There are some parts of an engagement ring that can easily capture anyone’s attention. The diamond for one, and the band for another. There is so much more to a ring, though, than these eye-catching attributes.
Are you interested in learning all about the parts of a diamond ring? Here, we go into detail, explaining the important parts of a ring and how they work together to make up such a valuable piece of jewelry.
The Importance of Ring Anatomy
Engagement rings are meant to last forever, so it’s important to pick the right one. We’re firm believers that the more you know, the better decision you can make. When you understand the anatomy of a ring, it will help you choose the right ring for you.
The Parts of A Ring
Let’s explore the unique parts of a ring from the girdle to the gallery and everything in between.
This is likely the part of a ring that you are most familiar with, especially as it relates to engagement rings, which are widely defined by a center diamond. The center stone doesn’t have to be a diamond, though. In fact, when it comes to the best stones for engagement rings, there are many options to choose from. Some favorites for engagement rings and other fine jewelry include moissanite, sapphire, and emerald. All of these beautiful gemstones, and others still, will stand out on any hand and capture the attention a center stone warrants.
The head of the ring is what holds onto the center stone. There are multiple types of heads to choose from when it comes to ring design including a prong head, channel head, basket head, or bezel.
Pronged heads are the most popular option. They are made up of a number of prongs that extend from the band and act as claws on the center stone to hold it in place.
Channel heads are made up of two straight pieces of metal that the stone is set between. A bezel is a type of head that encircles the center stone in metal. In fact, the bezel setting is the most secure of the types of heads.
A prong is a piece of metal that holds the gemstone in place, but it never works alone. While the number of prongs used to hold stones in place varies depending on the prong setting, the more prongs there are, the more secure the stone. However, the more prongs, the more the edges of the stone are covered as well. For example, solitaire engagement ring settings typically have four to six prongs.
Because this is the part of a ring that secures the stone, it’s important to ensure the prongs of a diamond ring are strong. To do so, you can pay attention to any wear and tear you notice the prongs experiencing and have a jeweler regularly check the prongs when you bring your ring in for cleaning.
There are various style prongs, dot prongs and claw prongs being the most popular. Prongs can also vary in metal. Where gold prongs may be used to match a gold band, white gold or platinum prongs can disappear on a colorless diamond, and even make it appear larger.
The girdle is a band that encircles the diamond across its widest part, separating the crown of the diamond (the part you see when you’re looking down at a ring) from the pavilion of the diamond (the part that points down toward your finger). From the side, the girdle appears like a line cutting across the middle of the stone.
Girdles can vary in thickness from “extremely thin”, to “very thin”, “thin”, “thick”, “slightly thick”, “very thick”, and “extremely thick”. When shopping for an engagement ring, the thickness of the girdle only really matters as it relates to your personal style, as long as you avoid “extremely thin” girdles, which can easily chip and leave the center stone vulnerable, and “extremely thick” girdles, which can limit the amount of light return (read: sparkle) of the center stone.
It’s also important to note that thicker girdles may suggest that a stone’s carat weight is hiding in its depth. When you purchase a diamond of a certain carat weight, you want most of that weight to be concentrated on the diamond’s table, which is the portion of the stone you will see when looking at the ring.
The shoulder of a ring is exactly where you would picture it if the ring were a body, below the head on either side. The shoulder may be simply part of the band, or what links the band to the ring setting. This is typically where side stones or accent stones sit.
Side stones are smaller diamonds or gemstones that flank the sides of the center stone. One of the most common settings for engagement rings is a three-stone setting, where there is a side stone on either side of the center stone. Side stones can enhance the overall brilliance of a ring, as well as its uniqueness, especially if they are a fancy cut or color. Of course, not all rings have smaller stones surrounding the brilliant center stone.
Halo settings are another way to enhance a center stone’s brilliance. This setting consists of several small diamonds that surround the center stone, diamond or otherwise, like a halo would surround a head.
A diamond band is yet another way to enhance the sparkle of your engagement ring without side stones. Consider a pave setting, which consists of numerous diamonds connected by tiny prongs or drops of metal.
The gallery is the area directly beneath the center stone or stones of a ring. In most diamond engagement rings, the center stone is set higher above the finger to allow space for the depth of the stone, especially if the stone is of a large carat weight. This space that connects the setting of the stones with the band is part of the gallery. It can be simple in design or complex, consisting of metalwork, engraving, and/or accent stones, making it a beautiful place to incorporate a custom design.
The more delicate the gallery, the more delicate the ring. This is the part of the ring that connects the all-important center stones to the band. It can be prone to capture dirt and require regular cleaning, and it can also be prone to damage from friction when rings are stacked next to it.
Not all rings have galleries. Some rings such as simple metal bands lie flat against the skin. Other galleries can be open, which is common in classic designs, offering greater visibility of the depth of the diamond.
The shank is the metal band that makes a ring a ring. This is also the part that is altered to match your ring size. The shank can be made of various types of metal and in various widths. Popular metals for engagement rings include yellow gold, rose gold, white gold, and platinum, of which platinum is the strongest and 18K yellow gold is the weakest.
When selecting the metal and width of your ring’s shank, or band, it’s important to know that thicker bands made of stronger materials will experience less wear over their lifetime, while thin bands made of weaker materials may need maintenance years down the line.
The hallmark of a ring is the small imprint on the inside of the band. This states the composition and value of the precious metal and is required for all jewelry. For gold rings, the hallmark is typically “14K” or “18K” to signify the type of gold, whereas, for platinum rings, the hallmark can be “platinum”, “PT”, or “Plat”. A hallmark may also often include the manufacturer’s stamp or logo.
Just as the hallmark is engraved into the band, or shank, of a ring, an inscription can also be engraved into your engagement ring or wedding band. This is a unique option to customize or personalize your rings for added sentimental value.
Discover Your Dream Ring
Now that you know all the parts of a ring, you’ll be better equipped on your search for the right engagement ring style, or piece of fine jewelry. Whether you decide to build a custom ring or shop from a selection of designs, you can inspect all the parts of a diamond ring setting with finesse.
*Here at Diamond Nexus, we strive to provide valuable information while being clear and honest about our products. The Nexus Diamond™ alternative is a patented lab created diamond simulate that, among all simulants, most closely imitates the look, weight and wear of a diamond, with two exceptions - it is absolutely perfect in every way, and it costs significantly less. Price points and environmental facts expressed in this blog were taken from popular online retailers and may vary. Learn more about the environmental impact of mining by visiting our blog.