Setting Diamond Shapes: What You Should Know

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Princess, marquise, heart- there’s a beautiful variety of diamond shapes and sizes for jewelry such as engagement rings and pendants. But don’t be fooled; while diamonds are definitely the hardest rocks on earth, that doesn’t mean that they’re immune to damage!

The process of stone setting varies depending on the stone’s shape, and certain diamond shapes are more fragile than others. Here’s what you need to know.

Common Stone Setting Styles

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From top left and clockwise: prong, bezel, invisible, and channel

There are a multitude of ways to set a stone in metal, and the settings applied vary depending on the durability of the stone’s shape. Here are a few setting styles you should know:

  • Prong: The most standard setting style, consisting of a few strips of metal that extend from the base to hold onto the top of the stone. Because of its light construction, it’s suitable for most stones but isn’t as protective as other setting styles.
  • Bezel: A firm wrapping of metal around the entire gem. It’s very protective and suitable for gems that have chip-prong areas such as corners or points. However, it doesn’t let as much light in as a prong setting, which detracts from the sparkle of the stone.
  • Channel: Gems are held between two strips of metal. This type of setting is not compatible with every kind of shape. While it provides good protection, dirt tends to accumulate behind the setting.
  • Invisible: The most complex and time-consuming setting; it’s usually used for square stones only. Thin grooves are cut on the side of a stone, and the stones are slotted onto thin rails like a puzzle. This creates a seamless look.

Fancy Diamond Shapes

While the most well-known diamond shape is the round cut, the Gemological Institute of America separates it from other cuts by referring to non-round shapes as “fancy.” Because of these irregular shapes, some of these diamonds are more difficult to set than your standard round cut. In addition, they affect the type of setting used in the jewelry design; rarely will you ever see a pear-cut diamond in an invisible setting, or a marquise in a channel setting. Fancy-cut diamonds include the following:

  • Princess: The princess cut, also known as the square cut, is a classic diamond shape known for its minimalism and versatility in jewelry design. Its shape makes it great for a variety of settings, such as a V-prong setting, channel setting, tension setting, and invisible setting. The straight edges of the square cut allow jewelers to use these stones to create illusions, such as a seamless pattern of gems, or a “larger” center stone.
    Like most shapes with sharp corners, however, setting princess cut stones can be tricky as they are prone to chipping. Similarly, wearers should exercise caution especially if their princess diamond is in a prong setting; banging the stone against hard surfaces will break the tips.

    diamond-shapes-princess

    This solitaire ring uses a v-prong setting to cap the delicate corners of the princess diamond.

  • Marquise: This diamond shape has a romantic backstory- it’s supposedly named after the Madame de Pompadour, the mistress of King Louis XV of France. He ordered a jeweler to cut a gem into the shape of her lips, creating the marquise cut.
    This diamond shape is normally set in prong settings or bezel settings; because of its elongated shape and fragile ends, it’s not suitable for the pressure in a channel setting. Ideally, a marquise shape should have its corners protected, so many settings accommodate for its shape by placing v-prongs at the top and bottom. As with the princess cut, extra care must be taken while setting to not chip the diamond at its points.

This ring is set with a marquise diamond: note the V-prongs at the top and bottom of the diamond.

  • Emerald: The name of this particular cut can be a bit confusing for jewelry novices, since it seems to imply that the stone itself is a green emerald. This is because the cut is traditionally used for actual emeralds, but it eventually migrated over to diamond cutting as well. While it seems like a rectangle at first glance, the corners are actually cut off, making it a little more durable for setting than princess and marquise-cut diamonds.
    Emerald-cut diamonds can be commonly found in prong settings, bezel settings, and bar settings. It’s also popular to set them in halos, as the cut itself is very grand and makes a strong Art Deco statement.

This is an emerald-cut moissanite ring

  • Pear: The pear shape takes the form of the round and marquise diamond cuts to create a new look. Softer than the sharp marquise, its only weak point is the tip at the very end which is normally covered by a prong. Most pear diamonds can be found in prong settings, although there is a recent trend of setting them in bezels on the side to create an asymmetrical, minimalist look. Setting a pear diamond is slightly easier than setting a marquise, since the jeweler only has to take one point into account.
  • Heart: This cute shape has been trending thanks to its eye-catching look and complexity in terms of cut. A heart shape is graded by how proportional it is; too thin, and the heart looks narrow. A fatter heart squashes the lobes- the top two portions of the heart- and makes it look stubby.
    V-prongs commonly cap the bottom point, or the heart is set into a bezel. Halos are popular, as they outline the unique shape of the heart stone. When setting, the setter needs to make sure for prong settings that the top two prongs rest evenly on the lobes in order to create the best symmetrical effect.
  • Oval: One of the easiest shapes to set, due to its similarity to the round cut, the oval diamond shape is a twist on a classic look. Its length differentiates it from the typical round cut and showcases long fingers. Oval set diamonds can be found in prong settings, bezel settings, halo settings, and even bar settings. As it has no points or corners, it’s less prone to chipping or damage as it cannot snag on anything.
  • Baguette: This shape is a rectangle cut that has an elegant look, and is commonly used for side accents. Like the square, it’s easy to set into a variety of settings such as bezel, prong, bar, flush, channel, and even invisible. The corners do need some care, but since this stone is normally set on the sides, the settings are usually protective enough to cover the diamond’s weak points. One thing to note is that small baguettes have a tendency to flake and chip at the sides over time. Jewelers dealing with these brittle stones are better off removing the original stone and replacing it with a new baguette.
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    The side baguettes of this diamond ring are noticeably worn.

Now you’re up-to-date on setting fancy diamond shapes and which cuts are more difficult to set! Get started on setting your own stones below.

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