Choosing Side Stones: How Many?
When deciding on a ring design, the first thing you need to think about is how many side stones you actually want.
One of the options people most commonly choose is the 3-stone setting: one central diamond and two side stones.
Another popular design is the 5-stone setting.
Of course, the exact number of stones is up to you and your personal taste, but there is something to keep in mind: The more stones you have in your ring, the more complex its structure will become as there will need to be a setting for each stone.
And this also means that your ring will have more fine parts that may need to be repaired in the future.
So, keep in mind that the more stones you have, the more difficult the task of cleaning and maintaining your jewelry may become.
Choosing the Size of Side Stones
When choosing size for your side stones, consider how balanced the resulting design will be.
Usually, the central diamond is the biggest and most prominent, and the side stones serve to underscore it. Hence, they should not be so big as to compete with the central stone.
On the other hand, if you have just a couple of side stones right next to the central diamond, they should not be much smaller than it, or the overall design will look out of proportion.
Selecting Color for Side Stones
When it comes to picking a color grade for side stones, it is best if it is the same as that of the central stone. Otherwise, the color mismatch would be visible and not nice to look at: If your side stones have a color that is several grades lower than that of the central stone, they will look yellowish next to it.
In general, the colors of the side stones and the central diamond should not be more than one grade apart.
Choosing Clarity for Side Stones
It is best if the side stones in your ring look eye clean, i.e., without flaws that are visible with the naked eye.
However, this doesn’t mean that you have to shoot for the highest clarity grade possible – these diamonds will cost you a lot.
In fact, you can go as low as diamonds graded VS (Very Slightly Included) or SI (Slightly Included) and find affordable stones that look reasonably clean in these grading ranges.
Even a stone with a couple of visible inclusions can work for you if you manage to mount it so that its flaws will be concealed by the setting.
One thing to keep in mind when choosing clarity: The bigger a side stone, the more visible its inclusions are likely to be, if only because there will be more of them. That’s why it is even more important for larger stones to be clean that it is for smaller ones.
Side Stones and Settings
When choosing side stones, you should also think about how they will be set in the ring.
This is important because the setting will determine how well protected the diamonds will be from hits, how easily they will be cleaned, how easy it will be for the stones to fall off, how often the setting will need to be repaired, and how visible the diamonds will be.
For example, prong settings are more reliable than invisible settings and more easily maintained than channel settings.
Channel settings, on the other hand, offer better protection for your diamonds, although that comes at the expense of making less of their surface visible.
Bezel settings are among the safest, but they also hide a good portion of the stone.
The bottom line is this: Each type of setting involves tradeoffs among safety, stone visibility, durability, and ease of maintenance, so you need to decide how important each of these factors is to you and choose the setting that best suits your needs.For more information on diamonds: Read our Diamond Cut Quality Guide.
Important: We recommend that you only buy diamonds that you have seen and examined in detail. Each diamond is unique, and a mere description of color, cut and clarity is not sufficient, as even stones of the same grades might look different.