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Ring Anatomy 101: All You Need To Know

Looking to buy an engagement ring but not sure what all the different bits and bobs of a ring are? Let us walk you through the anatomy of a ring so you can find the one that fits you best!

Various loose parts of engagement ring

The beginning of your engagement ring shopping doesn’t need to feel daunting. Maybe you’ve already got a clear idea of what you want, and you’re just unsure of all the ring terminology. Or, you have no idea which ring style is best for you or your partner and you need some help from the experts. Whatever side of the equation you’re standing on, we’re here to guide you. 

There are many different ring settings to choose from, and each setting has multiple design features. The good news is that once you know what these settings are, the ring buying process will be that much easier and, dare we say, exciting. Knowing the difference between these parts can help you and your partner understand exactly what you want, not to mention, if you’re going to custom design the ring yourself, you’ll need a little lesson in ring anatomy 101. 

Worried you might still be confused? We’ve got plenty of fun infographics to help pinpoint each area of a ring’s anatomy. Let’s get started! 

Engagement ring styles

The Different Parts Of A Ring 

Center Stone

The center stone of the ring refers to the diamond or gemstone that sits at the center of the ring setting. The center stone is usually the largest stone on the ring and traditionally features a round-cut diamond or gemstone. However, each engagement ring can be fitted with the center stone of your choice, not excluding fancy-shaped diamonds or gemstones like oval, pear, emerald, princess, and marquise cuts. 

Basket

A basket is a prong setting that has traditional prongs extending up from the base of the metal band and a horizontal band that connects the prongs to provide enough tension to hold the center stone in place. This creates a basket shape for the diamond or gemstone to sit in. 

Bridge

The bridge of a ring refers to the area underneath the head of the ring that sits on the wearer’s finger. This area typically needs to be comfortable with no sharp edges. It’s hardly seen once the ring is on, however, it can feature a small diamond or gemstone accent, or patterned engraving. 

Gallery

A functional and decorative feature, the gallery of a ring is located between the basket and bridge on the ring’s head. Traditional engagement rings often featured open galleries, allowing the bottom part of the center stone to be visible. However, on three stone rings the gallery might also include these added accents. 

An infographic explaining what a center stone, gallery, bridge, and basket are in a ring

Settings

The setting refers to the entire ring and the way added stones have been set on the ring. You’ll find there are various setting types to suit your unique style. But not all settings are created equal. Some settings are simple while others are more complex. Whichever setting you choose will determine how the final look of your ring, but more importantly, your chosen setting will affect the cost and maintenance of it, too. Let’s dive into the different types of settings. 

  1. Solitaire

Simple and timeless is how we’d described a solitaire setting. It’s effortless in design, as a plain or two-toned metal band with a single center stone. Solitaire engagement rings can feature a variety of different prong settings and the band itself isn’t limited to a single design either. 

14K White Gold Ten Prong Solitaire Engagement Ring
14K White Gold Woven Solitaire Engagement Ring
  1. Pavé

The French word pavé, meaning to pave stones, might help you to remember this ring setting. A pavé setting refers to small stones featured along the line of the band, like cobblestones. It’s a delicate and often favored setting because it offers the ring-wearer some extra sparkle to complement the center stone. 

14K White Gold East-West Pavé Cathedral Diamond Engagement Ring
14K White Gold Petite Pavé Engagement Ring
  1. Channel Set

Channel set settings are side diamonds embedded into a grooved channel of the band. Think of it as if the rows of diamonds are cemented between two walls of metal. Light can still reflect off the diamonds but they’re as exposed as side diamonds on pavé settings. 

14K Yellow Gold 0.25ct Channel Set Princess Shaped Diamond Engagement Ring
14K Yellow Gold Thin Channel Set Round Shaped Diamond Engagement Ring
  1. Three Stone 

A three stone setting usually features a center stone with two diamonds or gemstones sitting flush on either side of it. What’s fun about this setting is that the two additional stones don’t necessarily need to be the same diamond shape as the center stone. 

14K Yellow Gold Three Stone Emerald And Pavé Set Diamond Engagement Ring
14K Yellow Gold Three Stone Pear Shaped Emerald Engagement Ring
  1. Side-Stone 

More sparkle for your center stone is how we like to think of side stone settings. A side-stone setting can include any number of additional stones along the band of the ring. These stones can be cut and placed in any number of beautiful ways and truly bring out the brilliance of the center stone. 

14K Rose Gold Scattered Blooms Undulated Diamond Engagement Ring
14K Rose Gold Bypass Marquise Array Diamond Engagement Ring
  1. Tension

Looking for a setting that can be admired from a mile away? That’d be a tension setting. This setting uses compressions to hold the center diamond in place, giving the appearance that the diamond is suspended in midair. The setting is usually made from a thick metal band and is sure to stand out in a crowd. 

14K Two-Tone White And Yellow Gold Pear Shaped Swirl Tension Setting
14K White Gold Contoured Twist Tension Set Engagement Ring
  1. Halo 

The halo setting is one that typically encircles the center stone with round pavé or micro-pavé diamonds. The small accent stones can make the center stone appear larger. A halo setting can take on the same or a different shape than the center stone. 

14K Yellow Gold Scalloped Cathedral Halo Diamond Engagement Ring
14K Yellow Gold Pavé Halo And Shank Diamond Engagement Ring (Pear Center)
  1. Bezel

A bezel setting uses no prongs and instead is designed with a rim of metal holding the center stone. The surrounding metal only leaves the upper portion of the diamond or gemstone visible. This setting is perfectly designed to keep the center stone safe and secure.

14K White Gold Comfort Fit Bezel Set Solitaire Engagement Ring
14K White Gold Pavé Bypass Bezel Set Diamond Engagement Ring

Prongs 

The prongs on a ring’s head are small metal projections or claws, either rounded, pointed, or v-shaped. Prongs extend up the ring’s basket and are used to secure the center stone in place and hold it there. There are various types of prong settings, the most popular for engagement rings being four or six prongs – enough to leave the diamond visible and able to reflect light and sparkle. 

Side Or Accent Stones

Side or accent stones are the stones that flank the sides of the center stone and are attached to the shoulders or the shank of the setting. Accent or side stone can encircle the entire ring in an eternity style or just decorate a small position of the ring. These accents aren’t limited to diamonds but can be tiny gems, too, of any fancy shape.

Shoulder 

Naturally, the shoulder helps to keep the head of the ring up. It’s the area where the shank and the ring setting meet and can be adorned with small diamond or gem accents. 

Shank 

Shank is more commonly known as the circular metal band that goes around the entire finger. A ring’s shank can take on many unique designs, from, twisted, curved, flat, and even split shank. Like most of a ring’s anatomy, the shank can also feature small diamond or gemstone accents. When choosing a ring it’s important the shank is comfortable and amplifies the appearance of the ring itself. 

An infographic explaining what the shank, side stones, prongs, and shoulder are in a ring

Build Your Engagement Ring

At JamesAllen.com, we give you the ultimate custom-design experience in our very own ring studio. Watch your engagement ring change to your specifications in real-time. Now that you’ve got a clearer idea about ring anatomy, the only limit is your imagination. 

Design engagement ring online

Let’s Sum It Up

We hope this lesson on ring anatomy helps you on your journey to finding the perfect engagement ring. And if you’re planning to design it yourself, take everything we’ve just taught you and give our ring studio a try for the ultimate ring custom designing experience.

Still got questions? Feel free to visit us at James Allen and chat with one of our diamond and jewelry experts, available to you 24/7. 

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