What is an Illusion Setting in a Ring? | The Diamond Reserve

What is an Illusion Setting in a Ring?

An illusion setting enhances the appearance and perceived size of the diamonds or gemstones in it by surrounding the girdle of the gem with a ring of angled metal. Popular particularly during the Art Deco period, this vintage setting style offers an unusual, rather artistic and certainly unique engagement ring design. 

What is an Illusion Setting?

A ring with an illusion setting usually features a small diamond set in a precious metal surrounding that has been patterned to mimic the cut facets of a diamond. The sparkle from the actual stone is reflected off of the angles of the metal that surrounds it, making it difficult to tell where the diamond ends and metal begins. This style, especially from a distance, creates the illusion of a much larger diamond. 

The cleverly patterned metal surrounding the stone is usually bright cut, or fashioned into sharp angles, imitating the cuts of an actual stone. An illusion setting effectively enhances whatever diamond is set into it, making it appear larger and increasing its sparkle. The style was invented by jeweler Oscar Massin in the 1850’s who sought to maximize the impact of smaller diamonds by manipulating the stone’s setting and is also called a deceptive or a mirage setting. 

Massin’s ‘illusory setting’ became popular as a budget-friendly alternative to buying a large diamond. Although the patterned metal style is the most popular type of illusion setting, there’s another variation called cluster illusion which features several small diamonds placed close to one another to mimic the look of a single large stone. Both illusion settings manipulate the perception of the diamond to make it appear bigger and more brilliant. 

Why Choose an Illusion Engagement Ring Setting?

Illusion settings aim to mimic a larger single diamond (a solitaire) design at a fraction of the cost, so one of the main benefits of choosing an illusion setting is that it allows you to opt for a smaller diamond therefore saving money spent on your ring. Ring styles set with one small diamond also provide protection to the diamond within the surrounding metal.

Many vintage engagement rings feature an illusion setting which had a surge in popularity during the Art Deco period which emphasized clean lines and geometric shapes. Illusions were also popular during the glamorous retro era, and could be thought of as a precursor to the modern metal halo. Because of its vintage history, the setting also works beautifully with intricate and ornate filigree and milgrain metalwork. 

The cluster style illusion setting which surrounds a larger center stone with several smaller ones to provide the overall appearance of a larger stone can be formed into shapes or designs and even utilize different colored gemstones to enhance the look of the ring. This setting is often more unique and can be more modern, but both types of illusion settings offer timeless beauty.

Whether you’re working with an heirloom or are starting from scratch with a truly custom design, we can help you create the perfect ring. Give us a call at 303-385-8449 or click here to schedule an appointment.