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Diamond Ring Guide: 3 Stone Ring VS 3 Carat Ring – What’s the Difference?

Diamond Ring Guide: 3 Stone Ring VS 3 Carat Ring – What’s the Difference?


Knowing what you are looking for in a diamond is hard enough, with the minute differences between one stone and another, causing dramatic differences in retail prices. But things can get even more difficult when less than scrupulous traders use misleading language to sell their products. This is something I had to educate myself on when my then-boyfriend (now husband of almost 8 years) asked me to give him an idea of the type of ring I like.

As more and more couples get engaged after holding things off due to the pandemic, ring shopping is at an all-time high and so is the demand for ring knowledge. Knowing that a three-carat diamond is a nice-sized stone is one thing, later finding out that you have misunderstood the advertisement––which is couched in such a way as to encourage such misunderstandings. And that in fact you are being offered a three-stone diamond ring, and not a single diamond weighing three carats set into a ring.

So, what do these terms even mean? 

Let us take a look…

A 3-Carat Ring

Photo: Sabrinna Ringquist | Unsplash

A diamond weighing three carats will weigh 600mg or just over half a gram. If the diamond is cut into a round brilliant shape, the ring will sit very nicely on the average finger, pretty much covering the width of that finger, with a very bold sparkle. Different cuts offer a different look, and also a different size. This is because the various cuts differ in depth and the deeper a diamond is cut, the better it will sparkle but the smaller it will look once set in a ring. Marquise cut diamonds have a fairly large top surface and are ideal if you want a nicely flashy ring on your finger.

Have a look at a Whiteflash 3-carat diamond here to get an idea of the cuts and qualities available. The price of such a stone will be determined by factors other than size (although size does play a part too) once the stone has been graded by an institution such as GIA, one of the two main natural diamond rating authorities in the USA. All stones weighing three carats must come with a certificate detailing its cut, weight, clarity and color ratings, so you will know what you are getting.

A 3-Stone Ring

Photo: Leah Kelley/Pexels

A three-stone ring, also known as a trinity ring or past-present-future ring, is exactly what it sounds like: a ring with three stones set into it. They are usually mounted in a line along the band, with all three stones the same size, or perhaps with a slightly larger central stone. Now it is standard practice with jewelers to sell this type of ring as a ‘three-carat ring’ when the sum total of the three diamonds on the ring adds up to three carats. Likewise, two one-carat earrings will be sold as ‘earrings: two carats’.

The Dilemma

The problem arises when vendors are trying to be misleading and imply that each stone is three carats (or each earring is two carats!). This can be very disappointing for buyers to realize that their amazing bargain purchase is actually a rather expensive price for half the number of diamonds. As mentioned above, the difference between a very good diamond and an average one is very hard to ascertain outside of lab conditions. This means that not being able to trust your vendor can be a very big problem indeed.

The solution is to always read the fine print! If something seems to be worded oddly in an advert, or looks too good to be true, ask the hard questions, and always ask to see the certificate! If the vendor is genuine, they will explain the terms and conditions honestly––and if not, they will avoid answering the question in some way, allowing you to gracefully refuse to continue with the purchase.

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