Although rings may seem like very simple pieces of jewelry, they’re actually quite complicated and have so many different components. If you’re looking to purchase a ring and have already done some research on it, you might have come across various terms you’re not familiar with. This can be quite confusing.
To make things easier, we’ve included all the information you need to know about the various parts of a ring and the purpose of each part in this article. Let’s take a look.
The Features of a Ring
Rings are made of many different parts, some which can be found in all rings and others which are optional. Here’s a close look at all these different parts and what they’re called.
Alexandrite ring with bypass shank by Winter Fine Jewelry. See it here.
The shank of a ring is what is commonly known as the band. However, the two are very different. The band is the entire ring, which is usually uniform, whereas the shank has two parts: the lower shank and the upper shank.
Ring shanks come in different varieties depending on the design of your rings. Here are a few commonly used types of ring shanks.
- Bypass Ring Shank: The two ends of the ring’s bad don’t meet the stone evenly. Instead, each end of the ring band goes around the stone as if bypassing it, hence the name. The band seems to overlap the stone.
- Split Ring Shank: The band divides into two parts as it gets to the stone and its ends have a forked appearance. Once the band splits, it gives an illusion of two bands, although it’s only one.
- Cathedral Ring Shank: For this design, the two ends of the ring band make two arches and the center stone nestles at the center of these arches.
- Tapered Ring Shank: This is where the band has very thin ends. The ends can be where the stone is fixed or at the lower part of the ring. The advantage of this design is that it makes the stone look a lot larger than it actually is.
- Straight Ring Shank: This is a simple, yet common design with no complicated additions to it and is found in almost every jewelry collection. This shank is straight with no tapered ends or split.
If you need to have your ring resized or repaired, you can take it to your jeweler who’ll most likely tinker with its base.
Six-prong solitaire engagement ring by Blue Nile. See it here.
Also called the setting, the head of the ring is where the center stone is fixed. It looks like a little metal basket. In a ring with a prong setting, the head will consist of the prongs and, sometimes, the gallery rail which is crucial in forming the design of the ring mounting.
The Center Stone
Rose gold engagement ring with tanzanite center stone by Aquamarise. See it here.
The center stone is the main and biggest stone on your ring. Precious stones such as diamonds, rubies or tanzanite are often used as center stones. The size and color of the center stone depend on your preference, since some people like to have to large center stones. However, an oversized center stone can look just as great as a small center stone.
Also known as accent stones, side stones are found on either side of the center stone and are an optional addition to the ring. If you choose to have side stones on yours, consider getting a size smaller than your center stone and choose a color that compliments and highlights it. After all, the purpose of accent stones is to emphasize and bring out the beauty of the center stone of any ring.
Engagement ring with floral prongs (center stone not included) by Amcor Design. See it here.
Your precious center stone is usually held in place by prongs. The prongs are protruding metal pieces found on the head of a ring, resembling claws. The number of prongs depends on the size of your ring and stone. The more prongs the ring has, the more protected the stone will be. Prongs allow some parts of the stone to be exposed so that light will hit it at different angles resulting in a dazzling shine.
However, not every ring has a prong setting. For example, bezel settings consist of a strip of metal surrounding the gemstone, instead of prongs.
There are several advantages of having your center stone set in a prong setting. They include the following:
- Prongs elevate your stone, making it more noticeable and prominent.
- They support different stone varieties and sizes.
- It’s easy to maintain and clean your ring if it has a prong setting.
- Prongs can give your ring a simple yet elegant look.
On the downside, the disadvantage of using a prong setting for your center stone is:
- Over time, the prongs can loosen which may cause the stone to get dislodged and even fall off. To avoid this, have an experienced jeweler inspect your stone at least once every two years.
The gallery of your ring is the section that’s just under the head of the ring. It’s the area covered by the shank and the center stone. If you want to add some eye-catching embellishments to your ring, this is where you add them.
At the top of your ring is the gallery rail which has some structural importance as it offers extra strength to the prongs. If you want to add some sparkle to your ring, consider adding more stones on the gallery rail. Some jewelers refer to the gallery rail as a basket.
Moissanite ring with pave setting by Dazzle Dreamss. See it here.
The shoulder of the ring are the sloping sides of the design, which curve towards the center. Sometimes, jewelers position more than one row of precious stones on it in a setting called pave setting. The shoulder design determines the kind of mounting your ring will have and also plays the role of protecting the center stone.
Hallmarks are the stamps or engravings found on precious metals, which are used to indicate the purity level of the alloy. For example, popular gold hallmarks include 14K (also stamped as 585) and 18K (or 750). These stamps help you to identify the precious metal. It also ensures that you aren’t being ripped off when shopping.
Not all rings have bridges and sometimes, it can be hard to identify them on the rings that do. The bridge is located just under the setting of the center stone, connecting it to the metal. The bridge on your ring is added when you take it for resizing and can make rings appear larger than they are.
The next time you go ring shopping, your visit to the jeweler will be a lot more interesting now that you know what the parts of the ring are. Even though your particular ring may not have all the parts mentioned above, you will still be able to recognize most of them. In case you need your ring repaired, explaining the exact problem with it will be a lot easier since you’ll know all its features.