when you’re looking at more than one diamond on your engagement ring you’re bound to weigh the cluster ring against the halo. They’re both multi-stone rings but they have very different looks. But, some of them hover the line between a cluster and a halo, and that is where confusion starts.
So what would you like most ? A cluster has plenty of variations while the halo is always a safe choice. Let’s compare cluster vs halo rings so you can make the best decision for yourself (or your fiancee).
Cluster vs halo ring
Cluster rings don’t have a noticeable center stone and tend to have negative space between the diamonds, while a halo ring has a large center stone with smaller diamonds all around the center, and no negative space. Halo rings are currently in style and considered more modern, while clusters have more of a vintage look.
What is a cluster ring ?
A cluster ring features several stones (usually diamonds) arranged in different shapes, huddled together closely. Most of the time the gems in a cluster ring are of similar sizes, their differences aren’t too great. Sometimes they are the same size and those usually form a flower or star shape.
What is a halo ring ?
A halo ring features a single center stone surrounded by a band of much smaller diamonds, forming a halo effect. Halos are not meant to make the diamond look bigger but instead add a different kind of sparkle.
Halo rings have a larger center stone, cluster rings don’t have a specific center stone
Perhaps the biggest difference between halo and cluster rings is the presence of a noticeable center stone. If the center stone is definitely larger than the surrounding ones, it is a halo ring. If the stone is just a bit larger it can still be classed as a cluster ring. The definition is a bit fluid.
This is actually they key, why some love or hate the cluster setting. To those who have it the cluster tries to be a single, larger diamond and this doesn’t sit right with them. The halo on the other hand shows a center stone and much smaller stones, so to them it makes more sense. Almost like the cluster would be trying to lie, while the halo is honest.
Now, whether you like clusters or not, there are quite a few people who look down on cluster rings simply because of them appearing like a larger diamond, regardless of the initial intention of the goldsmith. It’s the difference in the center stone that sets people off.
Cluster rings can look more organic, can form many shapes
Cluster rings offer you a whole lot of options and can form any shape you like. Most of the time they come in round or flower shapes, but you can always go asymmetrical with your cluster. It could be a single large stone with mismatched accent stones, more on the side and just 2-3 medium ones. It could look like a bouquet of wildflowers, it could look like a starburst, it could be anything you like. There is no right or wrong way to design a cluster ring.
Halos are more restrictive in this sense, since the halo needs to be set flush against the center diamond. You can still get side stones and a pave band so get a more flowy look, but it’s not as flowy as a freeform cluster ring.
Halo rings have become very popular, almost standard
As fashions come and go, so have the halo rings become very popular, to the point where they’re the second most popular choice after the classic solitaire ring. Why ? Because clusters used to be the popular ones ! Back in the late 40s and early 50s cluster rings were popular and the halo ring we know today actually evolved from that. Cluster settings with increasingly larger center diamonds and smaller surrounding ones were the basis for the early halo rings. So the modern halo evolved from a modified cluster setting.
So if you want something that looks modern, and in line with the current trends then a halo ring is a better option. You will easily find plenty of options available, from ready-made rings to mounts. Clusters are harder to come by if you’re shopping for pre-made rings or mounts, but you can still find them.
Cluster rings may look disorganized, halos are streamlined
Cluster rings have a very different style from halo rings, even if they are both technically clusters. A cluster ring typically has prong settings instead of pave, which creates a negative space between the diamonds. This can be off-putting to some people and create a disorganized look. Others may appreciate the contrast between the diamonds and the negative space.
If this is something that you don’t like, then look for pave set clusters. These are smaller diamonds set much closer together and with smaller prongs. Usually the prongs are the same color as the diamonds, so the overall look is more sleek.
Halo rings have a sleek look by default, since the halo is usually made of tiny diamonds that are pave-set instead of prong set. When the halo diamonds are a bit larger they are prong-set and then they, too, have some negative space between the center stone and the halo. But this works very well with colored gem centers, and less with diamond centers.
Halos are considered modern, while clusters are more vintage
What sort of look are you going for ? Halo rings have a modern vibe since they’ve been a fan favorite since the early 2010s and they don’t seem to be stopping just yet. Cluster rings are more of a vintage look, since they’re associated with the rings worn in the 40-50s. An in-between option is the pave-set cluster ring, with smaller diamonds.
Also if you’re looking for something vintage you can easily find actual vintage or antique cluster rings, with old cuts like old mine cut, old European cut, or a rose cut, and they really bring that old world charm.
Read also: Custom VS Ready-Made Engagement Rings
Are cluster rings cheaper ?
Cluster rings are not cheaper to make, but they are usually sold at a lower price than others simply because they’re not as popular and they use smaller diamonds. Smaller diamonds, like the ones used for eternity rings, are always cheaper. The total carat weight of a ring is what determines the bulk of the price, so a 1 carat cluster of diamond would cost almost as much as a 1ct single diamond (but still less).
Of course diamonds over 1 carat go up in price more than you’d expect, since they are a premium. So a 2.5 ct cluster would cost significantly less than a 2.5 ct solitaire.
Does this make cluster rings tacky ? We don’t think so. It all depends on the overall look of the ring, what your style is, what you’re trying to achieve with the cluster setting, and also your budget.
If your 1.3ct cluster speaks to you and you feel like it’s the cutest set of diamonds ever than don’t let anyone talk you out of it. As long as it doesn’t go way past your budget and you like it, go for it. You’ll never please everyone at the same time.
One of the cutest e-rings we saw was a dainty cluster ring, with 7 small diamonds pave-set into a daisy. The band was simple, 14k yellow gold, thin, and the overall look was a light, feminine one.
Quick question: are Lady Di inspired rings cluster or halos ? Personally we’d class them as halos, since there’s a larger center stone, even if there’s negative space. Others may call them cluster rings, and they’d also be right. Does it matter though ?
So in the end should you go for a cluster ring or a halo ring ? The truth is no one is going to wear your ring but you, so you better get the one you like the most, regardless of trends. If a halo ring really looks beautiful to you get it, same goes for cluster rings. They have different looks but they are both beautiful ring styles.
I’m the main author for jewelrymaterialguide.com. I started this site after we did tons of research before our wedding and noticed that there is information about rings, jewelry, and so on that is really hard to find on the internet.