Ring Anatomy 101: Engagement Ring Parts Explained

round cut diamond engagement ring

If you have ever read the description of an engagement ring and been confused on what all the terminology means, you are not alone. Whether the ring is minimal and understated or exquisitely detailed, there are many parts of an engagement ring. So let us help make it easier to understand the next time you go shopping for women’s wedding rings. Join us as we guide you through Ring Anatomy 101 and break down each feature and detail that an engagement ring offers.

The Center Stone

The center stone is the focus of an engagement ring. As the main attraction and largest stone, the center stone can be found in a lot of different shapes and cuts. While diamonds are the traditional stone chosen for an engagement ring, the center stone can also be other gemstones like rubies or sapphires. Salt and pepper diamonds are an increasingly popular stone choice as well. For white diamonds, you can even choose between a natural or lab-grown diamond

Center stones can be found in “fancy” shapes such as an emerald, pear, marquise or princess cut, each with a unique look and features. However, a round diamond is the most popular shape, with the one carat size being the most popular in this cut.

The Band or Shank

Highly detailed or understated, your center stone will always rest on a band or shank, which slips onto your finger. Sometimes, couples choose to engrave a sentimental inscription, wedding date or message inside the band/shank. Also, when an engagement ring needs resizing because it is too tight or too loose, if it is a precious metal, a jeweler can typically easily resize the band. The one exception to this rule is if the ring has an ornate design that continues throughout the entire band. That’s why it’s best to get a ring that atleast has what’s called a “sizing band,” or some space at the back to change sizing as needed over the years.

The Setting or Mounting

Whether it’s referred to as the setting or the mounting, this word is an all-encompassing term that is used to describe the overall look of the ring. Aside from the center stone, it involves everything else: the band and other details like halos, the gallery and the shoulders (more on those later). The setting is not one particular engagement ring part, per se, but the whole aesthetic and design. For instance, you will often see an engagement ring being described as having a contemporary setting or a vintage mount. It’s the overall mood of the ring.

The Side Stones

emerald and diamond engagement ring

While the center stone takes center stage, the side stones flank it like the backup singers. Quite often, side stones complete what is called a three-stone setting, representing the past, present and future of a relationship. 

Side stones can come in any of the same shapes and stones that a center stone does. Side stones tend to be perfectly placed to accentuate the center stone. You can usually get away with a smaller center stone if you have some nice accents on the sides, or a halo - more on that in a bit! 

The Head or Crown

The “head” or “crown” of an engagement ring is what holds up the center stone. Prongs are part of the head or crown, too. Often, the style and cut of the center stone will dictate what kind of head/crown or prongs are used in the engagement ring design. You want to keep that center diamond or gemstone secure, of course. 

Button prongs are standard, while claw prongs offer a bit more grip to unique stone shapes like round, emerald and cushion cuts. You may also have four- or six-prong settings. Aside from prongs, a head/crown can also have what is known as a “basket.” A basket may have even more stones or a carved motif or design along the sides. In essence, the basket is what holds the center stone up and the prongs keep it safe.

The Halo

rose gold diamond engagement ring

Not to be confused with the crown, the “halo” is a circumference of smaller stones that surround or frame the center stone. An engagement ring halo is entirely optional and not always chosen. However, a halo does have a dramatic effect, making the center stone appear grander in size and sparkle.

The Gallery

This engagement ring part references the side profile of the band/shank. If your engagement ring is a vintage setting, you may find the gallery to have intricate filigree designs. However, if you have a modern setting, the gallery may have a few stones and a clean, sleek profile. 

The Bridge

Beneath the gallery is the “bridge,” the section that often joins each side of the band. The bridge also sits beneath the head and tends to rest on the finger, offering extra traction to prevent slipping or twisting. It can be just as minimal or intricate as the gallery. 

The Shoulder

The engagement ring’s shoulder is essentially part of the shank’s top. They are the top larger sides of the engagement ring, tapering off, twisting or splitting later down the shank.

Now You Know All the Engagement Ring Parts 

Now that you know all the bits and pieces that make up an engagement ring, take this knowledge to find the perfect ring. Knowing the terminology, you can discuss with your partner and jeweler the exact features that make up your dream engagement ring. 

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