Understanding Diamond Engagement Ring Terminology

When shopping for an engagement ring you’ll hear words like cut, clarity, carat weight, color, the 4Cs, fire, brilliance, prong set, pave, and many others.  Having a basic understanding of not only diamond terminology, but engagement ring terminology as well will benefit you greatly as you begin your search.

Here are some diamond and engagement ring terms you should familiarize yourself with before you begin your engagement ring search.

Diamond Terminology

Blemish – a clarity characteristic confined to the surface of a polished diamond

Brilliant cut – a cutting style in which triangular and kite shaped facets spread out from the diamond’s center toward the girdle

Brilliance – the brightness that stems from the center of the diamond.  Brilliance occurs when light enters through the table, reaches the pavilion facets, and is reflected back through the table.

4Cs Cut, Color, Clarity, Carat weight

Carat (ct) – standard term used for the weight of a diamond

Clarity – absence of internal inclusions and external blemishes

Color – absence of color in a diamond

Cut – the proportions and finish of a polished diamond

Clarity characteristics – internal or external feature of a diamond that helps determine the quality and establish its identity

Crown – the upper portion of the diamond above the girdle

Culet – a facet sometimes added to the bottom of the pavilion to protect the tip

Eye clean – a term used to describe a diamond with no blemishes or inclusions that can be seen with the unaided eye

Face-up (aka table up) – a position where the diamond’s crown and table are pointed towards the viewer

Face-down (aka table down) – a position where the diamond’s pavilion is pointed towards the viewer

Facet – a smooth flat plane on the surface of a diamond.  Facets allow light to enter a diamond and reflect off its surface at different angles creating color and light.

Fancy cut– any diamond shape other than a round

Fire – the flashes of colors in a polished diamond

Fluorescence – the emission of visible light by a diamond when it is exposed to ultraviolet radiation

Girdle – the outer edge or outline of the diamond’s shape

Inclusion – a clarity characteristic totally enclosed in a polished diamond or extending into it from the surface

Pavilion – the lower portion of a diamond below the girdle

Plot (aka diamond certificate) – a map of a diamond’s inclusions, blemishes, and facet arrangements

Point (pt) – a unit of measurement used to describe the weight of a diamond

Proportions – the angles and relative measurements of a polished diamond and the relationship between them

Scintillation – the flashes of light and dark areas you see when the diamond, light, or observer moves

Shape – the face-up outline of a diamond

Shape appeal (aka “eye-pleasing”) – a diamonds overall appearance in relation to others of the same size, shape, and cutting style

Scintillation – the flashes of light and dark areas you see when the diamond, light, or observer moves.

Engagement Ring Terminology

Setting Styles

A Prong setting (aka claw setting) is the most common type of setting for solitaire diamond rings.   The diamond is placed in a metal head or basket and it is secured using 3-8 prongs.  The shapes of prongs vary in style and may even contain small accent diamonds.

Advantages – allows more diamond to show than any other style, is secure, easy to clean, and is quick to set.

Disadvantages – does not provide a smooth surface and the prongs can catch on clothing or hair and the girdle area of the diamond is left exposed.

A Channel setting is very popular for not only engagement rings, but wedding bands as well.  The diamonds are placed in a row and are “suspended” between two continuous pieces of metal on the top and bottom with no metal between each stone.   It provides a smooth surface across the ring and protects the girdle of the diamonds; which makes it a great setting choice for someone that is very active or uses their hands a great deal.  The diamonds used for a wedding band are usually all the same size, but may differ in size for engagement rings graduating from larger to smaller down the shank.

Advantages – protects the girdle area of the diamonds and provides for a smooth surface.

Disadvantages – more time consuming and costly to set than a prong setting because all stones must be evenly spaced and secure.

A Pave setting (aka bead setting) contains small round brilliant cut diamonds that are set level with the surface of the ring.  Tiny holes are made in the setting and once the diamond is placed into the hole the surrounding metal is raised to form tiny beads or prongs that will hold the diamond in place.  Pave adds brilliance to the ring and creates the illusion of a larger center stone.  Pave settings are commonly designed using white gold or platinum to minimize the appearance of metal.  Pave settings are quite durable, but aren’t for everyone.  Pave settings also require a little more cleaning and care than prong, channel, and bezel settings.

Advantages – provides great protection for the girdle and pavilion, accentuates the center stone and can make it appear larger than a prong setting, and it allows for an uninterrupted design.

Disadvantages – it doesn’t provide for a smooth surface like a channel setting or channel setting.

Metal Choices

Platinum is rare, pure and known for its durability.  Platinum is 95% pure and will not fade or tarnish keeping its rich white color for a lifetime.  With everyday wear platinum will develop a patina overtime.  Platinum is extremely strong and will hold precious stones firmly and securely in place.  Platinum will scratch, but unlike other metals no metal is lost it is just displaced.  Platinum is hypoallergenic and is a great choice for someone with sensitive skin.

Palladium is part of the platinum family and has a grayish white tone.  It is 10% stronger than platinum and consists of 95% palladium and 5% ruthenium which makes it more scratch resistant than platinum.   Palladium is also a hypoallergenic metal.

White Gold, available in 10kt, 14kt or 18kt, is pure gold alloyed with palladium, zinc or nickel.  The alloys in white gold make it stronger than yellow gold.  To mask the slightly yellowish tone in white gold it is rhodium plated giving it a bright white finish.

Yellow Gold, available in 10kt, 14kt or 18kt, is pure gold alloyed with copper and silver.  Its color looks great with all skin tones and gemstones.

Rose Gold, available in 10kt, 14kt or 18kt, is pure gold alloyed with copper.  Rose Gold has a soft tone that compliments the skin’s natural coloring.  Rose Gold comes in a variety of shades from reddish to a soft pink.  Rose Gold is not recommended for individuals with metal allergies because of its copper alloy.

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What is a Cushion Cut Diamond?

The Cushion cut diamond is unique with its rounded corners and larger facets and is also known as a pillow cut or candlelight diamond.  The Cushion cut is an antique cut that is a cross between the Old Mine Cut popular in the late 19th Century, early 20th Century and an Oval cut diamond.   This cut provides for a classic look and is not as brilliant as the more modern cut diamonds.  The Cushion has large open facets so clarity and color are important factors when considering this cut.  The recommended length to width ratio for this diamond shape is 1.25 – 1.30.   A ratio between 1.0 – 1.05 offers a square look whereas a ratio greater would offer a more rectangular look.

cushion cut diamond

Since the shape of the cushion is unique they look great set in a solitaire setting, a three stone with something different like oval side stones, or a very simple channel setting.  With this shape stone you don’t want the setting to distract from its beauty.

Precision Set Channel Setting .60ct tw

This beautiful Precision Set engagement ring features a row of channel set square baguettes going half way around the band.  This setting is available in platinum, 18kt white gold or 18kt yellow gold and can accommodate a round brilliant or fancy shape center stone from .40ct to 4.20ct.

Precision Set Channel Setting Ring

What is a Channel Setting?

A channel setting is a row of diamonds “suspended” between two continuous pieces of metal on the top and bottom with no metal between each stone. Channel settings are very popular for wedding bands and engagement rings. It provides a smooth surface across the ring and protects the girdle of the diamonds which makes it a great setting choice for someone that is very active or uses their hands a great deal. The diamonds used for a wedding band are usually all the same size, but may differ in size for engagement rings graduating from larger to smaller down the shank.

Channel Set Engagement Ring

Channel Set Engagement Ring

Shop all Since1910 settings to find the perfect engagement ring

What are the different types of engagement ring settings?

With so many styles of rings out there it is really important to think about your significant others lifestyle. Here are some of the more popular styles…

Center stone mounting choices

Prong Mounting

Prong mountings are the most popular especially for solitaires. Depending on the diamond’s shape, prong settings will have between 3 to 6 prongs. Most Round Brilliants will have either 4 or 6 while certain fancy shape stones such as a Pear will have 5 and a Marquise will have 6. With a prong mounting the diamond’s girdle is fitted into the “grooves” of a metal head or basket. The head/basket can either be set high or lower to the setting.

Advantages – allows the stone to be seen from all angles, holds the diamond securely, easy cleaning due to the open head/basket.

Bezel Mountings

Bezel mountings are very popular with those that are athletic, work with children or are in the medical profession. With a bezel mounting a band of metal holds the diamond in place and can either fully or partially surround the girdle.

Advantages – provides protection to the girdle and will prevent chips, accentuates the diamond making it appear larger than a prong set stone, provides a smooth surface.

Side stone choices

Channel Setting

Diamonds are suspended in a “channel” with no metal between each stone. The advantage of this setting is it protects the girdles of the stones and provides for a smooth surface.

Pave Setting

Diamonds are fit into holes in the setting and the metal surrounding each hole is raised to form beads holding the diamonds in place. The advantage of this setting is it protects the diamonds better than prong settings and can make the diamonds appear larger than they are.

Flush Setting

Diamonds are fit into a grooved hole that securely holds the girdle. The surrounding metal is then pressed into the opening securing the diamond. The advantage of this setting is the diamond sits flush to the band offering great protection.

Bar Setting

Diamonds are set in a “channel” across the ring and the edges of the stones are exposed. This style is popular with baguettes that are set on either side of the center stone.

Find the perfect engagement ring setting using our Create Your Own Engagement Ring three-step process.

Precision Set Channel Setting .40ct tw

This beautiful Precision Set engagement ring features a row of baguette diamonds channel set half way around the band.

Precision Set Channel Setting

Available in Platinum, 18kt White Gold or 18kt Yellow Gold and can accommodate a round brilliant or fancy shape center stone from .40ct to 4.20ct

Scott Kay .30ct Milgrain Channel Setting

This beautiful engagement ring setting by Scott Kay features 16 channel set diamonds and a milgrain edge.

Scott Kay Milgrain Channel SettingAvailable in Palladium, Platinum, 19kt White Gold or 19kt Yellow Gold and can accommodate a round brilliant or fancy shape center stone from .30ct to 2.80ct.