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Trendy ring settings can be fun and unexpected, but they don’t always have the longest shelf life. There’s something to be said for a traditional engagement ring that will stand the test of time. For the bride-to-be searching for exactly that, a cathedral setting is an excellent option. Classic and elegant, this setting elevates your stone. It's a structural beauty.
What Is the Cathedral Setting?
The cathedral setting features a center stone flanked by arches of metal that come up from the shank. This raised structure secures the center stone in place, giving it a distinct profile while creating what looks almost like a basket on the underside of the ring.
“The setting is reminiscent of the arches in doorways and ceilings of Gothic-style cathedrals, hence the name ‘cathedral,'" says jeweler Rohan Agrawal. Much like Gothic-style cathedrals, this setting combines function with beauty.
Meet the Expert
Learn about the pros and cons of the cathedral setting and what to look for when shopping for cathedral engagement rings.
Pros and Cons of a Cathedral Setting
Cathedral settings are beautiful and easy to work with, and they are ideal if you want to accentuate your center stone. “You get the added support for the center stone with a distinguished raised profile to the ring,” says Agrawal. “A center stone that sits higher on the finger generally appears more prominent than in a lower setting. All of this comes without investing much more in the design, as the price difference between cathedral settings and simpler styles is marginal.”
This setting is also versatile and customizable, even if it is a more traditional option overall. “It offers a large canvas with a variety of options for those who prioritize metalwork in their ring,” says Agrawal. “The space between the arches and shank can be filled for a bolder appearance, left empty for a minimalist aesthetic, or decorated with filigree patterns for a vintage look.” There are so many different paths you can take when searching for a cathedral setting ring that best fits your personality.
Lastly, the setting works perfectly when stacking your engagement ring with your wedding band. It also allows room on the top if you choose later on to add an anniversary band to your stack. “One of the biggest pros of a cathedral setting is the ability to raise the center stone enough to make sure that the wedding band—when you eventually get one—can nest easily underneath the stone and create a stacked look on the bands,” says jeweler Dan Moran.
The distinctive raised look of the cathedral setting also has its fair share of negatives. For one thing, because it’s raised so high on your finger, it has a greater chance of getting banged up or snagging on something. “While still suitable for everyday wear, these types of settings are better for those who don’t work with their hands often,” says Agrawal.
As beautiful as the design is, it can also get dirty faster. “The small open crevices in a cathedral setting are prone to trapping dirt and debris, such as makeup and hand lotion,” says Moran. So you may be cleaning your ring frequently, depending on your lifestyle.
What to Look for in a Cathedral Setting Ring
When shopping for the right cathedral setting, you want to keep the center stone shape in mind. While this is a versatile setting, Agrawal points out that it’s still possible for the cathedral features to dominate the ring if they are wider than the center stone.
- What stones pair best with a cathedral setting? “Elongated shapes, such as oval, octagon, and marquise, look especially nice in a split shank while symmetrical shapes, such as round, square, and cushion, benefit in the conventional style,” Agrawal says.
- Are cathedral settings popular? This setting is often found in vintage and heirloom engagement rings, but modern rings may also feature a cathedral setting. The setting is gaining more popularity now due to its ability to accentuate the center stone. Additionally, more brides are gravitating toward this style since it offers more room for customization.
- Where should I shop for this type of ring? Cathedral setting rings are quite popular and can be found at a variety of different jewelers, online and in person. Moran suggests purchasing your ring through a jeweler who offers free annual cleanings so that you can ensure the ring stays clean. This is even more important with a cathedral setting since it tends to trap dirt.
How to Care for a Cathedral Setting Ring
Every engagement ring needs regular cleaning, no matter the setting. For a cathedral setting, it's essential to clean the stone and the raised flanks that hold the raised stone. Don't forget about the underneath shank! This is where dirt tends to live.
Also, set a reminder to check the prongs and the setting every six to 12 months. Sometimes the ring will withstand damage that isn't noticeable at first glance, so inspecting it will help catch any changes before they become permanent.
Remember to store your engagement ring in a safe and protected environment, such as a fabric-lined jewelry case. This will protect the ring from any outside dirt or damage while you aren't wearing it.
Ahead, scroll through cathedral setting engagement rings we love.
ZAC by Zac Posen Cathedral Solitaire Plus Diamond Engagement Ring
Simplicity is key with this ring's design. There is no detailing on the band. Instead, the regal cathedral setting is the main focus of the ring. The pavé-set diamonds lead up to the center solitaire stone that sits high at the top of the cathedral casing.