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What is a Bezel Setting and Why are they so Popular?

Like many funny sounding jewelry words, the bezel’s linguistic origins are French. A Bezel setting is a style of setting where the diamond is surrounded by a metal rim, rather than clutched by the four or six prongs you’re used to seeing in a solitaire setting. They might have old-fashioned connotations, but, for both the trendsetters and the gemsetters, the bezel is officially in vogue right now.

If you’re imagining bulky, hand-hammered things with a chunky medieval flair to them, those are the bezels of yesteryear. The style of bezel preferred today is slimmer, streamlined, and adds practicality along with a distinct golden flash when the sun hits it just right. While prong-set solitaires tend to catch on sweaters and sleeves, the bezel’s smooth practicality makes them a better fit for many modern women. So, if you hate sweaters, and you don’t do much with your hands, by all means, go for the prongs. Everyone else, it’s time to consider the bezel.

An east west bezel setting in yellow gold featuring an emerald lab grown diamond

MEET, THE MODER BEZEL SETTING

Bezel settings exude a low-key cool that prioritizes functionality over glamour. Yet, they’re also incredibly flattering. They’re like the high-waisted jeans of engagement rings.

A bezel set round brilliant.

While poorly designed bezels may look more like sockets than sculptures, there’s no limit to the beauty of a bezel when it’s been designed and set with skill. Choose your bezel setting wisely, because there’s a lot of craft that goes into it. The design itself should secure a diamond with as little metal as possible. It should never cover more than the tiniest edge of the stone, and it should never darken it. The design must be skillful, but, the jeweler should also be reputable. The diamond setter will be hammering the bezel’s metal around the diamond’s edge. That must be done carefully, or it will distort the golden frame around your center stone into a muddled mess.

All of this is not to disparage the four-prong solitaire. We’re suckers for classics, and there is no more classic engagement ring than a round brilliant perched and pinched atop a platinum band clutched by four glittering prongs. But, we at Frank Darling do tend to favor practicality. A gorgeous bezel setting embodies the rare combination of practicality and desire that can make a grown woman swoon.

Parker No. 7 — a bezel set round brilliant in platinum
Parker No. 7 —  A Bezel Set Solitiare
Harper No. 1 —  a prong set round brilliant in platinum
Harper No. 1 — A Prong Set Solitaire

If you’re curious about the bezel setting, but, you’re not quite sure why, or how to distinguish a good bezel from a bad one, you’ve come to the right place. The last thing anyone wants to do is get excited about a setting only to find that it makes your diamond look dull, dark, or downright medieval. Let’s dig in.

WHAT EXACTLY IS A BEZEL SETTING

Prongs hold diamonds and gemstones in place by clutching them with tiny talons. The bezel, in contrast, frames a diamond with a continuous rim of thin metal. It forms a collar around the stone. The stone’s girdle, the thin edge of its circumference, fits snugly inside a groove on the inside of the collar, securing the stone from coming loose. The bezel uses a bit more metal than a prong setting and often requires more skill to set. As a result, there may be an added cost to the bezel setting. But, there are benefits as well.

Woman showcasing four bezel set engagement rings.

HOW ARE BEZEL SETTINGS MADE?

Bezel settings are made by gently hammering the metal rim of the bezel, gently flattening it down and over the edge of the diamond. This craft requires skill. A wobbly, distorted shape is a hallmark of a heavy handed setter. The bezel’s shape should be crisp, and almost entirely free of all but the gentlest wobble from the hammer. While diamonds are most popular, bezels are also an excellent choice for softer gemstones that need greater protection, like emeralds or morganite, from day to day wear and tear.

Watermelon tourmaline perfect for a bezel setting

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A FULL AND PARTIAL BEZEL?

A full bezel wraps entirely around the diamond’s girdle, or waist, creating a continuous rim of metal. A partial bezel will only wrap some of the diamond’s girdle, leaving it exposed in some areas. A partial bezel is also very secure, and offers many of the same benefits of a full bezel, but, has a different look. You’ll love it or hate it.

WHY GET A BEZEL SETTING?

If you don’t love the look of a bezel, the practical benefits won’t be enough to sway you. But, if you’ve made it this far, you’re probably a fan, so here’s several more reasons you can feel even more responsible about choosing this stylish setting.

A low profile yellow gold bezel setting featuring a rose cut diamond

Bezels are the most secure setting. 

Are you worried about your diamond falling out? How about damaging a prong? Does a clumsy streak run in your household? With a bezel, you don’t need to worry so much about the little bumps and jolts of a busy day. The metal frame protects the fragile girdle of your diamond from all sides, leaving you free to worry about other things like Monday morning’s meetings, or where to book reservations for dinner. So go ahead, knock it around a little. That diamond’s not going anywhere.

Bezels are the lowest profile setting. 

One of the most common concerns we hear from the future owners of a new diamond ring: “I’m worried the diamond’s going to stick up too much.” While our prong settings are as low profile as they can go, the reality is that they still stick up some. It’s what they’re designed to do. You just can’t be too hard on them. In contrast, our bezel settings ride low and secure on your finger, protected from all sides, and won’t get caught or snagged.

A bezel setting will make your diamond look bigger.

Rarely discussed, but, definitely a perk of the bezel — it makes your diamond look bigger. More than a little bit. The bezel metal adds about half a millimeter to the diameter of your diamond. That makes a 1 carat diamond look more like a 1.25 carat. It’s a subtle boost to its visual presence that you won’t be upset about.

A yellow gold bezel setting featuring an Asscher diamond

Should you buy a bezel? Only if you want a no-fuss, low maintenance setting that will make your diamond look bigger, and provide an extra golden flash to frame your diamond. For everyone else, we have a selection of gorgeous six-prong solitaires ready to adorn your ring finger.