In prong setting, the stone is held by two or more metal ‘claws’ called prongs. Most people will know this setting from engagement rings. Usually a single stone (called a ‘solitaire’) will be held by four or six metal wires bent over the stone.
Depending on the shape of the stone the prongs can also be thin metal strips, or even U-, V- or L-shaped ones. These will provide more protection to the delicate corners of stones cut in marquise, princess, baguette and pear shape.
Prong setting is also typically used for entourage jewellery. In the classic style these have a central stone surrounded (french: ‘entouré’) by one or more circles of smaller stones held with prongs. There are also other styles of entourage setting that do not use prongs, more specifically using pavé or castle setting. These usually appear more modern.
A well-made prong setting will not catch the threads of fabric, not even those of a fuzzy woolen scarf. Prong setting displays the stone ‘above’ the metal, exposing as much of the gem as possible to full view. This can at the same time be its main disadvantage: fragile gemstones are not well protected in a prong setting and should be set using other techniques.