What is a Cathedral Engagement Ring Setting?

Reminiscent of arches in the old Gothic cathedrals, this setting goes beyond elegant. And just like its architectural namesake, it is esthetically ornate. The cathedral setting captivates both the heart and the mind.

A cathedral engagement ring setting has a center stone that is flanked by arches. The stone is the center of attention. The arches not only add to the elegance of the ring but create a secure hold for your stone.

With all the settings available, the cathedral is truly special. It can be simple, modern, and elegant. But with a few changes it can turn vintage. We’ll discuss the versatility of this setting and why it could be the one to show off your gemstone.

A Cathedral Settings are Unique and Impressive

When you think of a cathedral setting gothic arches come to mind. But there is another way to look at it. Think of a ring with a triangle sitting on top of it. The gemstone is placed at the point of the triangle.

It is thought that a cathedral setting is a high-profile way to show off the diamond. In other words, people assume that the stone is high above the band. But this is not necessarily the case. Cathedral only refers to the band and not how the diamond is attached. The band makes for a glamorous setting. It also shows off the stone.

Different Ways to Show Off Your Gemstone in a Cathedral Setting

A cathedral setting has different variations, and they can be combined. The combination of the various techniques can create a unique ring that shows off your style.

First, there’s the method of attaching the gemstone. With a cathedral setting, the diamond can be set in three different ways. They include:

  • Prongs
  • Bezel
  • Tension

What differentiates the cathedral setting from other rings are the beautiful arches, not how the gemstone is held in place.

Different Degrees in How the Arches are Displayed

You can choose exceedingly small arches. Or if you want drama, go with large curves that frame a high setting. You also have the choice of concave or convex arches. Solid or split bands are available. And finally, depending on the size of the main gemstone, you can go with various widths.

Why Choose a Cathedral Setting?

Elegance and tradition are the chief reasons to choose a cathedral setting. But there are some other reasons to go for this beauty.

Do you have large or small gemstone? If the answer is small, then a cathedral setting is for you. This setting shows off the stone. And because it displays it so prominently, it makes any stone look bigger than what it is. The reason this happens is the height.  The cathedral’s arches highlight the stone. It raises it closer to your eye. This creates the illusion of the stone appearing larger than it actually is.

If you’re not the athletic sort or are more cerebral in your activities, a cathedral setting is for you. Most cathedral settings have some height and a tendency to be snagged or caught on things. They also are prominent, so they are susceptible to bumping. This is not conducive to an active lifestyle. Take an honest look at your day to day activities and decide if this is for you.

There are Different Types of Cathedral Engagement Ring Settings

There are several versions of the cathedral setting. All are unique and beautiful. Choose the one that matches your style. The different types of Cathedral settings include:

  • Weaved
  • Poise Basket
  • Oval Plain Shank Halo
  • Channel Set
  • Braided
  • Sleek
  • Double Row

Weaved Setting: Criss Cross Style

You like things simple and to the point. The weaved Cathedral engagement ring is for you. It has a criss-cross design holding the gemstone in place. This creates some detail, but not enough to detract from the stone. It’s a thick metal band so it’s sturdier than some of the others.

Poise Basket: Cradles Your Gemstone

This is petite and smooth. It works well on small thin fingers.  This setting highlights the gemstone…the stone steals the show. It’s called a poise basket because the main stone sits in a basket. This not only accentuates the stone but gives it extra security.

Oval Plain Shank: Just Looks Amazing

If you want carat weight without the distractions this setting is for you. It simply shows off the stone. And the bonus is that you don’t have the extra height. It’s more conducive to that active lifestyle.

Channel Setting: Gives you that Modern Touch

Classic is great, but when you add that modern touch; it’s perfect. It has a thick band that allows you to set pave stones. Pave stones act like a road of diamonds to your center stone. Half carat round pave stones can be placed in this wide setting. They work well with the smooth prongs that make up the cathedral style.

Braided: Not Just for Hair, It Makes a Beautiful Setting

Adding 0.30 carats of weight, this smooth prong style is gorgeous. The band is weaved styled and it creates a spectacular look. It’s a little on the traditional side, but if you’re an old-fashioned kind, this is for you.

Sleek: Keep it Simple

The sleek cathedral setting is just how it sounds. It’s simple, contemporary, and to the point. Very modern, it gives the center stone all the attention. If you have a diamond or other gemstone, worthy of recognition, this is the cathedral setting for you.

Double Row: Double the Beauty

If one row of pave diamonds going up your band is beautiful, then two are spectacular. And best of all, it adds 0.32 carats of weight.

The Best Diamond Shape for A Cathedral Style Setting

Choosing the right shape diamond for your cathedral setting is vital to the ring’s entire look. The three that look the best and show off well are:

  • Round
  • Princess
  • Cushion-Cut

All three are beautiful cuts and you can’t go wrong with them.

The Pros of the Beautiful Cathedral Setting

One pro is you’re not boxed in with one look. The design is capable of tweaks that change the feel. Go from vintage to elegance to petite. Make it yours. And if you like details in a ring it’s capable of adornment. With the main stone set higher, it emphasizes the gemstone beautifully. And finally, there are different gem cuts available that work well with this setting.

There are Some Cons to the Cathedral Setting

The advantage of having the stone set higher is also a disadvantage. It snags and bumps objects…not conducive to an active lifestyle. This is a high maintenance setting. Because it has niches and gaps in the design, it is awkward and difficult to keep clean.

How Does the Cathedral Stack Up to Other Settings?

Let’s look at the two most popular settings.

One setting that is drastically different than the cathedral setting is the bezel setting. The two have entirely different features. A cathedral setting makes the diamond look larger. A bezel covers part of the stone making it look smaller. Of the two, the cathedral is flashier and attracts more attention. But the bezel is better for the more active woman since it doesn’t protrude like the Cathedral. A big downside to the bezel in comparison is it’s more expensive than the cathedral setting.

The prong setting also prominently displays the gemstone. Like the cathedral, it sits high and accentuates the stone. But it doesn’t have the cathedral setting’s flair. It doesn’t grab attention. If you want people to notice your engagement ring, go with the cathedral setting.

What Should You Consider When You’re Ready to Buy

Start off with a budget and build upon that. Once you know what your future fiancé can afford, look at your lifestyle. Are you the athletic, go hiking sort, or are you a bookworm who likes to nest? This is key to choosing your forever ring.

Once you’ve analyzed your budget and needs, look for a reputable jeweler. If you want a ring custom made make sure the jeweler gives you references or at least has the right certifications. You want it done right. Avoid buying around the holidays, that’s when prices are at their highest. And once you’ve purchased your ring, don’t forget to insure it.

The Bottom Line

The cathedral setting is special. It embodies elegance and flair. If you have a gorgeous diamond, why not show it off. The cathedral setting will do just that while at the same time providing you with an elegant base for your diamond. It will be the perfect lifetime symbol of your fiancé’s love for you.

Carl A. Jones, GIA GG

Carl A. Jones is a GIA Graduate Gemologist with over 20 years of experience in the diamond industry. He is an independent jewelry appraiser. He specializes in determining the value of diamonds and advising consumers on how to buy quality diamond jewelry.

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