RING DESIGN GUIDE & ANATOMY OF A RING
Beginning the search for the perfect engagement ring can be overwhelming. Alongside a large variety of ring jewelry designs, unfamiliar jewelry terminology used in names and descriptions can be very confusing.
We created a ring design guide to make deciding on your jewelry easier so you can better communicate the type of rings you want to your jeweler. After all, the chosen ring will be on your finger for life. In order to help you learn the terminologies for different ring parts, we provide a visual glossary of ring anatomy. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.
Ring Parts and Ring Terminology
What’s a shank? Is it an important part of the ring? How is a ring’s depth different from its profile? Read through our guide to learn all about the anatomy of a ring, the parts of an engagement ring, the technical term for each part of the ring and use the diagrams to become familiar with the different parts of a ring setting when discussing your desired finger jewelry accessory with a jeweler.
The shank is also called the band, this is the ring part that encircles the finger. But many a jeweler would distinguish these two, the band is the entire ring around the finger and the shank has two parts, lower and upper shank. Shanks would vary depending on the design.
The head (or crown) which is at the very top of the ring has the prongs, bezel and channel heads. The design of these head parts vary depending on the position of the stone in the full design of the ring. The prong holds the center stone. More prongs secure the center diamond or gemstone better, but more prongs could also cover a significant part of it.
The gallery is just under the head of the ring, covered by the shank and the center stone. Embellishments are attached to the gallery. The gallery designs add to the profile beauty of the ring. A gallery design can be minimalistic or highly elaborate. The gallery rail is important to the ring’s structure for the strength support it gives to the prong as it holds the center stone. For additional sparkle, you might add more stones to the gallery rail. The gallery rail is sometimes referred to by jewelers as the “basket.”
The ring’s shoulder is on the side of the ring. These are top two sides sloping towards the design center. There are two shoulders and hold up the ring head on the top two sides of the ring. Being on the top two sides, each shoulder is often dotted with accent stones to further beautify the design.
Scroll down for our jewelry gallery. This gallery refers to ring styles, to give you ideas, even for a custom design of your desired jewelry piece.
The most classic of all styles, solitaire rings feature stunning solitaire diamonds or gemstones as large center stones.
Halo designs feature a main diamond as the center diamond stone surrounded by a “halo” of smaller diamonds or accent stones. A halo setting that holds the center stone like a crown can make the gem appear double in size.
Accent Stone Ring
An accent stone ring features diamond side stones or embellishments on the shoulders of the ring, accenting the center stone. An engagement ring with a pave diamond band is a popular example.
The three-stone ring (also called Trinity, Trilogy or Trio Ring) features a center stone or diamond framed by two side stones, one on either side, three diamonds side by side. The three-stone setting symbolizes a representation of the past, present, and future.
A cluster ring features many small gemstones or a set of small diamonds clustered together, not one center stone. Gemstones are often arranged in the shape of a flower.
A vintage-style ring has a design that evokes a past era. Popular design eras include Victorian (1837-1900) and Art Deco (the 1920s-1940s).
A plain metal ring is a fashion or engagement ring without gemstones made from precious metal. Plain precious metal rings are often chosen from jewelers by men for their wedding rings.
Ring With Accents
A ring with accents features diamonds as side stones on the shank part of the ring, with or without a center stone. The shape, size, and setting of the accent diamonds or gemstone accents vary by design.
An eternity ring features not a center stone but a full circle of diamonds or gemstones. If the diamonds don’t completely encircle the finger the ring is described as ‘semi eternity.’
Five-Stone Ring designs resemble the half-eternity ring, thus having the same symbolic meaning, despite the visual presentation of the full eternity ring representing eternal love and commitment.
In technical terms, the setting of a gemstone is how it is held in place. However, the setting also plays a central role in the overall appearance of a ring. Listed below is a gallery of the twelve most common different ring settings. It should be noted that the names used to describe settings may vary between countries and jewelers since not all rings are called the same terms.
The most-used setting for center stones especially solitaire diamonds, a prong setting uses small metal pieces called prongs to hold the gemstone in place, common in engagement rings. This is known to jewelers as a head. The number and shape of these small metal pieces/prongs used can vary. Most prong settings use four or six small metal pieces. Prongs may be rounded, pointed (claw prongs, called a claw setting), flat, or v-shaped. When prongs are used to set a row of accent stones, adjacent stones may share prongs. This “shared prong” setting can minimize metal and space between stones.
Pronged heads, among the different parts of the ring, are crucial since this setting keeps the gem securely in place, at the same time allowing more light to hit it from more angles, thus increasing the stone’s brilliance!
Bezel and Half-bezel Setting
A bezel setting uses a thin metal border to hold the center gemstone in place, like solitaire diamonds. In a half-bezel , a border surrounds part of the gemstone, leaving the sides open. This setting does not allow as much light to enter the stone as a prong setting, but is very secure and does not snag – as a jeweler would advise as an excellent choice for people who work with their hands.
A smooth and secure setting for diamond bands, channel settings use parallel metal lips to hold stones within sunken grooves.
The channel head (or channel setting) keeps the gems in place through special grooves in the channel walls or the groove lips made narrower than the stones.
Pavé and Micro-pavé Setting
“Paved” in French, a pavé setting is used to closely set gemstones, allowing the minimal metal to show through between stones. Gemstones are typically positioned in drilled holes, and tiny beads or prongs are used to hold them in place. In the case of very small stones (under .01 ct), this setting technique may be referred to as micro-pavé.
A bar setting uses metal bars to secure the gemstone on two sides. This setting is similar to a channel setting except the bars are positioned vertically, making them perpendicular to the shank part of the ring rather than parallel with it.
In this type of setting, the solitaire gemstone is held in center place by only the tension of the band. The gemstone appears suspended between two sides of the band, from a side profile view. Jewelers opine a less difficult and expensive alternative to this type of setting is the “tension-style” setting. In this case, a hidden prong or bezel-style setting holds the solitaire gemstone in center place while still giving the overall effect of a tension setting.
A burnish setting can be most easily understood as a “sunken” center setting. The gemstone is placed in a hole drilled into the metal and pushed down so that its top is flush with the metal surface. To secure the stone in the center, a burnishing tool is used to push a small amount of metal over the edges of the gemstone surface.
This type of setting gives the illusion that a gemstone appears larger than it is. To achieve this, the center gemstone is set onto a shiny gold metal ring cut to mimic the stone facets. The gold diffuses the outline of the stone, creating the illusion of a larger center stone.
As the name implies, this setting does not reveal how gemstones are held in place. No metal can be seen overlapping the gemstones, which together create a single smooth surface. The secret to this setting lies in a special stone-cutting technique. Grooves cut into the sides of each gemstone allow them to lock onto a hidden metal rail, with pressure applied from the outer edges keeping them in place. Though stunning, this type of setting is arguably the least secure of all settings types.
It is important to pay attention to the band size of the ring design, wide/thick or narrow band. A narrow band or slim band, with slim prongs, will make the center diamond relatively larger, in contrast. So if you want to make your diamond as large as possible, choose a narrow band setting.
For a complete guide to shapes and a gallery of gemstone shapes, and give your more room to choose and decide, visit the Diamond & Gemstone Shape Guide.
Commonly referred to as the finger band, shanks are the parts of a ring that encircle the finger. Ring shank types can vary in width, depth, and shape. Here is a gallery of some popular types of jewelry ring shanks.
Basic straight shanks form a straight line of equal width all the way around.
A tapered shank widens as it reaches the center stone giving more room to emphasize the gem.
In reverse tapered, the band becomes skinnier as it approaches the center stone.
In this style, the shank splits into two thinner bands as it reaches the center head of the ring.
Reverse Split Shank
A reverse split separates at the base or lower portion of the band and joins together again at the center stone.
Instead of forming a straight line that meets at the head of the ring, the two sides of this style “bypass” each other. The ends may protrude in opposite directions or curve around the center stone.
A traditional shank is evenly rounded at the bottom part of the ring.
A Euro shank has a slightly squared bottom, which provides more room that can help prevent the ring from spinning.
In a cathedral mounting, a classic setting for a diamond solitaire, part of the shank slopes up to meet the head of the ring, creating negative space in each shoulder of the ring.
Curved rings include classic curve, twist, and freeform designs. Wedding rings can feature a single contour custom-made to match the engagement ring. Twist and freeform designs are playful design alternatives.
A ring’s profile refers to the shape it would be if sliced in half and viewed as a cross-section. Below is a gallery of the most common profile shapes used for a wedding band or an engagement ring, though the names for bands may vary between countries and jewelers.
A D-shape ring is flat on the inside and domed on the outside, giving the profile a “D” shape
A flat profile ring has a completely flat inner and outer surface.
A knife-edge ring has a flat inner edge and an outside that is angled to form a pronounced peak at the center.
A court shape ring has a comfortably curved inner and outer edge.
A flat court profile is curved on the inside but flat on the outside, giving it a modern look.
Similar to a court ring, a flat-sided court ring is curved on both sides but features flatter edges.
A double comfort ring has rounded edges and is curved on both the inside and the outside.
Halo rings have a distinctive, completely circular profile.
A concave ring curves up at the edges. The inside is curved for comfort around the finger.
Metal Finishes & Detailing
The finish and detailing of ring metals can make a big difference in the overall appearance of the piece. Filigree, milgrain, and engraving, for instance, can give rings a beautiful antique look.
The most popular metal finish for jewelry, polished rings have a high-shine glimmer.
Although as smooth as polished metal, a matte finish eliminates shine. Matte rings have a soft, subtle appearance.
A satin finish is smooth and shine-free, but with very slightly visible brush marks.
A hammered finish gives rings a dimpled appearance. Aside from adding visual interest, hammered rings are good for hiding wear and tear. The surface is usually matte but can also be polished.
Derived from the French words “mille grain”, meaning “a thousand grains”, milgrain is a technique that gives rings a finely beaded appearance. Milgrain is usually applied to the edges of jewelry, creating a border, though it can be used anywhere
Filigree is an ancient metalworking technique dating back thousands of years. Very thin threads of precious metal are woven together to create lace-like jewelry.
A brushed finish is a more textured matte finish. A popular finish for men’s rings, brushed metal has a finely scratched appearance.
Hand engraving is the technique of carving designs into metal by hand.