Intro to Solitaires

Once youve found your perfect diamond you need to find the right setting. For many people the solitaire is the obvious choice. Clean, sleek and non-imposing, the solitaire lets the rock do all the talking.

Featured here in our #1 and #2 photographs are the classics, the four-prong and six-prong tiffany settings. The six-prong tiffany was introduced by Charles Lewis Tiffany in 1886. It was revolutionary because for the first time the diamond was raised up from the band allowing light to enter from all sides.

In photos #3 and #4 we see the introduction of two-tone classic tiffanys.

When a bride-to-be prefers to wear yellow gold versus platinum or white gold notice only the shank (the circular ring part) not the head (Part holding in the diamond) changes color. This is due to the fact that yellow prongs reflect a yellow cast onto the stone.

In photos #5 and #6 we see the introduction of the heavy duties. In these spin-offs of the classic tiffany the shanks are beefed up. Theyre wider (generally 3mm versus a classic tiffany being 2 2.5mm) and thicker. The heavy duties are a popular choice for a multitude of reasons.

1.) Being thicker and heavier they serve as more of an anchor to keep the rock centered on the top of the hand.

2.) If the wearer is planning to ever add a wedding band with diamonds, the thicker band on the heavy duty will fit flush to the wedding band.

3.) On women with long fingers and rings with large diamonds (2ct +) heavy duties are more in proportion to the hand.

In photos #7 and #8 we see the introduction of the airline solitaires.

The airlines (The predecessors to the cathedrals up next) was a further attempt by the jeweler to raise the diamond even higher off the band. The theory goes and it is correct, that the further the diamond is away from the finger the larger the diamond appears to the eye as well as allowing for more light return. The only down side to these baby-ramped wonders is if the diamond sits too high the probability of flopping over more easily increases ten fold. Note: With a few exceptions, those being fingers that are carrot shaped (very rare), all solitaires flop to some degree.

The airlines are believed to have received their names due to the air underneath the ramping lines of the side of the shank shaped like a triangle. Others believe that the triangular openings on either side of the head look like the wings of an airline. The reason metal on airlines and cathedrals ramps up is to disguise the oversized tall heads and give the illusion the diamond isnt setting so precariously up high. The most popular types of airlines are the ones shown. In photo #7 we see a standard airline where the top of the shank is rounded and in photo #8 we see the knife-edge airline for a more minimalist type customer.

Finally we come to cathedrals, given their name due to the fact it sets the diamond up higher than any other setting (like the steeple of a church cathedral).

In photos #9, #10, and #11 we see higher ramps and larger "V" openings to set the diamond over 20% higher than an airline and over 50% higher than a classic tiffany.

Photo #9 is a classic cathedral that could be used for a princess cut diamond. Note the "V" shaped prongs on the head to protect the corners of a princess cut diamond.

Photo #10 is also a classic cathedral but with a support prong between the prongs for added durability.

Photo #11 is a classic six prong cathedral.

Cathedrals are great to make small diamonds look big but become too top heavy in diamonds over 2cts unless the shank is made heavier.

Photos: Courtesy Leo Ingwer
The founder and president of Diamond Cutters International, is one of the worlds top diamond experts, as well as a three-time Guinness Book record holder in jewelry design.
Fred The Diamond Guy
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