A Guide to Shoulder Styles for Diamond Engagement Rings

Diamond shoulder engagement ring

Click on the post images to view each design

The shoulder of a diamond engagement ring marks the point between the setting and band of the ring. Engagement ring shoulders vary enormously by design. This brief  guide shows many differing styles of shoulder. In addition, each example includes a design with a brief explanation.

Parallel (Straight) Shoulder Engagement Rings

Engagement ring designs with parallel shoulders

Parallel give a contemporary look to many engagement rings. Parallel or straight shoulders retain a constant width from the underside of the ring to the setting. By way of example, the Linea Princess cut engagement ring features straight shoulders. In addition, a bar setting intersects the design to hold the diamond.

Tapering Shoulders Engagement Rings


Tapering shoulders across a solitaire engagement ring

Tapering or narrowing shoulders normally accentuate the diamond size by reducing the width of the band – this offers greater contrast between the stone size and band, especially useful in designs incorporating smaller carat weight sizes. Another advantage is that the underside part of the ring  is kept substantial avoiding the risk of this becoming too thin if and when re-sized. The above design is a beautiful four claw diamond ring with tapering shoulders R1D008.

Channel Set Engagement Rings

engagement ring with princess cut channel set shoulders

We create a very wide selection of engagement rings with diamond shoulders. First of all, the basic shape can be parallel or straight (see above) or alternatively tapering (see directly above) but with diamonds set along a channel cut within the band. This normally extends from below the setting to above the half way point. Channel set designs such as R1D013 are effective since all of the channel is filled with diamond. The diamonds are set edge to edge with precision, within straight shoulders – a popular feature of more elaborate ring styles.

Twisted Shoulder Engagement Rings

engagement ring with twisted shoulders

Whether such shoulders flow into a claw setting (see R1D002) or a tension style setting as above, the twisted effect is quite versatile and popular. Some designs demand a contoured wedding band to be fitted, in order to avoid unsightly gaps, but the style adds both flow and divergence from the more generic styles of solitaire engagement ring. There are many, many variations of twisted shoulder styles, encompassing most diamond shapes and band profiles.

Split Shoulder Engagement Rings

engagement rings with split shoulders

Split shoulders form when the design of the band includes a fork, at or above the mid-way point. This can be longer and more pronounced, or more of a style element for the diamond setting, as shown above. The shoulders of R1D054 fork just below the setting to form the claws of the ring in a lovely modern one part ring mount. This accommodates a round brilliant cut diamond. The image above shows a larger diamond (1.50cts+) within this style. The term split shank can also be used, making reference more to designs which divide lower on the shoulder.

Open Shoulder Engagement Rings

Emerald cut engagement ring shown with open shoulders

There is no particular advantage to having open shoulders to solid shoulders (see below) but really this is down to personal preference. Many of the tapering shoulders are either open or solid and can be best illustrated when viewed from the side. For the sake of consistency over this, we have included the same style of image, but the division in this open shoulder can clearly be seen just below the setting. R1D085 Emerald Cut Solitaire Ring shown.

Solid Shoulder Engagement Rings

six claw engagement ring with solid shoulders

R1D007 perfectly illustrates the solid shoulder, best viewed from the side profile. Where the band rises to meet the setting, there is no division as the shoulder rises, remaining complete as it adjoins the head of the ring. Solid shoulders often appear simpler. They can add a negligible amount of gram weight to a ring, but really this style (as with the open design above) comes down to personal preference for either one. Most styles with a solid shoulder can also be found with an open version, especially with the simple solitaire engagement ring designs.

Flared Shoulder Engagement Rings

flared shoulder designs

Flared shoulders are quite the reverse of the narrowing or tapering shoulder. Typically a band of around 2.5mm width (just by way of suggestion) can either gradually or suddenly widen at the setting, to meet or to form the claws, bezel or part bezel as a design alternative to the straight or tapered shoulder styles. This is usually effective when larger diamonds are set, with a noticeable contrast in the diamond size to the band size, which forms the narrowest part of the ring, below the finger. The above design is style R1D025 with a V shaped partial bezel setting around the diamond.

Overlapping Shoulder Engagement Rings

Overlapping shoulders in a twist design

Overlapping shoulders, or interwoven shoulders are a more fluid, organic design element that add a nice twist to some styles of engagement ring. Usually formed from double shoulders (as above), you will see one side of the shoulder divide and flow (usually over) and across to the other side, where it often forms part of the setting. The above style is a relatively new four claw twist design with overlapping shoulder detail. The overlap is more noticeable on the product page associated with R1H049.

Claw Set Shoulder Engagement Rings

Engagement ring R1D001S with claw set diamond shoulders

R1D001S is lovely style from the Halo range of engagement rings, featuring not only the circle of diamonds around the main stone, but also finely claw set shoulder diamonds. Each stone measures approx. 1.5mm, held across the full width of the shoulder, unlike the channel set styles which are usually a little wider than the diameter of the diamond. This is because here, the diamond is set across the width rather than within the shoulder. The look is quite different from the channel setting but balanced beautifully with the halo ring of stones around the main diamond.

Diamond Encrusted Shoulder Engagement Rings

Diamond encrusted shoulders

Fully utilizing each surface of the shoulder, diamonds are encrusted around each surface with the exception of the inner surface of the band. As an alternative, some styles are micro-pavé set with diamonds over the surface, but either style makes the most of the full surface of the metal to apply many small diamonds to the fullest effect. The above style R1D012S, diamond encrusted across each shoulder, with a beautiful milgrain edge reminiscent of many vintage styles of diamond ring, increasingly popular at this time.

Double Diamond Shoulder Engagement Rings

double shoulders within an Emerald cut engagement ring design

For our final shoulder style, rather than go on any further with triple designs (we have these!) we are going to call it a day at the double shoulder. I think we have shown enough variation for today, hopefully nicely illustrated. This double shoulder design is available across most of the shapes – Round, Emerald Cut, Oval – almost identical besides the change in the setting and diamond shape. Double shoulders are elaborate and a lovely alternative to the single row diamond set shoulders we have covered above. The style reference above, is R1D010S featuring the Emerald Cut central stone. This could also quality as the split shank design, since the double shoulders flow from the single band as it appears below the finger.

Mark Johnson

About Mark Johnson

Mark attended Liverpool University and went on to pursue a career in the diamond industry. After more than a decade working in polished diamonds, Mark moved to the Isle of Wight where he launched Serendipity Diamonds. He works most days from their busy Ryde showroom, photographing jewellery and writing for the Serendipity Diamonds website.

Mark Johnson

About Mark Johnson

Mark attended Liverpool University and went on to pursue a career in the diamond industry. After more than a decade working in polished diamonds, Mark moved to the Isle of Wight where he launched Serendipity Diamonds. He works most days from their busy Ryde showroom, photographing jewellery and writing for the Serendipity Diamonds website.