Anatomy of an Engagement Ring

Anatomy of an Engagement Ring

Engagement rings are more than just a symbol of promise between two partners, they’re a stunningly complex piece of jewelry that can vary dramatically. When it comes to a decision so important that you’ll be wearing it daily, getting your engagement ring just right is essential. 

Whether you’re looking for an authentic antique ring or custom vintage-inspired wedding jewelry, understanding the anatomy of an engagement ring isn’t just about the aesthetics.

Knowing what each part of your engagement ring is called and the popular variations can help you discover what visual elements capture your love story while better communicating your desires to your partner and a trusted jeweler. 

At Walton’s Jewelry, we’ve been curating fine antique jewelry for 50 years with a specialty in authentic Art Deco, Victorian, and custom engagement rings; we’ve seen countless examples of one-of-a-kind engagement rings and talked thousands of couples through these decisions. 

From the captivating center stone to the delicate intricacies of the setting and band (or should we say shank?), each design element holds the key to manifesting your vision of the perfect engagement ring to embody your love.

The Center Stone

Commanding all of the attention from its most prominent placement, the center stone embodies timeless elegance and serves as a literal symbol of forever in your commitment. 

While the size and cut of the center stone can vary dramatically, the most popular choice of gem is a colorless or white diamond engagement ring. Other colored gemstones that have often been featured throughout history include sapphires, rubies, emeralds, and pearls. 

The Ring Setting

The setting, a graceful metal framework that holds the center stone, can be a testament to the craftsmanship of a bygone era and a nod to your own personal style.

The choice of setting in an engagement ring can affect everything from the stones’ security to the amount of sparkle and light play you’ll see. Since the Victorian and Art Deco eras, the three most popular gem settings have been prong, bezel, and halo often incorporating floral or geometric motifs and additional design elements such as filigree.   

The Shank (or Band)

Wrapped around your finger literally, the shank or band provides the foundation for your ring and can be further detailed to your design preferences and sized to your perfect fit. 

Often made from platinum or a variety of gold, bands hold important details about your ring such as its metal hallmarks to indicate purity and possibly clues about its maker; they are also often spaces that may showcase engravings and other metal work of its era.

The Gallery

Nestled beneath the captivating center stone, the gallery (sometimes called “the basket”) can reveal a hidden world of intricate patterns and delicate embellishments that offer more structural support to secure your stone in place. 

Engagement ring galleries can be simple or ornate, depending on style; open galleries that allowed more light to pass through the center stone and maximized its brilliance were extremely popular during the Victorian and Art Deco eras. 

The Shoulders

Adorning the sides of your ring, the shoulders accentuate your engagement ring’s elegance by creating a seamless transition from the shank to the setting.

The style of the shoulders can significantly impact the overall look and feel of the ring. The shoulders of a ring can be simple or include intricate metal work and accent stones further illustrating certain motifs and styles.

The Side or Accent Stones

Enhancing the sparkle of your engagement ring, side stones or accent stones frame the center stone and add a new dimension (and possibly a pop of color) to your symbol of love. 

Side stones may be prominent in designs such as three stone engagement rings or they may be subtle accent stones along the shoulder or shank. Throughout the Victorian and Art Deco eras, colored gemstone accents were popular in engagement ring design.

The Bridge

Seated beneath the center stone and gallery, the bridge serves as a subtle yet integral structural component of your ring connecting the band and setting. Bridges in engagement rings can be plain or intricate, providing visual continuity to the piece as well as comfort for the wearer. 

Understanding these elements can help any bride-to-be articulate your preferences when choosing an engagement ring, whether you’re drawn to classic elegance or modern sophistication. By knowing the terminology and features of engagement rings, you can more easily find and communicate about what ring you’d like to start your love story. 

Whether you’re looking for the perfect antique Art Deco engagement ring or are gathering inspiration and would like to design a custom vintage-inspired ring of your own, we invite you to view our newest arrivals available online with complimentary shipping or in our historic downtown Franklin showroom just outside of Nashville, Tennessee. Walk-ins are welcome and private appointments can be booked here