Cathedral-Cut Engagement Rings: The Complete Guide

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ring

Courtesy of Tacori / Design by Bailey Mariner

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, and for the bride-to-be searching for exactly that, a cathedral setting is an excellent option. Classic and elegant, this setting elevates your stone in an aesthetic way and is a structural beauty.

What Is the Cathedral Setting?

The cathedral setting is an engagement ring setting that features a center stone flanked by arches of metal that come up from the shank. This raised profile 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,’” jeweler Rohan Agrawal points out. “The cathedral setting is a marriage of function and form.”

Meet the Expert

  • Rohan Agrawal is the co-founder and president of Azeera Inc, a family-owned online fine jewelry store.
  • Dan Moran is a private jeweler and custom engagement ring designer of Concierge Diamonds.

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 allows for your ring to stand out, even if it is a more traditional option overall. “They offer 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.”

Lastly, they play nice with wedding bands. “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 around 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? Pick a stone that complements the setting best. “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.
  • How can I tell if the ring is high quality? He also notes that it’s not uncommon to notice unfinished surfaces around the interior of the ring with a cathedral setting. This is because the setting has surfaces in negative spaces that can’t be fully polished by a jeweler. “If the ring is made by hand through forging, cutting, and welding metal, the jeweler is able to polish every surface,” says Agrawal. So, if you purchase a ring that is not handmade, you may notice minor unfinished surfaces. While Agrawal says these shouldn’t detract from the ring, it’s still something to keep in mind.
  • Where should I shop for this type of ring? 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 raises 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. Sometimes, the ring will withstand damage that isn't noticeable at first glance, so inspecting it will help catch any damage before it permanently damages your cathedral setting ring.

Ahead, scroll through cathedral setting engagement rings we love.

01
of 20

Natalie Marie Jewelry Lumi Ring

Lumi Ring

Courtesy of Natalie Marie

A truly classic look, this ring is part of the brand’s vintage collection, a curated collection that includes one-off pieces that date back to as early as the 1800s. This particular ring features a solitaire diamond with a yellow gold band and detailed cathedral shoulders for added elegance.

02
of 20

No. 3 Marie Ring

No. 3 Marie Ring

Courtesy of No. 3 

This piece has a bit of a vintage vibe with a unique shape and beautiful detailing. The princess and round cut diamonds around the oval center stone complement each other, and the raised cathedral setting makes it look elegant.

03
of 20

Gabriel & Co Cushion Double Halo Diamond Engagement Ring

Gabriel & Co Cushion Double Halo Diamond Engagement Ring

Courtesy of Gabriel & Co

Spice up a classic with mixed metals. This ring features a hidden rose gold cathedral setting sitting underneath a sparkling white gold double halo. 

04
of 20

J.R. Dunn The Round Cathedral Engagement Ring

J.R. Dunn The Round Cathedral Engagement Ring

Courtesy of J.R. Dunn  

A less detailed cathedral setting gives this ring a modern look. It’s simple, but the high center stone and pavé diamonds on the band give it lots of sparkle.

05
of 20

Tacori Sculpted Crescent

Tacori Sculpted Crescent Engagement Ring

Courtesy of Tacori  

From above, this ring is incredibly simple: just a princess cut center stone on a platinum band. From the side, you get a glimpse at the more detailed cathedral setting and signature Tacori crests.

06
of 20

Shane Co. Infinity Cathedral Diamond Engagement Ring

Shane Co. Infinity Cathedral Diamond Engagement Ring

Courtesy of Shane Co. 

This ring offers a more bold look with an infinity split shank and detailed cathedral setting. It also features 66 pavé set round diamonds and interesting milgrain detail. 

07
of 20

1st Dibs White Gold Cathedral Pavé Setting Engagement Ring

White Gold Cathedral Pave Setting Engagement Ring

Courtesy of 1st Dibs

This unique ring features a thicker shank sparkling with small round diamonds. The center stone sits in a cathedral setting that looks like a basket as it is set apart from the sides of the shank.

08
of 20

Noam Carver Cathedral Diamond Engagement Ring Setting

Noam Carver Cathedral Diamond Engagement Ring Setting

Courtesy of Greenwich St. Jewelers 

A four-prong cathedral setting elevates a center cut diamond in the cut of your choice. With the pavé diamonds along the shank, it’s glittering but simple. 

09
of 20

DeBebians Pear Three Stone Engagement Ring

DeBebians Pear Three Stone Engagement Ring

Courtesy of DeBebians  

While many cathedral settings are shown with a solitaire stone, this ring is proof it works with three stones as well. The setting elevates the center stone above the two side stones. 

10
of 20

Ada Diamonds Oval Cathedral Pavé Setting

Ada Diamonds Oval Cathedral Pavé Setting

Courtesy of Ada Diamonds 

This simple design features an oval cut diamond with a band full of pavé diamonds. It’s simple and the cathedral setting makes it look unique from the side.

11
of 20

Petite Crescent Cathedral Cushion Bloom Engagement Ring

Petite Crescent Cathedral Cushion Bloom Engagement Ring

Courtesy of J.R. Dunn 

For a more detailed cathedral setting, try this ring. The embellished crown is beautifully detailed with brilliant-cut diamonds down the sides. 

12
of 20

Tacori Dantela Engagement Ring

Tacori Dantela Engagement Ring

Courtesy of Tacori  

This glittering design features a pear cut center stone surrounded by smaller diamonds. It’s sitting in a detailed cathedral setting, and the shank features Tacori’s signature crests.

13
of 20

Ellaura Couture Oval Diamond Double Halo Engagement Ring 1ctw

Ellaura Couture Oval Diamond Double Halo Engagement Ring 1ctw

Courtesy of Ellaura Couture 

With pavé diamonds down the shoulders and sides of the shank, and a cathedral setting to lift the center stone, this is one ring that can’t be missed. The cathedral also hides a small diamond in the under gallery. 

14
of 20

Cathedral Setting Engagement Ring

Cathedral Setting Engagement Ring

Courtesy of Cynthia Britt

A center diamond sits in the signature Cynthia Britt solitaire mounting with a cathedral style setting to make it look like the diamond is floating above the band.

15
of 20

Tacori Full Bloom Engagement Ring

Tacori Full Bloom Engagement Ring

Courtesy of Tacori 

The way the small round diamonds are set around the center diamond makes this stone appear to look like a flower. It sits on a very detailed cathedral setting to complete the feminine look.

16
of 20

Abby Sparks The Jessica Ring

Ring

Courtesy of Abby Sparks

Inspired by a mountain, this ring sits on a raised setting, surrounded by the warm colors of rose gold. The intricately placed stones add delicate details and a dazzling effect.

17
of 20

James Allen White Gold Beaded Filigree Cathedral Kite-Set Engagement Ring

Ring

Courtesy of James Allen

Specially crafted filigree scrolling leads up to the stunning cathedral setting on this ring—mixing modern and romantic details into one ring. The sharp knife prongs hold the stone above the cathedral-raised "basket."

18
of 20

ZAC by Zac Posen Cathedral Solitaire Plus Diamond Engagement Ring

ring

Courtesy of Blue Nile

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.

19
of 20

Abby Sparks The Colle Ring

Colle Ring

Courtesy of Abby Sparks

For a classic look with a cathedral setting, this ring has it all. The oval-cut diamond rests on top of the cathedral setting and is nestled between a cluster of east-west set pear-shaped stones that add extra brilliance to the ring.

20
of 20

Brilliant Earth Luxe Viviana Diamond Engagement Ring

Luxe Ring

Courtesy of Brilliant Earth 

This ring is eye-catching and full of shine. The band has scalloped pavé diamonds that line half of the band, and lead up to the classic cathedral setting and oval-cut diamond.

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