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Cathedral Settings: Everything You Need to Know

Cathedral Settings: Everything You Need to Know

Diamonds are a never ending source of inspiration, and there is always something new that you can learn about them. But, at the same time, that can sometimes make the whole topic more complex and difficult to grasp.

When looking into buying a diamond engagement ring, there is a lot of information that you may need to learn in order to make the best possible decision.

Which cut is the best, white or yellow gold, how many carats, what color, and so, so many more questions arise and need answers.

In your time of research, you probably came across some terms, and you aren’t quite sure what they mean or why they factor into your decision-making process. One of those is probably the term “Cathedral Settings”. 

We know that you may be feeling a bit overwhelmed, but we’re here to break down everything you need to know about this precise topic and give you all the necessary knowledge to get you a step closer to finding your perfect ring.

So, without further ado, let’s learn about diamonds!

Diamond Settings

Before we get into the specifics of Cathedral settings, we should first clarify what a diamond setting actually is.

What Are They?

In essence, diamond settings actually refer to the way diamonds are mounted into the metal band.

There are many different settings, and each of them is meant to accentuate the beauty of the diamond and the ring in general and give you the best possible effect.

Different settings give off different aesthetics and cater to different tastes, some being more simple and others more extravagant and avant-garde.

Types Of Diamond Settings

As we’ve mentioned, there are quite a few different settings, and you are destined to find one that fits your style and taste.

From simple to out-of-the-ordinary – we’ve got everything covered.

PRONG SETTINGS

This type of setting is one of the most popular and well-known settings, especially in engagement rings. This setting consists of several metal prongs that grip the diamond and hold it in place.

The number of prongs can differ, but the most common number is between four and six. This number affects the amount of light that can hit the diamond, which in turn affects the sparkle of the diamond. The fewer the prongs, the more sparkle.

On the other hand, more prongs give more security and make it less likely that the diamond will fall out.

The style of the prongs can also be different: flat, pointed, round, or V-shaped.

Learn More: Prong Settings: Everything You Need to Know

PAVÉ SETTING

The pave setting is particularly popular for diamond engagement rings. The name originates from the french word pavé, which means “to pave”. It’s pretty self-explanatory – the placement of the diamonds is such that it resembles pavement.

Smaller diamonds are placed close together, typically on the band itself, but they can also be placed around the center diamond.

The placement of the diamonds gives the ring continual sparkle and an elegant finish.

Learn More: Pavé Diamonds: Learn More About Pave Settings For Diamonds

BEZEL SETTINGS

This setting is characterized by the main diamond completely encircled by the metal. This is the most secure setting since the diamond is held all around by the metal, making it perfect for those that lead an active lifestyle.

Furthermore, since there aren’t any prongs, the dirt doesn’t get into places that are difficult to reach. This means that the cleaning process is much easier and hassle-free.

This setting is the least fragile and risky, and also easy to upkeep, but there are some downsides to it, as well.

Remember when we talked about how the fewer the prongs, the more sparkle a ring has? Well, the same principle applies here.

Since the ring is entirely encased in the metal, aside from the top, not as much light can reach it, meaning that it won’t sparkle as much as it would in some other settings.

Learn More: Bezel Settings: Everything You Need to Know

HALO SETTINGS

This setting is perfect for anyone who is trying to find a ring that will be at the center of attention. The center diamond is surrounded by many smaller ones – hence the “halo”.

Aside from the additional sparkle, this setting gives the illusion of the center diamond being bigger. This makes it perfect for those that are on a budget, as you can opt for a smaller center diamond and rely on the “halo” to make it appear bigger.

The most obvious downside of this setting is the fact that this many diamonds means that there is a higher risk of one of them falling out. When this happens, the whole look of the ring is disturbed since the diamonds are all focused on top of it, and any missing ones are very apparent.

Learn More: Halo Settings: Everything You Need to Know

CHANNEL SETTINGS

This setting is easily confused with the pavé setting, but there is one key difference – in the channel setting, small diamonds are placed between two parallel vertical metal rows, which gives the appearance of one continuous row of diamonds.

Another difference from the pavé setting is the fact that this one doesn’t require a center diamond.

This style is most often used for diamond wedding bands precisely because it doesn’t require the center diamond.

Learn More: Channel Settings: Everything You Need to Know

CLUSTER SETTINGS

This is a setting that is considered one of the more affordable ones since it doesn’t actually have a large center diamond. A cluster of smaller diamonds is usually more affordable than one larger diamond of approximately the same weight.

In reality, the illusion of the center diamond is created with a cluster of smaller ones placed at the top of the band in the desired shape.

However, since you don’t have a large diamond, you won’t have as much sparkle, which can be a downside for some. On the other hand, it’s not as common, and it can be much more interesting than conventional rings.

SPLIT SHANK SETTINGS

This setting gives you a completely unique look since the band is split apart in the middle, surrounding the diamond, but not actually encompassing it. The diamond is actually in the open section of the band.

This is a great option for all of those that want to draw more attention to the center stone without additional smaller diamonds.

SOLITAIRE SETTINGS

This is a setting that most people imagine when they think of a diamond engagement ring. It falls within the category of classic diamond rings, and it is very elegant and recognizable.

There are no small diamonds on the band nor around the center diamond itself. The diamond is elevated and held with prongs.

One of the reasons that the solitaire setting is so popular is the fact that it pairs very well with wedding bands precisely because of that simple design.

Learn More: Diamond & Solitaire Setting: What Is A Solitaire Diamond?

CATHEDRAL SETTINGS

Last, but not least, we have the cathedral setting. We’ll dive further into the specifics of this setting later, but what you should know now is that it actually refers to the metal arches that elevate the diamond.

Cathedral Vs Solitaire

Now that you know all about the different settings, we want to clear up some potential confusion.

A common mistake people make is in discerning the solitaire setting from the cathedral setting. This happens because, in both cases, the diamond is elevated from the band.

However, there is a key difference.

With the Solitaire Setting, the shank attaches to the base of the head, which is placed on top of the shank. The band itself doesn’t rise higher than the base.

On the other hand, in the Cathedral Setting, the arches of the band reach the diamond shank at a higher level. This allows for the diamond to be elevated a bit higher than with the Solitaire setting.

Also, it gives some additional protection and support for the diamond, which is not a negligible feature.

What Is A Cathedral Setting?

So, what is actually a Cathedral setting?

As we’ve mentioned, with this setting, you actually get the appearance of the diamond being larger and more impressive since it is elevated from the band. But the way it’s elevated is what makes it so special.

At the bottom of the diamond, the band rises into two arches that resemble those of a cathedral (hence the name). This gives it an ethereal and timeless look, perfect for anyone that is a fan of classic and elegant diamond rings.

As far as what actually holds the diamond, since it’s not the arches, it can be either the bezel or the prongs. This doesn’t change the setting since both of those come out of the arches.

Are Cathedral Settings Popular?

As we’ve said, this design is one of those timeless, classic pieces that never go out of style. This makes it one of the most popular.

For a while, this design was mainly found in vintage rings, as well as heirloom pieces, but it has started to gain some renewed popularity in recent years. The reason? Well, this setting accentuates the center diamond and makes it look bigger, but it also gives you loads of room for customization.

Its versatility is what makes it appealing to a broad spectrum of people and has kept it at the top of the popularity lists for engagement rings.

How Expensive Are Cathedral Setting Diamond Rings?

As far as the price goes, there isn’t a fixed answer we can give you. The truth is that the cost of your Cathedral setting diamond ring will mainly depend on the details of the particular ring, as well as the seller from which you decide to purchase it.

The main factors that play into the cost of a diamond ring are the 4C’s of the diamonds on it:

But, there are also other aspects that make a ring more or less expensive. For example, if you opt for a ring with just one center diamond, it will be less expensive than the same ring with a halo setting, where you have smaller diamonds in addition to the center one.

As far as the stores that you buy diamond rings from, the most notable ones, such as Tiffany&Co and Cartier, you should definitely expect higher prices there than in some less-known jewelry stores.

However, always be careful where you buy your diamond jewelry since there are jewelry stores that sell different gemstones as diamonds for the same price. So, always do your research and find trusted jewelers to buy your expensive pieces from.

Related Read: James Allen Reviews: Diamond101 Team On James Allen Rings

Different Cathedral Styles

The Cathedral setting is always recognizable by the sweeping arches that elevate the center diamond, but that doesn’t mean that they are all the same.

Within this setting, there are a number of styles that you can choose from, they are all different and unique in their own way.

  • Cathedral Pavé Setting – the band is adorned with a row (or two parallel rows) of smaller diamonds
  • Petite Cathedral Setting – the word “petite” in this style refers to how thin the band is. In this style, the band is thinner than usual (1.6 to 1.8mm wide), which makes the center diamond pop even more and look even larger.
  • Vintage Cathedral Setting – Antique rings with this setting tend to have more intricate detailing on the band, such as carvings and patterns of tiny diamonds.
  • Split Band Arches – We’ve already discussed the split shank setting, but there is a crossover between our Cathedral setting and this one. The arches are still present, and both of the bands elevate towards the diamond.
  • Channel Cathedral Setting – Another combination of two settings here. The band is adorned with a row of small diamonds in between two metal bands that lead to the arches.
  • Simple Cathedral Setting – This style is for all of those that prefer simplicity. The band doesn’t have any small diamonds on it, which makes the center diamond stand out and get all of the attention.

What Shape Is Best For Cathedral Settings?

Diamonds are unique, and they all have their own little intricacies and quirks that each diamond cutter should work with and choose the best shape for that diamond.

Also, not all shapes will work for every setting, so you should always opt for those that this setting flatters the most. Of course, the most important guide for your decision should be what you like, so if your taste differs from what we state here, don’t worry about it.

Let your heart guide you!

You know that there are different styles within the Cathedral setting, and depending on that style, differently shaped diamonds will work better than others.

Usually, the best shapes for the Split Shank Cathedral setting are elongated ones, such as the oval, marquise, and octagon. On the other hand, if you are going for a more conventional style, symmetrical shapes work best – round, square, and cushion.

Pros And Cons Of A Cathedral Setting

Just like any diamond engagement ring setting and style, the Cathedral Setting also has its upsides and downsides. You should consider them both when you’re making your choice since that’s the only way to make an informed decision that you won’t end up regretting later on.

We’ve got a list of the most notable pros and cons of this setting below to make the decision-making process easier for you:

Pros

There is no shortage of benefits to the Cathedral Setting style, and the proof is in the fact that it has been popular for so many years.

  1. It gives protection to the stone.

As we’ve mentioned, the band arches go up to a higher point of the shank than in any other setting, which gives more stability and security to the diamond. This is especially true if they reach the girdle or the table of the stone.

This is especially important if you opt for a different stone than a diamond that is softer and more fragile, such as an opal, lapis, or turquoise.

  1. The height accentuates the stone.

Why is this so great? Well, for a number of reasons. If you don’t want additional smaller stones, this is a great way to draw attention to the center stone. 

This is especially great for those on a budget and those that prefer a more simple and clean look.

  1. The arches make the stone seem larger.

The elevation of the stone gives the appearance of it being larger than it really is, which is great for smaller diamonds or gemstones. 

You don’t need to splurge on a bigger carat size diamond when you can just put a smaller one into this setting and still get great results.

  1. It gives more room for customization and detailing.

Since the arches are essentially more band space, this gives the designer more opportunity to play around and customize the ring to your tastes. 

Not only that, but you can also play around with the metal type, as well as carvings and patterns. This is great if you want just one center diamond but still want to add some flare to the band.

Intricate details that are present in vintage styles of this setting are not as common anymore, which is why they will set your ring apart from the rest.

  1. Petite styles work very well with it.

For all of those with smaller hands and thinner fingers, many of the other settings with thicker bands can seem overwhelming and overly dominant. That’s where this setting comes in. 

Since it can work without any additional small stones on the band, the cathedral setting allows for a thinner band to hold the diamond. Not only will this look much better on smaller hands, but it will also give that classic and simple look to the ring.

  1. It works well with wedding bands

The natural order of things suggests that the diamond engagement ring won’t be alone on the ring finger for long. That’s why it’s important to get a ring that will pair nicely with your wedding band.

This is exactly why the Cathedral setting is so great.

The elevation of the diamond allows for the wedding band to nest close to the ring and not look awkwardly separated because of how close the diamond is to the actual band of the ring.

Cons

Now that you know the pros, we should also give you the cons. While very beautiful, this setting does carry with it quite a few risks and potential negatives:

  1. Difficult to clean.

What makes this ring so beautiful is also what makes it a bit more difficult to upkeep and clean. 

The arches, especially if they are not filled and if they have carvings or ornate detailing, can harbor a lot of dirt that can take away from the overall appearance of the ring.

This dirt is not that easy to reach and clean out by yourself, which is why you may need to take your ring to the jeweler’s to get it cleaned more often.

Because of this, we recommend you purchase your ring from a place that offers free annual cleaning, if possible. This will ensure that your ring gets a regular proper cleaning.

  1. It may snag easily on clothes.

The elevation of the diamond is one of the strongest aspects of this setting, but it’s also something that makes it somewhat impractical.

Since the diamond is higher up, it stands out from your finger and is thus more likely to get caught on furniture, clothes, hair, and other external objects.

This puts it at a higher risk of damage and the diamond more likely to fall out. On the other hand, the objects it catches on to can also get damaged in turn.

  1. The arches can draw attention away from the center diamond.

This risk only exists if the ring is designed poorly.

The ring needs to be proportionate, and all aspects of it have to work together to create a harmonious and homogenous piece. If that is not the case, the ring can look disproportionate and awkward.

It doesn’t matter how big the center diamond is or how expensive the ring is, a bad design will take away all its beauty.

Is It Worth The Money?

So, now that you know all of this information about the Cathedral setting, we can get down to one of the most important questions – Is it worth the money?

As you may have caught on to in the article, there are a number of factors that play into the overall worth and price of a diamond ring. The setting alone doesn’t determine the price, but rather the combination of all of the other details.

However, some would consider this setting one of the more cost-effective since it can substitute some costly additions and make your center diamond pop without them.

We shared with you the pros of this setting, and the most notable ones had to do precisely with the fact that it can work very well with just the center diamond and no additional detailing. Not to mention the versatility and the possibility of customization.

So, having all of this in mind, you can consider this style worth the money.

Conclusion

Well, there you have it. We’ve reached the end of this article, and we hope it was useful to you. We tried to cover everything you need to know about the Cathedral Setting and hopefully, we succeeded.

Starting with what a setting actually is, then we covered the different styles of the setting, and also compared some that are similar to the one at the center of this article.

When it comes to the Cathedral setting, we’ve discussed a wide variety of questions, such as what it actually is, how popular and expensive it is, and the different styles of this setting, as well as what the most notable advantages and disadvantages of this setting are. 

Lastly, we talked about whether this setting is worth spending your money on.

So, finally, you have all of the info you need on this setting style and you are one step closer to making your decision and finding the perfect ring for you.

Now, we’ll let you go and find your dream ring.

Happy shopping!