After selecting the center stone, it is time to think about the design of the ring. A ring is comprised of two main parts: the head and the shank. The head is located at the top center of the ring and contains the setting and main stone(s). Popular head styles are solitaire (one main stone), three stone (main stone with an accent stone on each side), and halo (main stone with small stones- usually diamonds – around the outline of the main stone). The shank is the part of the ring that encircles the finger. It is sometimes referred to as the band but this more accurately describes a ring that doesn’t have a head (like a wedding band).
Within the head you have the setting, which is the part that physically holds the stone. The two main setting styles are bezel and prong which each have several variations to choose from. A bezel is a wall of metal and goes around the edge of the stone and folds over slightly to hold the stone in place. A bezel can be complete or partial depending on the design. Rings with bezel set mountings tend to be more modern as they have a sleek, smooth edge. This is the most secure setting for a stone though it does conceal slightly more of the stone than prong setting. Prongs are tines of metal that hold the stone. Typically, the number of prongs ranges from 4-8 depending on the size and cut of the stone but we recommend at least 6 to ensure durability and security. If 4 prongs are desired we usually suggest double prongs (two slightly smaller prongs right next to each other) for added security. Another type of prong setting is called a V-prong which is used for stones that have a sharp point such as a pear shape or marquis to best protect the point.
Accent stones have more setting options such as bead setting, channel setting, and flush setting. Bead setting is used for a line of small stones where there are two tiny prongs between each stone that are shared. This style is used for the setting in halos and many times when stones are set down the shank of a ring. Channel setting is where a row of stones is held in place by two raised edges of metal on each side with almost no space between the stones. Flush setting is when stones are set directly into a metal surface. More clearance around the edges of the stone is required than other setting styles, and the depth of the stone can limit where stones can be flush set. We always give our recommendations about setting based on the type and shape of the stone and where it will be positioned in the ring.
Shanks have several different styles to choose from as well. The shank on a typical engagement ring is usually straight, but other options include bypass, wrap, and organic. A straight shank is the same width all the way around and allows for other bands to be worn with it easily. We recommend at minimum shanks be 2mm thick (off the finger) and 2mm wide (across the finger) to hold up to daily wear. Bypass shanks have each arm of the shank wrap around the center stone, one going around the north edge of the stone and the other going around the south edge. Wrap shanks are comprised of 2 or more straight bands that cross one another to give the appearance of a long piece of metal wrapping around the finger multiple times. Organic shanks can come in many variations but they typically break from the standard shape of a ring and utilize wavy or irregular edges. When choosing what head and shank styles to use it is important to keep design in mind. As artists, our team can advise you based on what relates best to the stone, the described style of the wearer, and the overall visual aspect of the ring.
There is more room to add details on the shank in the form of patterns (two common styles we use are the ‘llyn’ pattern which consists of spirals and more organic shapes and ‘bits and pieces’ pattern which is made up of small squares and rectangles that create a cobblestone effect). Personal imagery can be hidden in pattern so they don’t stand out as much for a more subtle touch. One couple who loved to fish together had us add a small spiral fish to the ‘llyn’ pattern in their engagement ring. Most of our detail is added during the CAD step in our process, where each piece is built in the 3d computer program that we use called MatrixGold. Because these elements must hold up through casting and polishing they have to be built at a certain size. For a more subtle and soft appearance hand engraving can add beautiful detail to a piece. Most commonly used to add an inscription to the interior of a wedding band, hand engraving can also add patterns or symbols to the outside of a ring. Hand engraving can also enhance patterns built in CAD such as adding lines to feathers or leaf elements.
Many people have little to no experience with jewelry when starting this journey, so don’t feel intimidated. The best way to get started is to contact us and set up a consultation. At the consultation we will go over these points with you to get an overall idea of the design and your budget. Next, we order in stones for you to select from, finish the design and figure the final quote, and take the deposit. Then we produce the CAD renderings for your approval, print the wax, and make the metal casting for you to come see and approve in person. Finally, we set the stones and finish the ring. The process is fluid and there are chances to make changes and adjustments along the way. Whenever you are ready to begin, the team at llyn strong fine art jewelry is here to help.
Contact us today and start designing the perfect engagement ring.