I have found six prongs per se to be no advantage.
I agree that its important to discuss pros/cons with the client.
However I would not make a blanket statement like “six prongs are the
strongest” because I don’t have any proof of that. I might phrase it
as “some people believe this, some believe that”. If the customer
relies solely on your professional recommendation, you might be on
the hook for their misuse of the product which came about because
they misunderstood ‘strongest’. Diamonds(and prongs) are NOT forever.
I have seen 6 prongs fail, many times. The culprit is usually wear
and tear on the tips which will happen regardless of head type.
Now one might make the argument that when one tips shears off, you
feel it as rough and its time to get in to the jeweler. I’d rather
advise that the client bring the ring in every season for cleaning
and inspection, free of charge. This I admit is half self serving.
Traffic. But the main goal is to stay ahead of a problem.
About ten years ago I made a new head for a 3 ct problematic
engagement ring, about 9-10mm tall overall. The style stayed as four
prongs but beefy. I chamfered the edges a bit to reduce the heavy
look. I can’t imagine it would look so good with 6 prongs. I’ve seen
it several times a year since and I’m surprised that it hasn’t had at
least a little tightening required. Very often findings heads just
aren’t good enough, but will they pay for handmade? The way to sell
that is to explain that findings are what they are but they are no
more than what they are, but, they cost less…now. If we hand make
something we can control the factors that impact durability and
style but it cost more… but we have increased the odds of having no
problems. Regardless, you should have anything valuable inspected
So in the case of upgrading from say half a carat to a carat, you
can also up the sale with some handwork. This is where a commission
type thing helps the employer. Personally, I don’t believe sales
staff should be selling work, leave that to the expert. Unfortunately
all too often retail jewelers think of the bench guy as a little
robot in the back by the toilet that gets worked to the fullest. They
don’t see the benefit of the benchie dealing with the public. I had
one who did, and we made a lot of money together.
Well…didn’t that all come spilling out!