What is a Cathedral Setting?

cathedral set diamond engagement ring

A classic and timeless choice, a cathedral ring can be set with prongs, a bezel or a tension setting, but its defining characteristic is the two arches that rise above the shank or band of the ring to hold the center stone. The center stone can be set higher or lower based on personal preference and the design lends itself well to ornate details and additional settings like channel, pavé or halos. 

What is a Cathedral Ring Setting?

At first glance, a cathedral ring might look similar to a classic prong solitaire setting, where the gemstone sits above the ring band. What differentiates a cathedral, is that the sides of the band extend upward toward the stone. Prongs, a bezel, or a tension setting hold the gem in place and arches of metal frame it on either side. These metal extensions are often referred to as arches as they resemble structures in European, Gothic-style cathedrals, hence the same of the setting.

When viewing a cathedral from the side, you’ll notice a bigger basket beneath the stone. The band of a cathedral setting can bend in a concave or convex fashion as it raises the center stone above the rest of the setting and can be set quite high, or lower depending on style preference. The arches not only add an extra layer of support to the center stone, but can also be accented with delicate engraving, filigree work or pavé diamonds. 

This setting is often found in vintage and heirloom engagement rings, but is considered a classic setting and still widely used today including in more modern rings. It’s also a flexible design choice that can work with a variety of other settings. The added space between the center stone and shank can be used to create intricate shapes with metal, or even to add an additional hidden diamond beneath the center setting, visible only in profile.

Should You Get a Cathedral Set Engagement Ring?

This type of setting lends itself well to creativity if you’re looking to design a truly unique and custom ring. Because it can be set high, it can help alleviate the gap between your engagement ring and wedding band; keep in mind a higher setting will increase the chance of it snagging your sweater or or getting banged up. If you have a more active lifestyle, you may opt for a lower profile which doesn’t take away the opportunity for intricate design work. 

While round diamonds tend to be the most popular shape for cathedral settings, it lends itself to almost any gemstone shape, highlighting it in an eye-catching manner and allowing the metal of the ring to become an integral part of the overall design. The arches add extra height, which can also make the center stone appear larger and more prominent. A cathedral can be a cost-effective way of adding something extra to a solitaire ring without having to go all out on accent diamonds and intricate features.

In addition to having choices in how the stone is held from prongs to bezels, there are many different ways to style your cathedral setting. A petite cathedral features a dainty band, while a split shank features arches that split or twist up towards the center stone. Vintage cathedrals have ornate and intricate detailing in the metal while pavé or channel settings have diamonds added to the band to increase the rings sparkle. A halo setting can also be easily added to a cathedral to enhance and complement the center stone. 

Cathedral settings are elegant, classic engagement rings which will never go out of style. Let us help you design the perfect engagement ring! Give us a call at 303-385-8449 or click here to schedule an appointment