Cathedral Settings: Impressive, Beautiful and Unique

By Michael Fried

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Cathedral settings are beautiful engagement rings with unique characteristics and classic lines. From a stunning solitaire cathedral ring to a cathedral channel set, a variety of designs are available. Choose a cathedral ring that matches the style of your fiancé-to-be.

But most importantly, we recommend purchasing your ring from a reputable vendor. Throughout our years of experience, we’ve found Blue Nile, James Allen and Brian Gavin Diamonds to offer the best value for the best price. 

What is a Cathedral Engagement Ring Setting?

A cathedral setting mimics the graceful arches of a cathedral building. The metal arches hold the diamond or another gemstone securely in place.

Cathedral setting cropped

Cathedral engagement rings can be set with prongs, a bezel setting or a tension setting. The defining characteristic of a cathedral ring is not how the diamond is held but rather how it’s mounted with arches above the rest of the shank.

Why Choose a Cathedral Engagement Ring?

Cathedral settings are elegant, classic engagement rings. The arches add extra height—making the center stone appear larger and more prominent. Due to their ornate design, cathedral settings are often a cost-saving style as there’s little need to buy additional diamonds or features.

modern tulip diamond ring set in 14k yellow gold

Many choose a cathedral setting because they’re gorgeous, timeless and not too decorative. This yellow gold tulip cathedral setting, for example, accentuates the center diamond without overpowering the ring’s design. If you’re looking for a unique yet simple style, the cathedral setting might be best for you.

Cathedral Settings for Every Shape

While cathedral settings can be designed for any Diamond Shape, they most commonly feature Round, Princess and Cushion Cut diamonds.

In addition to choosing your diamond’s shape, decide on additional features, like a pavé band or milgrain detailing.

Cathedral engagement ring examples:

Pros and Cons of a Cathedral Setting

Ensure that the engagement ring you choose fits her style and her lifestyle. Review the pros and cons of a cathedral setting before making a final decision.

Pros

  • Highlights and accentuates the center stone
  • Offers an elegant, eye-catching design
  • Adds height and character with minimal expense
  • Makes the center stone appear larger and more prominent
  • Secures the diamond or center gemstone

Cons 

  • May snag on furniture, clothing and other materials (if high-set)
  • Requires more time and effort to clean due to the number of crevices
  • Less streamlined than other styles like the bezel setting
  • If poorly designed, the curved features can distract from the center stone’s beauty

Where to Buy Cathedral Diamond Engagement Rings

Rather than purchasing your engagement ring from any vendor, we encourage you to be selective. There are certain brick and mortar stores and online vendors who will overcharge you while offering you inferior beauty and value. We don’t want that to happen to you or any of our readers.

After thoroughly vetting diamond vendors over many years, we’ve compiled a short list of diamond dealers who are reliable and trustworthy. They offer extensive collections of diamonds and settings at excellent prices. These vendors provide AGS or GIA certificates with all of their diamonds—allowing you to trust what they’re selling you. If you have questions about these vendors, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Blue Nile

Blue Nile maintains the largest online inventory of diamonds and settings. By going with Blue Nile, you’ll have a superb selection to choose from.  Their company focuses on remarkable diamonds and high-quality jewelry.

James Allen

James Allen offers appealing prices and beautiful jewelry. You can view each diamond closely with their high-tech photography and video before making a purchase. Their emphasis on an excellent customer experience is often noted by our readers.

Brian Gavin Diamonds

Brian Gavin Diamonds are known for offering some of the best cut diamonds in the world. Their “Brian Gavin Signature” Hearts & Arrows collection and Brian Gavin Black and Signature diamonds provide stunning brilliance, especially for diamonds weighing more than 2 Carat or 3 Carat.

Leibish & Co. (Gemstone Alternative)

Leibish provides stunning options for colored gemstones, like emeralds and sapphires. They also maintain a large collection of fancy color diamonds like canary yellow diamonds and purple diamonds.

Evaluating a Diamond Ring for Beauty and Value

Don’t just settle for any diamond. Find one that provides maximum beauty for your budget.

Our Diamond Pro resources can help you select the ideal ring for the one you love.

  • Diamond Shape: Buyers should choose a Diamond Shape based on personal preference and style. Review the shape options to decide which one matches your significant other’s taste and lifestyle.
  • Diamond Cut: Cut is the characteristic that most greatly impacts a diamond’s brilliance and beauty. We recommend only considering Excellent and Ideal cut diamonds.
  • Diamond Clarity: When it comes to Clarity, look for a diamond that’s eye clean. In other words, it doesn’t need to be clear of inclusions or blemishes when under magnification. We usually recommend a VS1 or VS2 Clarity grade, as the diamond will likely be eye clean at this grade, but cost far less than a higher graded diamond.
  • Diamond Color: Aim for a diamond that is white in relation to its setting color. To the naked eye, diamonds in the G to I Color range appear colorless and cost much less than diamonds in the D to F range.

Want to talk to an expert? Send us an email.

About the author
Mike learned the diamond business from the ground-up at Leo Schachter Diamonds - one of the world's top diamond manufacturers. He has been recognized as a diamond industry expert by Time, PeopleMoney, The Daily Mirror, NerdWallet, The Times Herald, Yahoo Finance Australia, The Art of Charm, The Washington Diplomat, The Next Web, and more. See more
Top Recommended Vendors
Blue Nile Blue Nile is the largest and most well known internet jewelry seller. They have the industry-leading largest available exclusive online inventory. Their high quality images are catching up to James Allens' and their prices are amazing. Exclusive to us for the 2018 Christmas shopping season - Pick Up a single-use Blue Nile Coupon Here for $100 off!
What we love about them:
  • No questions asked returns within 30 days of shipment. Blue Nile will send you a paid shipping label to return the ring.
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • Free Shipping
  • Free prong tightening, repolishing, rhodium plating and cleaning every 6 months
  • Provide insurance appraisal
  • One free resizing within the first year of purchase
  • High quality images of about half of their diamonds
  • 24/7 Customer Service
  • 100% credit towards future upgrades (must be at least double in value)
  • Best in class fulfillment

James Allen James Allen is the leader in online diamond sales. Their imaging technology is at the point where it's almost the same as inspecting a diamond with a jeweler's loupe. Their customer experience is best in class, and they have recently upgraded their non-engagement jewelry inventory as well. Take advantage of their ongoing 25% Off Holiday Sale.
What we love about them:
  • No questions asked returns within 30 days of shipment. James Allen will send you a paid shipping label to return the ring.
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • Free International Shipping
  • Free prong tightening, repolishing, rhodium plating and cleaning every 6 months
  • Provide insurance appraisals
  • One free resizing within 60 days of purchase
  • Free ring inscriptions
  • Best-in-class high quality imagery of all diamonds in stock
  • 24/7 Customer Service
  • Best-in-class packaging

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