Monday , December 22 2014
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JEWELRY REPAIR: 103 rings and things

ALL THAT GLITTERS
Richard Alan
harborgoldsmith@comcast.net 

Ring sizing is one of the most common repairs or alterations when a customer’s ring is either too large or too small.

To reduce a gold ring, let’s say from a size 7 to a size 4, requires cutting out a small piece of the bottom of the ring shank, carefully closing the gap and welding the seam with the same color and karat of gold. The welded seam is then filed, sanded, polished and returned to the customer like new. And yes, if requested, I will return the removed piece of precious metal.

This is a simple routine in a perfect world, but here on “Knuckle Island,” 90% of my female clientele have size 5 ring fingers and size 8 knuckles. BIG PROBLEM for the goldsmith. So, until they discover elasticized gold the ring will never fit right; difficult to put on and loose as a goose past the knuckle.

Oh sure, there are ways to make the ring fit perfectly. It requires either adding ring bumps or sizing beads. If that doesn’t work a special designed ring shank that once installed on the ring expands over the swollen knuckle and snaps closed for a perfect fit on the finger.

Problem solved… right? Wrong! The special hinged and locking shank costs close to $800.00 today and $200.00 labor to install. Years ago, they only cost a couple hundred dollars. Back then, I put on as many as four a month. Lately? Never.

Other complications involve rings with invisible settings or micro-studded diamonds. They should never be sized as constant diamond loss will be the guaranteed result. Bending the ring by either upsizing or downsizing will loosen nearly every diamond. I now avoid doing these rings, even when all seems to go right during the process. The end result is always the same: constant stone loss. These rings have to be ordered in the correct size. Period.

Ring enlarging is a bit more complicated – and more expensive. For example, a ring has to go up three sizes. I cut the shank bottom open a gap that will accommodate a piece of gold to fill it, then weld both sides sand and polish and thus make the ring larger. Here I have to supply the gold or platinum at current market prices. Some amateur jewelers will hammer the shank to make the ring larger, this only thins out your ring and loosens all your gems in the process, the result is shoddy craftsmanship.

Contrary to popular belief, giving the goldsmith a broken earring or gold tooth to use to size the ring will not save you any money. Now I have to add alloys to match your ring color then melt and work the gold into the required shape that I will need to size the ring adding two hours of labor to a 20 minute job. Using your gold saved you nothing, but you can sell me the gold for cash and put it towards the cost of the sizing.

The repair of broken chains can include anklets or bracelets. Most damages are due to wear and tear or the fact that the chain is a light-weight, hollow construction and the links and rings are worn through; meaning all the links are “kaput.” The cost to rebuild every link will be more expensive than the original purchased price. It requires more skill and materials to repair hollow jewelry.

Solid link chains are easily repaired and the end result is unnoticeable. Catches or clasps such as lobster claws or spring rings also run their course and must be replaced occasionally. Salt water or perspiration can rust the inner steel springs that causes clasp failure and could result in the loss of a favorite pendant or medal.

Oh! And ladies, the next time you break a cherished piece of jewelry and your hubby grabs it and trots off to the garage workshop to fix it, cut him off at the pass and retrieve it before he makes it worse. The most difficult and expensive repair in my shop is when he performs “the garage repair.”

Richard Alan is a designer/goldsmith and owner of the Harbor Goldsmith at Island Plaza with over forty years experience at his trade and welcomes your questions about “All That Glitters” 239-394-9275 harborgoldsmith@comcast.net 


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