The Anatomy of an Engagement Ring

If you’re just starting your engagement ring journey, you’re probably encountering some new lingo and perhaps general information overload. An engagement ring may look pretty straight forward but it is actually comprised of many different parts. Each area has its own technical term, commonly used by jewelers and serves a unique purpose. Let’s explore some of this unique lingo.

Detailed Anatomy of Engagement Ring
Cross-Section of an Engagement Ring

CENTER STONE (STAR OF THE SHOW)

Modern day engagement rings run the gamut in design, however they all have one important detail in common. They all have a stone that is bigger than the others and set in the center. This stone can be a diamond or a gemstone. Center stones are measured in carats, the most common size in the US being somewhere around a 1 carat. Round shape is the most popular but other shapes such as emerald, pear, oval, marquise, cushion and princess are also used; these are referred to as “fancy” shapes. Every shape has its own unique characteristics as well as pros and cons.

Center Stone Shapes

SIDE STONES

Side stones can be any of the above shapes. They flank the center stone on each side in what is called as a three stone setting. This will increase the cost of the setting, depending on what side stones are used. Precious stones like sapphires and emeralds are a beautiful and more affordable choice to diamonds. If you do choose diamonds for your side stones make sure they are of the same quality as the center for a cohesive look. Three stone settings are both beautiful and meaningful, symbolizing love, fidelity and friendship.

SETTING OR MOUNTING

The setting, or mounting, refers to everything but the center stone. Think of the setting as the support crew of the main star: the center stone. The setting gives off the overall feeling of the ring, whether it has a vintage aesthetic, or a contemporary or classic feel.

HEAD

The head, sometimes called a crown by jewelers, refers to the part of the setting that holds the center stone, including the prongs. There are different types of prongs and fancy shapes can take unique prongs to help them best keep the stone secure. If the head has some fancy design motif or stones on it, it is sometimes referred to as the basket which provides increased support and stability for the center stone. Some heads are part of the setting, some are removable and can be changed to different designs or sizes, while keeping the existing shank or band.

Engagement Ring Heads
Engagement Ring Heads

HALO

A halo is optional but is definitely important to mention, as this type of setting has been extremely popular in the past few years. The term refers to a group of stones surrounding the center stone forming a sort of frame. The effect is a bigger appearance of the center area and of course extra sparkle.

GALLERY

The gallery refers to the area that can be seen when viewing the side profile of the ring. These can be fancy with an intricate scroll or filigree design, it can be with stones or it can be minimalist. Below are some examples of various galleries, including intricate and simple.

Engagement Ring Galleries

BRIDGE

The bridge refers to the part under the gallery and can be plain, with millgrain or with diamonds or other stones.

Engagement Ring Bridges

SHOULDER

The shoulder refers to the top two sides of the ring forming the beginning of the shank. This area can taper, augment, be straight, twisted or split.

SHANK

The shank, also called the band, is the bottom portion of the ring which wraps around your finger. The bottom underside is the part that jewelers cut when sizing a ring. Inside the shank is a great place to put an inscription of the wedding date or a meaningful message. The shank has the important job of ensuring that the ring fits your finger properly and prevents the ring from spinning. 

SIZING AREA

The sizing area is located on the back bottom of the ring and where the jeweler can cut and size to your exact finger size.

In conclusion, as you begin your journey and start to get an idea of the kind of ring you want, it is important to understand and be able to discuss these terms. This will be especially helpful if you plan on altering existing designs or building a custom design of your own.

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