The journey of a diamond is long and arduous. After taking millions of years to turn from carbon to diamond, and months of meticulous cutting and polishing, the ensuing challenge is to set it into precious jewellery. There are many techniques to set a diamond, but the aim is always the same — to bring out the best of the gemstone. Be it channel setting for a linear look or bezel for that perfect round form, each setting can make a very big and visible difference.
Using the least amount of metal, prong setting shows off the maximum presence of a stone. The diamond is placed on a metal basket in between the prongs or nail-shaped metal tips, and the tips of the prongs are bent over the diamond to hold it in place. The variations in the number of prongs, from two up to 24, depend on the design and the size and shape of the diamond. The metal basket made for this setting is very important as it allows maximum light to pass through the diamond, adding brilliance to the piece.
One of the most secure settings, the bezel setting also perfectly shows off the shape of the diamond. A strip of metal surrounds the diamond on all sides to hold it tightly in its place. Used mostly to highlight the centre stone, the bezel setting considered the strongest setting to hold diamonds in place using more metal compared to other methods. However, this setting is more commonly used for coloured gemstones than diamonds, as it makes the diamond look smaller than its actual size.
When the design calls for a linear look, channel setting is the most used technique. As the name suggests, diamonds are held in a row in between two running metal bars on each side — the ‘channel’. Round, baguette and princess cut diamonds are the preferred shapes for this technique, as they have parallel sides and can fit smoothly. Channel setting results in a clean and smooth finish without any metal poking out. Many jewellers have mastered the art of making waves using a combination of straight and tapered baguettes set in channels.
Developed by Friedrich Becker in the early 1920s, tension setting uses the inherent tension of a metal band to hold a diamond, showing off the full diamond and creating an illusionary floating effect. Used mostly for contemporary pieces, the tension setting is not as popular as prong or bezel, as it is difficult to attain perfection using this technique.
Named after the French term ‘pavé’, literally meaning covering a surface or cobblestoned, this setting technique covers the entire metal surface with diamonds held by various small prongs. Stones are arranged in a hexagonal arrangement with a single prong holding up to six diamonds, and each diamond held by six shared prongs. Creating a complete diamond look, the result is an artistic and illusionary effect and is suited best for realistic-looking jewellery pieces.
A combination of pavé and bezel, flush technique sets the diamond onto the metal, like in pavé, but instead of small prongs the diamond is secured by the metal, like in bezel, creating a full round cover. With its clean and subtle look, flush setting is mostly used in contemporary or minimalist jewellery, as the diamonds are set at the level of the metal. The technique is also very commonly used for men’s engagement bands with one single flush set diamond, enough to add brilliance to the ring.
One of the latest entrants in the list, the cluster setting is fast catching up on the trend. Mostly used to stimulate the look of a bigger diamond, many small diamonds are clustered together and set with prongs on the outside. The cluster setting is slowly gaining popularity especially in the engagement ring category. The setting mostly used to imitate a round diamond, but jewellers have now perfected most diamond shapes like pear, marquise, emerald, oval and other customised designs.
As the name suggests, the invisible setting shows no metal, and the diamonds seem to be set all by themselves floating like sparkling water. The trick lies beneath the diamond where metal holds onto the diamond in small grooves cut into the diamond. Princess-cut diamonds are perfect for this setting as they fit well together without any gaps in between, and the light also reaches each facet for maximum sparkle.
Read our April Birthstones: Diamonds story.