8 Ring Shank Styles and Their Identifying Features

Last Updated on September 25, 2022 by Juli "Jewels" Church

Wondering about the most popular ring shank styles?

Don't worry, we've got you covered. In this Learning Guide, I'll explain some of the top ring shank styles in the jewelry industry today. 

ring shank styles
  • Does a prong setting protect a diamond better?
  • Which setting is more expensive?
  • Are 8 prongs better than 4 prongs? 
  • What’s the difference between a closed split shank and open ended split shank?
  • Is a bypass shank the same as a tension setting?
  • How is a euro shank different from a straight shank?

What is a Ring Shank?

The ring shank is the circular part of a ring. When jewelers talk about a ring shank, they're usually referring to the metal setting without the center diamond and prongs. There are many different types of ring shank styles. Many people confuse ring shanks styles with ring settings, but they're not exactly apples to apples.

There can be many types of ring shanks for one ring setting. For example, a solitaire engagement ring could have a straight shank, split shank, or knife edge shank. As long as there's one singular stone, it's a solitaire setting. The ring shank style is just different.

Parts of an Engagement Ring

This handy little diagram below shows you the difference parts of an engagement ring. At the top, we have the center stone. The center stone sits on the prongs. The prongs and center stone are called the "head" or "ring head". Without the engagement ring head, all that remains is the ring shank. The bridge and the shoulders are part of the ring shank.

parts of an engagement ring

Different Ring Shank Styles

Straight Shank

Straight shanks are the ring shank styles of your standard engagement rings. The two sides of the ring are a flat, rectangular strip of metal. Most straight shank engagement rings are 2mm bands, but there are wider bands as well. The classic solitaire ring shank is commonly flat edged and have different widths.

straight shank engagement ring

Men's wedding bands with flat edges that aren't beveled or comfort-fit would fall under a straight shank style. They may be called flat-edged, but the concept is the same. They're a type of straight band.

Knife Edge Shank

A knife edge ring shank is most often seen as a variety of solitaire band style. Instead of having flat edges, the outer edge meet to a point in the middle. This look resembles a knife's edges, which gives it its name. Despite its name, a knife edge shank doesn't have a sharp edge; it's actually pretty dull.

knife edge shank

Tapered Shank

Tapered shank rings are another variety of straight shanks. Instead of the flat edges of a standard straight shank style, the two sides taper as the meet toward the center stone. Most often tapered bands will be a plain solitaire look, but they can have accent diamonds or gemstones.

tapered engagement ring shank

Cathedral Shank

Cathedral shanks are also known as cathedral ring settings. Most cathedrals have a high-profile, but there are some with medium profiles as well. Many cathedral shank style engagement rings are straight bands, where the two arches meet up to the center stone.

But instead of the typical shank, there is a metal bar underneath, connecting each side of the shank. It's almost as if the ring head is resting on a bridge. Sometimes the two arches of a cathedral shank will meet at the prong basket, and others might not completely enclose.

Cathedral ring shanks can work with many engagement ring settings. They can be simple, with straight, polished metal bars, or they can have a complex design, adorned with tiny diamonds and vintage detailing. As long as the cathedral bridge is present underneath, it will fall under this category of shank styles.

cathedral shank engagement ring

Split Shank

A split shank ring gives the look of two bands instead of a single metal shank. However, it is actually a single band at the bottom of the ring shank. A split shank wedding ring can split near the center, sort of like a butterfly design. Split shanks like this normally have a thin width, either polished or with pave diamonds.

classic split shank engagement ring

Alternatively, an open split shank style ring leaves open space all the way to the bottom of the shank. The open split shank bands are more likely to have prong set diamonds. Because of the way the band splits on these types of ring shanks, they have a thinner width to leave a larger open space on both sides of the finger.

Open Split shank engagement ring

Bypass Shank

A bypass shank is where the sides of the shank wrap around the center stone. Instead of looking like it's holding the stone up, it makes the stone appear as if its been floating. A bypass shank can also be called a tension setting.

These types of ring shanks can look beautiful, but it can be hard to find a matching wedding band.

Euro Shank

If you're someone who has an issue with finding the perfect size for your ring finger, a Euro shank style engagement ring could be the answer. Rings with this type of shank are ideal for those who have an issue with large knuckles and small fingers.

Those who have a tough time sliding a traditional ring shank over the knuckle but find it loose at the base of the finger are susceptible to ring spinning. When a ring shank spins, it's usually because the gemstones in the engagement ring are making it top-heavy. And with the ring band being too loose once past the knuckles, gravity topples that ring right down.

The Euro shank makes it so the ring band isn't a complete circle. Instead, the ring will have either squared sides or a squared bottom. The squared sides will help your engagement ring stay in places and fit to your finger shape, instead of a how a ring naturally fits. A squared bottom can do the same, but is suited for those who don't need too much tighter.

Top View of Euro Shank engagement ring
profile view of Euro engagement ring shank

Some people report Euro shanks being difficult to get used to, comfort-wise. If that's a concern, a Euro shank retailer with a great return policy like Clean Origin's gives you enough time to decide if that shank style is really for you.

Crossover Shank

A crossover shank ring is a great option for someone with versatile style. There are some crossover shank engagement rings out there, but this shank style is primarily used for wedding bands, anniversary bands, or cocktail rings. It may also be called an interlocked ring shank.

crossover engagement ring

Interlocked rings can sometimes have gemstones, but they can be mixed metals as well. The ring may consist of a few different layers of metals overlapping in the cross section. Sometimes they may look like vines weaving and they usually have a larger width.

If you do want an engagement ring with a crossover shank style, an infinity ring setting might be a great option, Not only does the infinity sign symbolize your infinite love and commitment, but it also has a loose weaving that makes it fall under crossover shank rings. Many nature-inspired ring settings can be crossovers too, with the metal weaving to imitate vines.

infinity shank

Chevron Shank

Chevron ring styles that has been gaining momentum over the last ten years. They're not popular for engagement rings. For wedding bands and ring jackets, the chevron is a unique style that many people are drawn to. They can also look great as two or more bands, like a stackable or double-band sets.

chevron diamond wedding ring shank

A chevron style ring shank is where the two sides of the band meet at a point. If you're familiar with a chevron shape, that would be it. Other people might say a V-styled band or a triangular band. They are all referring to the same general look.

If you have fleshy fingers or if they get uncomfortable easy, the chevron ring might not be the one for you. If your ring is flush set, the point could poke your skin when flexing your hand about. Always make sure to move your hand around when determining the comfort of a ring, just in case you have to return it.

chevron engagement ring shank

Final Thoughts

We all tend to focus on the head of the ring and its center stone. Who knew there could be so many options for ring shanks? There's a lot of style and flair to be expressed here too.

Just remember that a ring — an engagement ring — is more than the sum of its parts. It's all about how it all comes together as an extension of the wearer and as an expression of love and commitment.

Meet Your Jewelry Expert

Learn More About Jewelry

Want to learn more about jewelry? Check out these other helpful resources written by our jewelry experts!