A cluster is a term used to describe a ring that features a central diamond or gemstone, surrounded by a halo of smaller gemstones. This is the most basic and classic definition of a cluster ring, and in the past, cluster was only used to describe settings where the smaller gemstones followed the pattern of the larger gemstone perfectly. However, modern jewellers have divided cluster rings into multiple subgroups and unique designs.
Cluster rings from this time period often featured rose-like designs, with blackened silver and gold metal being used to set off the gemstones. The metal work was heavier and more prominent, even crude by today’s standards.
In the Victorian era, the metal work became more delicate, with daintier prongs and more close-set gemstones. The Victorian cluster can really be considered the standard on which modern clusters were based, and it’s not common to see solitaire rings from this period. These are most commonly set in yellow gold.
During the Edwardian times, the cluster ring became even more dainty, with more streamlined shapes. Gemstones were set even closer together, although they continued to follow the standard halo or floral arrangement.
Art deco clusters began to embrace the idea of unique geometric patterns, with half-halos and other geometric shapes becoming more popular. This era introduced much cleaner lines, with gemstones set as closely together as possible. Also, platinum and white-gold rings became much more popular at this time.
Modern cluster rings have taken on any number of designs, shapes, and colours. One of the most popular trends in the modern era is to mix diamonds with coloured gemstones in a cluster. A perfect example is Princess Diana’s engagement ring, now worn by Kate, which features diamonds and sapphires.
Clusters are popular for jewellers when working with gemstones that are smaller or of less valuable cuts. It is often easier to create a more valuable ring using several smaller gemstones in a cluster, and to save the more stunning gemstones for beautiful solitaire rings. That doesn’t mean that a cluster ring is inferior. Clusters almost always have an overall carat that is higher than that of a similarly-priced solitaire ring.
Jewellery fashions come and go as often as clothing fashions, and the cluster ring wanes in and out of popularity frequently. Some years, you will see only solitaire rings in engagement and bridal displays, while other years are dominated by beautiful clusters. Modern cluster rings can range in styles from vintage charm to modern and sleek, so it’s easy to find a cluster ring for every type of wearer. This gives this style a timeless appeal that works for many different types of pieces.