The Anatomy of a Ring – What You Need to Know

Affiliate Disclosures

While it’s not essential to know all the parts of a ring when you’re on the search for one, having an idea of these different elements can be of great help. It’ll help you to know what to look for in your ring and to communicate what you want clearly to your jeweler.

If you’re confused about what a shank, bezel, basket or prong is, you’ve come to the right place! In this article, let’s take apart the different elements and understand the anatomy of a ring.

JamesAllen Engagement Rings


This is the band or the hoop of the ring. There are many types of ring shanks, from plain simple metal bands to elaborate, extravagant styles. While round shanks are the most common, you will also find flat bottomed shanks, called Euro shanks. These tend to keep the ring from spinning and are more suited for rings with large center stones.

Shank part of a ring

Setting or Head

The setting or the head of the ring refers to the part that holds the center stone. This is located at the top of the ring and is extremely important because it determines how the stone interacts with light and to what extent it can be seen. The solitaire setting is one of the most popular for engagement rings. Sometimes the entire ring is also called a setting.

Setting part of a ring

The gallery refers to the section that you can see from the side of the ring, under the center stone. It’s a part of the head (setting) of the ring and adds to the profile beauty of the ring. Some galleries are highly elaborate while others are highly minimalistic.

gallery of a ring highlighted in a ring diagram


The shoulders of a ring are the sloping sides that lead up to the center of the design. The shoulders are what holds the head of the ring. These are often studded with accent stones to enhance the beauty of the design.

Shoulder part of a ring

Solder Points

Most rings, especially those with complex designs, are made in separate pieces and then soldered together. Typically, the head and the shank are made separately and joined. The positions at which the metal joins metal is called a solder point.

Solder point shown on a ring


The airline is the open section typically found in settings where the head of the ring is held up high, like solitaire or cathedral settings. They’re not found on low settings where the head is set closer to the shank. The airline might appear an unnecessary feature, but it adds to the overall beauty of the ring design.

airline, part of a ring


A prong is a little metal tip or bead that holds the gemstone or diamond in place. Prong settings, like the Tiffany setting, typically consist of 4 to 6 prongs on the head of the ring, carefully holding the center stone. Prong settings allow light to interact with the stone and make it appear large and brilliant.

Prong shown on a ring


The bezel setting refers to a metal frame that either completely or partially surrounds the center stone. Unlike the prong, the bezel provides more security for the stone and keeps it from unnecessary exposure. However, it also minimizes the interaction with light, thereby reducing brilliance and making the stone appear smaller. Bezels are ideal for people who use their hands a lot for work and those after a sleek, contemporary look.

full and half bezel ring highlighted

Accent Stones

These are small, simply cut stones (typically called melee diamonds) used as to embellish the shank and the head of the ring. They add sparkle and beauty and can make a simple design look extravagant.

accent stones, parts of a ring

Side Stones

These are typically seen on ring designs like the three stone ring or five stone ring designs and refer to smaller diamonds or gemstones set on either side of the center stone.

Side stone part of a ring


There are several types but in general, a halo refers to a circle of small diamonds or gemstones surrounding the center stone. They can be of any shape, size and color, and while single halos are the most common, you’ll find designs with double or more halos. Halos add brilliance to the design and can make a small center stone appear much larger than it is.

Halo part of a ring


This is when the setting of the ring is ‘paved’ with numerous tiny diamonds or gemstones held in place with tiny bead-like prongs. The result is a shank that appears sparkly and extravagant. Micro-pave is a variation of pave settings, with even smaller diamonds used for an even more brilliant and glittery effect.

Pave, part of a ring


This refers to a groove or channel cut into the ring design, into which diamonds or gemstones are set. Rather than prongs, the channel is what holds the stones in place, making for a secure option. Channel settings are not as brilliant as prong settings, but have an intriguing, stylish look. They’re especially popular as eternity bands for wedding rings.

channel on ring, part of a ring

Wrapping Up…

For the perfect ring design, all these elements have to work together to create a cohesive overall look. By knowing these terms, you’ll be able to pick apart the anatomy of a ring and to analyze a ring design, which in turn, will assist you in finding exactly what you want.

Jewelry Guide