Learn To Describe Engagement Ring Settings (Part I) UPDATED

Learn to describe engagement ring settings

Shopping for engagement rings is much easier when you can explain what you want. Here is the first in a series of helpful guides to help you learn some basic engagement ring vocabulary.  Learn this and it will make the entire process of buying an engagement ring much easier.

The best way to learn to describe your perfect engagement ring is to think of it like a recipe.  Different ingredients make different rings.  Once you identify what 'ingredients' you want you can start to design your own engagement ring to your exact specifications. Here are the main ingredients that go into an engagement ring:

  1. Diamond
  2. Silhouette
  3. Head
  4. Shank
  5. Metal 

Engagement Ring Settings: The Diamond

Selecting the perfect diamond takes a basic understanding of the 4C's of diamonds. I designed this guide to explain what all the C's mean and how they affect your choice of diamond, it's worth downloading so you can refer to it while you are shopping.

Once you have read through the diamond guide you will see that a "flawless diamond," a "colorless diamond," or any over the top diamond request are gemologically more perfect than the eye can appreciate, and most likely more than you really need to dedicate your budget to.  Reading up on diamonds and working with an expert, like those here at Bella's, will help you find the perfect diamond for your ring.  We can also discuss stone shape and carat size.  The most popular stones, and the most price friendly, are rounds, though some fancy cut diamonds may offer a visually larger size at a lower carat weight making them possibly budget friendly.  

Engagement Ring Settings: The Silhouette

There are really two different types of engagement ring silhouettes: solitaires and diamond mountings.  Each style has its benefits.

Here they are:


Any engagement ring settings that have only one center stone and no additional stones are solitaires.  However, not all of them are what we would consider a classic solitaire with a simple band and a traditional ring setting.  Some solitaires can have decorative elements, such as hand engraving, two tone details, or ornate embellishments.  Solitaires allow you to focus your engagement ring shopping budget on getting an amazing stone.

six prong plain solitaire engagement ring setting
Classic Solitaire
Art Deco Solitaire Engagement Ring
Ornate Solitaire Engagement Ring Settings

Diamond Mountings

When engagement ring settings have stones, other than the center stone they are considered a diamond mounting.  These include classic diamond band engagement rings, three stone engagement rings, and halo engagement rings.  Diamond mountings can also be used for gemstones rings, such as emerald, ruby, or sapphire engagement rings.  The benefit of a diamond mounting is they can be spectacular and decorative.
engagement ring with diamond bands, narrow diamond engagement rings
Classic Diamond Band Engagement Ring Settings
Vintage Style Three Stone Ring, Antique Style 3 Stone Rings
Three Stone Engagement Rings
Halo Engagement Ring with Diamond Sides, Diamond Halo Engagement Ring
Halo Engagement Rings

Once you have identified the silhouette you want you can explore all the variations I described and find your perfect category of rings.

Engagement Ring Settings: The Head

The actual setting the main diamond sits in is called a 'head.'  Heads are most easily categorized by how they hold a stone.  The most popular settings are Prong and Bezel:

Prong Settings

Prongs are thin metal projections that hold the stone.  Typically they can range in numbers from 4 to 6 prongs on a head.  They can be simple single metal projections or ornate fishtails.  Here is an example of both a straight prong and a fishtail prong:

Cathedral Solitaire Engagement Ring, Big Solitaire Rings
Straight 4 Prong Engagement Ring Settings
engraved diamond rings, engraved engagement rings, vintage diamond engagement rings
Fishtail Prongs Engagement Ring Settings with Hand Engraved Details

Bezel Settings

When a diamond is surrounded by a collar of metal it is called a bezel. However, if the collar goes around opposing sides of the stone it is called semi-bezel.  These types of settings are typically seen on more modern settings and are ideal for athletic engagement rings because of the protection they offer.  


Solitaire Engagement Ring Settings, Athletic Engagement Rings, Bold Engagement Rings

Full Bezel Solitaire Engagement Ring Setting

Engagement Ring Settings: The Shank

The band that wraps from the setting around the finger is called the 'shank.'  They can be all metal or embellished with stones.  Here are some of our most popular shanks:

Plain Shanks 

These are plain metal shanks with out any ornamentation, diamonds, or other details.  Often high polished (very shinny) and clean looking they can range in width, height, taper, as well as the silhouette of the band including domed, squared, or knife edged.

Wide solitaire, Cathedral Solitaire Engagement Rings
Plain Shank Low Domed Engagement Ring Settings

Decorative Shanks Without Diamonds

These diamonds go to show you that you don't need diamonds to be fancy!  They can have decorative elements such as sculptural reliefs, hand engraved details, or mixed metals.  

Engraved Solitaire, Vintage Solitaire, Engraved Solitaire, Unique solitaire
Decorative Shank Without Diamonds, With Hand Engraved Details

Split Shanks

When the shank splits from the base of the shank into to separate bands that reach up to the setting, we call this a split shank.  They can be plain or embellished with diamonds.

Split Shank Diamond Engagement Ring, Diamond V Engagement Rings
Split Shank Engagement Ring Settings

Goose Neck Shanks

When the shank broadens at the shoulders (where the shank meets the setting) and abruptly pinch in to create an almost an arrow or tear drop shape, we call this a goose neck or pinched shoulder shank.  These settings help draw the eye to the center stone.

gooseneck solitaire, solitaire engagement ring pinched shoulders
Goose Neck Engagement Ring Settings

Channel Set Shanks

Settings with diamonds set into the metal are typically called channel set shanks.  However, there are a few settings that look like they are channel set but are really prong set.  Regardless, it's a sleek and beautiful ring setting.

Channel set diamond engagement ring setting, modern diamond engagement rings

Channel Set Engagement Ring Settings

Prong Set Shanks

When small prongs hold diamonds on the shank these are called prong set shanks.  The stones can share prongs, as in common prong styles, or have individual prongs.  

classic diamond engagement ring, simple diamond engagement ring

Common Prong Set Engagement Ring Settings

Eternity Band Shanks

When the decorative elements of the shank wrap all the way around the finger it is considered an eternity band shank.  These rings are symbolic of the eternity of love.  Very romantic!

diamond eternity band engagement ring, engagement ring with eternity band

Eternity Band Engagement Ring Settings

Many engagement ring settings are a hybrid of these types of shank.  Perhaps you want a "channel set eternity band" or a "goose neck shank with a decorative hand engraved millgrain edge", regardless of what you want, learning to describe them will help you arrive at your perfect ring much faster (and much less stressful).  

Engagement Ring Settings: The Metal

When it comes to engagement ring settings, long gone are the days of the 'it' metal. Sure, 10 years ago you had to have a white gold setting.  Today, the bridal world is open to any metal you desire, especially when it comes to mixed metal rings such as pink and green gold engagement rings and white and rose gold engagement rings!  

double halo engagement ring, engagement ring diamond arounds, diamond engagement rings

White Gold Engagement Ring 
Halo Engagement Rings
knife edge solitaire, pinched solitaire engagement ring, classic solitaire
Yellow Gold Engagement Rings
Classic Solitaire Engagement Ring Settings
pink gold engagement rings, rose gold engagement rings
Rose Gold Engagement Rings
Channel Set Engagement Ring Settings
pink and green engagement ring, rose engagement ring, floral engagement rings
Pink and Green Gold Engagement Rings
Jabel Carved Rings
Two tone engagement ring, pink and white gold engagement rings, rose gold solitaire
Mixed Metal 
(Pictured: White and Rose Gold Engagement Rings)
Jabel Engagement Ring Settings

Engagement Ring Settings: Alternative Engagement Rings

While the traditional engagement ring is set with a diamond center stone, an increasing number of brides are opting for unique engagement rings, such as cocktail rings or gemstone engagement rings.  Gemstone engagement rings offer a big look with a budget friendly price tags making them affordable engagement rings too!  Here are some popular engagement rings with gemstones:

Sapphire vintage engagement rings with diamonds, sapphire engagement rings

emerald vintage engagement rings, vintage emerald rings, antique style engagement rings

three stone sapphire engagement ring, gemstone engagement rings, sapphire halo and diamond engagement rings

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