There’s a lot to think about when you’re choosing an engagement ring. It will hopefully sit on your partner’s finger for many years to come, and you want them to love every last detail of the ring. This means you have to carefully consider the style, the type of metal in the band, and the shape and cut of the diamond or gemstone. But have you taken into account the setting profile?
The setting of an engagement ring refers to how high the central stone comes off the finger – something that influences not only the ring’s aesthetic but its wearability, too. Read our handy ring setting guide to learn how to make the right choice regarding a high vs. low set engagement ring. You’ll learn the difference between a high-set and a low-set ring, discover the pros and cons of each and how to choose between the two.
What is a low-set engagement ring?
To assess the setting of an engagement ring, you need to view it from the side and note where its central stone lies. If this stone sits close to the band – or even flush with the band (as it may be within a bezel setting) – it is a low-setting engagement ring. With a low setting, you’ll note that the point at the bottom of the diamond or gemstone (known as the culet) almost looks like it’s touching the band.
Pros and cons of a low-set engagement ring
Is a low-setting engagement ring right for your partner? Although the overall look produced by the setting will likely guide your decision, there are also practical pros and cons to consider when helping you make your choice for this important ring purchase.
There are several reasons why the low setting might be a winner. If you have a partner who prefers their jewellery to be understated, the low-set engagement ring is undoubtedly less showy because the central stone doesn’t “pop” as much.
A low-set ring tends to be more durable. This is essential if the wearer works with their hands or has a very active lifestyle. Because the stone lies closer to the band, it’s less likely to get knocked and damaged and because it doesn’t protrude, the stone and prongs won’t catch on your clothing or hair. This makes a low-setting engagement wonderfully wearable, and most people will agree that they are a very comfortable ring to wear – important when you rarely take it off!
On the downside, this isn’t the setting for a recipient who wants their engagement ring to make a statement. If bling is their thing, it could be argued that a low setting doesn’t have as much impact as a high setting when you compare stones of a similar size, shape and cut. The low setting reduces a diamond’s brilliance because fewer cut surfaces are exposed to the light. If maximum sparkle is what your partner wants, this style may not be the top choice.
If you want to use a sizeable diamond or gemstone in your engagement ring, it may not be compatible with this style of setting due to its surface area. Large stones cannot sit well within a low setting. What’s more, metalsmiths can’t be quite as creative when working with a low setting regarding how and where the stone can be set within the ring.
Low-set engagement ring styles
Though you’re a little more restricted with the styles of a low-set engagement ring, you do have several options, including:
What is a high-set engagement ring?
A high-set ring, when observed from the side, has a central stone that protrudes above the band, and when you look at the stone’s culet, there will be a good gap between it and the inner edge of the band. Because of the techniques used to hold the stone in a high-set ring, if you can see a lot of the stone, there’s a good chance it is a high setting. Remember, this contrasts with a low-set ring, where some of the stone may be covered by, for example, a bezel setting.
Pros and cons of a high-set engagement ring
If a low-set ring celebrates subtlety, a high-set diamond ring is all about the razzle-dazzle. Being elevated above the band allows each cut a jeweller has made in the stone to twinkle in the light, producing excellent brilliance. If you need to use a smaller diamond or gemstone in your engagement ring, using a high setting will maximise the visual impact of your stone. Indeed, any stone will look larger when given a high setting. A high setting looks wonderful with large rocks, and there is greater versatility in terms of ring styles when you opt for this setting.
Because a high-setting engagement ring doesn’t curve out at the band, when you come to start wearing a wedding band too, it will fit snugly against the engagement ring.
Though there are many positives to a high setting, there are some negatives, too. The elevated stone can snag on items and is more vulnerable to damage. It can be a little impractical in certain lines of work and when doing household chores. Though you can take the ring off, some would prefer an engagement ring they can always keep on.
High-set engagement ring styles
When you choose a high-set engagement ring, the sky is the limit with ring styles. Some of the most popular styles for a high-set ring are:
Key differences between a high and low-set engagement ring
To summarise, the key differences between high and low-set rings are:
Which type of setting is more expensive?
Low-setting engagement rings are sometimes less expensive than high-set rings because they often accommodate a smaller (and therefore cheaper) stone. However, a low setting won’t always be your more affordable option because it all depends on the metal used in the ring and the type, size and carat of the stones.
Can you change the setting of an engagement ring?
It may be possible to change a ring’s setting from high to low or low to high, but remember, this will change the aesthetic of the ring. If you’re trying to change from high to low, this may mean changing the current central stone, as it may be too large for a low setting. Sometimes people convert their engagement ring from a low setting to a high one so that their wedding ring can sit alongside it neatly.
Which setting will last longer?
While it’s true that a high-setting engagement ring may be less durable than a similar low-set ring if you take good care of the ring, remove it during housework and other activities that could damage it and ensure it receives regular maintenance at a jeweller, its longevity should be on a par with a low setting – but you must be willing to take good care of it and be mindful of its limitations.
How do you pair a wedding band with a low-set engagement ring?
You need to think carefully about the compatibility of a wedding band alongside a low-setting engagement ring because a straight-edged band cannot sit perfectly flush against it. The solution to this is to opt for a curved wedding band, as this will accommodate the low-lying stone on the band.
How do you pair a wedding band with a high-set engagement ring?
To ensure these two rings lie in harmony alongside one another on the ring finger, the two bands need to be of a similar width so that the wedding ring will sit under the engagement ring’s stone without too much of a gap.
Does the type of setting affect your jewellery insurance premium?
Though low-set vs. high-set shouldn’t impact your premium too much if you have a well-maintained ring, an insurer will be delighted to hear that you give your engagement ring a regular setting check, thus ensuring the stone is held tightly in place. If you get a setting check at a jeweller, give your insurer proof of this. Which is the right setting for the ring you plan to pop the question with? The type of setting you choose will come down to personal choice, but as the information in our guide demonstrates, there are plenty of practical factors you can consider to ensure the ring you choose is just right.