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Dripping with jewelry

The language of creation

By Melissa Sharp | Apr 17, 2019

Is your jeweler speaking a foreign language?

Bridge?  Struts?  Gallery?  Shank?  What are you talking about?!

When working with a jewelry professional to design your dream ring, it can feel like your pro is speaking a foreign language.  "What's the difference between a strut and a gallery-rail?  There's a bridge on the ring?"  

Don't get that “deer in the headlights” feeling: This article will break down the anatomy of an engagement ring for you, and help you speak the language of custom creation!

1. Center-stone

Think of the center stone as the star of the show.  The setting is the stage the star will shine on. That’s one of the best things about a Crafted by Infinity diamond. Whether a simple solitaire featuring your center stone in solo performance, or an elaborate stage with accents, like a pave shank, your Crafted by Infinity center will always steal the show.

2.  Head

The head is also referred to as “the setting” within the industry.  Here, form follows function.  The most important thing to remember about the head is that it must be strong enough to resist bending while also protecting and preventing the center stone from falling out under normal conditions.  

3.  Prongs

The prongs play crucial roles. They are critical to the longevity of your ring's wear-ability, but also figure into its overall aesthetics.  Whether your ring is being cast or hand-fabricated, the prongs that hold your diamond firmly in place will be formed by bending the metal over the diamond and shaping them by hand.  There are several different styles of prongs including soft claw prongs, sharp claws, rounded prongs, tab style prongs, heart prongs, semi-bezels, and of course full bezels. My favorite style is the soft claw, as it holds the center stone securely while being unobtrusive.  This puts the focus on the diamond instead of the prongs, providing an elegant and delicate look.

4.  Gallery

The gallery is the area between the struts/gallery-rail and the bridge.  On some designs this area is left unadorned, permitting the wearer to see more of the center diamond's culet. In fact some jewelers advise leaving it open so light can get to the diamond from the side. You can ignore this advice with Crafted by Infinity diamonds because their optimized cutting means all light enters from the crown, and reflects back through the crown. So you are free to add embellishments to your gallery with no reduction to your Crafted by Infinity diamond's light return.

5.  Struts/Gallery-Rails

These terms are used interchangeably.  The strut, or gallery-rail, is essentially a bar that sits about midway between the top of the stone and the bridge to keep the prong structure secure.  In the case of 4-prong settings, especially for diamonds larger than 1.50 carats, a strut is crucial for center stone security.  It can be highly polished, engraved, embellished with milgrain, or set with tiny diamonds for additional decoration.

6.  Shoulders

The shoulders encompass the area of the shank that ranges from just below the center diamond to the area of the shank that goes between the fingers.  

7.  Bridge

The bridge is the part of the ring that rests on top of the finger.  In some rings there will be what we call a "donut," which is a rounded area where the head for the center diamond is anchored to the ring.  Cathedral-style rings and multiple stone rings are more likely to have a bridge than simpler designs.

8.  Shank - and “bottom-shank," back-shank" or “shank-bottom.”

The shank is the band of the ring, holding it on your finger. The shank can be plain and highly polished, or it may be adorned with diamonds.  It can have variations in shape but, no matter the design, the shank refers to the band portion of the ring.  The "bottom shank" is the portion that sits on the back of the finger (palm side of the hand). It is not uncommon for this area to be thinner or wider than the rest of the shank, depending on the design.  A wider bottom shank can help prevent a ring from spinning on the hand, while a narrower one can give a bold look at the shoulders and top while permitting a comfortable fit for those who have fingers that swell easily.

9. Melee

"Melee" are tiny accent diamonds, typically under 2.5mm wide, which may adorn the shank, gallery, bridge, or struts.  Melee can be set with various techniques such as French Cut Down, French Micropave, Bead Setting, Channel Setting, Bezel Setting, Shared Prong, Pave, Micro-pave, or a combination of semi-bezel and prong setting can be used.  

10.  Side stones (not pictured in the diagram)

Side stones are not the same as accent stones, which are smaller. Side stones frequently come with grading reports. A 3-stone ring, for example, will have side stones. Side stones can be tapered baguettes, trilliants, straight baguettes, pears, hearts, marquise cuts, or additional rounds.  They can be diamonds, or colorful gemstones.  If you decide to use a gemstone for a pop of color make sure you choose one with good hardness, such as sapphires or tourmaline (although both can scratch over time with improper care or even general wear).

At first, learning the language may seem a bit confusing

Have no fear. Your sales professional can answer any questions you may have about your custom design. 

Whether happily explaining and giving expert advice to newcomers or collaborating with experienced enthusiasts on the creation of your dreams, we’re right here. Feel free to browse our library of High Performance Custom Conceived Settings for inspiration.

Then, contact us at any time!

Melissa Sharp

Melissa Sharp

Melissa first worked at Christian Bernard Jewelers in Charlotte, North Carolina, and enjoyed reading about gems and minerals as a child. Her passion for diamonds and jewelry is what led her to join High Performance Diamonds back in 2004. While her role at HP Diamonds is Sales Manager, she prefers the term "Sparklie Fairy Godmother."

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