Engagement Rings

What Is a Halo Engagement Ring (and Should I Buy One)?

Why it’s good: By framing the center stone with other gems, you get even more sparkle, making the diamond appear larger than it really is.

Tip 1: Any variation of a halo ring will make center stones look impressive but for maximum impact, look for a double-halo or a halo of larger-sized stones.

Tip 2: Halos of white diamonds set in white gold or platinum will yield the most sparkle — and the most convincing optical illusion.

Halo rings live up to their angelic name. If you’re looking for an engagement ring that will wow within a limited budget, a halo setting can be a godsend. It usually employs a bit of visual trickery to enhance a center stone’s appearance, and to do it without looking like an attempt to overcompensate. As the name suggests, the center stone is framed with a halo — a circle or square depending on shape — of smaller stones. It’s an elegant, feminine design that creates an eye-catching accentuation of the main rock and, from afar, an illusion that the center stone is up to a carat larger than it actually is. Halo rings are the very essence of more bang for your buck.

When Was the Halo Ring Setting Introduced?

The style can be traced back to the 18th century in Europe, a time when lesser stone-cutting technology meant that most gems were significantly smaller and less brilliant than what’s on the market today. To help bolster the stones’ beauty, jewelers began surrounding a ring’s center stone with diamonds or pearls that were just slightly smaller than the main feature. This style, where all the stones are roughly the same size, is still in existence today; it’s a halo variation known as a cluster ring. (Photo courtesy of James Allen)

Photo courtesy of James Allen.

In the Victorian era, this evolved into floral rings: a larger center stone, often a colored gem like a ruby or sapphire, framed with diamond petals. And in the Art Deco era, another period when halo rings were especially popular, the design took on the sleek, architectural lines of the day: geometric halos of baguette-cut stones, usually in a colored stone like black onyx or emerald, that made the central diamond really pop. (Photo courtesy of Brilliant Earth)

Photo of The Costanza Ring courtesy of Brilliant Earth

It’s no wonder that halo rings have endured for centuries; their advantages are many. By simply adding to the overall surface area of the ring, halos fill the finger in a way that a diamond on its own can’t, unless you’re talking over 4 carats (in which case, good for you!) It’s like the difference between wearing a tie that’s too short versus one that’s the proper length — it’s simply better proportioned and, therefore, better looking. And if you are surrounding a diamond with more diamonds, it means more facets, which means more light reflection, which means more sparkle. Beyond upping the ring’s overall brilliance, all those diamonds seemingly bleed together — particularly if set in a white metal like platinum or white gold — which fools the eye into thinking it’s all one, gob-stopping rock.

Any center stone, diamond or otherwise, in any shape or cut can be set into a halo ring. The most classic choices are round-brilliant or oval-shaped, such as Princess Diana’s engagement ring that Prince William proposed to Kate Middleton with. Featuring an oval-shaped sapphire surrounded by diamonds, it is arguably the most famous engagement ring in the world. Other celebrities with notable halo rings include Jessica Biel and Natalie Portman. Portman’s ring is marked by a double halo — with two rings of diamonds surrounding the center stone, it doubles all the halo’s sparkle and size enhancing benefits.

How Much Does a Halo Ring Cost?

While halo rings may not be the absolute least expensive option for an engagement ring (a solitaire with just one diamond will generally have the smallest price tag), they can be one of the most economical choices. Rather than spending up to several thousand more dollars on a larger center stone, you can achieve the same visual impact for less money via a smaller stone with a halo. The downside: With more diamonds — particularly small ones — there’s a greater risk of one falling out, but that’s just a small probability. If security is a concern, opt for a platinum setting (platinum is the strongest metal in jewelry). Concerns aside, the halo ring’s dazzling good looks make it a perennially popular choice for brides of all stripes. Here are 10 of our favorites.


A prime example of the halo’s illusory gifts, a round-brilliant center stone is surrounded with smaller diamonds of graduated sizes in platinum to create what looks like a larger, oval-shaped stone. $5,790 (Photo courtesy of TACORI)

Photo courtesy of TACORI


A double-halo can seemingly double the size of the main diamond. Here, the round brilliant is less than one carat but, on the finger, it has the presence of a 3-carat stone. $10,600 (Photo courtesy of De Beers)

Photo courtesy of DE BEERS


Halo settings provide an eye-catching frame for the center stone, as evidenced by this ring with a 1.30-carat Asscher-cut surrounded by sizeable round-brilliants punctuated with two sleek baguettes. $29,800 (Photo courtesy of Maris Canale)

Photo courtesy of Maris Canale


This is a halo ring distilled to its purest, most classical form: a dazzling cushion-cut diamond simply framed with round-brilliants. Understated yet impactful, it offers a lot of style for not a lot of money. From $2,995 (Photo courtesy of Forevermark)

Photo courtesy of Forevermark


A nod to the halo’s Art Deco glory days, this ring features a circle of invisibly set sapphires, creating a clean blue line that makes the round-brilliant diamond really pop. Price upon request (Photo courtesy of Fred Leighton)

Photo courtesy of Fred Leighton


A halo of diamonds in a near identical size to the center stone yields a floral, feminine style known as a cluster ring. It has an old-world beauty, underscored by the diamonds’ rose-cut and delicate milgrain details along the band. $4,680 (Photo courtesy of Kataoka)

Photo courtesy of Kataoka


This ring renders the classic halo setting with a subtle twist. The main, 2.5 carat Asscher-cut diamond is set on its side, framed with a combination of baguettes and round-brilliants. The variety of cuts makes for a ring with exceptional dimension and sparkle. $11,400 (Photo courtesy of Ashley Zhang)

Photo courtesy of Ashley Zhang


If your bride-to-be has a flair for individuality, consider a ring that incorporates color rather than just traditional white diamonds. This ring offers the best of both worlds in every sense: two halos of both yellow and white sparklers. $5,172 (Photo courtesy of CIRARI)

Photo courtesy of CIRARI


The combination of varying sized diamonds and blackened gold lend this halo a vintage charm. With a pear-shaped rainbow moonstone at its center, it all adds up to a singular engagement ring. $3,700 (Photo courtesy of Anna Sheffield)

Photo courtesy of Anna Sheffield


While halos typically follow the shape of the center stone, this ring makes the halo a striking, architectural design feature. It’s at once timeless and irreverent. From $13,900 (Photo courtesy of Harry Winston)

Photo courtesy of Harry Winston

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