As you shop for an engagement ring, you’ll start seeing terms that describe the ring’s design. A ring may be described as having a split shank, an engraved gallery, or eagle claw prongs. Unless you happen to already know a lot about jewelry, you probably won’t know these terms, which can make the shopping process confusing at first.
However, finding your perfect ring doesn’t have to feel like a daunting task. Once you learn the names for the different components of an engagement ring, it will be much easier to determine and describe exactly what you like, and find a design you love. To help you do just that, we’ve prepared this simple guide to engagement ring anatomy.
The center stone is the stone that rests in the center of your engagement ring. The center stone is the main focal point of an engagement ring, so it’s usually the largest and most eye-catching element.
The most popular type of center stone is a natural or lab-grown diamond, but colorful gemstones are also a top choice. Diamond engagement rings can be described as having a center diamond, while gemstone rings can be described as having a center gemstone.
Accent Stones & Side Stones
Accent stone is a term that refers to any stone other than your center stone. Smaller stones that accent your band will usually be called accent stones, while larger stones set next to your center stone may be called side stones.
Also sometimes called the ring’s mount, the setting is every part of the ring apart except the center stone. Ring settings can be plain or adorned with decorative accents, like diamonds, gemstones, or engraving.
As you browse different engagement ring designs, you’ll start to notice that they’re usually sorted by setting style. Some popular engagement ring setting styles include:
- Solitaire Setting: A classic design style, solitaire rings feature a single stone and no accent stones.
- Halo Setting: Halo engagement rings feature a halo of diamonds or gemstones that encircles your center stone.
- Hidden Halo Setting: This setting style features a hidden halo of diamonds or gemstones underneath your center stone. Hidden halos can be seen when a ring is viewed from the side.
- Side Stone Setting: Side stone settings are adorned with decorative diamond or gemstone accents.
- Three Stone Setting: Three stone rings feature three center stones that represent your past, present, and future together as a couple.
- Vintage Setting: Vintage-style rings have design details inspired by vintage eras. An Art Deco inspired ring may feature bold geometric shapes, while a Victorian style ring may feature intricate design details like embroidery-inspired filigree.
- Split Shank Settings: This setting style features a band that splits in two as it reaches your center stone.
Also called the ring’s band, the shank is the part of the ring that encircles your finger. Traditional engagement ring shanks are completely round, while Euro-style shanks have a slightly flat bottom designed to help prevent spinning.
The head of an engagement ring is the part at the top that holds your center diamond or gemstone. This includes your center stone’s setting and any connected elements in the same area, like decorative metal accents. Depending on a ring’s design, the head may be raised high off the band or it may be completely flush with the band.
Gemstone settings are the metal elements that hold your ring’s gemstones in place. There are many different types of gemstone settings, including:
- Prong Setting: Also sometimes called claw settings, prong settings hold gemstones in place with tiny metal bars that resemble claws. The most popular choice for center stones, prong settings can feature a range of tip styles. Examples include claw prongs, which have pointed tips, and v-shaped prongs, which cover the corners of pointed gemstone and diamond shapes.
- Bezel Setting: Bezel settings hold gemstones in place by enclosing them in a solid ring of metal. This highly secure setting style is an excellent choice for fragile center stones or for those with more active lifestyles.
- Pavé Setting: Pavé settings hold smaller gemstones closely together along your ring’s band. French for “pavé,” pavé settings are designed to create the impression of a road paved with gems. Pavé diamond accents are a very popular option for diamond engagement rings and wedding bands.
- Channel Setting: A channel setting holds gemstones in place within a recessed channel. Channel settings are commonly used to hold additional stones in a ring’s band.
- Tension Setting: A modern setting style, tension settings hold gemstones in place using tension. Tension settings are often designed to give the impression that a stone is floating.
A ring’s shoulder is the area between its shank and its head. Some engagement ring styles, like cathedral rings, have very pronounced shoulders, while others have little to no shoulders.
A feature of rings with raised heads, an engagement ring gallery is the area between the ring’s head and band. It can be seen when you view the ring from the side. A gallery can include structural elements like gallery rails, metal bars supporting stone settings. A gallery can also feature decorative elements like hidden diamond accents.
The base is the very bottom of the ring. This area is also often called the sizing area, as it’s usually left unadorned to allow for easy resizing.
Metal is the type of metal a ring setting is made of. Engagement rings are typically made of one of four precious metals: yellow gold, white gold, rose gold, or platinum. Many engagement ring and wedding band designs are available in multiple precious metal color options, allowing you to easily customize your ring.
Engagement Ring Anatomy in Action
To close out our guide, let’s use these terms in practice so you can get a feel for how they’re used. We’ll describe the ring pictured above.
This gorgeous rose gold ring is pictured with a round cut diamond center stone. It’s a halo style engagement ring with pavé diamond accent stones set on the ring’s halo and upper shank. The head of the ring setting is raised, so you’ll be able to see a shoulder and gallery when you view it from the side. There are no accent stones at the base of this ring, allowing for easy resizing.
We hope this guide has helped you gain a better understanding of your design options as you hunt for your perfect engagement ring. If you have any questions about ring anatomy or designs, please feel free to send us a message or make an appointment at our showroom. We’re always happy to answer questions and give personalized recommendations.