Some wedding-related blog topics I simply cannot answer with my expertise, such as today's topic covering the anatomy of an engagement ring. It may be just me, but I never have the slightest idea what jewelers (or anyone for that matter) mean when they refer to the 'bridge' or the 'split shank' of a ring, and I thought it would be beneficial for everyone if we went straight to one of the experts to get first-hand advice on learning the basics of how to refer to the different parts of an engagement ring! Feel free to read on if:

(1) You are a girl trying to explain to friends exactly what your dream engagement ring is so they can strategically sway your future fiance's ring-purchasing decision

(2) You are a man thinking of proposing to the girl of your dreams and have no idea how to explain to the jeweler what you are looking for

(3) Besides using describing terms such as 'elaborate design thing' or 'little circle of smaller stones around the big stone, ' you are just as in-the-dark as I am about how to speak the language of engagement rings! 

If any of the above are true, then you are in the right place. I honestly learned a ton and had multiple lightbulb moments (where a lightbulb goes off above your head because everything finally clicks and makes sense) while putting this post together. Hopefully, the same happens for you! For the rest of this post, I am handing you off to the lovely Lauren from Joseph Jewelry (an adorable custom fine jewelry store in Bellevue, WA) to further educate you on how to properly communicate about engagement rings with others. She has been my go-to for all-things-fine-jewelry this year and she was amazing enough to make this blog collaboration happen! In the future, you will be hearing more from her once we create more wedding jewelry-related posts for your convenience (I still have a ton of other questions that we were unable to fit into this post....)!



Head (setting). Top portion of a ring consisting of the major gemstones.

Gallery rail. Metal piece connecting prongs in order to prevent them from bending or shifting out-of-place.

Bridge. The area underneath the head (setting) that rests on the wearer's finger.

Prong. Metal 'legs' securely holding gemstones in place.

Shank. The part of the ring that goes around the wearer's finger, connecting both sides of the head together.

Center stone. Usually the largest and most prominent stone on the ring.

Side stones. Gemstones typically smaller in size compared to the center stone in the ring design. 

Shoulder. The part of the ring where the top of the shank makes contact with the head (setting).

Accent stones. Smaller gemstones used as decoration for the shank.

Base/sizing area. The area furthest away from the head typically left plain so resizing does not affect the original design on the shank.


Depending on your preferences, you may also encounter more elaborate features such as those seen on this rose gold halo ring. Fine detailing along the shank and bridge are more common among vintage or vintage-inspired engagement rings.


Halo. A halo visually enhances the center of the ring and reflects more light into the center stone using gemstones, metal, or even ceramic tile.

Filigree. Hand-laid metalwork using fine wire to create all sorts of elaborate patterns.

Milgrain. Textured accent commonly used on vintage-inspired rings. Its appearance is similar to the texture on the outside of a coin. 

Hand engraving. Intricate designs imprinted into the metal of the ring, created by an engraver. 


I hope this helps you a bit more when you’re ring shopping, or even customizing a ring! Feel free to reach out to Alyssa or Joseph Jewelry if you have any other questions. We’re happy to help!

Happy shopping, 


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