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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 or carats for the center stone 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 when discussing the anatomy of a ring: 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

Featured: The Grace

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. When it comes to high-quality jewelry, the shank is usually made from sterling silver, yellow gold, rose gold or white gold. There are other metals too, of course, but these are the most common for engagement and wedding rings. Shanks feature various design elements. Sometimes, they are plain and, sometimes, they feature accent stones or other decorative elements.  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, a ring shank 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.

Some ring styles feature a split shank. In this design, the band separates into two (or more) sections as it nears the center stone. Compared to a traditional solid ring design, a split shank offers a unique, visually interesting look. 

The Head

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

Center Stone

The most common decorative feature is a center stone — it’s what’s on the engagement ring emoji and what we imagine when we think of the traditional solitaire engagement ring. A diamond is, of course, the traditional option for a center stone, but it is not the only one. Even if you love the look of a diamond ring, you can save yourself a bundle of cash by purchasing a ring with a conflict-free diamond alternative. Moissanite is a popular choice for those who love the look of diamonds. Today, colored stones are becoming increasingly popular, too. 

If there are multiple stones, like on a three-stone ring, the stones on either side of the main stone are called side stones. Usually, the side stones are smaller than the main stone. 

A series of smaller diamonds or other gemstones in addition to or in place of a center stone falls into the category of accent stones. An engagement ring with a main center stone surrounded by pavé gemstones is an example of a ring with accent stones. An infinity wedding band falls into this category, as well. 


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 claw prongs, parts of the head that hold the gemstone in place and not part of the shank because they are part of that “decorative feature.”  

There are many different types of prong settings. Some are plain, and others are much more ornate, featuring filigree or other designs. No matter what they look like, though, the prongs are some of the most important parts of a ring. After all, they’re what holds the gemstones in place in most cases. 

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.

If you don’t love the look of the prongs, a pavé setting might be right for you. These settings are delicate, and they have minimal visible metal. Another option is a bezel setting, which secures the gem with a thin metal rim rather than the metal tips of prongs. Because a bezel completely surrounds the gemstone, it protects the stone from scratches and bumps.   


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/center stone that rests on the wearer’s finger. You can’t see it when looking directly at the ring, but an ornate bridge enhances a ring’s side profile.

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

Featured: The Camille 

The Gallery

A lot can be packed into the space between the bridge and the center stone. Possibilities include a cluster of accent stones or the cross hatch of a basket setting (or something called a hidden halo setting 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 fine 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 center stone that isn’t to your liking, don’t worry. We’re here with hassle free exchanges to make sure you find the perfect ring for yourself or someone you love. 

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