Cluster Settings Diamond Ring Guide | Rare Carat

Cluster set diamond rings are basically just a collection of diamonds set very close together, often resembling a larger diamond (at least from afar). The particular shape of the clustered diamonds can vary, from super cool geometric shapes, like this square one… 

Prong set cluster ring with pave diamond band

This Also Has a Pave Setting on The Band. I'm Here for It.

…To pretty designs like flowers or even starbursts (not the candy), like these two stunners:

 Flower and starburst cluster diamond rings

The vast majority of cluster rings use round diamonds as they bundle together so nicely (like the two examples above) to create different shapes, but there are other shaped diamonds to be found with this particular ring setting also, such as this delightful pear cut diamond cluster ring:

 Pear diamonds in cluster ring setting

Now, even though these three examples have similar sized diamonds within them, you are not actually pigeon-holed to having exactly the same sized diamonds within the setting at all. You can have a larger center stone in the middle of your cluster ring surrounded by slightly smaller diamonds all around, like this baby here:

Oval center stone with small round diamond cluster ring

Larger Oval, Small Rounds. Still Cluster!

The type of metal you can use is also fairly flexible with cluster rings. Although most of the examples above have a combination of yellow gold (for the band) and white gold (for the prongs), you can of course use yellow gold or even rose gold for the prong setting part of the ring. Just be aware that the yellow gold/rose gold will bring out the more yellowish tints in the diamonds, whereas a white gold or platinum will blend more seamlessly in with the diamonds while making those diamonds appear whiter. At the end of the day the choice of metal is completely a personal preference however. We won’t know and won’t care what you pick as long as you are obsessed with it. We do however, encourage you to send us photos of your finished rings so we can drool over them! Please.

No matter what shape or size of diamond you decide upon however, the one thing that is very important to remember when picking a cluster ring is carat weight. Unfortunately, people can often get a tad confused when researching the carat weight of cluster rings. You see, there is a very big difference between ‘carat weight’ (sometimes abbreviated to CT or CW or even DW) and ‘total carat weight’ (abbreviated to CTW or TW or DTW). ‘Carat weight’ refers to the weight of a single stone like a brilliant cut solitaire diamond, while the ‘total carat weight’ means the total sum of ALL the diamonds in the ring. So, if you walk in to a local jewelry store and try on a 1ct solitaire ring, you know that the weight of that single stone is 1 carat in total. If you decided to try on a cluster ring labelled 1 carat however, that means that all of the diamonds in the ring together make up 1 carat. In other words, the carat weight of a cluster ring will be the combined weight of all the stones together. What’s more, the total carat weight labelled on the cluster ring will tell you nothing about the exact weight of each individual stone however, so it’s up to you to make sure you get this info before going ahead with the purchase. You just want to make sure that you are not over paying for a set of smaller diamonds!


‘Cluster’ or ‘Invisible’ or ‘Halo’? Oh My!

So far, we know what a cluster diamond ring is, the shapes and sizes of diamonds usually found in them, and how to understand the weight of the diamonds within them. Good start! Now we need to be able to decipher what is a cluster ring, and what is not a cluster ring. There are two main diamond ring settings which often get mixed up with clusters, so let’s very briefly discuss the differences between them before moving swiftly on to the pros and cons of cluster set diamond rings. 

Cluster rings, as we know, are usually round diamonds packed closely together in various shapes kinda like this:

 Cluster diamond ring

In a way then, they are just like our sports team (don’t worry I’m not going to embarrass myself with any other sports analogies) or our troupe of actors – each diamond adds an equal amount of wow factor to the overall ensemble. In fact, it’s not unlike the gals from ‘Pitch Perfect’, all working together to create something fantastic. Each girl in the acapella group was their own unique person but always in perfect formation with the rest, and we loved them for it:

Pitch perfect

Invisible set diamond rings are different however. Unlike the diamonds found in a cluster ring, the stones in an invisible set ring are attractive for how indecipherable they are from one another. While our cluster ring has stones which are very clearly individual (yet complimentary like our girls in Pitch Perfect), the diamonds in an ‘invisible’ set ring are packed together so tightly that they can sometimes look as though they are all one stone. Have a look at these two different examples to see what the hell I am talking about: 

Invisible set diamond rings

You would never guess that these weren’t single diamonds, right? These are in fact a collection of small diamonds carefully grouped together in a special metal construction underneath the stones themselves. There are no traditional prongs holding the diamonds in place. We can see now that the way the diamonds are held together in a cluster verses an invisible setting are actually very different; you can see the spaces between the diamonds in a cluster ring, but not in an invisible setting. Even the side stones are invisibly set! I actually like to think of the invisible setting kinda like those Spartan bros in that film ‘300’, where they huddled together with their shields until you couldn’t tell where one ended and the next began:

Packed tightly together

Finally let’s talk about how a cluster setting is not the same as a halo setting! The difference between these two settings is mainly in the size of the diamonds. While a cluster setting will have a number of diamonds of the same size (or indeed one large diamond with a number of smaller diamonds), the halo ring style is such because it will always have one much larger diamond surrounded my many smaller diamonds all around it. Like a halo. Clue is in the name, folks. Think of the halo set diamond in the middle as Regina George from ‘Mean Girls’. Yes, it’s technically the same stone as the smaller ones around it, but it’s just bigger and better than the others:

Bigger and better than the others around it.

Her Milkshake Has Indeed Brought All the Boys to The Yard

To sum up then, cluster rings are different from invisible set rings because of the particular way they are set tightly together, while they differ from halo set rings because of the size of the stones themselves. Aren’t you glad I used a series of movie references to get you through that? I bet you are. And to triple make sure you’ve got the difference, here is an example of all three together so you can see for yourself:

Cluster diamond ring

Invisible set diamonds

Halo ring




Pros of Cluster Settings:

In my opinion, the clear advantage of choosing a cluster ring are their budget friendly effect of a HUGE @ASS stone. If you guys have decided that you’d rather spend those hard-earned dollars on a new porch or a trip to the Bahamas instead of a huge diamond (but you still want a diamond ring so large that it causes your soon-to-be sister in law to self-combust), then a cluster ring might well be the way to go. Afterall, you may not be able to afford a 2 carat single stone ring (so many dollar sign$) but just might be able to afford a 2 carat total weight cluster ring! And remember, the smaller the diamond, the relatively cheaper it will be. Getting ten .20 carat diamonds will be a hell of a lot more cost effective than one single 2 carat diamond, leaving more money for you to go swimming with those adorable pigs in The Bahamas…

Swimming pig in The Bahamas

Her Name Shall Be Doris, and She Shall Rule the World.

What’s particularly cool about cluster set diamond rings in my humble opinion also, is that you can achieve a beautiful vintage or antique vibe really easily. Fancy an ‘oldie worldie’ look? Yes, that’s a term. Trust me. Cluster may be the setting for you! Cluster diamond rings can give off a stunning mid-century or even art deco look, and together with some added metal detail on the gold band can truly offer a totally unique ring. Don’t be afraid to play round with – not just the shape of the diamonds – but the overall shape of the cluster itself. A skilled jeweler/ring designer will be able to make the most of your finger shape and create something that will reflect your personality. And look, if you’ve already decided to go with something so unique as a cluster ring, why not go big and choose a real show stopper of a design too?

Unique design cluster diamond ring

What other ring setting allows you to create something so unique?! Eat your heart out Regina George. 

Cons of Cluster Settings:

There are very few downsides to choosing a cluster ring, but the level of maintenance is definitely something to be considered. More diamonds mean more prongs. More prongs mean more opportunity to bang that ring off a wall/door etc., resulting in one of those precious little gem babies escaping from the ring! You really do need to make sure that ever single diamond in your cluster ring is set securely and evenly so even if you do have a minor mishap (i.e. smash your ring in the door like I did once after five glasses of wine at a Christmas party), you will not be a diamond lighter just as I was. I lost both a diamond AND my dignity that evening, but that story will be for another blog.

Lost diamond


Finally, let’s talk cleaning. Now you know I’ve got your back and would never lie to you, so here’s the skinny on cleaning a cluster ring. It’s a b*tch. Take a look at this solitaire diamond ring here for a second:

Floral rings can be a challenge to clean

See how many little nooks and crannies there are under there? How many opportunities for dirt and grim to build up? Yup. Now imagine that with a cluster ring. Because the cluster ring has so many more prongs and metal structures underneath, it will have so many more nooks and crannies, or as I call them, filth crevasses. Sorry, it’s the truth. Plus, not only is it gross but a build up of dirt can also cause your beautiful little diamonds to lose their sparkle. That’s because the build up can coat the underside of the diamond, stopping the light from bouncing around in there and making them shine. Sound like a disaster? RELAX. Easily fixed my friend! All you will need to do is grab an old, soft bristled tooth brush and gently scrub the underside of the ring with warm soapy water/ This will get rig of the dirt and keep the ring in tip top shape. You’re welcome.

Scuba diving on a coral reef

Looking Underneath Your Ring Be Like…

We’ve seen the upsides, we’ve accepted the downsides. We know our cluster setting from our halo/invisible setting. We’ve acknowledged that I should never make sports analogies again. With that in mind, I think you are just about ready to go in search of that perfect cluster engagement ring! Go forth and shop my savvy internet friend!

You, Armed with Knowledge.

Dr. Rian Mulcahy
Dr. Rian Mulcahy
Rian is officially a Diamond PhD - just ping us if you’d like to read her fascinating 200-page thesis, titled Facets of Value: An Investigation into the Formation of Worth in the Diamond Market. She has consulted various firms all along the pipeline, from the rough diamond market to the recycled diamond industry. She holds an MA in Globalisation and Development from University College Cork and a PhD in the Sociology of Diamond Valuation from the London School of Economics.