Four Prongs vs. Six Prongs; Which One is Better? One of the most common questions I get asked by brides is whether to mount their center engagement diamond with four prongs or six. This Santa Barbara Jeweler’s most common answer is: there are pros and cons to each.
You'll want to consider the look and design of your ring, the security and protection of your diamond, the shape of your diamond, your lifestyle and finally, the size of your diamond.
The Look of Your Diamond in Prongs
As you can imagine, four prongs wrapping over the girdle (the middle, widest part of a diamond) cover less stone and let in more light than six prongs. The more access the light has into a diamond, the more bright and sparkly it looks. And everyone likes a sparkly diamond!
Four prongs can create more of a “four cornered” square look. Six prongs tend to better preserve the rounded shape of the diamond.
Different engagement ring designs demand differing numbers of prongs. Looking at a ring from the side, the gallery (side view design detail) can artistically demand the simplicity of four prongs. If you want a design in your side gallery you'll probably need to stick to four prongs.
Consider the Size of Your Diamond
Smaller diamonds can be overwhelmed by too many prongs. When too much of your diamond gets covered up by too many prongs, it can diminish the impact and sparkle of your diamond.
On the other hand, with larger diamonds, especially those over a carat and a half or two, you have surface to spare and your diamond can visually take six prongs.
Protection and Security for Your Diamond
Six prongs are typically considered more secure than four. With that many prongs, if one breaks off, you still have five to hold onto your precious diamond.
With four prongs, if one breaks off, you need to get it fixed pronto. Interestingly four prong settings designed for engagement rings often have thicker prongs than six prong designs.
So four prongs may well last just as long as and be just as safe as a six prong setting.
Why Three Prongs is a No-No
If you only have three prongs and one of them breaks your diamond will immediately fall off your ring. Please, for engagement and wedding rings or your daily wear ring, do not choose three prongs.
What if You're Hard on Your Jewelry?
The more prongs your diamond has, the more protection to the girdle—the most vulnerable part of a diamond. With a four prong setting, when your diamond accidentally comes into contact with your granite counter top, the girdle is in danger of chipping.
When you hit that same granite counter top and your diamond is set in a six prong setting, your diamond has a greater chance of being protected from contact by a prong. Just something to think about.
Part of your, "how many prongs do I need" discussion, should take into account your lifestyle. The more active and physical you are, the more you might want to consider having six prongs holding onto your diamond instead of only four.
Why White Metal Prongs are the Most Popular Choice for Your Diamond
I’m frequently asked by my yellow gold loving clients why so many engagement rings that are yellow gold have the diamond set in white gold or platinum.
That's a good observation and a good question.
When you're walking down the street checking out the diamond sparkle on engaged and married hands you may notice the invisibility factor of white metal prongs.
Many of those sparkly diamonds seem to float in their settings. Using white metal for prongs highlights your diamond as they are both white and you don't notice the white metal, just the white diamond.
In fact the white gold or platinum setting makes your diamond look larger. When you set your diamond in yellow gold, the yellow metal can seem to impart a slightly yellowish look to your diamond, even if it’s just imaginary. Also the look of the yellow metal on the white diamond looks more noticeable and can make your diamond appear smaller.
Another thing to consider is strength. Both white gold and platinum are considered hardier than regular yellow gold for prong settings. The alloy metals in white gold are stronger than the alloys used in yellow gold.
An issue that may not be on your radar when choosing between four and six prongs is that not all prong settings are built daily wear tough. Be sure your chosen ring’s prong settings are made with strength and thickness and quality before you trust your precious diamond to it.
For more in-depth information on how to determine what you need for daily wear toughness please read my blog post: Wedding Jewelry vs Occasional Jewelry - Four Pillars of a Daily Wear Ring.
Your Own Vigilance is Your Best Insurance - Check Your Prongs Regularly
At least once a year, have all your prongs checked by a professional jeweler not a jewelry sales person. He or she will check for wear and tear and let you know if any of your prongs should be replaced.
This doesn’t, however, absolve you from checking your ring yourself. You could knock your ring on the car door and break off a prong the day after getting it back from your jeweler. Prongs can break whether they’re old…or new.
For a lesson on how to inspect your own ring check out this blog post: How to Use a Jeweler's Loupe
Seven Things to Look For When Inspecting Your Prongs
1. Can you hold it up to your ear and hear it jiggling around in its setting?
2. Can you see any space between the edge of your diamond and its setting?
3. Are little hairs and lint constantly catching on one particular prong?
4. Do the prongs look a little flattened?
5. Are any of them bent to one side a little?
6. Can you detect any movement of your diamond by tapping it gently with your fingernail?
7. Can you see any cracks, especially around the base of the prongs?
Tracy and Stacy have more to say about checking your prongs in their blog post. If you think one or more of your prongs aren’t perfect, see a professional jeweler like me! Immediately!
How Many Prongs will you Choose?
Well done on reading all this information. You are now over-qualified to decide! And that's a good thing!
Educating Jewelry Designer,