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​Halo Engagement Rings – A Brief History

Posted by Stuart J. Adelman on

Halo rings have been around for eons. Well, at least a few hundred years or so. Originally they were made with a prominent center stone, usually a gemstone like a sapphire or ruby, surrounded by pearls, or other gemstones. They just were not called ‘halo’ rings.

Then around 1900, diamonds were discovered in South Africa, and jewelry designers began using small diamonds to surround gemstones. These were more cocktail type rings, but they had the halo look. Sometimes called cluster rings, (or pendants), they were most often worn as right hand rings, and not engagement rings. Probably because they most always had a color gemstone center, which was rarely used as an engagement ring center stone. It was, and is, a great way to frame a gemstone, and because of its simplicity and symmetry, became a classic design style. But they still were not called halos.

Sometime in the 1920’s diamonds were used to surround a center diamond, and the halo engagement ring was invented. But it was still not called a halo. Not until around 2009 were these designs called halos. They are called halo rings, because of the “halo” of diamonds around a center stone. They are a great way to make a smaller diamond look bigger, and a larger diamond look even larger. The halo style creates a focal point that draws your eye to the center of the ring, which tricks your eye. Your eye will see the entire diameter of the center diamond plus the halo of diamonds around it. This effect can be maximized by setting the halo diamonds as close to the center diamond as possible, so there is no perceptible space between them.

This design is great for budget challenged buyers, because they get a lot of diamond look, for less money than buying a large center diamond. Smaller diamonds cost less per carat than larger ones. But a smaller diamond can be made to look larger by simply setting a halo of diamonds closely around it. And the great thing is, that no matter what shape diamond you like, it will work with a halo. Want an even larger, richer look? How about a double halo?! There are many varieties of double halos. Pave, bead set, prong set. Flush set, channel set, bezel set. The effect is the same with any style of setting, although most modern halos use bead or prong set. And contrary to what most advertising says, they are not pave set. But that is a different blog.


The look is classic, and even when the style is no longer in fashion, it will survive the test of time. In other words, it will always be in style. The only problem is, because it is such a popular design right now, halo rings are being mass produced, and are mostly being made in China. A common complaint with modern halos, is that diamonds fall out quite frequently. This is because a setting technique called micro pave is being used. Micro pave is basically setting that uses diamonds smaller than 1.2mm. Now, a millimeter is pretty small. A diamond that is one millimeter has to have a little gold on it, so it will stay in its setting. Trouble is, there cannot be much gold on it, or it will be covered up. This means that the poor little diamond does not have enough gold to hold it in, and the slightest error in setting allows it to fall out. The mass produced halo diamonds suffer this fate more, because the halo rings they are set into are made to be inexpensive. Chinese labor is very cheap, so the manufacturers use more, smaller diamonds to get an expensive look. And, well, the diamonds are poor quality as well, and very susceptible to breakage. So if you can, avoid buying one of these rings, as you will not be getting your money’s worth, and it will not last. And since the engagement ring is a symbol of everlasting love, you do want it to last, right? How do you know if your diamond halo is good or not? Generally speaking, try not to get it from a big box or chain jewelry store.

  Greta  Ruby

Like most things, quality is worth paying for. Especially with halo engagement rings. This is a ring that is worn every day, and needs to hold up to everyday wear. Be sure to have it checked twice a year, and get it from someone who warranties that the stones stay put. Because it should be enjoyed on your finger, and not in the shop!