When you’re picking an engagement ring, there’s a lot to consider. Size, material and gemstone are the main aspects that stick out to people – however, have you thought of the ring shank? A ring shank is very important as it determines how the ring sits and fits. So, what is a shank and why is it important? In our guide, we talk you through different shank types and how to tell them apart.
What is a ring shank?
Let’s start by explaining the different parts of an engagement ring. There are 5 main parts: Prong, Setting, Shoulder, Profile and Shank.
The prongs are the little metal bars that hold the gemstones in place. Not all rings have prongs as some gems can be flush set, meaning the stone is within the metal. Prongs range from 3 to 8 bars depending on stone size, but 4 or 6 are the most popular prong number. The setting is the part of the ring that holds the stone, also known as the head. The shoulders are the sides of the ring that support the setting and holds the gem in place. The profile is the cross-section or side view of the ring.
Finally, the shank is the band or hoop of the ring. The shank shape and width contribute to the overall look and feel of the ring, plus how it sits and feels on the finger. There are many types of ring shanks ranging from simple and plain to more dramatic and extravagant. Below are the top 7 ring shanks.
Straight ShankA straight shank looks exactly how it sounds. It’s a straight band that has the same width at all points. The shank is formed of a rectangular strip of metal that creates flat sides around the band. It doesn’t taper off or split and is commonly flat edged and not rounded off. This band is primarily designed to hold the centre stone but it’s also a great shape to be worn alongside a wedding band. This shank style is referred to as a ‘comfort fit’ as it naturally fits the shape and circumference of the finger.
Split ShankA split shank is a single metal shank that splits in two as it gets nearer the stone. This gives the illusion and appearance of two bands rather than the splitting of a single band. This split can be as thin or wide as you like and vary in design. The style is already glamorous and sparkly, but you can add a twist or cross design for more texture and shape. Another variant of the split shank is an open split shank which splits further around the circumference of the ring and has wider gaps.
A tapered shank is a ring band that becomes thinner as it reaches the setting and stone. This gives the band different widths at different points, giving the ring more shape and making it shine at multiple angles. One of the reasons this style is so popular is because the tapering of the band can make the centre stone look bigger than it is. This makes the band look more delicate and elongates the finger, making it appear longer.
Cathedral ShankThe cathedral shank gets its name from the way it’s viewed from above. The centre stone is framed by two arches - one on either side. This is done by splitting two ends of the shank and lifting them towards the stone. When it’s looked at from above, the ring looks like a cathedral and its iconic architecture. The arches are designed to hold the stone and draw attention to its size and sparkle. This ring is dramatic, stylish and elegant, perfect for the person who loves to make a statement.
Bypass ShankA bypass shank is where two ends of the band separate as it reaches the centre stone, becoming 2 sections. These sections run and wrap around the stone, almost as if it’s ‘bypassing’ it, which is where the name comes from. The twisting gives the ring a beautiful fluid movement and adds extra size and sparkle to the ring.
Knife Edge ShankDon’t worry, this shank isn’t as sharp as it sounds! The knife edge shank has a sharp edge that runs around the outer edge of the band. This splits the shank in two and these two slanted sides meet at a prominent knife point. This splitting gives the impression that there are two or more bands within one ring. It’s a unique, intriguing and complex design – however, you can pick how simple or intricate you’d like it to be.
Finally, the interlocked shank is when an engagement ring and wedding band interlock together perfectly. This style is more of a custom shank design which should be discussed with a jeweller, as they will need to make sure the rings fit together well and compliment each other with their silhouette. This shank is interpreted differently by many jewellers and the options are endless! If you’re looking for rings that are truly unique to you and your partner, the interlocked shank is the best choice.