Confused about what all the different kinds of engagement rings are? Don’t know the difference between solitaire, halo, and tension-set engagement rings? Or, if you just want to learn more, read this guide from the Engagement Ring University.
First, we’ll break down the general types of engagement ring settings. This will help you navigate the process of choosing your ring, and hopefully also narrow down your search!
Types of Engagement Ring Settings
This is the classic engagement ring setting, and the simplest. These settings consist of a single diamond set on a plain band. It’s a simple, elegant setting and many consider this the “default” type of engagement ring.
Pave and Micropave
Pave engagement rings contain small diamonds (called pave diamonds) embedded in the band designed to make it appear like the band is made out of diamonds. Pave diamonds cover up the whole outer part of the band so that all you see when looking at it from the side is diamonds.
Micropave diamonds are just smaller pave diamonds. Generally, pave diamonds are big enough so that you can only a single line of diamonds embedded in the ring band. Micropave diamonds sometimes just refer to pave diamonds that are on the smaller side, and sometimes refer to pave diamonds that are small enough so that you can have more than a single line of diamonds embedded in the band.
Channel-set engagement rings are similar to pave engagement rings. The difference is that they contain channel-set diamonds in the band instead of pave diamonds. What’s the difference between channel-set and pave diamonds?
Channel-set diamonds sit inside the band, so that you can still see the outer edges of the band when looking at the ring from the side.
Halo engagement rings have smaller diamonds (like pave diamonds) going around the center diamond.
Sidestone engagement rings have diamonds on either side of the main, center diamond. Some jewelers (Blue Nile is an example here) use sidestone as a broad category that includes all rings with diamonds on the band (other than the center diamond, of course). Under this definition, sidestone engagement rings include pave, channel-set, and three-stone rings.
However, other jewelers use the sidestone term to only represent rings with fewer diamonds of bigger sizes on the sides. This would include three-stone rings but pave and channel-set rings wouldn’t be included, because the diamonds are too small and numerous.
As the name suggests, this represents rings with three diamonds. Generally, three stone engagement rings contain one bigger diamond in the center and two smaller diamonds on the side. However, some three-stone settings contain three identically sized diamonds.
In the most literal sense, gemstone engagement rings refer to engagement rings with a gemstone in the center instead of a diamond. However, gemstone rings can also refer to rings with a diamond in the center but with gemstones somewhere else in the setting. For example, three-stone rings with a diamond in the center and two gemstones on either side are fairly common.
Tension engagement rings (also called tension set engagement rings) are a modern ring setting that holds the center diamond in a different way. Traditional engagement rings hold the center diamond in place with prongs, forming a “basket” that the ring sits in, with the prongs holding the diamond.
Tension set rings instead hold the diamond in place with the force of the band (the tension created by the band after the diamond has been set and the ring has been tightened so that either end pushes in on the diamond to hold it). Tension set rings are popular because they make the ring look as if it’s floating in the air.
What about designer/vintage/antique/other types of engagement rings?
You’ll see these terms around — things like “vintage”, “antique”, “designer”, and other engagement ring types that aren’t listed above. But what do they mean?
Generally, these terms refer to rings that have a combination of the styles above and were designed to have a certain look. For example, vintage or antique engagement rings (they both mean generally the same things, by the way!) usually have a combination of styles (for example, pave and halo) and a design that’s meant to look like engagement rings from many years ago (hence the “antique” name). Also, antique/vintage engagement rings commonly have engraved detailing on the band.
Designer engagement rings usually refer to rings that were styled by a designer (duh!) and these almost always use a combination of the styles listed above. They will commonly incorporate other, more advanced, or even custom, styles. There isn’t really a way to categorize all types of designer rings, since they’re all generally unique, so they tend to get put in the “designer engagement ring” basket.