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When shopping for a vintage or antique ring, it is good to be knowledgeable about different types of ring settings. In this article, we will talk about various types of ring settings that were used in vintage and antique times.

types of vintage and antique ring settings

First, let's get a couple of terms defined:

  • Vintage jewelry is defined as jewelry that is at least 20 years old but not more than 100 years old.
  • Antique jewelry is defined as jewelry that is over 100 years old.

The Cluster Setting

This is a favorite setting that dates back to the Georgian era and continued to be a favorite through the Victorian and Edwardian ages. Cluster settings are found in the Art Deco era, but during this time the halo setting was favored as a more streamlined and modern version of the cluster. Sometimes a cluster setting is called a halo setting and vise-versa.

victorian cluster setting ring

An example of a Victorian cluster ring from Gourmet Vintage on Etsy.

What is the Cluster Ring Setting?

A cluster setting features many small diamonds or gems that are placed close together to give the resemblance of a larger gem. A cluster setting can contain one larger central stone or a group of stones of the same size. Cluster ring settings can be made into a variety of shapes such as squares, starbursts, or flowers.

Variations of the Cluster include:

  • The classic cluster – round or oval in shape.  Features a prong-set, round-cut stone halo surrounding a central gemstone.
  • Target setting – two rows of gems instead of one, or a perfectly round halo setting that has channel-set gems as the cluster.

Cluster Settings through the Design Periods

  • Georgian cluster settings were made in gold with blackened silver. They use heavy prongs featuring rose cut or table cut diamonds.
  • Victorian cluster settings feature more delicate prongs. During this time, the classic cluster developed and continues to remain a popular setting in modern times.
  • Edwardian cluster settings became more streamlined but remained delicate.
  • Art Deco cluster settings embraced clean lines and geometric motifs.
vintage cluster ring from Gold Adore on Etsy

A vintage cluster ring from Gold Adore on Etsy

Why Choose a Cluster Setting?

Cluster settings are a popular choice for those seeking a unique design. The small stones compliment each other and offer extra sparkle. The ring will appear to have a larger stone while costing less.

Pros and Cons of a Cluster Setting

Pros:

  • Gives the appearance of a larger central stone.
  • Lower cost than a ring with a large stone.
  • Compliments smaller hands and fingers.
  • Has beautiful dimension and texture.

Cons:

  • Multiple stones and crevices will require more time to clean.
  • Small stones can come loose and fall out.

Where to Buy Vintage Cluster Rings

Shopping at a reputable vintage jewelry dealer will guarantee the authenticity of your ring. We have compiled a list of exceptional vintage jewelry sellers on Etsy. They offer many styles of vintage and antique rings and will help you with any questions you may have.


The Bezel Setting

The bezel setting dates back as far as the middle ages; it is one of the oldest gemstone settings. It is also known as the rub-over setting. The bezel setting is not a design in itself. Instead, it is a way to hold gemstones in place within a design. Bezel settings can be incorporated into almost any design.

Vintage Garnet Oval Bezel Ring from Cypress Creek Vintage on Etsy

Vintage Garnet Oval Bezel Ring from Cypress Creek Vintage on Etsy

What is the Bezel Ring Setting?

A bezel setting consists of a metal band wrapping around the central stone to hold it in place.

In historical times, bezel settings were made by leaving a hole or slot in the ring with a thin lip that was bent over the inserted stone.

Modern bezel settings are shaped into the size and shape of the gem and then soldered into place on the metal band. The cut stone is then placed onto the bezel, and the metal is pressed down over the edges to hold it in place.

Variations of the Bezel setting include:

  • Full bezel – metal surrounds the entire circumference of the center stone, covering it from all angles.
  • Partial bezel – metal only encircles parts of the gemstone. This setting lets more light into the stone.

Why Choose a Bezel Setting?

A bezel setting is the safest setting for a stone, as there are no prongs to come loose. It is an excellent choice for those with an active lifestyle.

Pros and Cons of a Bezel Setting

Pros:

  • Protects the center gemstone from an impact
  • Helps keep edges safe from chipping and breaking
  • Hides imperfections that are along the side of the gemstone.
  • Useful for fragile stones such as opal.
  • Can be utilized for a variety of designs such as halo, three-stone, etc.
  • Ideal for people with an active lifestyle as it can resist exposure to rough wear.
  • Low likelihood of stone falling out.

Cons:

  • Gemstone’s sparkle and size is reduced
  • Higher price due to more metal needed
  • Dirt can tend to get lodged in the rim of the bezel and in the underside of the bezel which can be a hard to reach area.

Where to Buy Vintage Bezel Rings

Always buy your vintage rings from a reputable jeweler. Head over to our list of the best places on Etsy to buy vintage jewelry to see our recommendations.


The Three Stone Setting

Rings have been made in the three stone style since Georgian times and remain popular today. Diamonds are the favorite stone. However, colored stones may also be used, with diamonds flanking the side. Bezel or Prong settings are used to make the three stone style.

Three stone rings represent trinities such as “past, present, future,” “friendship, love, fidelity,” “mother, father, child,” etc. They are thought of as a traditional engagement ring style offering a classic and elegant look.

Vintage Three Stone Diamond Ring from MSJewelers on Etsy

Vintage Three Stone Diamond Ring from MSJewelers on Etsy

What is the Three Stone Setting?

The three stone setting features three gemstones set closely together; they are usually held in by a prong or bezel setting.

Variations of Three Stone setting includes:

  • Traditional Graduation – Center stone is as large as the two side stones put together. Each side stone is half the size of the center one.
  • Slight Graduation – Side stones are nearly the same size as the center stone.
  • Equally Sized – All three stones are the same size.

Why Choose a Three Stone Setting?

It is a beautiful and versatile ring setting, giving you a classic look, as well as some extra bling. If you love symbolism, this is a great ring style for you.

The three stone setting can be personalized; it can feature birthstones or other stones of significance.

Pros and Cons of a Three Stone Setting

Pros:

  • A large amount of sparkle and brilliance.
  • Allows for multiple stones.
  • Able to personalize the ring.
  • Enhances the appearance of the center stone.
  • Gives a larger gemstone surface area than other settings.

Cons:

  • Requires more maintenance and cleaning than a single stone setting.

Where to Buy Vintage Three Stone Rings

The three stone ring setting has been used for hundreds of years, so there are plenty of vintage ones to choose from. Make sure you are buying from a reputable dealer who specializes in vintage jewelry. See our list of Etsy Sellers who get our approval.


The Box Setting

This setting was popular during the Art Deco era. It is an elegant setting that has a simple design that allows light to flow into the gem through the sides of the setting.

Vintage Box Setting Ring from Pebble and Polish on Etsy

Vintage Box Setting Ring from Pebble and Polish on Etsy

What is the Box Setting?

Four thick prongs hold the gem and form a square head.

Why Choose the Box Setting?

It offers a unique look that is different from traditional settings.

Pros and Cons of a Box Setting

Pros:

  • Allows light to enter the stone
  • Makes the stone appear bigger

Cons:

  • Dirt can get trapped in hard to clean places

Where to Buy Vintage Box Setting Rings

Always buy your vintage rings from a reputable jeweler. Head over to our list of the best places on Etsy to buy vintage jewelry to see our recommendations.


The Four Prong Setting

A modern setting that rose in popularity during the Art Deco period and continues to be popular today.

What is the Four Prong Setting?

Four metal arms hold the gemstone in place. The central gemstone can be seen from all angles and has a high profile off the finger. The prongs are prone to snagging on things, so they should be checked regularly for damage.

Vintage 4 Prong Engagement Ring from MSJewelers on Etsy

Vintage 4 Prong Engagement Ring from MSJewelers on Etsy

Why Choose a Prong Setting?

A graceful look, the four prong setting shows of the gemstone and lets in lots of light for the ultimate brilliance.

Pros and Cons of a Prong Setting

Pros:

  • More economical than other settings, the buyer can spend more on the stone.
  • Raising the gem off the finger makes it look larger than it actually is.
  • Directs the most light of all the settings to the center of the stone, making your stone sparkle.

Cons:

  • Prone to snagging.

Where to Buy Vintage Prong Set Rings

Always buy your vintage rings from a reputable jeweler. Head over to our list of the best places on Etsy to buy vintage jewelry to see our recommendations.


The Pavé Setting (Bead Setting)

Bead setting was popular during the late 1800s through the early 1900s in Georgian, Victorian, Edwardian, and Art Deco jewelry. The Bead setting gave way to the Pavé setting of modern times. The pavé setting has now become a standard method of setting diamonds onto metal in jewelry.

Pave Set Diamonds in an Art Deco Ring from Your Jewelry Finder on Etsy

Pave Set Diamonds in an Art Deco Ring from Your Jewelry Finder on Etsy

What is the Bead or Pavé Setting?

A Bead setting involves drilling holes into the surface of the metal, inserting the stone, and using tiny metal beads to hold the stone in place.

Pavé is French for the word, “to pave.” A pavé setting is paved with gemstones. Small stones (no more than .01-.02 carats) are closely set together with minimal visibility of the tiny prongs or beads holding them in place.

Difference Between Bead and Pavé Settings

Bead setting is a technique used to hold stones in place, pavé is a type of pattern utilizing the bead setting technique.

Why Choose a Pavé Setting

Pavé settings offer lots of extra sparkle and pizazz to your ring. If you are someone who loves shiny things, you will love pavé diamonds set into your jewelry.

Pros and Cons of a Pavé Setting

Pros:

  • Amplifies the rings overall brilliance.
  • Provides extra sparkle to the central stone.
  • Highlights the central stone.

Cons:

  • Minimal risk of losing side stones.
  • If pavé is set around the whole band, resizing can be difficult.

Where to Buy Vintage Pavé Rings

When you are buying a ring with pavé set gems around the band, you must be sure the ring is the right size [learn how to measure your ring size]. Make sure you are buying from a reputable dealer who specializes in vintage jewelry. See our list of Etsy Sellers who get our approval.


The Halo Setting

A halo setting has a central stone with a “halo” smaller gems surrounding it. The overall sparkle of the ring is increased, and contrasting colored gemstones can give a unique look. The halo setting is feminine and delicate. The halo setting was a favorite of the Art Deco era and continues to be popular today. 

Halo Setting Opal Ring from Trademark Antiques on Etsy

Halo Setting Opal Ring from Trademark Antiques on Etsy

What is the Halo Setting?

A halo setting locks the ring’s center stone within a rim of pavé, invisible-set or channel-set diamonds. The central gemstone can come in a variety of cuts including pear, round, and cushion. 

Why Choose a Halo Setting?

The halo setting is perfect for anyone who loves lots of sparkle but also wants an affordable ring. The halo setting is the 2nd most popular engagement ring style in modern times. 

Pros and Cons of the Halo Setting

Pros:

  • The central stone appears larger.
  • Save money with a smaller carat central stone.
  • Increases sparkle.
  • Can add more color and contrast.
  • Holds the central stone securely.
  • Complements a variety of diamond cuts and shapes.
  • Combines the security of prongs and the allure of multiple diamonds.

Cons:

  • Tiny side stones can become loose

Where to Buy Vintage Halo Rings

Always buy your vintage rings from a reputable jeweler. Head over to our list of the best places on Etsy to buy vintage jewelry to see our recommendations.


The Channel Setting

The channel setting was very popular in the 1980s and 1990s and remains a solid presence in contemporary jewelry. Clearly defined edges and clean, flowing lines offer designers distinct borders and edges for setting their stones.

Channel Set Diamond Wedding Band from Your Jewelry Finder on Etsy

Channel Set Diamond Wedding Band from Your Jewelry Finder on Etsy

What is the Channel Setting?

Two parallel tracks or walls of metal suspend small stones that are seated side by side. Stones are set below or flush with the metal of the ring. The setting gives the impression of floating stones and produces a maximum amount of light as no metal is used between stones. The channel setting is best suited for diamonds with a round, princess, emerald, oval, square, and baguette cut.

Why Choose a Channel Setting?

Channel set gems are an excellent choice for anyone with an active lifestyle, as the stones are less likely to fall out of place or get damaged from being worn.

Pros and Cons of a Channel Setting

Pros:

  • Protects the gemstones from hard knocks and wear.
  • The flush diamonds create a spectacular sparkle.

Cons:

  • A bit more expensive due to more labor and material.
  • Cleaning is difficult.
  • Tough to resize and repair.

Where to Buy Vintage Channel Set Rings

When you are buying a ring with channel set gems around the band, you must be sure the ring is the right size [learn how to measure your ring size]. Always buy your vintage rings from a reputable jeweler. Head over to our list of the best places on Etsy to buy vintage jewelry to see our recommendations.


The Gypsy Setting - aka Burnish or Flush

The gypsy setting was created in the 1880s and was initially a popular style among men who loved the sturdiness and elegance of the setting. In modern times it is popular with both men and women. 

Gypsy Set Pink Sapphire Ring from MSJewelers on Etsy

Gypsy Set Pink Sapphire Ring from MSJewelers on Etsy

What is the Gypsy Setting?

In the gypsy setting, the diamond or gemstone appears to sit flush with the surface of the metal. It is similar to a bezel setting.

Difference Between a Gypsy and Bezel Setting

The bezel setting has a protruding rim of metal that wraps around the stone, the gem sits above the metal of the ring band, whereas the gypsy setting has the stone sunk into the metal, the gem sits just below the surface of the metal.

Why Choose a Gypsy Setting?

This is one of the most secure styles of gem setting and is a great choice for men’s rings and for ladies who live an active lifestyle or are concerned about frequent knocks or bumps.

Pros and Cons of a Gypsy Setting

Pros:

  • Very secure setting.
  • Excellent for people with an active lifestyle.

Cons:

  • Difficult to have a very large stone flushed into the ring.
  • Decreases stones brilliance.
  • Stones can only be seen from above the band.

Where to Buy Vintage Gypsy Setting Rings

Make sure you purchase your vintage ring from a reputable dealer who specializes in vintage jewelry. See our list of the best vintage jewelry shops on Etsy for our top picks.


Conclusion 

The perfect ring setting is a compromise between the amount of desired sparkle and the lifestyle you want to wear it in. If you have any questions about choosing a vintage ring setting, let me know in the comments and I will do my best to help you out. 

Happy Shopping!

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About the Author

Andrea

I am here to help you find the best vintage jewelry!

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  1. Thank you for sharing this. I am not an expert in this field but from what I saw in your article, I think the most ellegant setting is the three stone setting. It is just something about this rings that make you think of class and elegancy. I can not deny that others and especially gypsy setting looks wonderful as well.
    I will definitely consult you when deciding to buy the ring for my proposal.

    Strahinja

  2. Hi. I have been hearing the about vintage jewelry for quite a a long time but I didn’t know that the border was 100 years (that jewelry to be considered vintage couldn’t have more than 100 years, not less than 20).

    Thhank you for permitting me do a well informed purchase concerning Bezel setting. You have outlined the pros and cons in a very balanced way and let us decide. I was thinking about the cons and wanted to ask: Do you have any cleaning tips for Bezel setting?

    1. Hi Henry, I have an article on how to clean your fine jewelry

      Bezel settings can be somewhat difficult to clean, because dirt can get lodged in the area between the rim of the bezel and the gemstone, as well as the underside of the bezel. Simple bezels that are set flush are easier to maintain. 

      Clean your bezel setting in warm soapy water and use a soft brush to remove the dirt. Don’t use sharp objects to pick at the dirt as this can seriously damage your ring.

  3. the bezel setting surely has a look of gold on it and would surely be an awesome addition to a collection because ir would be worthwhile. I fancy getting an antique ring because it would be awesome. Knowing you have something old as 100years and more is something that would make me feel ecstatic about it. This is nice and I would love  to try this out.

  4. Wow, different types of vintage and antique rings. I didnt know that they can actually be in different settings and types. That is honestly a very good thig to learn. Having read your post here, i can see the different types of these rings and know which is great. They all have heir own pros and cons. I like the cluster ring though. I should look to buy one soon.

  5. getting vintage and antiques are always on top of my list and im sure that this settings are awesome because they all look cool in some way or the other. thank you so much for sharing these beauties. i love all of them but ten, getting them would mean a lot of money since they are classics. i actually love the bezzel setting. this is really beautiful. thumbs up to you for sharing this out to me. i really fancy this. 

  6. I really appreciate you for publishing this blog here about types of vintage and antique ring settings; it’s really a helpful and very useful for us. This is really appreciated that you have presented this data over here, I love all the information shared. Great article!Great to find Purediamond.ca which has same kind of wonderful tips, if possible then visit.

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