As a detective looking to solve the crossword clue ‘nipple ring,’ my first instinct would be to brainstorm words and phrases related to nipples and rings. I might think of ‘piercing,’ ‘jewelry,’ or even ‘breastfeeding.’ However, as I dig deeper into potential solutions, I would start to think more carefully about the actual anatomy of the nipple. Specifically, I would consider the fact that the areola – the darker area surrounding the nipple – is often used as a reference point for medical and anatomical discussions about breasts. It might be considered a kind of ‘ring‘ around the nipple, especially in the context of a crossword clue. Ultimately, this line of thinking would lead me to the final answer: AREOLA. With this solution, the mystery of the nipple ring is solved.