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the star light engagement ring from modern gents

Featured: The Star Light

You don’t need to work in the jewelry business to know what an engagement ring looks like.  That’s the whole point of a recognizable symbol of a loving commitment. But there’s a surprising amount of technical vocabulary when it comes to describing the parts of an engagement ring. We aren’t just talking about categorizing cuts and sorting through types of ring settings, either. 

Discover The Most Popular Types of Ring Settings

For example, the term “ring” can itself be confusing: Are you referring to the whole piece of engagement jewelry or just the metal circle that supports the stone? Buying engagement rings without knowing the lingo can feel as frustrating as being scooped up from a medieval market and asked to fill an online shopping cart. Here’s the basic anatomy of an engagement ring so that you can describe what you want to buy or prefer to wear without sounding like a caveman.

the grace engagement ring from modern gents

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The Shank

Let’s start with the problem we mentioned earlier. The shank is what you call the ring part of the ring — it’s the band that goes around the finger. If the ring is just a band, then the ring is all shank. In other words, the shank is the only part of the ring that all rings have in common.  Technically, it can be further divided into an upper shank and a lower shank. It is usually the lower shank (also known as the base) that is cut into when a ring is resized.

The Head

But usually, especially in engagement rings, there is a decorative feature like a stone on the top of the ring. This is called the head. It can also be called the setting — though that sometimes refers to how a stone is secured to the ring. 


The most common decorative feature is a centerstone — it’s what’s on the engagement ring emoji. If there are multiple stones, the stones on either side of the main stone are called side stones. A series of small stones in addition to or in place of a center stone falls into the category of accent stones. 


Prongs are the thin strips of metal (sometimes referred to as claws) that hold the gemstone in place. That’s one of the reasons why a ring is more than a metal band and a gemstone — there are little pieces of metal, parts of the head that hold the gemstone in place and not part of the shank because they are part of that “decorative feature.”  

Learn More About Different Types of Engagement Rings

See how confusing it can get?  The stone can also be secured with beads or even embedded into a channel. If there are horizontal bars between the prongs, it becomes a basket setting.


The shoulders mark where the head ends and the shank begins. Depending on the degree of ornamentation, the shoulders can either be small points of contact or broad zones. 

The Bridge

The bridge is the portion of the ring underneath the head/centerstone that rests on the wearer’s finger.

a close up of a womans hand wearing the camille and the emma rings

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The Gallery

A lot can be packed into the space between the bridge and the centerstone. Possibilities include a cluster of accent stones or the cross hatch of a basket setting (or something called a hidden halo that combines both features). So it is only fitting that this exhibition space is called a gallery. 

Find All Different Types of Engagement Rings That Fit Your Budget

Modern Gents specializes in affordable engagement rings because we don’t think a restricted budget should be an obstacle to high quality jewelry or a heartfelt proposal. We don’t want the lack of the right vocabulary to get in the way either.  So if you end up grabbing a centerstone that isn’t to your liking, don’t worry. We’re here with hassle free exchanges to make sure you get it right.

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