A Guide to Three-Stone Settings: Basics, Considerations, and More

The thrill of three stones...

Why settle for one center stone for your engagement ring when you can have three?!😍 When one diamond just isn’t enough, three-stone ring settings—also known as “trio” or “trinity” rings—give you more sparkle and a customizable silhouette that allows you to personalize your engagement ring any way you wish.

Three-stone engagement rings require some extra research and budgeting to get everything you want, but once you find a balance you’ll adore your sparkling trio for decades to come! Let’s take a look at three-stone ring basics, popular styles to choose from, the pros and cons of this setting, and more.

White Gold and Rose Gold Three-Stone Engagement Rings
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What is a three-stone ring setting?

The anatomy of a three-stone engagement ring is pretty straightforward: it consists of three stones—traditionally diamonds—centered on a band. Easy enough! But there are some slight variations to the design that can make a big difference in overall sparkle, silhouette, etc. For instance, all three stones may be the same size, or the outer gemstones may be slightly smaller than the center gem for a bit of variation.👏🏻

The three-stone design hails from the Georgian era, but it really hit its stride during the Victorian and Art Deco periods when ornate rings were popular choices for engagement and cocktail jewelry. A European cut diamond was usually at the center of these settings until the Art Deco period when shoppers began favoring rings with colorful emeralds, sapphires, and rubies instead.

The three stones at the center of this setting signify a couple’s “past, present, and future” together. Couples may also choose gemstones for their three-stone rings that are meaningful to them and represent their relationship, such as birthstones, anniversary stones, favorite colors, and more. Speaking of anniversaries, three-stone settings are a popular upgrade for couples celebrating many decades together, and it’s a fitting symbol of the time they’ve spent as a married couple!

Solitaire setting vs. Three-stone ring setting

The most popular engagement ring setting is the classic solitaire. There are some pretty obvious differences between solitaires and three-stone rings, but let’s break them down for easy comparison. Arguably the most obvious difference, solitaires feature one center stone, whereas three-stone designs have a trio of stones that act as the “center”.

Solitaire settings are also budget-friendly, and they can cost as little as a few hundred dollars depending on metal, stone quality, and setting details. In contrast, a three-stone ring requires an initial investment of at least three gemstones, which can be pricey if you want quality gems. Add in the cost of a setting and any extras, and you’re looking at a ring that costs in the tens of thousands if you’re not careful!

Finally, when it comes to cleaning and maintenance, it’s easier to care for one diamond than three. As such, solitaires are usually easier to clean and care for, and three-stone rings give wearers more chances to lose a precious gemstone over time.

That being said, both settings are classy and elegant, offering plenty of opportunities for shoppers to customize their chosen design with colored gemstone accents, engraving, milgrain and filigree, side or accent stones, and more!

8 popular styles of three-stone engagement ring

We mentioned that three-stone rings are extremely customizable, and that’s because there are just so many ways to style three stunning gemstones!🤹🏻‍♂️💃🏻 Here are a few popular versions of this design that you may come across as you shop:

Classic

Tasteful and timeless, the classic three-stone diamond ring setting includes three gems that are roughly the same size, cut, and shape. Diamonds are the most popular option for center stones, but they can really be any gem that you love. The stones sit proudly in a line and take up significant finger space, so some couples like to size down a bit to make the design less overbearing.

Smaller side stones

If a ring with three stones of the same size isn’t your thing, you can downsize your side stones for a sweet, petite look. Smaller side stones also give you the option of changing up gemstone shapes to create a more unique silhouette, and many shoppers are partial to pear, baguette, and round side stones. You can also use two clusters of gems to create the illusion of side stones for a starry sparkle!😛

Mixed cut cluster

A mixed-cut cluster is a newer addition to the three-stone style, but it’s certainly a lovely choice! Mixed cut settings include both brilliant and step cuts, which tend to sparkle rather differently. The brilliant cut stones glitter with fire and white flashes, while the step cuts bring a subtler glow to the overall setting with on/off flares of light.

Accent stones on band

Pavé, micropavé, channel set, bead set, and so on: these are the options when adding some delicate accent stones to your band for a touch of extra sparkle. Although a three-stone setting is already rather sparkly, adding more stones to your band can bring brilliance to step-cut trios and even more fire and scintillation to brilliant cut designs.

Halo

Did you know you can combine halo and three-stone rings for a one-of-a-kind look? Encasing each of your stones in a halo amps up that sparkle, leaving you with an engagement ring fit for a Hollywood starlet! Softer shapes like round and oval are typically used for halo three-stone settings, but there’s no reason you can’t use the same design for emerald cut gems or other broader shapes!

Bezel

For extra security, a three-stone bezel set engagement ring is the way to go! Prongs often catch and snag on clothing and other fabrics, and with three center stones you’re likely to have more prongs than the average ring setting. By placing your three stones in bezels, you can avoid snagging and protect the weaker points of your diamonds or gemstones for fewer trips to the jeweler for repairs in the long run. Just be aware that bezel settings tend to limit a stone’s sparkle just a tad as less light is able to enter your diamond. Your trio may not look as brilliant, but it’ll certainly be safer!

Metalwork

If you don’t want to overwhelm your three-stone setting with extra gems, including detailed metalwork can be another fun way to personalize your engagement ring. Milgrain is a subtle yet elegant touch that can be added to your band or around your center stones, and filigree and engraving can bring just a hint of personality to an otherwise plain band. The best part: both are usually more affordable than side or accent stones!

Vintage inspired

The three-stone setting saw a major rise in popularity during the Victorian and Art Deco periods, so it’s no surprise that many shoppers still opt for three-stone designs with the same vintage flair. These rings are usually more decadent than more modern styles, but the results look like something straight from the pages of The Great Gatsby!

Pros and cons

Time to look at the good, the bad, and the ugly of three-stone engagement rings. Here are some advantages and disadvantages of this lavish setting style:

Pros

  • Three stones means extra sparkle and more fire, brilliance, and scintillation.✅
  • The three-stone style is extremely customizable, and the options for personalizing your setting are unlimited.🌠🚀
  • It’s easy to add a pop of color without sacrificing a center diamond.🎨
  • Three stone settings look incredibly luxe and fashionable.
  • The trio at the center can cover a greater surface area, making the whole design appear larger.
  • When paired with the right side stones, a three-stone setting enhances the center stone and makes it appear larger and more brilliant.
  • The design is symbolic and sentimental, representing the past, present, and future of a loving couple.

Cons

  • More stones means more maintenance and cleanings over time to keep your three-stone ring sparkling.
  • If you choose larger stones, your three-stone setting may sit a little higher on your finger than other styles, which can lead to snagging and chipping.
  • Even if you have a somewhat flush three-stone setting, having so many prongs means this design is prone to snagging unless you choose a bezel setting.
  • Poorly paired side stones can detract from the beauty of the center gem, making the overall setting appear lackluster.
  • Three-stone settings can get expensive if you want large or high-quality stones.

Ways to personalize three-stone rings

One of the main benefits of three-stone engagement rings is there are so many ways to customize your design for a completely unique look. Whether you want a ring that stands out among the crowd or carries sentimental meaning, here are a few simple ways to make your three-stone setting entirely your own:📝

Stone shape and size

We mentioned the “mixed cuts” style of three-stone setting above, but there are plenty of ways to mix and match your trio of gems to make a unique engagement ring. Mixing cuts can bring together two different kinds of sparkle, such as in this round and emerald cut ring that has both brilliant cut glitter and step cut glam.

But, you can also mix and match shapes with the similar cuts for incredible results. Take a look at this round brilliant and trillion cut three-stone ring and compare it to this step cut trio with an Asscher and baguette stones. They look nothing alike despite their similar settings, proving that the three-stone style is one of the most versatile options out there!🙌🏻

Stone size is also a fun way to change up your three-stone piece, like this super modern engagement ring. The smaller stones give the ring a minimalist feel, but the overall design is still that of a three-stone band. Or, you can choose three larger gems, like in this emerald cut ring, to let your diamonds do the talking!

Stone color(s)

Although an all-diamond three-stone engagement ring has a pure beauty to it, there're something sweet about mixing one, two, or even three colored gemstones into your ring. It’s a fun way to personalize the look and make it more special for you and your partner, as these colors can represent your birthstones, locations that are important to you as a couple, your favorite colors, and more.

Sapphire side stones are a popular option, but something simple and sweet like morganite or deep and complex like alexandrite can make your three-stone ring stand out. And again, there are three stones, so don’t be afraid to make each one a different color if that fits your personal style!🙂

Here’s a list of potential colorful gemstone options for engagement rings just in case you need some inspiration:

  • Sapphire
  • Ruby
  • Emerald
  • Aquamarine
  • Amethyst
  • Morganite
  • Alexandrite
  • Opal
  • Pearl
  • Citrine
  • Peridot
  • Topaz
NOTE
⚠️Always keep stone hardness in mind when choosing colored gemstones for your ring, especially if you want a hard diamond as your center stone! If you mix softer stones with much harder ones, it can lead to scratching and damage.

Metal color

It seems like an overly simple solution, but the metal you choose for your engagement ring can completely change the look!

Yellow and rose gold are budget-friendly and super modern, and their color can mask the hue of lower-quality diamonds. Depending on the gemstone shape you choose, you can also use yellow gold to achieve a 1970’s vintage vibe as well!

Cooler-toned metals like white gold and platinum have a timeless, refined beauty to them, and they look amazing not only with diamonds but also with gemstones like sapphire, aquamarine, and dark amethyst.

Can’t decide on one metal? Consider trying a mixed metals look that incorporates two metal colors so you can have the best of both worlds. Some yellow and rose gold settings also incorporate white gold prongs into their design to enhance the whiteness of diamonds and create just a hint of contrast. Or, you can always opt for a wedding band made from a different metal than your engagement ring for a unique three-stone bridal set.👸🏻

Is a three-stone ring right for you?

So should you choose a three-stone ring? Setting is always a personal choice, and it’s important to pick the ring that not only speaks to you as an individual but also suits your daily needs. Here are a few factors to consider when deciding whether a three-stone ring is right for you:

Price and budget

It’s no secret: the more diamonds you add, the more a ring costs. And the bigger the stone, the bigger the price tag! Three-stone engagement rings sometimes can need three times the gems of a regular solitaire, so be sure your budget can handle the price of three stones. A standard 1-carat round brilliant diamond of good quality can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000, so be ready to pay triple that amount for an all-diamond display!

Balancing the size and quality of side stones can help you get a better center diamond and achieve the same level of sparkle.👩🏻‍🏫 Or, you can always opt for colorless diamond alternatives for a similar all-white appeal.

For a more vibrant option, colored gemstones typically cost less than a diamond of equal size. A seamless trio of sapphires or emeralds is just as lovely as a diamond trio, and you’ll save a few dollars that you can then spend on nicer wedding bands or add back to the overall wedding budget!😁

Lifestyle and activity level

If you have a hands-on job or live an active lifestyle, you may be less satisfied with a three-stone engagement ring. All those prongs and gemstones are easy targets for snagging, chipping, and cracking, and individuals with higher activity levels have more chances to damage their ring. So really, you’ll only be wearing your ring for special occasions or paying an insane amount for yearly maintenance.

Cleaning, showering, exercising, and gardening are just a few of the activities that can lead to gemstone or setting damage if you’re not careful. A bezel setting can help you avoid chipping your precious gemstone trio, but even that only goes so far, so think long and hard about whether your lifestyle suits a three-stone design. If you still love the style but live an active life, then just be prepared to take your ring off constantly or wear a silicone band when doing anything physical.

Cleaning and maintenance

Similar to price, more stones means more opportunities to lose a gemstone. As such, a three-stone ring should be cleaned and inspected regularly to mitigate damage and keep each gem sparkling beautifully. Now, as long as you take care of your ring and don’t bang it on every possible surface, you shouldn’t see an immense increase in repair costs.

However, having three stones means more places for dust and particles to collect, so the cleanings will need to be frequent. You can wash your ring monthly at home with warm water, dish soap, and a soft toothbrush and bring your setting in for a check-up and deep cleaning every few months.

Reputable dealers

Buying a three-stone ring can seem like a daunting process, since there are so many factors to consider! Buying from a reputable retailer that can take the time to answer your questions and provide you with a quality product is crucial. Here are a few of our favorite online retailers for three-stone engagement rings:

Thinking about a three-stone ring?

It’s no surprise that three-stone engagement rings are quite popular: they’re beautiful, sparkly, and have just the right amount of luxe style to make you feel like a celebrity! Shoppers who can’t settle on just one stone shape, color, etc. will also love this design, as it gives them unlimited chances to personalize their bridal suite and really make it their own.😘👸🏻

If three-stone wedding sets just aren’t your thing, we get it! For something a little simpler, read our guides to solitaire and bezel settings. Or, if you want just as much sparkle without the trio arrangement, try our handy guides to halo and pavé settings.

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