When you have a ring or a gemstone, the absolute last thing you want is to damage or misplace it. To prevent this and ensure the gem is safe, you want a secure setting for your piece of jewelry.
Two popular choices include the basket setting and the prong setting. Each has its own benefits and drawbacks, but in general, each is an impressive design worth considering.
In terms of safety and security, basket settings offer the most protection from external elements due to their innovative design. The basket style adds an extra layer of security, and because the gem is lower and closer to your finger, it’s more protected from damage like chipping and scratches.
Still, that’s not to say you should forgo considering a prong setting. After all, the prong setting is the most popular choice for many rings, like wedding rings.
In our guide, we’ll break down two of the most common settings — the basket setting vs. the prong setting — to help inform your decision. Read on to learn more about each setting’s design, the security and protection of each, and everything else you should consider before choosing one setting over the other.
A basket setting is similar to the prong setting in that it’s made up of prongs that stretch up from the band, as well as horizontal brands that cross over the prongs to form a “basket” of sorts. The basket setting has some key advantages in terms of design.
The basket setting is more unique and has extra flair compared to the more traditional prong setting. With this design, your gem is nestled within the basket. It’s less exposed and has some strength and durability thanks to the horizontal wrapping over the prongs.
Another huge pro of the basket setting design is that it can be customized to the buyer’s preferences.
However, it’s worth pointing out that the “basket’ design can block the sides of your gemstone, dulling its sparkle. It could also potentially distract away from the center stone.
In the same vein, those extra pieces of metal forming the basket make it easier for dirt and grime to go unnoticed. It can also prove more difficult to clean than another setting, like the prong setting.
The prong setting also has a solid design with specific advantages. First and foremost, the prong setting is a tried-and-true, classic design. This setting is the most recognizable setting. When you picture an engagement ring, chances are, you’re actually picturing a prong setting design.
This setting has the prongs extend from the base of the ring. The prongs are rigid and long and keep the main gem in place with small tips that “hold” the center stone.
Because this design setting is so simplistic, it showcases the chosen gemstone better. All the attention is on the center stone because with this setting, you’ll get the most light performance out of your gem. In other words, it’ll seem to sparkle and be more dazzling overall.
This design is also way easier to clean than a basket setting. There aren’t any areas where dirt and grime can build up or hide, so it isn’t likely that your ring will be dirty.
However, the prongs in this setting can sometimes weaken over time. Eventually, these prongs might break or bend easier. The prongs can also snag easily on things like hair or clothing, which can lead to a damaged prong.
With regard to which setting has more security and protection for the gem, there’s no contest: The basket setting takes the cake as the most secure setting.
For one, your main gem is going to sit lower in a basket setting than it normally would in a prong setting. Because it’s lower and closer to your finger, it has more protection from external forces that could scratch, chip, or otherwise damage the center stone. Being less exposed to the outside world will make it less likely to get dinged. It will also make it less likely for your gem or diamond to fall out and get lost.
On top of that, the basket setting’s bands give your gem additional protection, as it won’t be as susceptible to damage on the sides.
And arguably most importantly, the bands and design of the basket setting make it more durable and stronger than only prongs, like in the prong setting.
If you do select a prong setting, you can take a few precautions to protect your center stone.
Don’t wear your gem often outside. Activities like contact sports are especially dangerous and pose more of a risk for jewelry damage.
Things like water and house cleaners can be risky, too. Always take your ring off when you wash your hands, and never clean with a ring on. Although you’ll want to keep your ring clean, make sure none of the cleaning chemicals or tools you use can damage the gem.
With a prong setting, you’ll also want to check on both the individual prongs and the setting often to make sure there’s no noticeable damage. Checking regularly will help avoid damage in the first place and will ensure no further damage should you notice a prong bending.
However, there are a few other factors besides security that you should consider before deciding between a basket setting vs. a prong setting.
Keeping your gem clean and free of dirt and debris is extremely important. Who wants to show off a dull, dirty gemstone? Out of these two settings, prong settings are going to be easier to clean, thanks to their simple design. You’ll be able to spot dirt easily, making quick, occasional spot-cleaning a no-brainer.
Although you can certainly clean your ring if you have a basket setting, it’s a little trickier. Basket settings are also good at hiding dirt anyhow, so it may be harder to notice when it’s time for a little cleaning touch-up.
Keep in mind that prong settings are much more likely to snag on fabrics and your hair. Basket settings won’t snag on your clothes, so you won’t have to worry about accidentally damaging the gem while trying to get a ring out of your hair.
You’ll also have to remember to take those special precautions if you choose a prong setting. Always take off your ring for sports like soccer and gymnastics, physical activities, and even household chores like cleaning and cooking.
If you’re particularly worried about damaging your stone, you might want to look into the basket setting. Its design protects the main gem expertly. With prong settings, the prongs are prone to wear and tear, so they can wear down over the years. If ignored completely, your gem could fall out of a prong setting. That’s why it’s so important to monitor your ring regularly if you have a prong setting. It’s more than likely that you’ll have to get a prong setting re-tipped over the years.
In a prong setting, the diamond or featured gem sits higher, really illuminating the gem and allowing for maximum shine and sparkle. This enhanced brilliance is due to the amount of light that’s able to pass through the diamond. Basket settings may dull the sparkle a bit due to the amount of diamond that’s covered by the prongs and bands. Less light is able to pass through the gem, so prong settings are more popular with rings like wedding rings.
The prong setting features as much of the diamond as possible. Although the prong setting has many variations — including pointed prong tips, v-prong, shared prongs, and flat tab prongs — you won’t be able to embellish the ring like you would with other designs.
On the other hand, basket settings give you more room to be creative. You can alter the design completely, customizing it to your particular style and preferences. With this setting, you have room to add more gems accenting the main stone if you want.
But is the basket setting or prong setting the better choice?
At the end of the day, the better choice of the two has to be the better choice for you. In other words, depending on your preference, lifestyle, and overall aesthetic style, you may lean toward one or the other.
For example, if you’re an athlete or have a very active lifestyle, you might gravitate toward the basket setting. People in occupations like construction, cooking, or other careers during which you work with your hands often might benefit from the added protection of a basket style setting. The stone is lower and closer to your finger, making it less prone to obvious damage from external elements.
If you’re more concerned with the diamond’s ability to shine and sparkle, you might go with a design like the prong setting, which features more of the diamond and showcases the gem in a way that’s less concealed. More light can reach the gemstone and the resulting refracted light emphasizes the gem’s brilliance.
For those who choose the prong setting, upkeep and safety will be front of mind. You’ll just have to take a few simple precautions to ensure your prongs don’t get damaged. At the very least, expect to inspect your ring daily for signs that the prongs may be weakening. You can always get the prongs re-tipped to ensure the best security for your gem.
In a nutshell, there’s definitely no “wrong” choice; you just have to ensure your choice is the best for you and your lifestyle.
Both the basket setting and prong setting are popular choices for rings.
While the basket setting is more secure and less likely to become damaged easily, the prong setting illuminates the beauty and sparkle of your center stone by exposing it more to allow the most amount of light in. It’ll also be easier to spot dirt and to clean for the same reason. Basket settings hide dirt and debris, and the unique design can make it more difficult to get into hard-to-reach spots for cleaning.
At the end of the day, they’re both fashionable, practical designs worthy of consideration.
Our Team of 10 includes jewelry experts, antique Buyers & Sellers, baseball card collectors, and other appraisal experts.