Anatomy of a Ring

Fine Jewelry Boca Raton -

Anatomy of a Ring

This blog will dissect the basic parts of a ring and is a particularly useful guide if you are planning on designing your own custom ring. At Devon's Diamonds & Decor, we specialize in custom jewelry design in Boca Raton and hope that this blog will leave you with an understanding of the most commonly used terms in the jewelry industry.


This is an easy one: the center stone is the diamond or gemstone that resides in the center of the ring. A solitaire engagement ring has just one stone, whereas other rings may include side stones. Besides the obvious color, clarity and carat weight preference that you may have, there are many different center stone shapes to choose from. Listed below are the ten diamond shapes that are available to you. If you would like to learn more about diamond shapes, read our blog post: Which Diamond Shape Suits You?


Round Brilliant Cut Diamond

The round brilliant cut diamond is the most popular diamond shape. This is because the diamond offers remarkable white light reflection, also known as brilliance, due to it's large number of carefully constructed facets. T hese facets make the round cut diamond brighter and more brilliant than all of the other diamond shapes. Virtually all round diamonds are brilliant-cut, meaning that they have 58 facets. They are the only diamond shape that the GIA grades for cut.
round brilliant diamond

Marquise Cut Diamond

The marquise cut diamond is a modified brilliant-cut, which features elongated, pointed ends that give it a curved, football shape.  The marquise cut diamond’s long and narrow shape gives it an illusion of greater size than other shapes of the same carat weight. Symmetry is very important with this shape. The slightest difference can create an uneven, imbalanced look.
marquise cut diamond

Princess Cut Diamond

The princess cut diamond is among the newest of the diamond cuts. It is a square-shaped diamond with sharp corners. This diamond cut often carries less premium then other diamond cuts because there is less waste in the shaping process. Typically this diamond retains about 80% of the original rough diamond which greatly reduces the cost of manufacture.
princess cut diamond

Cushion Cut Diamond

The cushion cut diamond gets its name from looking like a pillow cushion with its square shape and smooth, rounded corners. Some may appear more rectangular, while others are closer to squares.  This diamond is a combination of a more modern, round brilliant cut pattern diamond with a classic, old mine facet pattern diamond cut. Cushion cut diamonds are generally less brilliant than round brilliant diamonds although they often have better fire, which is part of their appeal.
cushion cut diamond

Emerald Cut Diamond

The emerald cut diamond features a rectangular profile with beveled corners, along with a large table that provides a view of the facets beneath. This creates the illusion of a larger size.  These facets are not the same style as a brilliant cut. Concentric rows of step-cut facets are on the diamond's crown and pavilion which run parallel to the girdle, creating a mirrored effect that results in dramatic flashes of light. Since emerald cut diamonds typically have far fewer facets than other popular diamond shapes, they display less brilliance. 
emerald cut diamond

Asscher Cut Diamond

The asscher cut diamond is an octagonally shaped diamond and is similar to the emerald cut because it has that same "step cut" design. The difference between them is that the asscher cut has more facets which makes them more sparkly then the emerald cut.  The asscher cut diamond has a strong association with the Art Deco era. Because of the shape of the stone and the way the facets are cut, asscher cut diamonds have retained their classic appearance. 
asscher cut diamond

Radiant Cut Diamond

The radiant cut diamond has an eight-sided outline, and is typically square or rectangle in shape with beveled corners. This particular cut combines the shape and look of the emerald “step-cut” with the fire of the round “brilliant cut”. T his produces one of the most dazzling sparkles on a square or rectangular stone. The radiant diamond is typically cut with 70 facets, enhancing their overall brilliance and fire. 
radiant cut diamond

Oval Cut Diamond

The oval cut diamond has probably the longest known history.  You can think of it as a round brilliant diamond that is stretched on its sides.  Containing fire and brilliance, the oval diamond is suggestive of the round shape but is more unique. The oval can be narrow or wide, depending on personal preference.
oval cut diamond

Pear Shaped Diamond

The pear shaped diamond is considered a "fancy shape,” meaning it’s a shape other than round. Reminiscent of a tear drop, this diamond has a gently rounded bottom and a narrow, pointed top. This diamond shape is a mixture between the marquise cut and the round brilliant which gives its unique look.  Also, like the marquise cut, symmetry is an extremely important factor. A pear shaped diamond tends to hold more color than a round brilliant. Therefore, it is best to choose a diamond that is high on the GIA color scale. 
pear shaped diamond

Heart Shaped Diamond

The heart shaped diamond is the ultimate symbol of love and romance but is relatively uncommon in diamond engagement rings. For a diamond with a distinct heart shape, choose one with balance and perfect symmetrical halves.
  Also keep into consideration of the diamond having a sharp cleft in the cut to enhance the shape of the heart. This is a very popular diamond around Valentine’s Day.


heart shaped diamond




Prongs are the small pieces of metal that hold a stone in place. Stones can be set with four, six, or more prongs. Prongs can be rounded or pointed ("claw" style) as well as split or “double” prongs, or even three prong martini. Each type adds a different look to the ring. The following are the most common prong types.


Round Prongs

Round shaped prongs are the most common type of finishing you will find in prong settings. Rounded prongs cover a small area of the diamond’s surface and provide a strong clasp to secure the center stone.


Pointed/Claw Prongs

Pointed or claw prongs look sleek and are widely used in diamond engagement rings. They help emphasize the outline of the diamond and blend seamlessly into the diamond ring’s appearance.


Double Claw Prongs

Prong settings that contain double clawed design give an illusion that the claws are slimmer looking compared to using a single solid prong.



The V-prong setting is typically used in fancy shaped diamonds like pears, marquises, and hearts. The idea behind having a v-prong is to protect the tips of the diamond since they are susceptible to chipping.

Flat Tap Prongs

Flat tab prongs have a lower height profile compared to other types of prongs and this makes them less susceptible to snagging.



Sometimes referred to as the setting, this is the piece that holds the center stone in a ring. It is made up of the prongs and the piece to which they’re attached. The head of the ring forms the design of the mounting. Listed below are the most common head styles for a ring.

Basket Head Style
This style secures the center stone using four or six prongs. The openings beneath the diamond allow light to enter the diamond from that direction. More light means more sparkle, brilliance, and fire from your diamond. This style can be used with almost any gemstone shape and any style of band.
Trellis Head Style
This style is like a basket in that it has space beneath the diamond to allow light to enter. The difference is that the prong design weaves down to the ring shank. This can be a very attractive element of the ring design. This is a great head style for round and princess gem shapes and a solitaire classic look.
Cathedral Head Style
This style gets its name from the archways on the sides of the head. The prongs in this elevate the ring slightly higher which allows more light passage. This style provides an elevated appearance and makes the center stone more of a focal point than usual. This style can be used with a plain shank or one decorated with diamonds. It is a very popular choice for engagement rings.
Bezel Head Style
This style completely surrounds the sides of the diamond with precious metal, leaving only the top of the gem visible. This contemporary look is also a very secure setting for a diamond. The only drawback is that less light enters the gem so its sparkle is less. Use a bezel with a round or princess diamond shape and a plain band with no accent diamonds.
Semi-Bezel Head Style
This style is a secure setting like the bezel. And, because the gem is not completely surrounded by metal, more light enters the diamond and the sparkle is much better. Use this style of head with an oval or round diamond.
Halo Head Style
This style is just what it sounds like. There is a center diamond and a circle with smaller diamonds or colored gemstones surrounding it. This ring will have a lot of sparkle and from a distance it appears to be one, much larger, diamond. You can use any shape of diamond for the center stone in this head style.
Three Stone Head Style
This style has a larger central gem and two smaller gems, one on each side. It is important to match the gems used in this head style. The three stone style also has a deeper meaning. It represents love and commitment in the past, present, and future. This style goes well with a plain band or one accented with diamonds. Use a round or princess diamond for this head style. The central part of the head can be a bezel, trellis, or classic basket.


This refers to the upper part of a band as it transitions to the head of a ring. Shoulders often graduate higher in height from the rest of the shank creating a dramatic visual. Accent stones are often set in this portion of the ring as well. Engagement ring shoulders vary enormously by design. The following are the most common styles of ring shoulders.

Parallel (Straight) Shoulder 

A parallel or straight shoulder gives a contemporary look to many rings and contain a constant width from the underside of the ring to the setting.

Split Shoulder

Split shoulders form when the design of the band includes a fork, at or above the mid-way point. This can be longer and more pronounced, or more of a style element for the diamond setting.

Tapering Shoulder

Tapering or narrowing shoulders normally accentuate the diamond size by reducing the width of the band – this offers greater contrast between the stone size and band, especially useful in designs incorporating smaller carat weight sizes.

Flared Shoulder 

Flared shoulders are quite the reverse of the narrowing or tapering shoulder. They can either gradually or suddenly widen at the setting, to meet or to form the claws, bezel or part bezel as a design alternative to the straight or tapered shoulder styles.

Claw Set Shoulder

With a claw set shoulder, the diamonds are set across the width rather than within the shoulder. They are held across the full width of the shoulder, unlike the channel set styles which are usually a little wider than the diameter of the diamond.

Diamond Encrusted Shoulder

Fully utilizing each surface of the shoulder, diamonds are encrusted around each surface with the exception of the inner surface of the band.


The ring shank is quite simply the band of the ring. A band usually has the same width all around (like a wedding band), while a shank can have different widths. The shank is divided into the upper and lower shanks. The shank can be smooth, plain metal, or adorned with diamonds or gemstones (accent stones), engraving, or milgrain details. Each different type of ring shank is often categorized by its appearance. 

Straight Shank

This shank style is just as it sounds. The band of the ring is straight and doesn’t taper off or split. Straight shanks are most commonly flat edged. This means that the edges of the shank were not rounded off. Instead, they’re formed with a rectangular strip of metal leaving you with flat edges all the way around the band. Where the edges of a ring shank are rounded off, this can be referred to as a comfort fit, as it more naturally fits the circumference of your finger.

Tapered Shank 

This shank style is when the band tapers off to a thinner section either where the stone is set or in the opposite direction from where the stone is set. When the band tapers off to a thinner section on both sides of the stone, it can make the stone look larger and make the band itself look much more delicate.

Cathedral Shank

This shank style is when the stone at the centre is framed by two arches. This is when the two ends of the shank are lifted to create these two arches just below the stone. It’s almost as if the two arches are supporting the stone setting, mimicking the grand architecture of cathedrals but also making the stone much more prominent.

Split Shank

This shank style is a much more complex design as the band splits into two before it meets the stone at the top of the band. This can give the illusion of two bands and can be as subtle or as prominent as the customer would like. The split shank design can also be modified so that as the band splits off in two, it can cross over with a woven or twisted design until it meets back up again where the stone is set.

Bypass Ring Shank

This shank style has two ends of the band that will not uniformly meet the stone. Instead, each end of the band will run around the stone, almost as if it’s bypassing it. This creates the illusion that the band is flowing around or overlapping the stone.

Knife-Edge Shank

This shank style is named because of its sharp edge that runs along the outer edge of the shank. Of course, it’s not razor sharp, but it adds a different look to a ring shank. It adds a new element of design to the shank with two slanted sides that meet to a more prominent point than you would usually see in traditional shanks.

Interlocked Ring Shank

This shank style is when the engagement ring and the wedding band interlock together perfectly. This can be done in many ways and is interpreted in many ways by different jewellers. It may be that one jeweler creates the engagement ring fits inside the wedding band or it may be that the two bands follow the same silhouette so that they sit alongside each other perfectly when worn.


The gallery is the part of the ring under the center stone(s). Some rings have a simple gallery that just shows the baskets that the stones are set in, but many have ornate details that add so much to the look of the ring.


The hallmark on a ring is the marking on the underside of the shank that identifies what the precious metal is (14 karat, 18 karat, Platinum).

yellow gold diamond engagement ring

Rings Near Me

We hope this introduction to the anatomy of a ring has assisted you by providing the terminology you need to describe and create the ring you desire. Stop by our jewelry store in Boca Raton to view the variety of rings that we carry or to create the ring of your dreams.

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