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Halo vs Hidden Halo Engagement Ring

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Halo vs Hidden Halo

There are many customizations for diamond rings.

Solitaire settings are the most simplistic design, but many buyers want additional diamonds on the ring to enhance its brilliance.

Halos and hidden halos are two types of settings that feature a small ring of diamonds.

The main difference between halos and hidden halos is that halos are visible from the top-down view because they’re positioned close to the same height as the center diamond. Hidden halos have a smaller diameter than the main diamond and are placed below its crown.

We’ll compare halos versus hidden halos, including an overview of each, how they’re different, similarities, and how to decide which is right for you.

What is a Halo Setting?

14K White Gold Halo Setting

Halo settings include a circle of diamonds around the main one. The extra gems make the diamond appear larger because they blend together.

The pave or micro pave diamonds are positioned against the center diamond or leave a gap between them. The gap design is called a floating halo because the ring of diamonds appears to float above the setting.

If it’s at the same level as the main stone, it’s called a flush halo.

Halo settings are one of the most versatile styles for engagement rings. There are more than 10 types of halos, ranging from hexagonal and octagonal halos to floral and gemstone designs.

For example, take a look at this halo engagement ring from James Allen. Instead of the traditional rounded aesthetic, it has four straight edges.

The halo is formed by 14 pave diamonds, and another 74 line the shank.

As a contrast, this French pave halo setting from Blue Nile has a rounded design. 

French Pave Halo Setting

It’s set below the main diamond but still creates the illusion of a larger one.

If you’re considering a halo setting for your engagement ring, there are endless variations to explore that each complement the main diamond in their own way.

What is a Hidden Halo?

Hidden halos earn their name because they’re invisible from the top-down view. It’s a belt of diamonds that wraps around the top of the setting, usually tucked under the diamond’s crown.

One distinct attribute of hidden halos is the diamonds face sideways. If you view it from the profile, their tables face toward you. 

This enhances the brilliance of the piece from this angle.

As an example, this ring from Brilliant Earth includes 13 accents that form a hidden halo. 

Hidden Halo Diamond Ring

It sits below the culet.

If you rotate the image so the diamond faces toward you, the halo disappears.

Hidden halos aren’t unique to round cuts. They pair with every type of diamond. The setting above can be set with 10 cuts, including: 

  • Cushion 
  • Oval 
  • Emerald 
  • Pear

Some buyers opt for this style when the center diamond is step-cut that doesn’t have strong light performance. 

If you’ve chosen an emerald or Asscher cut, your diamond ring could appear dull compared to a brilliant cut.

But hidden halos help compensate by including brilliant-cut diamonds on the setting.

How are Halos and Hidden Halos Different?

By comparing halos versus hidden halos, you can understand what to expect from these customizations. 

Each has the potential to enhance the brilliance of your piece, but the exact style you choose alters its aesthetic and performance.

Here are the details on their differences.

Hidden Halos Require a High Setting

Hidden halos often require a higher setting because the accents need room to sit under the main diamond. 

Like their names suggest, the diamond on a high setting sits far above the ring, while a low setting sits closer.

In general, a high setting results in improved light performance but leaves the diamond more vulnerable to hits and bumps. A low setting offers protection because it lays close to your finger.

The exact height of the setting and position of the hidden halo depend on the design.

This solitaire setting includes a hidden halo around the diamond’s culet, but the setting isn’t much higher than normal.

Solitaire Setting with Hidden Halo

As a contrast, this piece has a hidden halo below the culet. 

The entire diamond sits above the wrap, so the setting is high.

Most buyers who select a high setting also choose a large diamond. In its prominent position, you don’t want it to appear small.

With a small center diamond, it’s common to place it on a low setting and complement it with accents like a halo or pave diamonds.

Halos Can Distract from the Main Diamond

One reason to choose a hidden halo instead of a traditional one is because a halo can distract from the main diamond. As the most important part of the ring, some buyers want it to stand alone.

A halo setting crowds it with several small diamonds that often don’t have the same brilliance. In fact, part of the appeal of a halo setting is it can imitate a single, larger diamond. 

This a benefit if the center diamond is small but isn’t always the best choice for heavy diamonds.

Take this setting from James Allen as an example. 

Halo Setting Diamond Ring

The halo’s design is intended to blend the diamond and accents together. In the high-resolution image, it’s obvious there’s a halo.

But if you saw someone wearing the ring, it wouldn’t be as noticeable.

If you want all the attention on the main diamond, we wouldn’t recommend this type of halo setting.

On the other hand, the halo on this setting is more distinct from the diamond. There’s a thicker ring around the accents, so they sit deeper behind the diamond.

It still covers the sides of the diamond, so it’s not visible from every angle. 

But the halo and diamond are more distinguishable, even from a distance.

Hidden Halos Allow You to Mix Metals

The most common types of metals for engagement rings are yellow, white, and rose gold and platinum. Within those three types of gold, jewelry retailers often offer 14K or 18K gold.

Hidden halos allow you to choose more than one metal.

One type is used for the shank, and the other holds the hidden halo diamonds.

For example, this mixed metal diamond engagement ring from Brilliant Earth includes a 14K rose gold belt on the 18K white gold band.

Mixed Metal Diamond Ring with Hidden Halo

From the top-down view, the rose gold won’t be visible, but it adds a unique element when viewed from the side.

The mixed metals are available in a variety of combinations. This hidden halo design holds the accents with platinum on top of a yellow gold band.

If you’re looking for ways to make your ring stand out from a classic solitaire design or from one with a uniform color, a hidden halo with multiple types of metals could be the right fit.

It should be noted this design is also available on some halo settings. James Allen sells this piece with an 18K white gold shank and a rose gold halo.

Mixed Metal Diamond Ring with Halo

The bezel holding the halo is visible from all angles, so the mixed metal aesthetic is always visible.

Halo Settings are More Popular

Solitaire settings are the most common choice for diamond rings, but halo settings are second in line. 

One reason halo settings are more popular than hidden halos is because the accents increase the apparent size of the piece in a more noticeable way. 

It’s also without the price premium that results from a heavier center diamond when compared to a solitaire setting.

Let’s use an example to illustrate.

We compiled prices for more than 30 diamonds from James Allen that had the following grades:

  • Color: F
  • Cut: Very good
  • Clarity: VVS2

Ones that weighed 0.80 carats were priced at an average of $4,448, with a range of $4,020-$5,060.

For 1.01-carat diamonds with those grades, the average price was $9,604, and the range was $7,120-$11,470.

That’s a 116 percent increase, or $5,156, for the extra 0.21 carats.

Now let’s take this 14K white gold halo setting

Halo Setting Engagement Ring

The accents have a total carat weight of 0.21.

It costs $1,390.

You’d pay a total of $5,838 for the halo diamond ring, and more than $10,000 for the solitaire.

A solitaire setting with the 1.01-carat diamond is far more expensive than the halo setting with the same total carat weight.

So if you want an alternative to a solitaire setting that’s still a popular choice, you can opt for a halo setting. 

But for a style only seen on a small percentage of rings, consider a hidden halo.

Are There Any Similarities Between the Settings?

There are also several similarities between halo and hidden halo settings.

Both are meant to make the diamond appear bigger.

For a traditional halo, it generally adds one-half of a carat to its apparent size. This difference is seen by the naked eye. 

On the other hand, if you increase the carat weight by 0.1-0.2, it’s often difficult to tell the difference.

Gemologists estimate hidden halos increase the apparent size by about 15 percent. It’s a result of the added sparkle from the belt of accents sitting below.

The two settings also have similar prices. 

For example, this 18K white gold setting has a classic halo and costs $1,050. 

Halo Diamond Ring

This setting is also made with 18K white gold but has a hidden halo. It’s priced at $1,190.

The final similarity between hidden halos and halos is a ring can have both. You don’t have to decide on one or the other. This is often true of other ring customizations like pavé wraps.

It’s unusual for a setting to have a halo surrounding the main diamond and one at the top of the shank, but the two areas don’t conflict.

If you’re searching for this design, you might need to have it custom designed because they’re difficult to find at most jewelers.

Is a Halo or Hidden Halo Right For You?

If you’re deciding between a halo versus a hidden halo setting for your diamond ring, you should understand how those customizations affect its appearance and performance.

Here are some tips to help you decide which is right for you.

You should choose a halo setting if:

  • It’s important the accents are visible from the top-down view
  • You want to avoid the price premium of increasing the carat weight of the center diamond, but you want a higher total carat weight for your ring
  • You’re interested in selecting from the different types of halos, like floral or star-shaped designs

Opt for a hidden halo if:

  • You want to increase the apparent size of the diamond, without a halo that’s always visible
  • Mixing two metals to create your ring is appealing to you
  • You’ve decided on a high setting and want to place additional diamonds on the ring

By pairing diamonds with halo and hidden halo settings, you’ll create the perfect ring for you.

Devon Tyler

Devon Tyler

Devon Tyler is the founder of TeachJewelry.com.

He earned an Applied Jewelry Professional Diploma from the Gemological Institute of America and now brings you essential information about diamonds, settings, and more.

Devon has consulted with leading jewelry brands, and his work has been cited in Diamond Nexus and other industry publications.

He's also a member of the International Gem Society.

Devon enjoys discussing jewelry with readers, so contact him with any questions at tyler.devon@teachjewelry.com.

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