, pointed, or V-shaped. Four or six prongs are the most common, but this can vary depending on the shape of the diamond. Fewer prongs allow for more exposure to light and thus more sparkle, but more prongs keep the diamond more secure. Solitaire prong settings consist of a band and prongs to hold the diamond – nothing more.

Pros:

  • Allows for light exposure from all angles, which maximizes the diamond’s brilliance
  • Less expensive since less metal is required in the making of the setting
  • Supports a variety of shapes and carat sizes
  • Easy to clean
  • Timeless appeal
  • Shows the diamond off as the star of the piece

Cons:

  • May offer less protection of the diamond than other settings
  • Can get caught in hair or snag clothing. Beware of long-sleeved shirts, stockings/nylons, and gloves.
  • May loosen with normal wear and tear (although, this is a simple fix at your local jewelers).

Channel Set Engagement Rings

This specific setting refers to the band of an engagement ring and is also widely popular for wedding bands. The channel setting features smaller diamonds inserted into a channel that is cut into the band of the ring. This creates a metal channel of sparkling stones set flush with the entire band or most of the band. Most channel settings feature round or princess cut diamonds. The advantage to using princess cut diamonds is there will be no gaps between the stones set in the channel, making the ring sparkle even more.

Pros:

  • Secure; offers protection to the girdle of stones
  • Smooth surface
  • Enhances ring’s overall fire and brilliance

Cons:

  • Can be difficult to resize if set with stones around the entire perimeter of the band. We recommend leaving one third of the band unset in case of future repairs
  • Requires more cleaning to avoid dirt becoming trapped in the channel
  • Not recommended for soft stones

Bezel Set Engagement Rings

A bezel setting is the best engagement ring setting for those who lead active lifestyles. This is because the bezel setting offers maximum protection of the stone. The bezel setting encircles the diamond with a metal rim, either completely or partially. A full bezel completely surrounds the diamond, whereas a partial bezel leaves the sides open for more viewing of the diamond.

Pros:

  • Offers maximum protection of the diamond
  • Easy to clean and maintain
  • Sleek and modern style
  • Metal can be molded to fit any shape and carat
  • White metals can make diamonds appear larger
  • Yellow gold can enhance the color of red or green gemstones

Cons:

  • Less light reflection, which means less brilliance
  • Hides more of the stone
  • Yellow gold may give colorless diamond a slight yellow tint.

Pavé Settings

Similar to the channel setting, a pavé setting features diamonds encrusted around the perimeter of the band. However, instead of diamonds embedded within the band, several rows of small stones are set level with the surface of the ring. Then, the surrounding metal is raised to form beads, like little prongs, that secure the stones in place. The finished look gives the impression that the ring setting is made entirely out of diamonds.

Pros:

  • Continuous sparkle
  • Design complements modern and vintage styles

Cons:

  • Can be difficult to resize if set with stones around the entire perimeter of the band. We recommend leaving about one third of the band unset in case of future repairs.
  • Small risk of losing side stones

Tension Settings

A more modern approach to engagement ring settings, the tension setting gives the impression that the stone is floating. This type of setting features a design in which the compression-spring pressure of the band holds the stone securely in place. Jewelers expertly cut tiny grooves into the side of the band to secure the diamond in place. Diamonds, sapphires, and rubies are the only gemstones that are durable enough to withstand the required amount of pressure. There are also tension-style ring settings that have an additional metal band surrounding the diamond.

Pros:

  • Can see nearly 100% of the diamond
  • Ultimate light reflection due to minimal metal surrounding the diamond
  • Unique and modern appearance

Cons:

  • Difficult and expensive to resize
  • Thick metal bands can create the appearance of a smaller diamond
  • Extreme pressure from an outside source can cause the diamond to become loose (highly unlikely, but still possible)

Bar Settings

Bar settings are more common in wedding and anniversary bands, but they are still used in engagement rings. Two metal bars secure the stone in place, leaving the sides exposed for viewing. This setting is similar to the design of channel setting, however, more of the diamond is visible.

Pros:

  • Versatile design that works well for engagement rings, bands, and stackable rings
  • Amplifies sparkle and shine

Cons:

  • Resizing can be challenging and costly
  • Slightly higher chance of chipping since there is less metal protecting the stone.

Halo Settings

Halo settings are one of the most popular settings for engagement rings. Smaller diamonds or other gemstones encompass the center stone, creating a look of ultimate sparkle. Halos are more commonly seen with round or princess cut diamonds, but they look great with any shape. This is a great option for smaller center stones since the halo makes them appear larger. There are also double halos, which feature two concentric circles of gemstones surrounding the center stone.

Pros:

  • Maximizes sparkle and shine
  • Complements a variety of diamond shapes
  • Enhances appearance of smaller diamonds
  • Can be paired with a pavé band for a look of continuous sparkle

Cons:

  • Tiny side stones have the potential to come loose

Cathedral Settings

Cathedral settings have an elegant and classic appeal. This mounting is similar to the classic prong setting, but the diamond is set much higher up on the band. Metal arches are used to hold the center stone, much like the graceful arches of a cathedral. The arches are used to add extra height to the ring, elevating the center stone and making it the center of attention.

Pros:

  • Unique and eye-catching design
  • Showcases the center stone
  • Very secure
  • Cost-saving style; less money than adding more diamonds

Cons:

  • Can snag on clothing
  • Easier to accidentally hit on hard surfaces since the stone is set so high

Three-Stone Engagement Rings

Appropriately named, three-stone engagement ring settings feature three stones: a larger center stone and two smaller side stones. This setting has a special meaning behind it as the three stones are said to represent a couple’s past, present, and future. Round brilliant and princess cut diamonds are the most popular for this particular setting. Personalization is an option by using different colored stones.

Pros:

  • More brilliance and fire
  • Opportunity for color contrast and personalization
  • When properly paired with side stones, the center stone appears larger

Cons:

  • More cleaning and maintenance required
  • Side stones might distract from beauty of center stone when paired poorly

Gypsy Settings

Gypsy settings, also known as flush settings, feature a diamond drilled into a hole in the band of the ring. Metal is pressed and hammered around the stone to secure it; the gemstone does not protrude at all. This is a very popular style for men’s wedding bands.

Pros:

  • Very secure
  • Maximum protection of the stone
  • Conceals any nicks or chips on the stone’s girdle, which can be cost effective when selecting a diamond

Cons:

  • Not recommended for fragile stones
  • More expensive than other engagement ring setting since it takes more time and effort to produce

Cluster Settings

Cluster settings are one of the newer styles for engagement rings. Many smaller diamonds are clustered together to create the appearance of a larger diamond. This style of setting can contain a larger centered stone with many small stones clustered around it, or a cluster of stones of equal size.

Pros:

  • Unique and modern design
  • Can be crafted into many different shapes
  • Less expensive than purchasing a larger diamond

Cons:

  • More cleaning and maintenance required depending on number of stones and shape
  • Smaller stones can potentially become loose and fall out

Split-Shank Bands

Shank is another term for band. Therefore, this type of mounting features a split in the band. The band splits into two separate shanks that come together at the center stone. Channel settings and pavé settings are typically combined with this style to provide more texture and sparkle.

Pros:

  • Works well with modern and vintage designs
  • Different from traditional styles
  • Offers more surface area for more side stones
  • Offers a number of variations on design

Cons:

  • More difficult to pair with wedding bands, but still possible
  • Requires more cleaning and maintenance

Affordable Engagement Rings and Settings at Leo Hamel's

Now that you have a bit more knowledge about specific engagement ring settings, we hope you’ve been able to narrow it down to your favorites. Keep in mind that no specific setting for rings is superior to the others; it’s all just a matter of preference, lifestyle, and budget. So, which engagement ring setting is your favorite? Still can’t decide? Stop by our jewelry store on San Diego Avenue to try on different ring settings. Our experts will help you find your dream engagement ring at a price that is right for you.

15 Interesting Engagement Ring Facts

Five styles of white gold diamond engagement rings on display in the Leo Hamel Fine Jewelers showroom.

For centuries partners have been gifting one another engagement rings with their marriage proposals as a sign of their love and commitment. While certain details of the practice have changed over time, tradition largely remains. When asking for a hand in marriage it is custom to present a ring, usually set with a diamond, to be worn on the third finger of the left hand. Read more to learn about interesting engagement customs and engagement ring history!

Engagement Ring Facts

  • It’s believed that engagement rings originated in Ancient Egypt, where their shape symbolized eternity. They believed that only the third finger of the left hand had a vein that connected straight to the heart, so that’s where the engagement ring was worn. However, scientifically, all fingers have veins that ultimately connect to the heart, not just the third left.
  • In Ancient Rome, women often wore two rings – a gold one to be worn outside and seen by everyone, and an iron one to wear at home.
  • Archduke Maximilian I of Austria was the first person to give a diamond engagement ring. In 1477, he proposed to Mary of Burgundy with a ring adorned with an M-shaped diamond.
  • Different countries have different engagement ring customs. In the U.S., engagement rings are typically worn on the left hand while in Russia and India, they are worn on the right.
  • Only about 35 percent of engagement rings are bought without the fiancée’s knowledge.
  • The most popular engagement ring shape is a round brilliant cut diamond. Second place currently goes to princess cut diamonds.
  • Platinum was once the popular choice for wedding rings due in part to its durability. Then yellow gold took over for many years as the more affordable choice. More recently, white gold gained the upper hand in popularity, and platinum once again became more affordable. However, yellow gold has recently been making a strong comeback for engagement and wedding rings, and other diamond jewelry.
  • Until recently, engagement rings were chosen by men to be worn by women. Nowadays, it’s not uncommon for the men to involve their partners in the selection process, or even wear “management” rings themselves!
  • “Diamond” originates from the Greek word “adamas,” which means “hardest substance” or “hardest steel.”
  • A staggering 2,000 couples get engaged at Disney World every year. The Statue of Liberty is another popular choice with about 100 couples taking the ferry there to get engaged.
  • Grace Kelly’s diamond engagement ring is among the most expensive rings. Created by Cartier, the 10.48 carat emerald cut diamond ring was purchased in 1956 for $4 million and is now valued at $44.3 million.
  • Colorless diamonds are by far the most popular engagement ring stones, although colored diamonds have recently risen in popularity, most notably the fancy yellow.
  • Diamonds are the most durable gemstone, ranking 10 on the Mohs Scale, making them the most long-lasting choice of gemstone for engagement rings.
  • Even though diamonds are extremely tough, the rings in which they are set still require a bit of maintenance, so periodic professional exams are recommended to check prongs for wear.
  • 14% of couples choose a gemstone other than diamond for their engagement ring, such as sapphire, ruby, or emerald.

Engagement Rings in San Diego

At Leo Hamel Fine Jewelers, we boast an incredible selection of wedding and engagement rings of all shapes and sizes. What’s more, you can also share your design ideas with us and get a custom-made engagement ring that fits your personality perfectly. We are located on San Diego Avenue just off the 5 freeway, so don’t hesitate to stop by. We’d love to help you find the perfect engagement ring to create the perfect memory.

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