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ANATOMY OF AN ENGAGEMENT RING

So you've found THE diamond. Congrats!

The last step (well - at least the last one before the question is popped) is to determine the setting you want.  We set out here the terminology used by jewellers to describe the parts of a ring to help you convey exactly what you are looking for.

The Setting

This is the entire ring, including the stones.

 

The Head

This is the part of the ring that holds the centre stone. The head should be first and foremost strong enough to resist bending and should protect the center stone from falling out under normal wearing conditions. However, too much metal and the ring may look bulky and cover too much of the diamond. The goal is to balance strength, protection and beauty. 

 

The ShankThis is the part that goes around the finger which starts and ends at the head.

The Shoulders

The shoulders are the top sides of the shank. Smaller diamonds (melee diamonds) are often set in this area as accents to the engagement ring. It commonly rises off the finger, and helps create the style or design of the mounting. 

Bridge

The bridge is the portion of the ring that rests on top of your finger. 

Gallery Rails

The gallery rail is a bar that sits about midway between the top of the stone and bridge and keeps the prongs of the centre or any side stones secure. Accent diamonds can be set on the gallery rails for a little extra sparkle.

 

Gallery

The gallery is the area between the gallery rail and the bridge. Usually this area is simply left open, allowing viewers to see more of the center stone.

 

Sizing Area

This area is located at the very bottom of the shank to allow ring size adjustments - cutting and removing metal to size down and cutting then adding metal to size up. To allow for this, this portion of the shank is often left plain. 

How do you want the stone to be held in place?

Prongs

These are the metal tips, beads or arms that hold a stone in place. Common prong styles include:

  • four-prong

  • six-prong

  • double prong: two prongs of the same size and shape are created side-by-side to hold the stone in place. Other than being decorative, it adds security.

  • claw prong: the prong is shaped into a shaper point or claw.


  • v-tip: a v-shaped prong usually used to protect princess cut and marquise cut diamonds

Bezel (or tube)

Instead of using prongs, a bezel setting uses a rim of metal to hold the stone, completely surrounding it, leaving only the upper portion of the diamond showing.

 

Bezels can be plain, accented with diamonds or gems or have detailing (e.g. filigree is a common detailing on a bezel setting). 

As an alternative, you can also have a Half Bezel where only two sides of the bell are open. Half bezels are typically plain metal. 

Tension setting

A tension setting uses pressure to hold (or squeeze) a stone between open ends of the shank - creating the illusion that the stone is floating.

What kind of shank do you want?

When it comes to adding embellishments to your ring, the possibilities are endless. Here are a few ideas...

Knife edge shank

This is where the edge of the band slants in, coming to a slight point or knife.

Split shank 

The band (or shank) splits, opening towards the centre stone. 

Tapered shank

The width of the shank becomes narrower as it approaches the centre stone.

Reverse-tapered shank

The width of the shank widens as it approaches the centre stone. 

Want to embellish your ring?

When it comes to adding embellishments to your ring, the possibilities are endless. Here are a few ideas...

Accent Stones

 

These are the small diamonds, commonly referred to as “melee” (rhymes with "smelly") diamonds that adorn the shank and give added sparkle and carat weight to a ring. Accent stones can also be used on the bridge, gallery rail and head prongs. Common setting types with accent stones include:

  • Pavé setting: which is a band that appears to be paved with accent diamonds. Pavé settings use small prongs or beads to hold the diamonds in place, leaving very little metal exposed. There are quite a few types of pavé settings -  a few common ones include: 

  • Micro-Pavé: incredible small diamonds (typically each diamond is less than 0.01 carat) are usually set in several rows such that it appears the whole band is entirely made of diamonds. 

  • French Pavé (fishtail): in this setting, diamonds are set into little V-shaped grooves cut into the band of the ring. The diamonds appear to be set next to each other, with little to no metal holding them in place, creating the illusion of an endless line of diamonds, 

  • U-cut Pavé: The name of this style comes from the shape of the grooves into which the diamonds are set. From the side view, these grooves look like the letter U, which gives it a unique and wavy appearance.

  • Channel setting: Channel setting is a style of setting where the stones line up next to each other and are supported between two bars or strips of metal, referred to as channels. This is often seen as quite a traditional style. 

  • Bar setting: in this setting, a thin piece of metal (a "bar") sits vertically between each stone, holding them in place.

  • Invisible setting: An invisible setting is where the stones (typically princess or emerald cut) are set next to each other without any visible metal holding them in place - creating the appearance of a solid surface of stones.

  • Burnish set: Sometimes referred to as ‘flush set’ this style of setting is where the stone is inserted into a tapered hole that has been drilled into the band, and a burnishing tool is then used to push the metal all around the stone, so that the stone is flush with the surface of the band.

Where a ring's pavé, micro pavé or accenting side stones extend all the way around the band without any plain metal showing, this is known as an Eternity Ring

Halo Stones

Where the centre stone is surrounded by a circle of accent stones. Multiple halos can be created (e.g. double halo). Where accent stones surround the gallery rails, a hidden halo is created. 

 

Side stones

Why just have one diamond when you can have more? Side stones are diamonds which compliment the centre stone and are set beside the centre stone. A common design is the Three Stone Ring which represents the past, present and future. 

 

Milgrain/beading

This is where small beads of metal are used to accent the edge of a setting or add pattern or adornment to features like a halo and bezel. This detail often gives a more vintage look to a ring. 

 

Filigree

This is a stylistic embellishment that can be found on the shank, gallery or head of the ring using spiral or twisted designs. This detailing often gives a more vintage look to a ring. 

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