What is an Illusion Setting? The “clever and beautiful” diamond jewellery setting

An “illusion setting” is a style of jewellery setting which enhances the appearance, and especially the perceived size, of the diamonds in it. This article explains this setting in detail and includes plenty of images and video examples for you to see.

What is the illusion setting?

The illusion setting displays a small diamond in a precious metal sourrounding that has been patterned so that it  mimics the facets of the diamond.

In the ring below, this pattern is visible in the white gold immediately around the centre diamond:

The small diamond in the centre provides sparkle. This, in turn, reflects off the precious metal pattern.

As the name suggests, from a distance this creates the illusion that you’re actually looking at a much larger diamond:

See it on video

Look at this bracelet and then WATCH THE VIDEO BELOW to see an example of the illusion setting.


  • Notice the small round diamonds set in the centre of each link in the bracelet.
  • Look at how the metal is patterned around them to look like a continuation of the diamonds’ facets.
  • Also notice the amazing brilliance of the sparkle created by this setting!

The history of the illusion setting

According to history, Oscar Massin, a French jeweller born in the early 19th Century, invented the illusion setting.

He was a jeweller’s apprentice, who was promoted and given his own work bench when his employer discovered some of his jewellery design drawings.

Massin came up with the illusion style, back then called the “illusiory setting”, precisely with the intention of emphasising the size of small diamonds.

Cluster-illusion rings

There is an alternative type of setting that creates the illusion of a larger diamond, called the cluster-illusion setting.

While this is not strictly speaking the illusion setting described above and invented by Massin, it’s definitely worth a mention.

This is a setting where lots of small diamonds are set very closely together to create the look of a solitaire (one large single diamond):

If you look at it from the distance, the effect created by the sparkle of the small diamonds gives the impression of a large solitaire stone.

Close up, you’ll see how small diamonds of varying shapes are cleverly set together to create this look:

Why choose an illusion setting?

Firstly, lots of creativity and imagination go into creating illusion set jewellery pieces. Therefore, illusion designs are often unique.

Secondly, illusion set jewellery items are much more affordable than big diamond pieces.

Why is the illusion setting so affordable?

First of all, an illusion setting uses more metal than diamonds, so this makes it more affordable.

Secondly, large single diamonds of a good quality are very hard to find. Therefore, they have a much higher per carat price than small diamonds of an equal quality.

Jewellery made one small diamond, or even lots of small diamonds, will therefore cost much less per carat than an item crafted with one large stone.

A price comparison between a solitaire and an illusion set ring:

Here is a cluster-illusion diamond ring with a “half-carat look”.

In fact, despite its appearance, it only utilises 0.17CT of diamonds.

The diamond are of H/Si high quality and the ring is set in 18K white gold.

It costs £529.

In comparison, here is a ring with a single half-carat solitaire diamond.

The diamond is of H/I high quality and the ring is set in 18K white gold.

It costs £1,289.

As you can see from the comparison, an illusion ring is great way to get a “big look” ring with a lower budget.

Should I buy an illusion set engagement ring?

Absolutely. If you want a beautiful diamond ring that has a “big single diamond” look, but your budget won’t cover the solitaire size that you want, then the illusion setting is the perfect choice for you.

A word of advice: always choose an illusion engagement ring made with gold, not silver. Silver is not tough enough to withstand lifelong wear and tear, it’s best for occasion-wear only.

Cleaning and care

The best and cheapest way to clean any diamond jewellery is simply by washing it in a bowl of warm water and soap, using an old tooth brush.

If you find that the precious metal pattern in your illusion set jewellery gathers dust or dirt and looks less sparkly than before, then this is all you’ll need to do to revive it’s dazzle.

Alternatively, a Dazzle Stik is a fantastic way to give your ring a good, gentle clean, plus enhance its sparkle.