Halo ring settings are among the most popular features to incorporate into your engagement ring design. Sure, there are times when they are in style more than other times but, even when they’re not at the height of bridal fashion, most jewelers would agree that they remain one of the most popular choices for shoppers.
Halos are, as the name suggests, typically round – a circle of small, bright diamonds designed to add an extra glitter of brilliance and fire, and to accentuate the center stone without eclipsing it. In fact, halos can often give the impression of the diamond at your ring’s center being bigger, brighter, and even more impressive.
But, on the flipside, the ongoing popularity of the halo means that it’s a common sight – something relatively ‘safe’ and expected, particularly these days. For that reason, more shoppers are looking for ways to hit refresh on the halo.
The square halo is a little edgier – a little less expected – and a great way to uncover a whole new side to this popular setting.
True, the name sounds like something of a contradiction, but that is part of this design element’s charm. It’s unexpected, new, and different enough that people will do a double-take when it passes through their gazes.
As you have probably guessed by now, the square halo is, literally, a square of melee diamonds (the sort of tiny diamonds used in pavé settings and round halos) used to frame a ring’s main diamond. The square halo might be placed level with this diamond, or it might sit a couple millimeters below.
Halo rings first rose to popularity in the early 1920s, around a century ago. The design of the halo offered a sleek, geometric alternative to the flower settings that had been popular during the Victoria era, and likely remained prominent well into the first half of the twentieth century for that reason.
Halos can comprise a single row of diamonds, or multiple rows, which will be referred to as double or even triple halos. Keep in mind that with every halo added to a design, the risk of the diamond being overwhelmed increases. Even a particularly large diamond will have a limit as to how many halos it can accommodate before it starts to become a shrinking violet under all those melee diamonds.
The exact same thing holds true for square halos, and the number of rows you choose to incorporate into the design will have a major impact on how much your primary diamond stands out.
The square halo shares a lot of the same benefits as the round halo, but also offers a few additional selling points of its own.
Even the simplest ring designs have a couple of downsides to them. You don’t need to be discouraged by the disadvantages, but you will want to understand them before you commit.
While you may be used to seeing halos, they have a totally unique impact on each diamond shape they are paired with. Here are some ideas to spark your imagination…
The square halo is an obvious choice for the Princess cut, the Cushion Cut, and the Asscher – and, in all likelihood, those three shapes account for the majority of square halos being created today – but it’s not limited to them, either.
Halos are almost invariably made from Round Brilliant diamonds – a shape which is pretty much the polar opposite of the Asscher. While the Asscher features a bold, geometric, Art Deco-style step cut (and a reserved, elegant shine) the Round Brilliant features a complex pattern of facets, all designed to maximize the amount of sparkle the shape yields.
Combining the two, you get the best of both worlds – and, more importantly, a beautiful, fresh design that shows off every one of a diamond’s innate features. It’s not all that common to see an Asscher halo engagement ring, primarily because the Asscher (or square Emerald) is a lot less popular than many other diamond shapes.
But, in spite of its rarity, a square halo Asscher engagement ring is a strong choice – particularly if your partner’s tastes tend to align with the old-world glamour of the 1920s.
Cushion cut diamonds are valued for their fire, which creates a gorgeous, opulent effect on the finger. Add a halo into the mix, and you’ve got a truly magnificent combination of sparkle on your hands (literally).
Since Cushion cut diamonds are widely known for their tendency to show color more than other shapes, a halo comprising carefully chosen diamonds of a slightly inferior color grade (again, still from the Near Colorless group) can be very useful for elevating the center stone’s appearance and making any slight trace of color far less noticeable.
You might choose to echo the soft corners of the cushion within your halo, or pair the shape with a more angular square halo – reminiscent of the Princess cut (more on that below). There’s a lot of versatility with the Cushion, particularly if you’re open to straying from the 1:1 square ratio and embracing an elongated Cushion shape instead.
After the Round Brilliant, the Princess cut represents one of the most popular diamond shapes out there for engagement rings. Its facet pattern and bold, modern shape make it a strong choice among shoppers looking for something that is equal parts contemporary and romantic – something bright and brilliant but contained within a chic silhouette.
In a more practical sense, the protection offered by the halo is very handy for Princess cut diamonds. Their four corners are pretty vulnerable to chipping – much more so than, say, the rounded corners of the Cushion cut – and the halo can act as a useful buffer between the diamond’s corners, and the everyday knocks, bumps and scrapes any diamond ring will go through.
Pairing a Princess cut with a halo creates a highly feminine, highly luxurious design that will accentuate the distinctively sharp corners of the shape, while also offering them protection, and creating that appealing contrast between the square center diamond, and the Round Brilliant melee diamonds.
It may sound a little counterintuitive, but pairing a Round Brilliant with a square halo, rather than one that closely hugs the girdle of the diamond, is a simple but powerful change from the norm.
For starters, it means that you can achieve the modern shape of the Princess or Cushion cuts (depending on whether the sides of your halo are straight, or gently curved), without losing any of the brilliance and fire of the Round Brilliant. Often, shoppers feel compelled to stick with the Round Brilliant – even if they like the silhouette of a different shape – because of the superior sparkle it offers, so the halo represents the perfect option for marrying the two shapes together.
As always, you’ll want to aim to maintain a good size difference between the Round Brilliant diamond and the melee diamonds that comprise the square halo. If not, you could inadvertently wander into ‘cluster ring’ territory, which will have the opposite effect, and make your center stone appear smaller than it really is.
Keep in mind that combining the Round Brilliant with a square setting will inevitably lead to some lost definition of the original shape. If you’re picking a square halo, then chances are that you’re not concerned about retaining the round silhouette of the center stone, but it feels important to point it out regardless.
Combining round diamond with square halo is definitely a break from tradition, and you might struggle to find a broad selection to gather inspiration from, but a good jeweler will be up to the task of drawing up a unique design – one that lives up to the beauty of each element equally.
Halos are a true classic of engagement ring design. Those extra flashes of fire and brilliance continuously traveling the halo’s length are a convincing argument in favor of this feature before we even say a word about their other benefits, and their versatility means that they suit many different styles, and diamond shapes.
It’s great to know that the square and rectangular diamond shapes can be set within halos, just like the Round Brilliant and Oval, but it’s also great to know that you don’t have to be confined to ‘putting round pegs in round holes’. Combining the square halo with a non-square diamond shape is a great way to go off-piste, and to creating a unique ring that still looks beautiful and feels protected against the wear and tear of everyday life.