It’s no great secret to say that choosing an engagement ring is not easy. Deciding on the right metal and gemstone is tough – to say nothing of the style of the ring. The classic solitaire has always been popular, but nowadays, more and more savvy ring-buyers are looking back in time for some vintage inspiration, and going for a Halo ring.
What is a Halo ring?
A Halo setting may, at first glance, look a bit like a solitaire, as it has a large central gemstone. However, the key thing that sets it apart is that, on a Halo ring, the central stone is encircled by pavé or micro-pavé gemstones (most commonly diamonds). Pavé gemstones are tiny stones that add a lot of extra sparkle to your ring.
Why choose a Halo ring?
Halo engagement rings have been growing in popularity because they are both sophisticated and eye-catching. They’re dazzling rings that are usually a more cost-effective option than a solitaire. The pavé diamonds ensure that the central stone looks bigger, by reflecting light back onto it. In fact, many people reckon that a halo setting can make your central gemstone look as much as half a carat bigger. They may be little, but pavé stones make a huge impact.
The history of the Halo
They say that old trends eventually come back into fashion – and in the case of the Halo engagement ring, it’s taken almost a hundred years to become a top trend again. Halo rings first became popular in the 1920s, the decade known for Art Deco. However, the modern take on the Halo puts a new twist on this old favourite.
In terms of jewellery, the Art Deco era was known for bright colours, mixing and matching different gemstones, and extravagant designs. That’s why vintage engagement rings in the halo style often feature contrasting colours: you might see, for example, a white diamond as the central gemstone, with a mixture of pavé rubies and sapphires around it.
Modern takes on the Halo ring are more likely to pick one colour and stick to it. For a modern take on this trend, look, for example, for a white central diamond with white pavé diamonds on a white gold ring.
Both modern and vintage Halo rings can broadly be divided into two different styles. Some just have pavé stones around the central gemstone, while others feature pavé all the way around the ring itself (known as the shank). One golden rule to follow to get the Art Deco style right is that a ring must have an equal number of stones on both sides, for a perfectly symmetrical appearance.
Choosing your metal
Traditionally, Halo engagement rings are usually made from either platinum or – more affordably – white gold. However, nowadays yellow gold is also a popular choice. Whether you go for white gold or yellow gold, opting for an 18-carat metal ensures good quality.
The colour that you choose will depend on a few different factors, most notably the gemstones on the ring. “White on white on white” is the term given to a Halo ring made of white gold, with white pavé diamonds and a white central diamond. This chic style has a certain icy charm, and goes well with just about any outfit or skin tone.
However, for this look to really work, you’ll need diamonds that are totally colourless. If they have a hint of yellow in them, yellow gold can be a better choice, as it emphasises the crystalline qualities of the stones. Yellow gold can look bolder and more dramatic, and works well with different colours of gemstone.
For a more vintage look, consider rose gold, which has a soft, feminine quality to it, and is growing in popularity as as engagement ring choice.
Whatever you choose, though, remember the number one rule of engagement ring selection: it should be right for your bride-to-be. If you’re not sure which metal works best for her, sneak a peek into her jewellery drawer and check out what she already has. If you see a lot of yellow gold, then that’s the metal to go for. Still not sure? Ask one of her friends – just make sure you choose one that can keep a secret.
Getting the gemstones right
Just as important as the metal is the central stone itself. If in doubt, stick with a tried and tested classic: diamonds are a girl’s best friend, after all. But for a splash of colour, choose a sapphire, emerald, or ruby. Again, it all depends on your bride-to-be’s preferences. Think about her colouring, too: many women with blue eyes love sapphires. On the other hand fancy coloured diamonds have become more and more trendy in recent year with yellow, brown and pinks being the preference.
In a classic Halo ring, the central stone is usually round or princess-cut. That’s not always the case, though. Oval, emerald-cut or marquise stones are also possible with a Halo setting. In fact, the pavé circle of the Halo can be a great way of softening the pointed tips of a marquise diamond, giving it a totally new look. As an added bonus, the pavé stones provide a bit of protection, helping to guard your central stone from chips.
The pavé stones can be the same as the central gem or go for something contrasting if you want a truly unique ring. For a vintage-inspired, Art Deco-style look, try different pavé stones together to make an unusual pattern of coloured stones. Consider if you want to just have a circle of pavé wrapping around the central gem, or pavé all the way around the shank. Different styles of shank may also be worth considering; a split shank, for example, sees the band divided into two slender pieces.
One final question that you may not have considered is the number of pavés. A classic Halo ring has a single circle of small stones wrapping around the central gem, but it’s also possible to find Halos with two or even three circles. These add impact, creating an even more dramatic-looking ring. With each extra circle of pavé stones, the central gem will seem bigger and brighter.
Remember once again: think about what your bride-to-be would like. Extra circles are great if she’s into dazzling jewellery, while a single circle gives a more subtle look. That’s the beauty of a Halo ring – there’s a style for every finger.