The engagement ring you wear is possibly one of the most treasured pieces of jewelry, and getting it just right is very important. All the details matter, including how much it should sparkle or the general design idea. This is where most people find themselves torn between a classic solitaire ring, or a more modern halo ring. Both versions have their own pros and cons, but which is right for your situation ?
Today we’re taking at look at solitaire vs halo rings and comparing their good and bad parts, so you can get a better feel for them.
Solitaire vs halo
Solitaire diamond rings are classic and elegant, offer a single focal point and are very easy to pair with any wedding band or fashion style. Halo rings are flashier and harder to wear or pair with something, and are generally more affordable than a solitaire. Solitaire rings are also easier to clean and maintain at home as the years go by, while a halo ring needs regular professional cleaning.
What is a solitaire ring ?
A solitaire ring is the classic engagement ring with a plain band and a prong-set diamond. It is the only diamond, thus the ‘solitaire’ name, as in solitary, only one. The diamond on a solitaire ring is the center of attention so it usually is a very good quality diamond, as it’s going to be seen from every angle by everyone.
The whole point of a solitaire diamond ring is to showcase the diamond itself, so quality is key here. If the diamond is a step-cut diamond, the quality has to be even higher because any color and clarity issue will be very noticeable.
The usual carat weight of a diamond solitaire is 1 carat, and most commonly a round cut brilliant. That being said you can get a smaller or larger diamond, in whatever cut style you like. As long as the ring feels right for you and does not go above your budget, any diamond will work as a solitaire.
Read also: Are Champagne Diamonds Real ?
What is a halo ring ?
A halo ring has its center diamond surrounded by a row of much smaller gems, usually other diamonds, forming a glittery halo all around the center diamond. Most of the time the band on a halo ring is plain, but you may also find pave bands. The usual total carat weight of the diamond in a halo ring is around 1 carat, possibly a bit more depending on the center stone.
A halo ring is not as classic as a solitaire, it’s a more recent style in terms of popularity. This design has been around for hundreds of years but was never as heavily favored as it is now.
The whole point of the halo around a diamond is to make the diamond appear larger and add extra sparkle, which essentially boils down to personal preference. Now let’s compare the halo ring and the solitaire in more detail because there’s a lot to talk about.
1. Solitaire rings are the classic, elegant engagement ring
If you want something classic, simple, elegant, possibly timeless, then a solitaire is something you may be happier with. The solitaire ring looks simple, compared to the halo, and it is. The diamond is the only thing on the ring and this is meant to showcase the beauty and quality of the diamond. Both of the particular diamond you’re wearing, and of the concept of a diamond. It’s a bit of poetry in a way…
Halo rings are more modern, they are here to impress and be quite noticeable. It has a style of its own and is going to please a more modern bride, or at least one that doesn’t necessarily want to be traditional.
2. Halo rings offer more sparkle and wow factor than a solitaire
A halo ring will upstage a solitaire most of the time, and there is no way around this fact. A halo ring will sparkle much more than a solitaire, as there are simply many more diamonds to sparkle at you. If the glitter and wow factor is very important to you or the future bride then a halo ring is a very good choice.
One thing to note, since halos have so many extra gemstones you have to worry about not one but several stones falling out. So it’s best to get a very good quality halo ring, just to be on the safe side. And it may be a good idea to get it insured.
A solitaire can definitely sparkle, especially if it’s a round cut brilliant solitaire. But it won’t really match the amount of sparkle a halo has. Some may favor the solitaire because they think the halo is too much and it detracts from the beauty of the central diamond.
3. Solitaire diamonds have to be higher quality, halos are very forgiving
When you have a solitaire ring, that diamond is the only gemstone in the ring. It will be stared at, gawked at, fawned over, and simply adored 24/7, at lest in the first few years. That is a lot of attention for a single diamond, so it needs to look very good. A solitaire’s imperfections will be easily noticeable.
Thus we recommend investing in a good diamond, with very high clarity and reasonably good color. This means the D-F color range and going maybe down to a G. In terms of clarity we recommend not going lower than a VVS2. If your diamond is a step cut then consider a higher grade color and clarity, since those cuts showcase everything.
Read also: How To Wear Engagement And Wedding Rings
Halo diamonds are also put on display and they, too, will need to be good quality. But you can usually get away with going a grade lower, simply because the halo will distract from the center diamond. So for a halo ring you can go a bit lower in color, like down to an H, and possibly as low as VS2 in clarity if it’s under 1 carat.
What about the diamonds in the halo itself ? Those need to be very close in color and clarity to the center diamond, but it’s very important to get those with a good enough cut quality since this can seriously affect their light performance. Even so, a halo ring will give you a bit more leeway.
4. Halo rings allow you to play with colors, solitaires are one color only
A solitaire ring will feature a single diamond, so whatever color the diamond is, that is the only color in the ring (aside from the metal color). If you or the bride are someone who likes more colorful rings, or pairing colors, then perhaps the halo ring is a better choice.
A halo allows you to mix diamonds with gemstones and thus get two colors if you so wish. Or get a fancy colored diamond surrounded by a row of white diamonds. Or have a gemstone center with a white diamond halo. Really there’s a lot you can do with a halo ring if you want to customize it. Here are a few examples of halo rings with various colors.
Meanwhile solitaire rings offer a single diamond, or gemstone. Whichever diamond or gem you choose as the solitaire stone it will receive full attention, and it makes choosing the gem a bit more anxiety-inducing.
5. Solitaires are more versatile than halos, can be paired with anything
Solitaire diamond rings are much more versatile than halo rings and can be paired with anything, both in terms of wedding bands and in terms of fashion. Let’s discuss wedding bands first.
A solitaire will go with any wedding band you like. Its diamond is usually high-profile so it will sit above the wedding band. And since the ring is so simple you can get a very busy wedding band, with gems, milgrain, scrolling, a special pattern, even a special shape might work.
As for fashion, this type of ring pairs well with any style, be it sporty/casual, elegant, high fashion, minimalist style, you name it. The simplicity of the solitaire is what makes it so versatile and we think there’s a lot to be said for simplicity.
Read also: Engagement Ring VS Wedding Ring
Halo rings have a style of their own, and take up more space on the finger so they can’t be worn with just anything. Let’s discuss wedding bands first. A halo diamond ring is usually a low-profile setting so it will need a wedding band that curves around the ring. Or you might need to wear your rings on different fingers.
As for fashion style, there is no denying the glitz and glam of a halo ring. It doesn’t work as well with very casual or sporty styles, nor a minimalist style. So it will better suit very feminine, very elegant, possibly flashy dressing styles.
6. Halos are more difficult to clean and polish, solitaires are simpler to maintain
Due to the many, many nooks and crannies in a halo ring, cleaning is not easy. You can definitely try cleaning the ring at home but it’s very likely you won’t be able to do a thorough job, especially if you’ve worn the ring in the shower, while cooking, working out, etc.
Solitaire rings are simpler in this regard, since you only have the spaces between the prongs and the diamond to clean, the rest of the band is easy enough. So it’s easy enough to keep clean with regular soapy water and a very soft tooth brush.
7. Solitaires tend to be more expensive than halo rings
On average you will find that a solitaire diamond ring will be more expensive than a halo diamond ring. This is due to two reasons.
First, the single diamond in a solitaire is usually higher grade in color, cut, and clarity since it absolutely has to be on display. It will be a very good looking diamond. A halo ring can work well with lower grade diamonds if it has to, without detracting form the overall beauty of the ring.
Second, solitaires are usually 1 carat. You can sometimes have them larger, but they are rarely under 1 carat. Meanwhile a halo ring will usually have a smaller center stone, like a half carat, and the surrounding halo makes it look larger. So sometimes the total carat weight of a halo ring might not be 1 whole carat.
Of course, prices vary across jewelers, diamond carat weights, setting styles, hidden diamond halos, whether the band is pave or not, and so on.
So is a solitaire better than a halo ring ?
A solitaire is a classic, elegant ring that can easily please many brides at once. It is timeless and goes with anything, and for this the solitaire seems to be the better, safer option than the halo diamond ring. If you have no idea at all what to get your fiancee, then a solitaire is definitely a good start and a safer bet than something more risque if you don’t know her tastes.
Are halo rings tacky ?
Halo rings are not tacky but they can appear too flashy for some people, and this can make them hard to wear. A halo ring with a reasonable sized halo and center diamond can instead be tasteful, and work very well for someone who likes to be glamorous.
A good way to figure out if your halo ring might seem tacky or too much is to imagine yourself wearing it grocery shopping. Does it stand out, look like it doesn’t belong when paired with your usual outfits ?
If yes, then you can either not wear the ring every day, or get a different style. But if the ring looks like it belongs with your outfits and it doesn’t get in the way then no, it’s not tacky even if it’s flashier than the usual engagement ring.
Do halos make diamonds look bigger ?
Yes, halo rings are meant to make the center diamond look bigger. That was the original idea behind the halo design, but the added sparkle is why this design stuck around. After all, there’s no reason why something practical shouldn’t be beautiful as well.
So if you’ve got a smaller center diamond, like for example a 0.5 ct one, a halo of tiny diamonds will visually enlarge the diamond and make it sparkle even more.
Compromising between a halo and a solitaire
Not sure you want to commit yourself to a solitaire or halo ring ? Perhaps one is too much, while the other is lacking in certain areas. That’s okay, there are at least two options you can take a look at that offer a satisfying blend of solitaire’s elegance and halo glitz and glam.
Want some flash but want to keep the solitaire as the main focus ? Try a pave band.
Lots of sparkle, but the center diamond is what the eye will be drawn to. Of course, the pave could also be a channel setting, or maybe the ring band doesn’t have any extra stones, it just has a pattern on it. Or, a colored gem solitaire with a white diamond pave band. As long as you dress up the band a little and keep the solitaire as the main attraction it should still look impressive but not overly different from a solitaire.
Want more flash, but not quite a halo ? Consider a three stone ring with smaller side stones.
A center stone of 1 carat, flanked by 0.4 ct side stones ? Or a similar ratio, where the side stones aren’t large enough to steal the attention form the center stone. We feel like a three stone ring manages to still look elegant like a solitaire, even a bit classic, but offers much more sparkle. You also have the option of choosing a colored gemstone center with diamond side stones.
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.