Most three-stone settings come unset, that is, without the center diamond that will be the focal point of the entire ring. This leaves you free to hunt for that perfect diamond that you will want to treasure forever, and then find the three-stone setting that matches that diamond’s shape, color and style. Since the center stone is likely to be a traditional round or princess cut stone, the side stones give you an opportunity to experiment a little, break out of the engagement-ring box and come up with something truly stunning and unique.
Once you have chosen your center stone, you can choose a three-stone settings
that either coordinates or contrasts with it. Some three-stone settings have round or square-cut stones that go well with a coordinating stone, while more unusual stones are a better fit for a contrasting center stone. Of course, other elements of diamond grading, such as cut quality and clarity, do not necessarily need to be met in the side stones. Since they are not the focal point of the ring, it may be possible to opt for slightly lower grade diamonds without sacrificing the overall appearance of the ring. However, the color grade must be constant across all three stones, so as not to create a noticeable disparity. If the side stones are considerably lower in color grade than the center stone, they will look yellow when placed next to it.
Custom design is a great way to create a three-stone setting that perfectly reflects your taste. One unique idea is to incorporate stones or elements from heirloom jewelry pieces that have sentimental value but are no longer in good enough condition to wear on its own. For example, an old pair of diamond studs can make perfect side stones for a three-stone setting, and an antique pair of earrings can be mined for gemstones to incorporate into the setting. It is a beautiful way to pass on the sentimental value of a piece of heirloom jewelry in a fashion-forward and modern way.
Another way to create a unique three-stone setting is to think outside of the typical round and square cut diamonds for side stones. Many beautiful three-stone settings incorporate unusually shaped diamonds into the shank, including pear, half-moon, trapezoid and baguette stones. Look for shapes that will coordinate well with your center stone—half moons for a classic round diamond, trapezoids to highlight the angularity of an emerald cut stone. The baguette diamond is an unusual and eye-catching diamond shape that accents any center stone when used in a three-stone setting.