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Ethics of large stones in 4 prong pegs


#1

Dear Orchidians,

I have been a member for some time now and always find the
conversation and here on Orchid to be both insightful and
valuable! Thank you all!

I’d like to know how you guys would view this delimma. I subscribe to
the belief that stones larger than.50 should be set in 6 prongs. The
2 ways I’ll make an exception to this rule is #1: 4 heavy prongs and
#2: as low as possible in a peg head. I (used to) sell this to the
customer as ‘security’ of ‘protecting their investment’. In the rare
case that they still want their stone high in 4 prongs, they have
been warned.

Upgrading stones is a large part of the business my employer does.
They have me swap small 4 prong peg heads for large 4 prong peg
heads frequently. I have tried explaining this to the sales people
but they consider it ‘arguing’ with the customers. I see it as an
’ethical’ issue.

Ethics or Ego?

Thank you ALL, again!
J. Rose


#2
I'd like to know how you guys would view this delimma. I subscribe
to the belief that stones larger than .50 should be set in 6
prongs. The 2 ways I'll make an exception to this rule is #1: 4
heavy prongs and #2: as low as possible in a peg head.

You are 100% correct ! No, let’s make it a 1000% ! I have been
fighting this battle forever, but it cost more and requires more
skilled labour, and many other complications, so industry pretends
that it is o.k. to mount stones in 4 prongs.

I am even more radical than you are. The only time 4 prongs are
acceptable is if one prong is bend or sheared, the stone can still be
securely held. All other cases 6 prongs or more.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#3

Ethics or not, I am not a great fan of peg base heads. Too often it
seems the only solder connection is the peg in the hole. The prongs
themselves have no attachment. Sloppy work, basically. That peg is
just not a secure connector, and is actually intended more as a
positioning index. In my years of repair, I saw countless instances
of head gone with just the peg soldered into the hole. If the solder
flows up into the base of the prongs, there is a fighting chance of
security. As for prongs, 6 gives you much more security, as it takes
2 or 3 going missing before the stone escapes, usually. In a 4 prong
head, 1 gone and the stone can follow close behind. Some styles just
don’t allow for 6 prongs, though, so extra attention to type of
prongs, installation and setting work is a good idea. Salesmen don’t
worry about ‘arguing’ with customers. If you sell the sales staff on
the extra security, then they can usually sell the customer.
Providing is not arguing, and if the sales person feels
it is, they are not really interested in selling the idea. Poor
salesperson? Poor communication between sales and bench?

Don’t know, not there to watch.

http://www.forrest-design.com


#4

large stones in 4 prong heads is only the the most miniscual tip of
the ethics iceburg for the sales people sales is about manipulation
and the science of manipulation.

sales is about rationalization and then denial on the flip side &
you cant do a blanketey blank thing about it The whole thing made me
sick, I did the the only thing i could do, i started my own jewelry
store ! now i have control and i tell people the truth about
jewelry, diamonds, diamond certifications i dont write appraisals
for the stuff i sell because it is a conflict of intrest and now i
am my old employersworst nightmare.

goo


#5

Fact is that people are strange and different. As far as I can tell
from experience, customers do not always listen to good advice. I
agree with you and this is the way how we looke at jewellry and try
to provide our cutomers with the best “ADVICE” possible.

To be honnest with you all, I do not have a standard rule of setting
a particular gemstone with 3, 4 or more prongs. The stone aswell as
the setting should fit together in a save and natural look. The jewel
is supposed to be one piece were both items add up the precedence of
eachother. However, the stone should be the most attractive part and
specially the bigger sized ones.

My opinion is that we still need to provide the best, correct
answers and advice, in order to keep the customers pleased and happy.
If, and only if, they have another opinion then you, then make sure
that they trully understand the risk of their view. Be aware that you
should have something written that protects you for any drawback of
unfair customers… they do exist!

Keep your spirit high and always stay honnest! It will pay off in
the long run.

Best regards
Pedro


#6

Take a look at any premier jeweler (Tiffany, Winston, Cartier etc)
and see how many large stones, and when I say large, I mean well
into the six figures and up, are set in a six prong head, usually
none. All of these companies have been at this a while, at least
60+yrs and more than 100 in a couple of the cases. I don’t think they
would still be around if they were in the business of selling very
expensive stones in insecure settings. Even the 6 prong head in the
classic Tiffany ring is a far different animal than the off the
shelf peg head. The weak link in your arguement is the "peg head"
which is an inherently insecure type of setting. Most large stones
are set in a "basket " type of setting which by design creates a very
short prong length. If you were to measure the prong from the juntion
of the “bar” to the seat of the stone it would be much shorter in
lenght than the prong on an equivilent size peg head. Short prong =
strong prong. The other major problem with the peg head is the
latteral movement of the prongs. A peg head offers nothing to prevent
the prongs from moving side to side where as the basket head has the
bar running between each prong to firmly stabalize them. I think that
most of us have seen rings that have been worn with the peg head
setting twisted and leaning over. More prongs DO NOT make a more
secure stone. A WELL CONSTRUCTED and WELL FITTED head does.

Do some research and


#7

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
regularly.

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!


#8
I see it as an 'ethical' issue. 

Ethics or Ego?

Jay, every once in a while a thread pops up that starts something -
I have a feeling this is one of those…

I don’t think it’s ethics or ego, I think it’s paranoia with a touch
of ego, maybe. The ego part being that you prefer a six prong, which
most people do not. <> I think that some of what you ask relates to
stock settings - die struck peg heads, which is only part of the
business. Those come in grades of weight, and the good ones are
pretty good.

The other issue is, “What do you mean by large?” Today I’m finishing
a 3 ct. E/VS1 ring with 1ct. E/VS pears on either side. I consider
that to be a moderately sized stone, and the center is set in 4
prongs, with the pears in 3 prongs on the shoulders. The difference
being that it’s a custom made ring, not stock parts, and I have
great confidence in it’s integrity. Setting design is one of the
more difficult things to know, and where many people fall short,
frankly. I personally have no problem with a 1 ct. set into a good 4
prong head. Meaning WELL set.

I think the whole issue Jay raises is important, though, as it seems
to me that the employer in question is engaging in practices that
make Jay uncomfortable. That’s something else again. But
school-taught smiths tend to put everything in bezels - we can’t
really have a “rule” that says anything over.50 goes into six
prongs. We can have a rule that says a well designed setting is a
thing of wonder in itself, though…

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com


#9

I’m not sure if it is an “ethical” question, but I do agree that
larger (round) stones are more secure in 6 prong settings. Sometimes
the ring style will dictate 4 prong or the customer will request it.
In that case I usually give my speech about the security and let
them make the decision as long as they know the risks. As I recall,
Geller’s book also recommends not guaranteeing over .50 in 4 prongs.

Charlie


#10

ego: customer gets what they desire and pay for.If after you explain
the logic behind upgrading a setting to accommodate x stone and they
refuse to see it as you, the expert proffers it and they are plainly
resistant -it is a matter of their ignorance showing as the costs
involved are minimal in difference from 4 light to heavy, and 4 to 6
prongs in x karat…

rer


#11

The thing I always tell my customers is that if you lose one prong
on a four prong head you can lose your stone, but if you have six
prongs you have to lose three to lose your stone. Which is not to say
that if the prongs are beefy enough (the only time I will use four
prongs—on any size stone—is if I can make the prongs extra
heavy–which you can’t do on really small stones) they won’t hold
your stone (even with only three prongs left). But I always would
prefer to see more protection then less. Plus it subjects the
girdles of the stones to more potential damage when there are only
four prongs.

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers, LLC
www.spirerjewelers.com


#12

The thing I always tell my customers is that if you lose one prong on
a four prong head you can lose your stone, but if you have six prongs
you have to lose three to lose your stone. Which is not to say that
if the prongs are beefy enough (the only time I will use four
prongs—on any size stone—is if I can make the prongs extra
heavy–which you can’t do on really small stones) they won’t hold
your stone (even with only three prongs left). But I always would
prefer to see more protection then less. Plus it subjects the girdles
of the stones to more potential damage when there are only four
prongs.

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers, LLC
www.spirerjewelers.com


#13

Hmmmm… I’m putting in a word here from a person from a totally
different field I think.

I have never (as a studio based jeweller) been exposed to the
"ethics" of how many prongs are needed for a certain sized stone.

I do as I please after having weighed up the pros and cons and
studied the situation and then gone into flexibility of metals and
the strength required in holding a stone safely.

You might like to look at this picture of a 26 ct imperial topaz set
with four prongs. The owner loves it and despite its appearance it’s
a very sturdy setting. And yes it’s an imperial topaz set in plain
old sterling silver. Another rule broken?

http://www.renatesommerjewellery.com.au/Commissions.htm

It’s the first ring on the page.

Rules go out the window as far as I’m concerned. Be bold… break
the rules.

Cheers, Renate


#14
Take a look at any premier jeweler (Tiffany, Winston, Cartier etc)
and see how many large stones, and when I say large, I mean well
into the six figures and up, are set in a six prong head, usually
none. All of these companies have been at this a while, at least
60+yrs and more than 100 in a couple of the cases. I don't think
they would still be around if they were in the business of selling
very expensive stones in insecure settings. 

First we have to separate rings from other jewellery. 4 prongs in
pendant is perfectly fine. Second, the setting geometry should be
take into account. These are exceptions when settings are carefully
designed to hold the stones secure.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#15

OK. I’ve got to put my two cents in here. I too recommend 6 prongs
on important stones. However if the crown is platinum I feel just
fine with a four prong.

As for peg heads…

If installed correctly they can be secure. The trick is to drill the
hole for the peg, and then taking a ball bur to the top of the hole
where the crown sits. The crown will set just down in to the
indentation and you can get a secure solder joint all around the base
of the stone as well as the peg. It doesn’t hurt to do the same with
both ends of the hole. The trick is not letting the solder run all up
the sides of the prongs. This can be alleviated by good torch
technique and a little graphite from a mechanical pencil on the sides
of the prongs. I find yellow ochre too messy for this tight a space.
If it’s a round peg, be sure to file a little off of one side so that
the solder can flow up the length of the peg to the base of the
crown.

Jo Haemer
www.timothywgreen.com


#16
Upgrading stones is a large part of the business my employer does.
They have me swap small 4 prong peg heads for large 4 prong peg
heads frequently. I have tried explaining this to the sales people
but they consider it 'arguing' with the customers. I see it as an
'ethical' issue. Ethics or Ego? 

Wow, Jay, you have some seriously insecure sales people there! As a
buyer of jewelry, I go to the jeweler in hopes of making use of his
or her expertise. I expect a certain amount of rah-rah sales pitch,
but what clinches the deal for me is a knowledgeable professional who
will explain the pros and cons, including price, of any alternatives.
This is known in the business (in fact, in every business I ever
heard of) as “educating the customer.” It only becomes “arguing with
the customer” after the applicable alternatives have been discussed
and the customer has made a decision, and you still push the hard
sell on the choice you would prefer.

Even under the most severe budget constraints, the customer wants
the best value for his or her money. The professional knows the best
way to ensure the customer gets that value is if the customer knows
as much as possible about their purchase. In my mind, the reasons for
withholding important like that may include:

  1. The salesperson doesn’t know the himself. (That’s OK,
    nobody can know everything. This looks nice…)

  2. The salesperson is just picking up some cash for Spring Break.
    (Maybe I’ll come back later. Not.)

  3. The salesperson doesn’t care if he ever sees the customer again,
    as long as she buys something NOW. (It’s been nice meeting you. Have
    a good day.)

  4. The salesperson belongs behind the counter at a convenience
    store, and should not be within 100 yards of fine jewelry. (Thanks,
    but I’m just browsing. For the exit.)

There may be other reasons, but there are NO reasons for failing to
inform the customer about things that can affect the value and
durability of his jewelry, especially considering the amount of
money he may be spending to upgrade the stone. It may not be an
ethics issue, but it is certainly a professionalism issue.

Steve
Gems Evermore
http://www.gemsevermore.com


#17
Rules go out the window as far as I'm concerned. Be bold... break
the rules. 

Nice job Renate… Your statement above is good advice, too, except
that that there simply isn’t any “six prong rule” to break. And if
the logic that surrounds the point of view were prevailing, we would
only have bezels. Setting design is an art in itself, and just
throwing more prongs at it is pretty much a cop-out, IMO. Now the
real issue - the care and feeding of stock peg-settings, has
something going for it, but again it’s the weight and handling of
them that’s the real problem - cheap heads are cheap heads…

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com


#18
I've got to put my two cents in here. I too recommend 6 prongs on
important stones. However if the crown is platinum I feel just fine
with a four prong. 

Why would a head made of platinum make a difference? I have seen
many platinum heads completely worn out in the course of 5 to 10
years constant use. Sadly, today’s platinum often doesn’t last near
as long as the platinum of a hundred or even fifty years ago, since
it was universally die struck under immense pressure ‘in the olde
days’, but is often cast or lightly die-struck today.

Lee Cornelius
Vegas Jewelers


#19

Hi

When I had my store way back when… Our guarantee of the stone
staying in place was dependent on six prongs, as we understood new
long sleeve sweaters were quite a threat to the four prong, despite
good work on the part of the jeweler.

As far as baskets vs. prongs-I’m often less than impressed with the
strength of cast baskets. But drawn wire ones can be very strong!

As a metals guy, I want to remind you folks that soldering in the
head can anneal the prongs to an overly soft state.

At the bench we want “silly putty” (just kidding) to move the metal
as we wish without risking marquee points or thin girdles… then we
want super spring steel as it walks out the door…

At the risk of inserting ageism-The young brides are often not
terribly careful of the settings. Bridal gets worn 24/7 too so that
elevates the risk.


#20

Renate- I visited your site. It’s lovely. I especially liked the
boxes. After viewing your work I can understand your desire to break
rules and have fun with your designs. I’ve also noticed that most of
your work is with silver and colored stones. Many of us here on the
Orchid site work with very expensive center stones that are in many
cases worth more than our homes. If I set a diamond worth
$200,000.00 in a ring, I am liable for the loss of that stone.
Therefore I tend to be very conservative about how I set a really
expensive stone. It’s about covering our ass…ets.

Have fun and make lots of jewelry.
Jo Haemer
www.timothywgreen.com