Matched pairs of stones are used to accent a center stone in a three/five stone ring. They are also used in earrings, usually as links in drop earrings. How well they are matched to each other is one of the most important characteristics side stones are judged by.
Some side stones are commonly set north to south (in line with the finger), and there are some that are set east to west (across the finger). Some could be set either way.
Almost every shape can be faceted as either a step or a brilliant cut.
List of different types:
Bullet diamonds are usually baguettes with one narrow end cut into a V-shape. Bullets are usually set with a V-shaped wall on the pointy side and prongs on the other end. In fine jewelry, they tend to be set directly into a shank without a visible wall or a step.
In combination with half-moons or trapezoids, bullets are marvelous in five stone rings. There are two styles of diamond bullets: straight and tapered. Tapered bullets, just like tapered baguettes are generally more attractive.
Brilliant cut bullets will match a brilliant-cut center stone. They work well with colored stones and colored diamonds. They are less common but could be easily custom cut.
Step cut straight bullets work well with Asscher and Emerald cut diamonds in the center. They have a certain Art Deco flair, so it is highly recommended to consider a bezel setting with millgrain.
Elongated bullet-shields are bullets with blunted or clipped corners. Usually seen on larger stones the trimmed corners make room for prongs to blend in.
Trapezoids or "traps" are modified straight baguettes that are tapered on both ends to form a trapeze. The tapering allows for a graceful transition from the center stone into the ring's shank. Trapezoids work best with elongated or very large stones. Step cut trapezoids work great with Emerald or Asscher cut.
Brilliant cut trapezoids are usually matched with radiant or princess cuts as well as with colored diamonds and gemstones.
French cut trapezoids are fabulous with antique cut diamonds, ovals, and Emerald cuts.
Crescent trapezoids longer side is carved in for a better fit to a large round, oval, or a cushion stone.
Balle Evasee is a combination of trapezoids and bullets that creates the most elegant flared side for any diamond, Emerald cuts, and Antique cushions in particular.
The emerald cut side stones step in when straight baguettes are not important enough to be on the side of an Asscher or emerald cut.
The French cut is an antique diamond cut that has a high crown, deep pavilion, and a very small rhombus-shaped table sitting at 45 degrees to the girdle. The traditional French cut crown has nine facets; four of them are triangular facets pointing to each corner. These facets make the stone look like a four-pointed star.
The pavilion has only four facets. French cuts date back to the 14th century but enjoyed renewed interest in the late 19th to early 20th century. Peruzzi cut is an obscure transitional cut, a cross between French and Old Miner diamond cut.
French cuts are mostly used as accent stones. They mix well with other antique cuts such as antique cushions and Asscher cut diamonds. French cuts’ culet reflections are often visible through the crown. This so-called Kozibe effect invented by the HRD lab is typical for antique cut diamonds with a high crown or thick girdle. Kozibe effect is an obscure term that should be obliterated from your memory when you finish reading this paragraph.
Radiant diamonds will usually pair well with other radiant stones. Princess cut or modern cushions could be used with radiant sides.
Chevrons are similar to trapezoids, but they have five sides and a pointy back facing the shank. Sometimes they are called "Cadi" - because their outline is a pentagon just like the Cadillac emblem. Step cut chevrons match well with emerald cuts and Asscher cut stones. Brilliant cut chevrons, although rare, work well with radiant-cut diamonds, elongated ovals, and marquises.
Crescent chevron's longest side is concave to better fit against a round, oval, pear or marquise diamond.
In reality, in most cases, it is unnecessary because side stones are set at the angle in relationship to the center stone.
The princess-cut diamond side stones are common and inexpensive. A princess-cut diamond has too much brilliance; it looks like someone has stepped on it. Their corners are fragile, ready to break off at any moment, with the slightest pressure. The princess-cut has a shallow crown and a very deep pavilion, making it difficult to fit with a center stone unless it is a radiant or a princess.
Rarely used as side stones, they could be seen in rings with a matching stone in the center. For example, a large oval stone might have two smaller ovals on each side or a large marquise might have two marquises. Ninety-nine percent of the time they are aligned with the center. Older jewelry commonly used bezel set marquises on the top portion of the shank. Today, it's rarely done in fine jewelry, but prong-set marquises are a common fixtures in cheap "designer rings."
It is easy to see how closely they are related to shields, with just one exception: they do not end in a point. Step cut shields might be pretty but they are difficult to blend into a shank. Brilliant cut calf's heads look more like trillions with broken tips.
Used as a generic term to describe a triangular cut diamond, Trillain is actually a brand name. There are others, Trielle is another patented cut that has completely straight sides. Produced from "mackle" rough, that is difficult to cut into any other shape, triangular diamonds were produced under different brand names. Used mostly in the 80's, trillions were very popular, but now they look outdated and unsophisticated. Their short lived popularity is due to the novelty factor that fizzled out long time ago.
Baguettes are the most common side stones used in engagement rings.
Step cut tapered baguettes are very common in engagement rings. A ring with tapered baguettes is often called "solitaire," while technically it is a three-stone ring. The tapered baguettes in a three-stone ring are viewed as a part of a ring shank, unlike other side stones that form a ring "head" in combination with a center stone. We measure tapered baguettes by their length and width. The longer sides angle inwards at approximately 5 to 8 degrees. The shorter sides are parallel to each other. The smaller width is usually not measured.
The brilliant-cut baguettes are considered a novelty, and they are not very popular.
Brilliant cut tapered baguette is genuinely the ugliest side stone ever produced.
The only justifiable use for brilliant-cut tapered baguettes is a three-stone ring with a princess-cut diamond in the center.
Straight baguettes are rectangular step cuts that can be set North-South or East-West, depending on the ring design.
They are commonly staggered next to each other, forming a ladder-like element.
Shields are beautiful whether they are step or brilliant cut. They are great transitional stones that could be paired with virtually any center stone.
Brilliant- and step-cut diamond shields are equally beautiful and versatile. They are great transitional stonesed with virtually any center stone. Matching diamond shields will be an appropriate companion and complement any center stone, whether it's a diamond or a col that could be pairored gemstone.
Heater shields are recycled marquises with a broken tip that is sawn off. It is a brilliant-cut that resembles a clothes iron from which it got its name.
Royal shields are a rare and unusual cut, usually paired with a round brilliant in the center.
The pear shaped stone could be a center stone in its own right, or it could be a supporting actor in a brilliant play. Pears are breathtakingly elegant when they are flanking a round stone. A round stone with two pear shapes is one of the most elegant combinations of stones in a three stone ring category.
Epaulettes or Cadillacs (Cadi’s) side stones are similar in shape to Chevrons but they are generally shorter and less angled. Perfect for those who have small finger size.
Half-moon diamonds look like a round or an oval diamond sliced in half. Popular with elongated stones.
Most half-moon diamonds on the market are so fat that they do look like a pair of ears. However, skinny half-moons (those with a ratio exceeding 2) are beautiful and complement a great variety of elongated shapes, in particular cushions, ovals, and radiants.
From the standpoint of a diamond cutter, a half-moon diamond is a gold mine.
After all - what is a better way to recycle broken, unused pieces of damaged diamonds than slice them in half and market as half-moons.
Step cut half-moons are beautiful, but they are hard to find.
Sometimes they are cut from straight baguettes that have been chipped.
Putting so many many step facets on a small diamond requires much patience and precision.
Crescent-shaped half-moon diamonds with a scooped straight side are laser-cut to better fit against the rounded side of the center stone.
Heart-shaped stones are a poor match in a three-stone ring. They fare better next to a rounded stone (oval, marquise, round), or a cabochon. This is the only shape that could transform a pearl into a viable center stone for a three-stone ring.
A round diamond is the king of a three stone ring - it usually presides over the center of the ring. In the role of side stones, round diamonds are screaming for attention, and this is not good. The general result is the "Mickey Mouse" effect that undermines their beauty. The only stone to tame their insatiable appetite for fame is the Big Brother - a round stone that is big and strong enough to put these cheeky buggers into submission.
Other than that, you might have a better effect by setting your stone in the middle of a pair of binoculars.
Caesar cut is a relatively obscure mixed diamond cut with a cushion outline of the girdle, brilliant faceting on the crown and step-cut pavilion.
Because of this "dual-personality," the Caesar cut can be matched with both step- and brilliant-cut center stones with excellent results. Sometimes the Caesar cut diamonds are confused with other elongated cushion cuts such as Ashoka or Chrisscut. However, the Caesar cut diamond has a different faceting arrangement. It has a superior brilliance when compared side-by-side to Ashoka.
What is even better, the Caesar cut is not protected by any patent; anybody can cut one, which makes it more affordable.
Caesar cut diamonds come in various length-to-width ratios - mostly elongated.
They could be an exciting option for modern cushions, emerald cuts, and even ovals. Square Caesar cut could work with a larger round center stone.
Kites could be step cuts. However, brilliant cut kite stones are a much more common variety.
Some people believe that they are a viable substitute for a shield or a bullet, but the truth should be told: they share the last place in the diamond side stones hall of fame (along with the trillions to whom they are closely related).
The ace-cut diamonds are similar to kites, but they have a lozenge shape - a parallelogram with four equal sides, just like the icon of a diamond suit of playing cards.
They are step-cut stones and look particularly attractive in drop earrings.