Whether you are gifting a high-quality custom jewelry piece to a loved one (or to yourself!) or shopping for the perfect fit, it is important to understand the various parts of a ring. Why? Isn’t it more essential that it looks and feels right when you slip it on? Of course that is critical, but understanding the anatomy of a ring can help you make a more informed choice and one that suits your tastes and lifestyle. It will also help you take the right steps in terms of maintenance so your piece remains a dazzling treasure.
So let’s get started!
The Anatomy of a Ring
While the beauty of a ring is that it is unique and special to you, many share these common elements:
Without a shank, there would be no ring! This is the band that encircles your finger. If your ring has a design feature at the top (e.g., a diamond solitaire), the shank starts and stops at the “head.” When rings need to be resized, the jeweler will add or remove metal from the bottom of the shank.
The head is the top portion of the ring and this is where you will see your center stone and any side stones or melee. It needs to be strong, resistant to bending, and act as a protector for the stones. At the same time, few people want a bulky, heavy head, so you have to balance strength and elegance. A great jeweler will do it effortlessly!
Some common styles here include prongs, bezel, and channel heads, each of which has its own unique appeal. For example, a prong head elevates the center stone and really shows it off. A channel head, on the other hand, features stones that are set into the “channel,” which is formed with two strips of metal. This protects the stones, so if you have a job in which you work with your hands, this offers a more secure option.
This is the part that rests on the top of your finger. It should be smooth and comfortable. Some rings feature engravings or melee diamonds in patterns here.
Gallery and Gallery Rails
The gallery is the part of the ring that is beneath the center stone and above the bridge. It helps add structural integrity to the ring. With frequent wear, the gallery is where you will see signs of age. This is an area that requires a bit of maintenance. The gallery wires should be strong enough to withstand daily wear.
The gallery rail is a bar that extends about midway from the top of the stone and the bridge. Its job is to help keep the center and side stones secure. Again, it may be embellished with melee or other small stones.
With a cathedral setting, instead of gallery rails, you will see metal arches that extend up from the top of the shank. This elevates the center stone and creates a classic look.
The setting (or mounting) is the ring itself, excluding the center stone. It encompasses the metal used in the ring, as well as any other stones (except the center stone). For example, in a halo setting, a center stone is surrounded by smaller accent stones or melee. This can create the appearance of a larger diamond as well as add sparkle and brilliance to the overall piece.
K Rosengart offers a helpful guide to ring settings. Learn about your options to decide which setting works best for your tastes and lifestyle.
Knowing the key parts of a ring is helpful in your search for the perfect piece. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask your jeweler. Many people are intimidated by the process of purchasing a ring, but there's no need! Take advantage of their expertise so you get exactly what you want.
As always, the perfect ring starts with high-quality, ethically sourced materials. Make sure that you support a jeweler, like K. Rosengart, who is committed to delivering the best of the best.