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Prong Setting vs. Basket Setting: Which is Right For You?

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Prong vs. Basket Setting

Prong and basket settings look similar at first glance, but there’s a key distinction.

The difference between a basket and prong setting is a basket setting has horizontal bands that connect each prong. This creates a basket where the diamond sits.

Let’s explore basket settings versus prong settings and their primary differences to help you decide which type is right for you.

What is a Prong Setting?

A prong setting for a ring often features four or six prongs that extend from its base to hold the diamond in place. The tips of the metal prongs are bent to grasp the edges of the stone and hold it in place.

Prong Setting

It’s the most popular style of setting for engagement rings. One of its advantages is it showcases the most amount of the diamond compared to other settings.

This maximizes how much light enters and exits the stone, enhancing its brilliance.

A downside to the prong setting is security. The thin prongs can wear down over time and let the diamond slip out. They can also get caught on hair and clothing, and if pulled too hard, can bend or break.

This means you may have to get them re-tipped every few years.

Prong settings are known for the extensive number of variations. The most common is the Tiffany setting, which includes six prongs, but other variations include:

Each is a subtle twist on the traditional setting that allows you to maintain the advantages of a prong setting while also adding your own personal style.

What is a Basket Setting?

A basket setting is a variation of a prong setting. The distinction is the horizontal bands that sit between each prong.

The vertical prongs and horizontal bands form a basket where the diamond sits, so it’s surrounded on each side and held in place by its edges.

White Gold Basket Setting

It’s an additional layer of security for the diamond because the entirety of its sides aren’t exposed. Instead, the basket covers about one-third of the diamond all the way around.

Basket settings also come in multiple variations, including a cathedral setting with a basket. They can feature four or six prongs, joined all the way around by the metal shank. 

For a more elegant setting, the sides of the basket can be engraved with floral designs.

This type covers up the pavilion of the diamond but offers a unique view when seen from the side.

How are Prong and Basket Settings Different?

If you view prong and basket settings from the top, you can’t tell the difference. It’s when they’re viewed from the side you’ll notice the prominent feature of a basket setting, similar to a Trellis setting.

The bands connecting the prongs turn it into a unique piece of jewelry.

Diamond Sit Higher in a Prong Setting

Prong settings place the ring higher off the band versus a basket setting.

The advantage of this style is it stands out from the setting and appears to have more brilliance.

They’re most popular with large engagement rings that include a longer girdle.

Another reason buyers choose a high setting is because there’s more room for light to hit the diamond. It isn’t crowded by the shank, so it can collect the most light.

High Prong Setting

Prong settings also pair best with wedding rings. The diamond sits higher on your finger, so the wedding band can slide against it instead of interfering with the diamond.

The disadvantage is it’s more prone to damage. It more easily snags when it sits that high, so it’s recommended you remove the ring during everyday chores and physical activity.

Basket settings, on the other hand, sit much lower.

It offers added protection because the diamond is closer to your hand, so you don’t have to remove it as often.

The downside is it lets in less light, so if brilliance is a priority, you shouldn’t choose a basket over a prong setting.

Prong Settings Better Showcase Brilliance

The brilliance of a diamond can’t be on full display if it’s covered by the setting.

A prong setting minimizes the amount of diamond that’s covered, so the metal isn’t inhibiting the light.

Solitaire Prong Setting

This is in contrast to other types of setting such as bezel settings, which includes the band wrapping all the way around the diamond’s edges, and a basket setting. 

The basket covers the lower part of the diamond’s pavilion.

Its table and most of the pavilion is still exposed, so it can show brilliance. It’s simply less when compared to the exposure offered by a prong setting.

Basket Settings Have More Room For Embellishment

Your choice of diamond isn’t the only consideration when it comes to building an engagement ring. There are many types of rings shanks and settings that alter the aesthetic of your jewelry.

The horizontal bands that form the basket offer an additional opportunity for embellishment. Some designs feature plain metal bands connecting the prongs, but others feature small diamonds lining the metal.

Pave Basket Setting

These accents don’t add significant cost to the setting but do provide more brilliance. It makes up for the lost brilliance that results from covering part of the main diamond.

The diamonds can also be added to the prongs, which you don’t often see in a traditional prong setting. The most elegant designs can feature more than 20 accents all leading up the center stone. Even though it has many diamonds, the total carat weight of those accents is rarely more than half of a carat.

Basket Settings are More Secure

If the security of your diamond is a top priority, you should choose a basket setting versus a prong setting. There are three reasons why the basket setting is more secure.

First, the diamond sits lower on the setting, so it isn’t as exposed to damage from external forces. It’s kept close to your hand, which adds more protection.

The basket itself is another layer of security. Instead of being held in place by four or six prongs, it includes the metal wrapping around its base. It won’t be as vulnerable to damage on its sides compared to a prong setting.

In a prong setting, all sides of the diamond are exposed. This allows a knock against a hard surface or a drop to damage it on multiple sides, when it otherwise would’ve been protected by the basket.

The prongs are also stronger in a basket setting. The metal bands that form the basket add durability to the prongs, so they’re less likely to bend or break over time.

Prong Settings are Easier to Clean Than Basket Settings

It’s recommended to have your diamond and setting cleaned at least once a year, and this is easier to do with a prong versus a basket setting. 

Solitaire Prong Setting

There are several pieces in a basket setting where dirt and debris can get lodged, and these small areas are difficult to clean. With more elegant designs that feature pave diamonds lining the basket, you’ll have to keep these diamonds free of grime as well.

A prong setting doesn’t have these more intricate areas, so cleaning it doesn’t require as much effort. You won’t have accents lining the metal all the way around, so you don’t have as many diamonds to keep polished.

Which Setting Should You Buy?

In deciding whether you should buy a basket or prong setting, you should determine which qualities are most important to you.

If the diamond’s brilliance is the priority, you should choose a prong setting because it showcases the maximum amount of the diamond. This allows light to enter and exit from all sides.

Additionally, if you have a large diamond, such as two or three carats, it’s best to have it sit higher off the setting, so prongs are the right choice.

If you’re most concerned about protecting your diamond from potential damage, a basket setting fits this criteria better than prongs. It secures the diamond on all sides and sits lower on the setting.

Once you understand the unique features of basket and prong settings, you can explore multiple options for each to learn which is right for you.

Devon Tyler

Devon Tyler

Devon Tyler is the founder of TeachJewelry.com.

He earned an Applied Jewelry Professional Diploma from the Gemological Institute of America and now brings you essential information about diamonds, settings, and more.

Devon has consulted with leading jewelry brands, and his work has been cited in Diamond Nexus and other industry publications.

He's also a member of the International Gem Society.

Devon enjoys discussing jewelry with readers, so contact him with any questions at tyler.devon@teachjewelry.com.

Learn More About Devon

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