Ring sizing is one of the most common repairs done in a jewelry repair shop. It should be a manageable task for a skilled jeweler to handle. Whether a ring be silver, gold, or platinum, ring sizings are approached in generally the same manner.
Ways to Size a Ring
There are a few different ways in which a ring can be sized, and it will all depend on the individual ring. Typically, a piece of metal is added or subtracted from the bottom (also known as the shank) of the ring to change its size. The ring can also be stretched or compressed if it contains no stones, such as with a plain wedding band.
In order for a ring to be sized smaller (or down), the jeweler will remove metal by cutting out a carefully measured piece from the ring. The cuts will be made at the bottom of the ring, and once the metal is removed, the jeweler will use pliers to bring the ring back together. Where the two ends meets, the jeweler will then solder the ring back together. Then the ring will be re-rounded, filed, and polished so that little to no evidence of the sizing remains.
In order for a ring to be sized larger (or up), the jeweler will add a carefully measured piece of metal that matches the existing metal of the ring, so a silver ring will have silver added to it, a 14k yellow-gold ring will have 14k yellow-gold added. Using a special jeweler’s saw, a single cut will be made at the bottom of the ring. The ring will then be opened using pliers to accommodate the piece of metal being added. Once the metal is in place, properly adjusted, and lined up with the edges of the ring, the jeweler will solder it in place. Then, as with sizing down, the ring will be re-rounded, filed, sanded, and polished so that it doesn’t look like anything was ever added.
Some rings, however, do not require cutting in order to be sized. It should always be at the jeweler’s discretion to decide what method will be used when sizing a ring. Though the customer may think that stretching a ring sounds better than cutting, it is not always the case!
Rings that have no stones, such as a wedding band, are prime candidates for sizing by stretching or compression. To stretch a ring larger, the ring is placed on a steel mandrel that opens from the inside, and it is very slowly stretched to the correct size. To compress a ring smaller, the ring is placed in a series of die-cut cylindrical forms in descending size order. The ring is then pushed into each die until the desired size is reached.
Another option a jeweler may choose when sizing a ring is to hammer the shank of the ring in order to stretch it to a larger size. This should only be done if the ring is in need of a minor adjustment. Sizing a ring in this manner more than half a size is typically frowned upon, though for half a size and smaller, it may be a good choice depending on the ring style.
There are many scenarios that can complicate a ring sizing. Most colored gems, such as emeralds and aquamarines, cannot be heated, for example, and do not tolerate the chemicals used in jewelry repair. As as a result, they can be damaged if not treated properly. However, there are solutions to this problem, such as protecting the gem from the heat by submerging it in wet sand or covering the gem with Heat Shield. A skilled jeweler will know exactly how to handle your gems without damaging them.
Certain characteristics of a ring may also complicate a sizing. For example, if a shank is extremely thin or very thick. Both make sizing a ring up or down more difficult. A customer may also wish to size a ring very drastically. Anything more than sizing a ring up or down two sizes can be considered a drastic change and can create complications depending on the specific ring.
There are particular styles of ring that are extremely difficult to size, as well, like an eternity band. This is a type of ring where gemstones — usually diamonds — are set over the full circumference of the ring, leaving no area of metal to perform a sizing. If the customer chooses, there are some solutions, such as adding metal to the interior of the ring to make it smaller, though these solutions are not always optimum and can be costly.
There may be occasions, too, where a ring may not be able to be sized due to the delicacy of a stone combined with a difficult sizing. A good example is a very thick-shanked silver ring with large delicate stones, like amethyst, that are in a setting where the gem cannot be removed (for example, a bezel setting). Because silver is an excellent conductor of heat, the heat or the pressure from the sizing could severely crack the delicate stone. This type of sizing must be approached with the utmost caution.
While the sizing of gold and silver rings is largely the same, approaching platinum can be a little different. The process of measuring — adding or subtracting the metal accordingly — is the same, platinum can be soldered in different ways. Platinum can be soldered in the traditional manner — by using a torch, just like with silver and gold — but in recent years, laser welders have become a popular choice when working with platinum. And there is good reason for this. Though it produces a very secure joint when soldering platinum by tradition means, it is nearly impossible to get a “clean” solder. This means that the solder line between connecting pieces of platinum is almost always visible, which is not necessarily desirable.
By means of the laser welder, though, a jeweler can create a seamless solder because a laser welder welds metal with metal, making solder unnecessary. Laser welders are also used on gold or silver for sizings and various other repairs. So if you hear your jeweler mentioning something about a laser welder, that’s perfectly fine! It’s a popular choice and one you can ultimately benefit from!
So, you may be asking yourself at this point if your ring can be sized and how much it would cost, if so. If your ring is gold, silver, or platinum, the answer is most likely yes, and the cost will depend on a few different factors:
- What type of metal is the ring?
- How many sizes is the ring going up or down?
- Is the ring very thick?
- Are there are complications with the ring, such as delicate gemstones?
These four factors affect the cost of your ring sizing. For example, two identical rings in need of sizing, one silver and one platinum, will have very different costs. The cost of the silver sizing will typically run between $25.00 and $50.00 while a platinum sizing will usually cost $100.00 or more. Platinum is far more expensive and requires greater skill to work with than silver, thus the repair will cost more for the platinum ring. However, sizing is generally very cost effective versus purchasing a new ring. Also, with the purchase of a new ring, many jewelers may offer a discounted or complimentary sizing. So don’t be afraid to ask your jeweler for a quote, as you’ll probably be happy with the answer!