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Trellis vs. Cathedral Settings: How Are They Different?

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Trellis vs Cathedral Settings

While many buyers focus on finding the perfect diamond, you shouldn’t ignore the impact of a setting on your ring’s appearance and performance.

Trellis and cathedral settings both highlight the center diamonds and allow for additional embellishment on engagement rings or other pieces of jewelry.

Let’s compare trellis versus cathedral settings, their pros and cons, and how to decide which is right for you.

What is a Trellis Setting?

Trellis settings feature woven, interconnected prongs that extend up from the band to hold the center diamond. 

Trellis Setting

In a traditional prong setting, the prongs remain on separate sides of the diamond and don’t cross over each other.

Each prong in a trellis setting weaves past the one on the opposite side, often forming a U shape. 

The standard design includes four prongs, where two prongs intersect on each side. 

Others include six or eight prongs for added security or extra diamonds.

Pros

If you’re considering a trellis setting for your diamond, you should understand its pros and why many buyers choose this unique setting. 

We’ll explore its advantages in detail, so you’ll learn what trellis settings have to offer.

Adds Elegance to the Side of the Ring

The focal point of a ring is always the main diamond, but you should also consider how the entire piece appears from every angle. 

Trellis Setting

As the wearer, you often view it from the top down. Even an alternative style such as a trellis setting looks similar to other types of settings from that angle.

Where the trellis setting stands out is when it’s viewed from the side. Its profile shows the interwoven prongs that reach up to hold the diamond.

It adds elegance to a part of your ring that’s normally neglected in favor of the top-down view of your diamond. In fact, when others see your ring, they’re most often viewing it from the side.

Instead of typical designs such as four separate prongs or even a split-shank, the intersecting prongs on a trellis setting add a unique element not found in other ways of holding a diamond.

Allows Room for Multiple Diamonds

The most common design for an engagement ring setting leaves room for one main diamond on top.

Some feature accents and other gemstones along the shank or surrounding the center diamond, but buyers are often deciding which setting best displays one diamond.

One of the advantages of trellis settings is it can hold multiple diamonds in a prominent position. 

Three-Stone Trellis Setting

For example, five-stone settings often feature the interconnected prongs of a trellis setting. 

One large diamond is flanked on either side by two smaller ones, and all the prongs form an “X” shape at the top of the band.

There are also designs that include three stones perched on top of the ring. The largest diamond sits in the middle surrounded by one on each side. 

Long, thin prongs stretch from one side of the main diamond to the far side of the adjacent one. This pattern plays out with each prong and diamond so each one is held by U-shaped prongs.

If you’re looking for a design that’s fit to hold several diamonds on top, you should consider a trellis setting.

Provides More Support for Prongs

Prongs are a popular choice for securing a diamond, but one of its downsides is security. 

14K White Gold Trellis Setting

The thin metal prongs can bend backward and let the diamond slip out or loosen over time with wear and tear.

Another benefit of trellis settings is they provide more support for prongs. The way they weave in and out of each other makes each one more secure because it’s held in place by another prong.

You should still avoid wearing a ring with a trellis setting during physical activity to avoid the potential for it to snag on clothing or hair, but the extra support from the interconnected prongs helps minimize this issue.

Leaves Room for Ring Enhancements

If you choose a trellis setting, you’ll still have the opportunity to embellish the ring with bead- or channel-set diamonds or other accents.

The unique features of a trellis setting are primarily at the top of the band, so the rest of it is open for enhancements, even if it’s a thin knife edge ring.

Trellis Setting with Side Stones

For example, the shank can feature round brilliant diamond accents cascading down each side. 

This is an effective way to add sparkle to the ring without the price premium required to increase the carat weight of the main diamond.

Or you can opt for milgrain, which are tiny metal beads or dots placed along the band. It’s common on antique jewelry and doesn’t add significant cost to the ring.

There are trellis settings available for solitaire designs with no embellishments, but consider how more diamonds or gems on your ring can complement the jewelry.

Cons

There are cons of trellis settings you should be aware of as you consider whether it’s right for you. Buyers opt against this type of setting for some of the reasons we’ll discuss below.

Cleaning

Settings with intricate designs are more difficult to clean. This is true of trellis settings because of the crevices formed by the woven prongs. 

Crevices in a Trellis Setting

It creates small nooks in the setting where dirt and debris can get trapped over time.

These areas are hard to reach when cleaning and can allow it to accumulate.

Because of the tendency for trellis settings to collect grime, it’s recommended you have it professionally cleaned once or twice per year. 

It will prevent debris from wearing down the metal and shortening the lifespan of your setting.

Less Secure Than Other Settings

Any setting that uses prongs to hold the diamond is less secure than other types.

Even though the prongs on a trellis setting support each and can prevent the diamond from falling out if one is loosened, if security is your priority, choose another setting.

For example, bezel settings feature a ring of metal that wraps around the diamond.

Bezel Setting

It’s considered the most secure setting because the entire outer edge of the diamond is protected by it.

No matter the angle the diamond is hit, the bezel setting will embrace the impact.

Trellis settings, on the other hand, leave the diamond vulnerable because there are often only four prongs. If you’re looking to improve the security of a trellis setting, choose one that grasps the diamond with six prongs.

Or you can protect the center diamond with a halo of diamond accents that provide another layer of security. It’s less of a problem if one of the outer diamonds is damaged compared to the main one.

Fewer Options

There are fewer options available from jewelry retailers for trellis versus cathedral settings.

Trellis Setting Diamond Engagement Ring

Trellis settings are a subset of prong settings, so you won’t find the wide variety for sale that you’ll find if you choose a broader category.

Even if you narrow your search to any type of prong setting, there are an endless number on the market, such as:

Within each of these settings, there are variations that include the interwoven trellis prongs, but there are far more without that unique design.

You may have to sacrifice the type of metal used on the setting, the number of gems on the shank, or milgrain lining its edges in order to find a trellis setting that’s right for you.

What is a Cathedral Setting?

Cathedral settings feature two arches that extend from the top of the shank to support the prongs that hold the diamond. 

Cathedral Setting Diamond Ring

The arches form triangular gaps in the setting that give it a sense of elegance as it holds whichever cut you choose as your engagement ring diamond.

Prongs aren’t the only way to hold a diamond in a cathedral setting. There are variations that include a bezel setting, where the arches extend to both sides of the metal wrapping around the gem.

Pros of Cathedral Settings

There are several pros of cathedral settings that make it a popular choice for engagement rings and other pieces of jewelry. Let’s examine each in detail so you’ll know if it’s right for you.

Gives Prominence to the Center Diamond

Most cathedral settings are high-set. The diamond sits high off your finger, which gives it more prominence compared to low-set rings.

The extra height allows it to capture more light and reflect it back to the viewer, enhancing the diamond’s brilliance, which is similar to a Tiffany setting.

This is especially important for diamonds over two carats. It creates enough separation between your finger and the large diamond so you don’t experience discomfort.

You can tell whether a cathedral setting is high-set by viewing it from the profile.

If the diamond sits above your finger, it’s a high-set cathedral setting.

Variety of Designs

There are a variety of designs available within a cathedral setting. They’re fit to hold any diamond cut, whether marquise, oval, round, or composite diamonds

The distinguishing feature isn’t how the diamond itself is held, but instead how the prongs or bezel are supported by its arches. 

Cathedral Star Setting

That’s why you’ll often find cathedral settings available with many types of prong settings such as flat-tab or single claw prongs.

You can also embellish the shank on a cathedral setting with multiple rows of pave diamonds, channel-set diamonds, or milgrain.

But one of the most popular choices for cathedral settings is a simple solitaire ring. Because the setting is designed to give prominence to the center diamond, many buyers don’t want to detract from its brilliance. 

A solitaire cathedral setting achieves this effect by placing the diamond high off your finger and avoiding conflict with any other ring you’re wearing, such as a wedding band.

Cons

You should also understand the downsides of cathedral settings if you’re comparing them to trellis settings. 

Each type of setting offers a different appearance and functionality, so knowing both the benefits and disadvantages helps you make the most informed decision.

Prongs are Susceptible to Snagging

The prongs on cathedral and non-cathedral settings are susceptible to snagging, but it’s especially true for the former. 

High-set diamonds with prongs are more vulnerable to catch on hair, furniture, and clothing during everyday activities. When the prongs snag, they can be torn loose or bend backwards, which leaves the diamond prone to fall out.

One solution to this problem is to choose a low-setting. Some cathedral settings placed the diamond and its prongs much closer to your finger, so it’s less likely to snag.

Fills with Debris

If you’re comparing cathedral versus trellis settings, you should know they both fill with debris more often than other settings.

Rose Gold Cathedral Setting

Cathedral settings feature the same small crevices and nooks found in trellis settings, which accumulate dirt and grime with use.

Over time, this can wear down the metal and damage the diamond, so you should have it cleaned at least once per year. 

There are at-home solutions to cleaning your ring, but a professional can restore its shine and ensure the diamonds aren’t damaged during the process.

Should You Choose a Trellis or Cathedral Setting?

Trellis and cathedral settings can be the right choice for many buyers looking for the perfect complement to their diamond. Each adds a unique element to the ring beyond the diamond.

If you’re comparing trellis versus cathedral settings, here are some guidelines to help you decide.

You should choose a trellis setting if:

  • You’re looking for a way to enhance the profile of your ring
  • You want a three- or five-stone setting
  • It’s important to you that the prongs have multiple areas of support
  • You want a unique setting that still allows for diamonds on the shank

You should choose a cathedral setting for your diamond if:

  • You want to give the diamond prominence with a high setting
  • You’re searching for a setting that offers a variety of designs
  • The look of the arches and triangle gaps in the ring are appealing

Both settings come in a variety of metals, from yellow and rose gold to platinum. 

Examine how their trellis and cathedral settings fit with your choice of diamond, so you can select the right diamond 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.

Learn More About Devon