Looking to know which is better between Cluster Ring vs Solitaire Ring?
You’re at the right place!
This is our comparison of the Cluster Ring vs Solitaire Ring
In this article, I have reviewed both diamond rings in-depth and will fully explain to you which one is better.
Let’s get started with an in-depth look at what sets these diamond rings apart.
Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
What’s The Difference Between Cluster Ring vs Solitaire Ring?
Cluster Diamond Ring
Cluster rings are designed to mimic the appearance of a single large stone placed on top of the ring. However, upon closer inspection, you’ll find that instead of one diamond, there are typically five to ten smaller diamonds grouped together to form the cluster.
Within the cluster ring style, there is a variety of designs available. Some designs feature a larger center stone surrounded by several smaller accents of equal size. You can see an example of this type of cluster ring in the image provided, showcasing a stunning piece from the vendor where you purchased your wife’s engagement ring. On their website, you can zoom in to separate the center diamond from the surrounding ones. It’s also common for cluster settings to feature pavé diamonds lining the shank.
Other cluster settings may include diamonds that are all the same size, creating a cohesive look. For example, a cluster setting may incorporate multiple round-cut diamonds in the center, forming a cushion shape.
It’s important to note that the presence or absence of additional diamonds on the shank does not determine whether a ring is a cluster setting. Some cluster settings may have channel-set diamonds within a crevice, while others may keep the band free of these accents.
The primary intent of a cluster setting is to create the illusion of a single large diamond when viewed from a distance, as the smaller diamonds blend together to give that appearance.
A solitaire setting is characterized by a single diamond as the focal point, with no additional side stones or pavé on the ring. While it is commonly associated with diamond rings, any piece of jewelry like necklaces or earrings can also feature a solitaire design.
One of the primary reasons buyers choose solitaire settings is that it directs all attention to the center diamond. Therefore, it is important to select a high-quality diamond that appears eye-clean and colorless. Any shades of yellow or noticeable inclusions are more visible in a solitaire setting compared to settings with a halo or pavé.
In a solitaire setting, the diamond is typically held by four prongs and stands alone on top of the ring. The design is simplistic and sleek, and it is available in various metal options such as yellow, white, or rose gold, as well as platinum. The petite nature of the ring also helps the diamond appear larger compared to thicker ring bands.
For my wife’s engagement ring, I chose this exact solitaire setting due to budget constraints and a lower overall carat weight. I opted for a 2mm knife edge band to ensure it didn’t overpower the round-cut diamond.
Since there are no other diamonds on the band, there are fewer design variations for solitaire rings. However, one choice to consider is whether to have a high or low setting. A high setting elevates the diamond above the ring to maximize its brilliance, which works well for diamonds with higher carat weights that you want to showcase prominently. In contrast, a low setting offers better security for the diamond but may not allow light to hit the gem from as many angles.
What are the Differences Between Cluster and Solitaire Rings?
1. Solitaires Remain Popular for Engagement Rings
Solitaire settings are widely regarded as the most popular choice for engagement rings. These settings are designed to highlight the center diamond as the focal point, maximizing its visual impact.
Take a look at the solitaire engagement ring featured below, which showcases a round-cut diamond. The simplicity of the setting directs all attention to the center diamond.
Solitaire Engagement Ring
Buyers often opt for a high setting, showcasing a large, eye-clean diamond that sparkles beautifully when moved. Additionally, the design allows for a wedding ring to sit seamlessly next to it.
By selecting a ring without additional diamonds on the band, you can allocate your budget towards investing in a higher-quality center diamond instead of paying a premium for accent stones.
To illustrate the cost difference, the solitaire setting in 14K white gold is priced at $240.
Solitaire Diamond Ring
This setting is similar to the previous one, but it features channel-set diamonds along the band. The price for this setting is $1,550.
The additional 0.23 carats of diamonds in the channel setting account for a significant price difference of $1,310. This amount could be allocated towards obtaining a higher clarity, cut, or color grade for the center diamond in a solitaire setting.
Cluster settings, on the other hand, are less commonly chosen for engagement rings. While they create the illusion of a single diamond, they often appear as a collection of smaller gems when viewed up close.
If you decide to opt for a cluster setting for your engagement ring, it is recommended to choose one with a single larger diamond surrounded by smaller ones. This design helps avoid the reputation of cluster rings being perceived as tacky.
In such a setting, the center diamond will still draw attention, while the surrounding diamonds play a supportive role.
2. Cluster Rings Offer Cost-Effective Options for Jewelry
Cluster rings tend to be less expensive than solitaire rings because the total carat weight (CTTW) is distributed among multiple diamonds rather than concentrated in a single center diamond.
It’s important to understand that the price of a diamond is not directly proportional to its carat weight. Higher carat weights can significantly increase the price of a diamond. For example, comparing more than 200 diamonds with grades of F color, VVS2 clarity, and an ideal cut, I found that one-carat diamonds had an average price of $11,840, while two-carat diamonds with the same grades had an average price of $40,044, almost four times the price for twice the weight.
This principle of disproportionate price increase with higher carat weights is relevant when considering the prices of cluster versus solitaire rings. In cluster rings, the CTTW is spread across multiple diamonds, which results in a lower cost compared to solitaire rings where the entire carat weight is concentrated in one diamond.
To illustrate this, let’s consider an example from Jared. They offer a cluster setting ring that includes small round-cut diamonds clustered in the center, surrounded by a halo and pave. The total carat weight is 0.50, and it is priced at $1,499.99.
On the other hand, if you were to purchase loose diamonds from Jared with a weight of 0.50 carats, along with the same clarity and color grades as the cluster ring, the average price would be around $1,135. This is only $365 less than the entire cluster ring. If you were to place one of these loose diamonds on a solitaire setting, the price would likely exceed $2,000.
3. Solitaire Settings: Easy Maintenance and Cleaning
Solitaire settings are known to be easier to clean and maintain compared to cluster rings. The simplicity of a solitaire setting, with just a single diamond, means there are fewer crevices for dirt and debris to accumulate.
To clean a solitaire ring, you can fill a bowl with warm water and dishwashing soap. Soak the ring for approximately 20 minutes and gently brush it using a soft toothbrush. Afterward, allow the ring to air dry or gently pat it dry with a soft cloth. This cleaning method helps remove any trapped debris and restore its shine.
On the other hand, cluster rings may require more attention and care during the cleaning process. The multiple diamonds and intricate design of a cluster setting create more areas where debris can accumulate. While you can try cleaning a cluster ring using the same method as a solitaire ring, it may not be as effective due to the additional crevices.
It is important to be cautious when cleaning a cluster ring to avoid dislodging any of the smaller diamonds. They can be challenging to reposition since there is only a small gap where each diamond fits.
While the risk of a diamond falling out of a setting is generally minimal with proper care, losing stones from a cluster ring can be more inconvenient. With a solitaire setting, a jeweler can often easily place the diamond back securely into the prongs if it becomes loose or dislodged.
4. Cluster Settings: Creating Unique and Alternative Shapes
Cluster settings offer a variety of design options to choose from. In addition to deciding on the size of the stones, you can also consider different shapes for the overall outline of the cluster.
For instance, there are cluster rings with a floral halo design, like the one shown below.
Diamond Ring with Floral Cluster
This ring features a large diamond in the center, surrounded by clustered marquise-cut diamonds. It is also available with a cushion, princess, or emerald-cut diamond in the center, providing additional options to suit your preference.
Clustered diamonds can also be arranged in unique shapes that mimic other diamond cuts. In the example below, round-cut diamonds are clustered to form an oval shape.
Cluster Setting with Round Cuts
From a distance, it gives the illusion of a single stone in the center with a halo around it, but upon closer inspection, you can see that the center is actually composed of nine diamonds pressed against each other.
If you’re interested in an alternative to the solitaire setting, you can explore the option of a bypass design, like the one shown below.
Solitaire Bypass Setting
The bypass design still holds the diamond with four prongs but wraps around the gem in a distinctive way.
Whether you’re considering a cluster or solitaire setting, it’s worth exploring the wide range of styles available instead of immediately opting for the traditional choices. This allows you to find a setting that truly reflects your personal taste and style.
5. Cluster Settings: Accentuating Diamonds with Additional Sparkle
Cluster settings offer the option to incorporate accents like pavé and channel-set diamonds along the shank of the ring. This means that in addition to the group of diamonds on top, there are additional diamonds placed along the band, enhancing the overall brilliance of the ring.
Take a look at this example of a cluster setting in 18k white gold with a total carat weight (CTTW) of 0.85.
Cluster Setting with Pave
This setting features a total of 23 round-cut diamonds, creating a unique cluster design while incorporating another popular style with its pavé accents.
Solitaire settings, on the other hand, do not include additional accents. If there are other diamonds on the ring apart from the center one, it no longer falls into the solitaire category.
For instance, if a circle of diamonds is placed around the main diamond, it becomes a halo setting. If two smaller diamonds flank each side, it is referred to as a three-stone setting.
This highlights the limited design options available when choosing a solitaire setting, as the focus is solely on the type of metal, the single center diamond, and the way it is held, such as with prongs, a bezel, or a tension setting.
Choosing Between a Cluster and Solitaire Rings: Factors to Consider
When deciding between a cluster and solitaire ring, it’s important to understand the differences in their appearance and overall performance. Both styles can create stunning pieces of jewelry, and here are some tips to help you make a decision:
Consider a cluster setting if:
- You want a higher total carat weight (CTTW) for a lower price, as the carat weight is spread across multiple small diamonds.
- You are interested in a ring that forms a unique shape, as cluster settings can create various designs.
- The appearance of a larger stone created by clustering smaller diamonds is appealing to you.
Opt for a solitaire setting if:
- You are searching for a traditional engagement ring, as solitaires are a classic choice.
- You are willing to pay a higher price for a single diamond, rather than spreading its carat weight across multiple smaller diamonds.
- You want a ring that is easier to clean and doesn’t trap as much debris, as solitaire settings have a simpler design with fewer crevices.
By considering these factors and pairing diamonds with both solitaire and cluster settings, you can create the perfect piece of jewelry that aligns with your preferences and style.