A solitaire ring is a ring that has a single stone, usually a large one. It could be a diamond or any other stone. It’s believed the first-ever engagement ring was a diamond solitaire given by Archduke Maximillian of Austria to Mary of Burgundy, his betrothed. This was way back in 1477.
Sometimes, halo rings are referred to as solitaires. These are rings that have a large gemstone surrounded by a ring or two of smaller stones, forming a kind of halo. Other times, a solitaire ring may be flanked by pave-set stones or channel-set stones set into the ring shank. Solitaire rings are the most popular type of engagement rings, so let’s learn a little more about them.
Fact 1. They’re Mostly for Engagement
This doesn’t mean you can’t have a solitaire wedding ring. But the gemstones on solitaire rings are generally large and dramatic while wedding bands are often plain, unadorned shanks. At most, the wedding band may have one or two recessed stones. So if you do want to incorporate a solitaire into your wedding ring, you may get it as part of a bridal set or trio ring set.
These rings come as a pair for the bride (wedding ring + engagement ring) or a trio including a simpler, wider wedding band for the groom. In such cases, the bride’s rings will be stacked, so her wedding band can be tailored to fit the shape of her solitaire engagement ring. If the groom’s ring is part of the trio, it may have carvings and gems to match his bride’s solitaire.
Fact 2. They’re the Most Expensive
Solitaire rings raise your budget in two main ways. One, a larger, single stone costs way more than multiple smaller ones. This is because the cutting and polishing process is more complex. It’s also because larger stones are rare. Gemstones crystallize naturally, and cutting them into smaller bits can damage them. So finding one that’s big enough in its original size is a treasure.
These large stones then need a larger amount of metal to support them. So your metal will have to be thicker, tougher, more intricate, and possibly wider to sufficiently accommodate the size, weight, and beauty of your gemstone. That all results in jacking up the price of solitaire rings. It adds to their perceived value though, which is probably why 2020s top trends are all solitaires.
Fact 3. They Work With Most Settings
The idea of a solitaire ring is to highlight the central stone. For a true solitaire, it’s the only stone. This is why pedants are uneasy about describing halo rings or channel-setting rings as solitaires. The plain shank is part of the definition because it draws attention away from itself and back towards the solitary showcased stone. So any setting that shows it off works.
That said, Tiffany settings are the most common type for solitaire stones – and engagement rings in general. Chances are when you picture a stereotypical engagement ring, you’re picturing a Tiffany. The setting has six prongs, usually rounded, with a simple unadorned shank or band. The culet is low-lying and the stone is positioned to let through maximum light for extra sparkle.
Fact 4. Light Levels Make a Difference
While we’ve mentioned that a solitaire ring can work with almost any setting, the style you chose affects the appearance of your rings. With diamonds, the brighter the better, and with colored stones, it’s all about the brilliance of the hue. Both of these factors are influenced by light levels. The more light passes through your ring, the better it shines and sparkles, regardless of cut.
Solitaire rings with bezel settings are sturdy and strong. But bezels enclose the rings at the bottom and the sides. This means less light passes through, so your solitaire ring isn’t as shiny. Pronged rings offer the most shine and sparkle. And tension rings can be bright too, depending on the position, location, and orientation of the pressure bars. Sidebars offer the best lighting.
Fact 5. Consider Prong Profile
Solitaire rings can have anything from 3 to 8 prongs. The number of prongs will affect the perceived shape and size of your gemstone. Fewer prongs may look asymmetrical and unbalanced. But using too many prongs can make your ring feel crowded and your stone seem smaller. On the other hand, using more prongs could allow you to customize the ring shape.
Apart from the volume, prongs also come in different shapes that can affect the appearance and ambiance of your ring. They can be heart-tipped, claw-tipped, rounded, or pointed. Prong tips that aren’t well polished could snag bits of hair or clothing. They can also come loose or trap dirt underneath their teeth, so inspect your prongs regularly to avoid injuries and lost gemstones.
Fact 6. It’s Not About Ring Shape
When people think of a solitaire ring, they might picture a typical cathedral ring. But the designation is more about the number of stones than the style of the ring. Solitaire rings come in a variety of popular shapes that include marquise, oval, round, princess, cushion, and emerald.
Each of these shapes can be set in a halo style with a ‘ring of stones’ surrounding the main one. It may also be useful to distinguish style and setting, even though jewelers use these terms interchangeably. The setting is how the stone stays in position – bezel, tension, or prong.
You could also have a suspended ring, which is a hybrid tension ring with prongs or bezels partially holding the bottom of the gemstone. Style refers to the design, so it could be cathedral, pavé, bar, channel, tiffany, etc. Style is a combination of settings and other ring-related factors.
Fact 7. The Metal Makes a Difference
You’re already familiar with the different metals used for wedding rings and engagement rings. But you may be surprised to know platinum is softer and more malleable than white gold, so they respond differently when they’re set into solitaire rings. They may look the same, but the platinum will develop a patina and the white gold will dull, both affecting the stone.
White metals look better on lighter skin tones while yellow gold suits darker ones. But if your solitaire is a diamond, yellow stones look white on yellow gold and vice versa. So if your stones have lower color and clarity, opt for yellow or rose gold, leaving the white metals for brighter gems. Similarly, solitaire stones with colored gemstones work better with yellow gold bands.
Fact 8. You Can Fake a Diamond
Suppose you’d love to get your fiancé a gleaming white stone but diamonds are beyond your budget. You don’t have to opt for rhinestones, sequins, or costume jewelry. You can still dazzle her with diamond alternatives like white sapphire or morganite. Options include simulants like moissanite and cubic zirconia, or synthetic diamonds grown in curated lab conditions.
Or you could get ‘diluted’ black or gray diamonds. These colored diamonds are sometimes called salt-and-pepper diamonds. They’re often lower-grade, which is why they’re cheaper. They may be sold in craft stores or artisanal shops, sometimes pop-ups. These diamonds are sometimes artificially pigmented and given a fake backstory to make them more attractive to buyers.
Fact 9. Check the Stack
Many modern brides – and even modern grooms – wear stacked wedding rings. These will often include a solitaire engagement ring, a wedding band with or without gemstones, an eternity band or push present, an anniversary ring, and maybe a class ring for men. If you by these rings as a set, then you’re fine – the jeweler will have factored in their shape, size, and metal match.
But if you’re buying the rings separately, you need to be sure the metals go well together visually and don’t scratch or wear each other way. For example, a platinum ring stacked beside a yellow gold ring will soon erode the yellow. So double-check the shape and setting of your solitaire ring to be sure it doesn’t ruin any other rings the bride routinely wears. Otherwise, it’ll live in its box.
Fact 10. Focus on the Hand
Not all rings are equal. It’s not just about bigger stones and fatter bands. The size and shape of your finger can play a role in how your rings look. If you have a shorter distance between your knuckle and your ring base, get a smaller, rounder solitaire ring. Longer fingers and larger knuckles can get away with larger stones in elongated marquise, emerald, or oval cuts.
You should also consider solitaire rings aren’t designed for daily wear. The size and intricacy of the stone make it delicate and impractical for mundane tasks. Plus, it can act as a beacon to questionable types, so you don’t want to flash it around on public transport. If you must have an everyday solitaire ring, get one with a small colored gemstone in a bezel setting. It’s safer.
Fact 11. Men Can Wear Them Too
People are uneasy with men wearing jewelry. Unless it’s a status ring, like a family crest, sports band, or class ring. But men can wear solitaire rings as well, and it can be quite a style statement. You’ll probably opt for a smaller stone in a bezel or tension setting with a wide band. It’s more secure for your ‘active male lifestyle’ and is less sparkly, which makes it less feminine.
Do you own a solitaire ring? Show us a photo in the comments, and tell us its backstory too!