This is an aged old question that gets many people confused over the choices to make. Are there any differences between a 4 prong vs. 6 prong ring setting? And if one is seemingly better, why are both choices offered by jewelers? Why not have just one kind of design to begin with?
Well, it turns out that both 4 and 6 prongs settings bring about various benefits as well as drawbacks. We’re going to discuss the differences between these two settings and I’ll let you be the judge to decide which is best.
With four prongs spaced evenly apart, it will create a boxy looking appearance as the prongs function as “separate corners” of a squarish outline. This is the reason why 4 prong settings are obvious choices if your chosen center stone is square (e.g. princess) or rectangular (e.g. emerald) in shape.
A box-like appearance created by even prongs placement.
One of the benefits that the 4-prong setting can offer the lesser amount of metal coverage on diamond. This allows more light to enter the diamond and enables a well-cut diamond to perform at its best.
For the same reasons, the 4 prong setting is recommended when the size of your diamond is small (less than 1 carat). You don’t want the additional metal prongs to look overbearing and make the diamond appear even smaller than it already seems.
The main drawback of 4 prong settings is that they are less secured compared to 6 prong designs. In the event that you break or bent a prong accidentally, there is a heightened risk of losing your diamond.
If expressing power and showcasing the capacity of your diamond is essential for you, 4 prong settings are great choices for consideration.
The traditional setup for a 4 prong setting involves placing prongs at the 2, 4, 8, 10 o’clock position and this creates a somewhat squarish look to the ring. However, did you know that the prongs could also be mounted in a north-east-south-west (NESW) orientation? This is sometimes referred to as a kite mounting and are frequently found in settings with square cut diamonds.
When used with a round diamond, this particular orientation creates an illusion which makes the diamond appear larger than it is. For people who want to “cheat” with a bigger looking solitaire diamond ring, consider setting the center stone in this manner. However, do keep in mind that a kite mounting will make it harder for a wedding band to sit flush next to it.
The kite mounting on left offers the benefits of a larger looking stone.
In 6 prong settings, the individual prongs are generally lighter and thinner in order to minimize the area where prongs cover the diamond. When six evenly-spaced prongs are placed on a round diamond, they form a hexagonal shape. This makes the diamond look rounder and bigger when viewed from a distance.
My general recommendation is to opt for a six prong setting when your diamond is large enough (e.g. > 1 carat). Also, if you know beforehand that the recipient is going to be rough with their jewelry, sacrificing a little bit of brilliance in favor of better security would be a wiser move.
A hexagonal look created by six prongs on a round brilliant cut.
As you can see, there isn’t an obvious better choice and it boils down to what you value more. Do you prioritize safety or aesthetics more? For people who want to get the best of both worlds, consider choosing a 4 prong design made with a platinum head. This is because platinum is much more durable and resistant to wear-and-tear compared to other common metals like white gold or silver.
Whatever your decision and choice of mounting, I recommend that you inspect your jewelry regularly and try to identify any potential problems early on. If you aren’t sure about doing your own checks, then it is best to bring your jewelry to a professional jeweler every 6 – 12 months for routine checks.
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