What Makes A Ring A Cluster Ring? - Bario Neal

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What Makes A Ring A Cluster Ring?

Cluster rings are a popular style in the jewelry industry and a staple at Bario Neal. They are known for their kaleidoscope of diamonds and gemstones, which blend sophistication with a contemporary aesthetic. At Bario Neal, we have different styles of cluster rings- some that lean more towards the geometric and contained aesthetic and then others that go large and wild. "A cluster ring allows you to explore multiple stone types, cuts and colors all in one ring." Says one of our Philadelphia Sales Coordinators, Naomi Pierce. "It also provides a special ring that steps outside of the traditional trends in bridal jewelry." Many custom heirloom clients we work with love the cluster style for its versatility since it's a great way to incorporate sentimental heirloom stones and something new. The cluster style has a rich history dating back to the 1700s, but have you ever wondered what makes a ring a cluster ring?

Hand placed gently on model's cheek. Ring finger wearing a Burst Cluster Diamond Ring. Model smiling, hand in focus
Burst Cluster Diamond Ring on figure

Let's take a moment to appreciate the unique features of cluster rings from past to present. Take a deep breath, unwind, and get ready to fall in love with this iconic ring style!

Cluster Ring Definition & Symbolism:

Cluster rings are a type of ring that is defined by (you guessed it!) a cluster of diamonds and gemstones on a single band. Historically, this type of ring featured a large gemstone surrounded by smaller diamonds. Cluster rings are admired for their ability to incorporate multiple stones, allowing for creativity and innovation in their design. The number of stones in a cluster ring can symbolize unity, while the cluster's shape can symbolize something tangible, like a flower or constellation. Cluster rings have evolved over time, with each era having its own specifications. Let's look at the four main eras of cluster rings.

The Four Significant Eras of Cluster Rings:

cropped photo of an Oil painting of Queen Charlotte. White text set on top of photo that reads "The Georgian Era" followed by "1714 - 1837"

The Georgian Era (1714 - 1837)

During the Georgian Era, cluster rings were symbols of wealth and status, as evidenced by the sheer number of diamonds and gemstones in the design. Cluster rings during this era were designed to look like flowers, with intense metalwork, often manually weathered to make the gemstones pop against it. Many Georgian-era cluster rings are lined with foil to enhance the stones' natural color.

Georgian Era Cluster Ring Example:

This antique Georgian era black dot paste cluster ring is delicately charming.
It is a conversion piece, the black dot paste, floral shaped cluster hailing from the Georgian era is set into cool sterling silver, likely converted from a brooch or a lace pin.
An example of Georgian era cluster rings; Antique Georgian Black Dot Paste Cluster Ring
This stunning ring features a champagne diamond center stone with diamond side stones.
A similar Bario Neal ring design; Avens Symmetrical Champagne Diamond Ring 1.0ct
cropped photo of an Oil painting of Queen Victoria. White text set on top of photo that reads "The Victorian Era" followed by "1837 - 1901"

The Victorian Era (1837 - 1901)

The Victorian Era, named after Queen Victoria, saw her lead the fashion and jewelry trends for over 64 years. With the growth of the middle class, fine jewelry was no longer exclusive to the wealthy. The era saw fun, whimsical, and romantic designs, especially floral patterns, reflecting Victoria's love for Prince Albert. After his death, Victorians mourned, inspiring cluster rings with onyx, enamel, and other hard stones.

Victorian Era Cluster Ring Example:

The Santa Fe ring is an authentic Victorian opal wedding ring circa 1900's. This ring features three (3) natural pastel cabochon opals and four (4) single cut diamond accents.
An example of Victorian era cluster rings; Victorian Opal Ring with Rose Cut Diamond Accents
This ring glistens with a line of morganite, champagne diamond, opal, and diamond.
A similar Bario Neal ring design;
Linear Opal Ring
cropped photo of an Oil painting of woman wearing a green and black dress. Her hands are shown. White text set on top of photo that reads "The Edwardian Era" followed by "1900 - 1910"

The Edwardian Era (1900 - 1910)

During the Edwardian decade of cluster rings, the addition of platinum was a significant change in the jewelry industry. The designs of Edwardian age cluster rings were quite similar to those of the Victorian era, featuring whimsical cuts and light gemstones. However, towards the end of the Victorian era, diamonds gained more popularity, and thus platinum, a very tough metal to melt down at that time, was used in combination with these newer precious gemstones. This resulted in a shift towards more durable and elegant jewelry pieces.

Edwardian Era Cluster Ring Example:

This impressive sapphire and diamond cluster ring is made in the vintage Edwardian style of the early 1900s.
Twelve round diamonds weighing 1.00 carat in total surround the central gemstone.
An example of Edwardian era cluster rings; Sapphire and Diamond Cluster Ring
This classic halo ring features a aquamarine center stone with a diamond halo.
A similar Bario Neal ring design;
Stellium Aquamarine with Diamond Halo Ring
Photo background of Josephine Baker circa 1920s. White text set on top of photo that reads "The Art Deco Era" followed by "1913 - 1930"

The Art Deco Era (1913 - 1930)

The Art Deco movement is renowned for its iconic trends, such as flapper dresses, pixie cuts, and extravagant displays of affluence. The era jewelry was no exception, characterized by geometric shapes and a combination of naturally colored stones and sparkling diamonds, as opposed to the playful and fanciful styles of the previous three eras.

Old Mine Diamond Coronet Cluster Ring, circa 1920
The total approximate diamond weight is 2.46 carats, to an impressive coronet cluster design featuring curving double claws and millegrain edging, an intricately pierced gallery and fancy shape open backholing, leading to raised shoulders and flowing through to a solid D-shape shank. Marked platinum, circa 1920, accompanied by Gemological Institute of America (GIA) #6422622637.
An example of Art Deco era cluster rings;
Old Mine Diamond Coronet Cluster Ring
This contemporary take on a halo ring features a diamond center stone with a champagne diamond halo.
A similar Bario Neal ring design;
Quince Diamond with Champagne Halo Ring

So, what makes a ring a cluster ring? While it's no secret that cluster ring designs have been popular since the Georgian era, today, the style is more closely associated with modern-day halo rings that feature a large stone encircled by smaller stones. The traditional cluster design is still popular among many jewelers, but Bario Neal's cluster designs offer a refreshing take on the classic.

What makes a Bario Neal Cluster Ring Stand Out?

Cluster rings are becoming increasingly popular due to their versatility. Bario Neal's cluster rings stand out from earlier renditions by featuring a "burst" or "kaleidoscope" of diamonds and gemstones. Our signature cluster design (found in our Burst, Radial, or Sway Clusters) features a larger center stone surrounded asymmetrically by smaller stones, creating a starburst effect.

3 cluster rings stacked on top of each other
Collection Cluster Rings stack

"Bario Neal's Burst Cluster design is a customer favorite for sure or a true cluster/bouquet style." Naomi remarks when asked about the most popular cluster styles. Our other cluster designs, such as the Eaves Cluster or Charta Cluster, are more traditional but equally alluring. These designs are another favorite of Naomis's. "I love the simplicity of a two- or three-stone cluster! It can be challenging to arrange the stones to complement each other, but when done correctly, it is stunning."

A Cluster of Gemstone Cuts & Colors: 

Color is another differentiating factor in a Bario Neal cluster ring. Many of our clusters feature a bold combination of gemstones, like our Linear Hex Sapphire Ring, while other cluster color palettes create an ombre effect, like our Radial Cluster Rose Cut Diamond with Blue Sapphire Ring. "Typically a client will have an idea of colors that they like, and the sales coordinator can give them a few stone type options that can meet that color choice for them to choose from." Naomi points out. 

hands holding tweezers surrounded by assorted gemstones

Also, a cluster ring is a great way to incorporate different gemstone cuts if you can't decide on one. The array of stone cuts adds to the visual appeal of the ring; for example, look at our Prim Cluster Trillion White Sapphire Ring

Gems That Shine From The Source:

Additionally, Bario Neal prioritizes ethical sourcing in our gemstones, diamonds, and metals - adding another layer of artistry to your cluster ring. As a part of the brand ethos, all Bario Neal pieces are manufactured in our Philadelphia Flagship and carefully crafted by our brilliant design team. A Bario Neal cluster ring is made to stand the test of time, making them a great addition to your jewelry collection. Because all of our rings are handmade, each cluster has a personality that shines through. Finally, Bario Neal’s cluster rings are the perfect customizable base for your next modern heirloom design. 

Custom Cluster Rings & Heirloom Possibilities:

Our cluster rings are highly customizable, allowing you to swap diamonds for sapphires or incorporate your heirloom stones to create a more unique design. With our Sales team, you can unleash your creativity and design a cluster ring that perfectly suits your preferences. “Creating a custom cluster ring will begin with an initial consultation to create a layout using stones that we have in house. If we need to source stones to create the perfect layout, we will do that after our first consultation,” says Naomi. “Sometimes it is a matter of looking at our stone trays and finding stones that jump out at them!” Check out some of our past custom cluster rings for inspiration. 

Custom heirloom ring in focus sitting in a porcelain ring box
A custom made ring made from new and old stones sits at the Bario Neal workshop in Philadelphia, PA., on Wednesday January 25 2023. Hannah Yoon for The New York Times HEIRLOOM

Many times, customers come in wanting to redesign their heirloom pieces and land on a cluster design because they want to incorporate many stones to represent whatever it is they're celebrating - like adding specific birthstones to represent their loved ones. A great example of an heirloom redesign is from customers Paige Lombard and Brian Shoenauer, who designed a custom engagement ring using three generations of heirloom stones! “The combination of new and heirloom stones in our design signifies the new journey we're about to embark on as a couple and the family members supporting us along the way!” said Paige in her interview with Bario Neal.

Read more about Paige and Brian’s custom heirloom redesign story on our website.

Congratulations! You're now a cluster ring expert! Whether you're looking for a non-traditional engagement ring or the start of your very own heirloom collection, you're now equipped with the knowledge of what makes a ring a cluster ring.

Hand placed gently on model's cheek. Pointer finger wearing Eaves Cluster ring, ring finger wearing a filagree and Charta cluster stack. Model smiling, hand in focus
Eaves Cluster Diamond Ring on figure

Are you ready to experience the magic of a cluster ring? Browse our collection of cluster pieces, or let us help you design a modern cluster heirloom through our custom design process. Book a virtual appointment or visit our Philadelphia or Brooklyn showrooms to get started!