While there’s a lot more to buying a good diamond than getting the largest one your money can buy, size is probably always going to be a priority for the majority of shoppers.
More so than good clarity or color – or even the more nuanced aspects of a high-quality cut – size is a keen indicator of wealth and prestige. Plenty of movies and marketing campaigns over the decades have emphasized the fact that, when it comes to a diamond, shoppers better ‘go big or go home’.
The trouble is that big diamonds cost big money – more than most of us can fathom spending. And, while size is not synonymous with the phrase ‘beautiful diamond’, most of us are eager to make the biggest statement possible – and to make the most of our diamond’s size.
Does a higher setting make a diamond look bigger? Absolutely – and a Cathedral setting is one of the easiest tricks when it comes to giving your diamond the elevation it needs to stand out, and tower over the wearer’s finger.
The Cathedral setting is characterized by a tall arc – a little like the gothic windows and doors of an old Cathedral – that raises the center setting high above the shank and finger. You can keep it simple to retain the solitaire design of your ring, or combine it with pavé, a halo setting, or accent stones for something more ornate.
Check out our guide to the Cathedral setting.
We’re going to start off by focusing on the catch: there’s a fine line between a halo that seems to add weight to your diamond, and a halo that seems to take it away.
Halos are highly popular features in engagement rings. A square or circle of pavé diamonds placed around the girdle of your diamond adds significantly more sparkle and bulk to the center setting and, as a result, gives the illusion of a much larger diamond. It’s a great feature for drawing the eye inward.
To create the impression of a larger diamond, you’ll want to incorporate pretty small melee diamonds into your halo and consider sticking to a single row. If they’re too large, or the diamond is encircled within too many halos, it’ll start to look swamped by the setting, rather than accentuated.
There’s more than one way to make a diamond appear as though its floating, and every option ensures that you get to keep as much of your diamond exposed to the light as possible. As a result, not only will it sparkle more, but onlookers will be able to see more of it, meaning you get the most out of every millimeter of surface area.
Again, there are a lot of different ways for a jeweler to achieve this. We’ve written a more comprehensive guide to floating diamond engagement rings here, if you’re interested to learn more.
Prongs are very small, and a well-made setting won’t encroach too much on the edges of your diamond but, even so, the more prongs you have curling over the edge of your diamond, the more constrained it appears.
Settings that utilize four prongs are among the most common, but some setting styles do utilize six – or even eight – prongs to keep the diamond in place. We’ve weight up both sides of the four prongs vs. six prongs argument before at WillYou.Net, but the four prong setting’s ability to accentuate the size of a diamond is a definitive mark in its favor.
If you like the idea of accenting your ring with smaller diamonds, but aren’t quite sold on the halo, then utilizing a couple accent stones on either side of the diamond is a great way to emphasize the size of that center stone.
Marquise diamonds make great accents. When placed horizontally on the shank, they naturally draw the eye in toward the ring’s center (where your diamond is), while also adding sparkle and creating a noticeable contrast between ‘large’ and ‘small’.
Baguette diamonds are also effective at drawing the eye where you want it to go – particularly if they are tapered. With the wider end placed next to the center diamond, the illusion of a loftier, larger center to your ring.
It can do, since the bezel overlaps the diamond’s edge, and conceals some of it from view.
Larger diamonds probably won’t suffer from a bezel setting but, if your diamond is already on the small side, it’s likely to suffer if your setting choice encroaches on it to that extent.
If you like the bezel but need to get as much size out of your diamond as possible, consider a half bezel setting – which, as the name suggests, only covers a portion of the diamond’s edge. You can achieve a similarly modern, minimalistic look without sacrificing an entire millimeter (or so) all the way around.
Again, it depends. If the shank is split wide enough to run on either side of the diamond, then this can make it look smaller; if, on the other hand, the two parts of the shank run underneath the diamond, then the size of the diamond can be accentuated.
It’s a simple matter of perspective. If you decide to go the custom route, your jeweler will draw up the design before they start making it, and you can talk to them about combining a split shank with a diamond that may be on the smaller side.
Realizing your budget can’t stretch to the size of diamond you’d envisioned for your ring doesn’t need to be a major setback. Smaller diamonds can look just as beautiful and impressive as larger diamonds, particularly when the ring setting has been carefully designed to complement its unique features.