Do violin strings damage rings?

Hello fellow jewellers around the world. Maybe you could offer an
opinion. I made a ring a month ago for a young lady who plays the
violin. The ring is in 18ct white gold (palladium and silver alloy)
It is set with a radiant cut center stone about a half carat set
into a four-claw and then is flanked by a tapered baguette on either
side in a setting to hold the bagette at the broad and narrow sides.
The client phoned in a state last week to say that the one side stone
had just fallen out… This has never happened to me before and I
there and then assured her that the stone would be replaced at my
cost. The ring was returned and on inspection I have noticed severe
marks at the base of the shank as though she has been drumming
against a sharp bar of steel. There is also a similar mark on the
side of the one claw of the center stone angled up towards where the
exposed side of where the missing stone would be. My question is.
Could playing a violin, and the friction from the steel strings
damage a ring to this extent. would rubbing the string against the
edge of the bagette be able to make it loose enough to fall out. I
don’t play a musical instrument but think that this may be the cause
of the damage and the loss of the stone… could someone offer an
opinion? Many thanks from a freezing, mid winter Johannesburg…

Warm Regards
Gwen Doran


I would be less surprised if you said she played cello or upright
bass… Most “classical” violin and fiddle techniques have only the
pads at the tips of the fingers contacting the strings. Even when a
professional violinist is at a full “stretched” position to hit the
high notes, the base of the finger should never be touching the
string. But I suppose if she’s doing something odd and avant-garde
then she may be using the flat of her hand to generate a percussive
sound against the strings… that’s honestly the only way I can think
of that a violinist would have that part of the hand anywhere near
the strings. Very odd and has me curious as to what she’s doing!

In terms of whether rubbing the string against the ring could cause
the stone to fall out, a violin string (particularly the E string
closest to the base of the fingers) can be extremely sharp… a
hair-thin piece of steel cable. It’s also vibrating rapidly. So I
would think that it’s very probable that it could cause that type of
damage (particularly to softer metals like gold).

Let us know what you find out!

Karen Goeller
No Limitations Designs
Hand-made, one-of-a-kind jewelry

I don’t play the violin, but I’ve witnessed people playing them and
your customer would have to have exceptionally small hands to even
be able to get the ring in contact with the strings while playing.

This is a link to a picture of a person fingering a violin:

Could playing a violin, and the friction from the steel strings
damage a ring to this extent. would rubbing the string against the
edge of the bagette be able to make it loose enough to fall out. 

Yes and yes.

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers, LLC
1780 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02140

Hi Gwen! A long time ago I played the violin, a violinist usually
uses the ends of the fingers against the string, there is no way the
ring should ever come into contact with the string nor would the ring
come into contact with the neck of the instrument under normal

Hope this helps!

Gwen, the easy answer is yes. And it’s clear from your description
that she did something to damage the ring, which is to say that it’s
likely not your bad work, but she did something. As to the violin
part - maybe, maybe not. It’s not really true, but it’s been said
that the violin is gut strings (or modern equivalent), and the
fiddle is steel strings. Many violinists use “gut” for the lower
strings and steel for the high. Gut strings (some are carbon fiber
nowadays) won’t damage a gold ring at all - steel strings will slice
through it like butter, if it’s put in that place. Ask her - there
are many, many different types of strings for the violin. It’s not
so much blame as that if it is the violin then she’ll just do it
again, if that’s what’s doing it.

Gwen, I checked with my daughter who is a concert violinist. She was
really puzzled, and could not see how playing the violin would
damage a ring.

In the first place, the stones are at the top of the ring and away
from the strings. Also, if the ring slid around so that it was
hitting the strings, the violinist would notice this right away as it
would affect the playing.

Most violinists remove their rings so as to have complete freedom of
the left hand which does all the fancy work on the violin.

My daughter doubted very much that the violin is the problem. There
would never be an friction of any sort.

It seems to me that you client was doing some kind of work—maybe
even gardening or working with sharp tools and that caused the
damage to the ring It seems that she is the one who is completely at
fault, expecially as you can see the damage that was done to the
ring. The falling out of the stone was not caused by you, or any
weakness in the ring itself. It sounds like sheer carelessness.

Alma Rands

Especially if she’s been wearing it on her fretting hand (the hand
on the neck of the violin), I could easily see the strings, and the
sheer vibration doing a number on a ring as described. Once the stone
is loosened even a bit, those high frequency vibrations could turn
even a softer stone into a pretty destructive force on the setting. I
suspect if you asked her to put on the ring and play a bit, you would
see the source of the wear pattern pretty quickly.

Ron Charlotte – Gainesville, FL


I can tell you that musicians and in particular violinist can develop
some bad habits (nervous habits) that include tapping or stroking
their instruments or case. This could damage the ring, but would
probably also have caused damage to the instrument, I can help but
wonder if there is a way for you to draw out the circumstances of the
damage to the ring.

Daniel Culver

I used to play the violin and never used any parts of my fingers that
would damage a ring. Only the finger tips are touching the strings
curving over the wooden neck and the thumb is supporting from under
the neck. The hand slides up and down the neck loosely or it wouldn’t
be music. The bow hand also doesn’t come into contact with a ring
finger. Maybe she’s playing a bass violin really hard, but I don’t
think regular violin playing would damage a ring. Could bc carrying
the case with a worn handle.

Good luck.

Hi Gwen,

It is most unlikely that the damage occurred as a result of playing
the violin. For a start, the violin does not use steel strings -
they wouldn’t resonate under the bow. The strings are ‘catgut’ (dried
sheeps intestines) or nylon. The are used with rosin which is
abrasive but this is only applied to an area of about 2 inches in
length below the bridge where the fingers don’t contact them. In
playing, the part of the finger on which the ring sits would not
come into contact with the strings as the hand is arched so that only
the fingertips touch the strings - any greater contact would damp the
strings and stop them sounding. Unlike a guitar, there are no
fingerboard frets which could possibly mark the underside of a ring.
I think it is also unlikely that the stone loosened because of
vibration - unlike my tuba where the low frequency vibrations rattle
my tooth crowns loose every couple of years or so! I think I would
look for another, more violent cause than music…

Best wishes,
Ian W. Wright
Sheffield UK

This has never happened to me before and I there and then assured
her that the stone would be replaced at my cost. 

you might have been better to ask her if you can inspect the ring
before making the commitment to fix it free.

If the stone fell out because of unusual wear over which you have no
control you could explain that to the client, diplomatically inform
her that is her unfortunate if inadvertent doing but that none the
less you would be willing to fix the ring at a reduced price because
you value her as a customer.

If the problem was some defect in design or execution then indeed
honor your implied warrantee with no fuss.

Unusual wear markings suggest abuse by the customer.

If I’m understanding the setting correctly, a few things to look for
are if a corner of the baguette was exposed and if there was
sufficient coverage of the metal over the ends of the stone. Also
there should be enough metal to tie the components together without
flexing. If those items were indeed properly done, point them out to
her, explain that gold is not tool steel and make whatever
accommodation you deem appropriate in the context of customer

But sometimes you just eat it even when its not your fault.

Let me amend my comments on this. The ring is probably not coming in
contact with the strings but the bow. The bow is usually constructed
of hard enough material that an energetic violinist (and many of them
are) could conceivably damage the ring that way.

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers, LLC
1780 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02140


I fiddle around with my violin :slight_smile: and never touch the strings.
However since she is an artist like us and is probably working at
another job like lifting luggage at the airport or building rock
walls I would guess that it is some other source.


I guess we don’t have many musicians on the list or someone would
have mentioned just how long it takes to make any kind of marks in
guitar frets and they are softer than jewellery gold. Even a brass
slide will take years to get grooved and it’s being rubbed against
the strings constantly. I also play a cello and can’t imagine how
you can get a ring damaged whilst doing it.

Anthony Lloyd-Rees.
Beautiful British Columbia

Hi all;

I played the violin for years as a child, and there is no way, if
you are using proper technique, that a ring would come in contact
with the strings. The strings are depressed with the pads of the
fingers. Also, violin strings aren’t that rough. The lower strings
are gut or nylon, wound with flat wire, the upper strings are smooth
steel wire. Chording on a guitar would chew up a ring though. It
sounds like this woman is just rough on her jewelry, and I think that
such obvious wear and tear should relieve you of responsibility to
repair the ring without charges. If it were my customer, I’d point
out the damage, explain that jewelry is not designed to be exposed to
harsh conditions, then offer to repair it free of labor costs if she
agrees to pay for the materials.

David L. Huffman

I’ve played guitar for years. I only wear a gold wedding band but
it’s right there on the top of the strings when using a slide.
Otherwise my fingers are curved and the ring doesn’t come close to
touching the strings or frets. I finally polished my ring last
summer after, let’s see… 18 years ? I would worry more about wood
damage to a violin fretboard from the metal than I would worry about
the metal. It’s possible to chip out the edge of the neck. Not
likely, but possible.

Brian Corll
Brian Corll, Inc.
1002 East Simpson Street
Mechanicsburg, PA 17055
Tel.: (717) 691-0286

I don’t know if someone already suggested, I will invite the customer
to come to the store with the violin and see how is the "impossible"
happening. If she is dishonest she will just hide herself. If she is
honest you will give us all an amazing piece of knowledge. Beside
if the string are cutting gold why you are supposed to fix the ring
for free? You ever asked to play wearing the ring?


Thank you to everyone who gave advice with regards the damage to
this ring…

From what I have read, it would be nearly impossible to damage the
ring to the extent it was damaged during playing the violin. The
damage must have happened elsewhere.(perhaps I will never find out
what did it…) I fixed the ring and replaced the stone (not
cheap!!!) and will be advising my customer to be more careful. Any
further damage or loss of stones will be her liability. I won’t be so
quick to jump in and volunteer repairs before inspection next time.
It was a good learning experience (all education is expensive) and a
good marketing exercise… the client will be back and despite the
problems with this ring and she has already referred someone else to
me. As someone once said to me… “It’s not what goes wrong or what
you did wrong, it’s how you fix it that will count”

Thankyou all for your input…
Gwen Doran.

Hi Folks!

I played violin daily for ten years----There is no way a ring worn
on any finger on either hand can come in contact with either the
violin or the bow unless doing something EXTREMELY unconventional!
Even then, no material used in either the bow or the violin would be
able to mark metal at all—certainly not to the extent described!

Janet in Jerusalem