Cluster Rings Throughout The Ages January 17, 2017 – Posted in: Jewelry Blog
Are you interested in cluster rings? Find out what makes cluster rings so unique and why they’ve been so treasured over the past few hundred years.
Origins Of The Cluster Ring
Cluster rings have been about for as long as craftsmen have been setting precious stones in metal or other materials, their use as engagement rings is a more recent phenomenon. Fans of the British royal family like to attribute the rise in popularity to the fact that William gave Kate his mother’s sapphire and diamond cluster ring for their engagement, thereby kickstarting the engagement cluster trend, but it’s not quite that simple.
Engagement rings have been in common use for centuries, having their earliest origins back in pre-roman times when men would put a ring on a woman’s finger to indicate “ownership”. Once the skills were developed to then set gemstones in the rings, a single stone would have been the exception due to the fondness for displaying wealth and status to friends and contemporaries.
It was really only when the Tiffany Setting style of diamond rings was launched with huge success that we saw solitaire rings become the accepted norm as a signal of intent to marry, and the cluster style became a more niche choice amongst discerning buyers.
What Is A Cluster Ring?
Technically, any ring with more than a single stone can be classed as a cluster but, traditionally, there will be several stones set in a pattern designed to promote the center stone as much as possible in order to truly be a cluster ring.
Originally, cluster rings would have been for any purpose or occasion, and it’s only in more recent times that we have tended to use the phrase to describe engagement rings alone.
Change and Development Of Cluster Rings
In ages past, each culture would use stones relevant to their beliefs to decorate the rings, with emphasis placed on precious and bright stones such as rubies or emeralds, and diamonds took more of a back seat, being seen as a sparkling addition rather than being the star of the piece. Indeed, it was only in the late 1930s when De Beers – coincidentally the biggest diamond miner and seller in the world at the time – launched an advertising campaign to convince us all that diamonds were the only stones worth considering for a proposal, that the engagement ring as we know it today took shape.
It’s fair to say that most colored stones look amazing with diamonds as part of a cluster arrangement, which may be why Princess Diana’s ring on Kate’s finger was an instant hit. Put a beautiful ring on a beautiful woman and there’s no end to the impact it can have.
For most of the cluster ring renaissance, though, the clusters themselves have predominantly been entirely diamond based, not just because of the obvious beauty and impact a diamond cluster has, but also for more pragmatic reasons.
Diamond Cluster Rings
In solitaire rings with a single diamond, it takes a pretty special stone to bring gasps of admiration for anybody who sees it but, but adding more stones to play the role of supporting artist, the headliner needn’t necessarily be as big or as expensive, and the other diamonds in the cluster can also be slightly lower cost due to the collective group being better than each individually.
This doesn’t mean that diamond cluster rings are inferior in any way, of course, and most clusters will have a carat total well in excess of most solitaire rings, but the cost is tempered by being able to look at stones a classification lower than would be needed for a single diamond in order to impress.
Jewelry, like many aspects of the fashion world, goes in cycles, and we’re seeing this with cluster rings today and the fact that neither diamond nor multi-stone rings really dominate. The difference, possibly due to the influences of a world more connected than we’ve ever seen, is that many different fads and fashions are able to co-exist quite happily. The benefits for us all is that we’re not restricted to any one particular style or influence in any defined period, and so we get the best of all worlds. Designers can dare to be different knowing that they have a global marketplace with global advertising at their disposal, and antique or vintage cluster rings are but a mouse click away.
Cluster rings are truly beautiful things, and add a dash of color with a ruby or sapphire and it can go to yet a whole new level. Diamonds, though, are here to stay. Mention the words “engagement ring” and people immediately think of the classic diamond rings that have been with us for decades, proof indeed that jewelry fashions and the people who create them don’t follow strict rules, and have the freedom to impose personality and feeling into everything they produce.
Cluster rings are truly for the ages.