May 20

Four Prongs vs Six Prongs, How Best to Protect and Set Your Engagement Diamond

By Calla Gold

CAD image of engagement ring setting

Six Prongs Holding a Round Brilliant Diamond

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.

Classic Four Prong Setting for Your Round Diamond

Classic Four Prong Setting for Your Round 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.

Six Prongs for tiny diamond

This Baby Diamond Doesn’t Need Six Prongs. It’s Kind of Overkill.

Consider the Size of Your Diamond

Smaller diamonds can be overwhelmed by six 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.

This Four Prong Head Shows its Strength in its Depth Going From Outside In.

This Four Prong Head Shows its Strength in its Depth Going From Outside In.

Protection and Security for Your Diamond

Six prongs are typically considered more secure than four. With six 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.

The Vulnerable Girdle Gets More Protection with Six Prongs

The Vulnerable Girdle Gets More Protection with Six Prongs

“I’m a Bit Rough on My 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 hitting a prong than the diamond thus protecting the thin girdle area. 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.

Yellow Gold Three Diamond Ring with Hand Engraving in Yellow Gold

Jane Loves Yellow Gold, but Felt That the White Gold Prongs Look Fine for Her Diamonds

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.

Three Ring Wedding Set in White Gold with Sapphires and Diamonds

The White Gold Prongs Over Her Center Diamond Go Invisible Because They are White.

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.

Super Beefy Ring and Wimpy Prongs. These Won't be For Daily Wear.

Super Beefy Ring and Wimpy Prongs. These Won’t be For Daily Wear.

Is Your Prong Choice Made for Daily Wear?

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.

Two Women Talking about a Ring

Calla Explaining How to Use a Loupe to Lisa.

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!

Criss Cross Organic Leaflike prongs on Engagement ring

The Four Prongs on This Ring are Leafy and Organic to the Design

Four Prongs or Six Prongs for You?

Well done on reading all this information. You are now over-qualified to decide! And that’s a good thing!

Educating Jewelry Designer,
Calla Gold



18 thoughts on “Four Prongs vs Six Prongs, How Best to Protect and Set Your Engagement Diamond

  1. I read this with great interest. Years ago I did actually have the four prongs or six prongs question running through my head. I never heard the answers till now.
    I love your fabulous work. And I think you are a great woman, whom I highly recommend!

    • Hello Dr. Lynn,
      I’m happy to hear that drilling down to the detail is appreciated! I’m basking in your kind words.
      Thank you Lynn!

  2. This is helpful information, and it is important to know that prong settings are secure. How awful it would be to lose a stone when it sounds so SMART to have it checked on a regular, yearly basis. With just a simple and inexpensive repair, much heartache can be spared!! Thanks for this great info Calla!

    • Lisa,
      You are totally right about how an inexpensive little repair can save big expensive diamonds! I’m glad you liked it.
      Your Personal Jeweler,

  3. Great article. I learned so much. These are important decisions to make when purchasing or re-doing jewelry. Thanks for the prong amount for my rings lessons, Calla.
    R. L.

  4. Calla, this is a wonderful article! I learned a lot from it. A few years ago, my center diamond fell out, because the prongs had gotten so worn. Luckily, I was at home and knew when it happened. It sure made me realize how important those prongs were! Thank you for all the valuable information.


    • Hello Linda,
      What a freak out that must have been when you lost your diamond. I’m so happy you found it. I see why this post had an impact!
      Your Personal Jeweler,

  5. Your blog posts are always so full of useful information. How devastating it would be to lose your diamond because of broken prongs! I found it really helpful to keep in mind that white gold or platinum prongs make your diamond look bigger. Can never go wrong with that! 🙂
    Thank you for always educating me!


    • Lisa,
      I’m so glad you gleened good tidbits of data about prongs from my post! I love hearing what you like the most!
      Your Personal Jeweler,

  6. Thank you for your posts. Very Informative. I’m learning a lot from all of them. Obviously not for me but for my future purchase. You’ve helped me with some decisions. Keep up the great educational opportunities you provide to readers.

    • Jeff,
      It’s nice to know you’re popping by and reading and learning. In case you didn’t know I have written an e-book called “The Language of Jewelry Design.” I give it away on my home page of my site. I’d be delighted if you downloaded it.
      Please come again!
      Designing Jeweler,

  7. Good day Calla. Thank you for answering my previous question regarding the white gold karat suitable for comfort fit.=)

    I have another question. My engagement ring’s diamond (0.18 carat) has 4 prongs. There is a big space between the bottom of the diamond and the base of the setting so I had it adjusted to minimize the space since I think the space would attract dirt and would make the diamond less secure in case the bottom of the diamond will be caught in some material. Anyway, after adjusting, there is still a space, about 2mm. Is it okay if I have it adjusted again so that there will be almost no space or is it okay to leave it as it is? Are my concerns (dirt and security) justified?

    Thank you very much.=)

    • Hello Avaduke,
      Unless your diamond is sticking up so high it is knocking into things, it is good to leave a bit of space between the bottom of the mounting and the bottom of your diamond.
      It actually makes cleaning easier if there is space there at the bottom.
      As far as security goes these settings are designed to safely hold a diamond. Having that space at the bottom is nice for cleaning and also for seeing your diamond which is part of the charm of having a diamond. It should be nice and safe.
      Your Personal Jeweler,

  8. Hi Calla,
    Your website has been a godsend for answers to SO many questions I’ve had since starting the engagement ring shopping process. I didn’t know how much I didn’t know, so having resources like yours brings a much appreciated peace of mind to keep this a happy and not overwhelming process! Two additional questions about prongs – our diamond is a 1.03 round brilliant. We do feel as if the 6 prongs we’ve seen so far dwarfed our diamond a bit even though we loved the rounder and larger look it gave. Do you have any examples of much thinner 6 prongs on a 1carat diamond? Or is that not recommended?

    If we do opt for 4 prongs, is it ok for it not to have a gallery rail/bar? It would likely be a cathedral pave solitaire ring style so the shoulders of the shank would sweep up to the diamond’s east and west girdle but they wouldn’t be attached to anything. Also, are there any prong types you would recommend/prefer over others that may help to lesson that squared off look in a 4 prong head? (such as claw prongs or button or tab prongs, etc.?). Thank you again for your time and wonderful info! 🙂

    • Hi Shannon,
      I usually suggest four prongs for 1 carat diamonds. Specifically because six prongs can compete with the diamond visually.Four prongs without bars. Notice the prongs have depth. I’ve put in this image to show how if four prongs have depth going inward toward the diamond that you can do without a bar. But having the protective shoulders gives more security to the four prongs.
      Since I don’t do six prongs much I can’t find an interesting image for you.
      As far as the style of prongs you want for a less square look, you can ask your jeweler to shave them so they are more pointed. This will lesson their long life, but give a more delicate visual feel for them.
      I’m so happy that the blog has been helpful. I hope you’ll check out my new book:
      It’s called, “Design Your Dream Wedding Rings: From Engagement to Eternity” and it’s all about custom design.
      Your Personal Jeweler,

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