How many rings can you size in an hour?

Hello All: When a jeweller charges thirty dollars for a simple
downsizing, he is probably charging three hundred dollars an hour !

I was just wondering if anyone out there was that fast (10 rings
down in 1 hour) on a day to day basis or even ever once? I have sized
"new sale" rings in 10 to 15 minutes depending on how many sizes up
or down, types of stones and settings but 6 minutes seems not likely
to me.

It takes you some time to go thru all those job envelopes and
document which rings go with which job and that has to count towards
the time. Lets say that the 10 rings have already been in your
ultrasonic and are clean and ready to go.

Go. First you put the ring on your mandrel and determine how many
sizes it goes down. You mark and cut the piece out. You close the
shank. You steam it off and dip it in your borax and alcohol and set
it up on your third arm. You cut your solder and flux the joint. You
light your torch and flow your solder. You let it cool (or quench it
right away if there are no stones) and into the pickle and then the
ultrasonic for a few seconds. You steam it off and back to the bench.
You smooth the inside of the solder joint and then put it on the
mandrel and hammer it round. You finish the inside alittle and then
file the excess solder from the outside. You polish with a flex shaft
wheel until smooth and then up to the buffing machine. You polish the
whole ring and then into the ultrasonic for a few seconds and then
you steam it off and inspect it. Hopefully none of the stones have
fallen out or are loosened and no other problems are found. So, what
say you out there. Is anyone out there sizing an average of 10 rings
an hour? How many should an expert bench repair person be able to
size in an hour? Michael R. Mathews Sr. Victoria,Texas JACMBJ

Don’t forget the time it takes to write up the job envelope. Plus
all the extra expense costs ex. insurance, security, advertising,
etc. If you are not charging $30.00 for a sizing you are probably
fooling yourself that you are making money. If you are only trying to
work for wages well then that is a different story. Jerome

  It takes you some time to go thru all those job envelopes and
document which rings go with which job and that has to count
towards the time. 

To really get the time involved with a sizing, you need to add in
the take in time, talking with the customer, documenting the ring,
entering job in the tracking system, and envelope write up. After
the bench is finished, customer call, and then the time spent with
the customer to close the job and ring up the sale. I would
estimate that the total time is a lot closer to 30 minutes per job.
That translates to $60 and hour, about 2/3 the price the local
garages charge for changing a spark plug, and they charge a 1/2 hr
minimum. Thirty bucks to do a sizing is a bargain.


sizing a ring down?? maybe 3 to 7 min, maybe 5 to 10 min going up as
long as I don’t have to roll out a new piece of stock. I use large
dikes to cut the ring, I don’t mark my sizes for me it is faster to
use my eye ball, use a flex shaft sanding disk to make the butt
joints bring together, solder with hard and back to the flex shaft.
speed is something that just came natural to me, have seen many
other jewelers and trained a few, but have never been able to pass
on the speed aspect of it.


 I was just wondering if anyone out there was that fast (10 rings
down in 1 hour) on a day to day basis or even ever once? 

Hi Michael, Last fall I did a “bench test” for a possible job
opportunity as a bench goldsmith with a large "jewelry superstore"
concept that has been building here in the U.S. If you haven’t gotten
one yet in your town, just wait… it is coming.

I was told that the goldsmiths are expected to turn 40 jobs per day.
I was thinking to myself, “Hmmm… forty a week would be one an
hour…” They take in repairs from other jewelry establishments in
the region, and of course, get the screwy jobs the staff goldsmith
didn’t want to do. At least 90 percent of the goldsmith’s job is
these *$&@ing repair jobs. Definitely not the passion that got me
into this field!

Needless to say, we ended up parting ways as “friendly
adversaries”… and I see the same establishment running ads trying
to fill the position. The opening, by the way, was made available by
a goldsmith from Russia returning home. You know it’s got to be bad
if it makes a Russian go home! :wink: (P.S. No offense to our Russian

All the best,
Dave Sebaste
Sebaste Studio and
Carolina Artisans’ Gallery
Charlotte, NC (USA)

I have to agree with Rick here. I don’t use the same proceedure he
does but the times work out about the same. I did repair work for
almost ten years and at one time had the largest grossing United
Jewelers store in the US. I always sized the down sizings first and
then used the pieces for the up sizings where the were appropriate. I
sized 20-40 rings a day and solderd 20-40 broken chains a day plus
the stone replacements and retip jobs. Made some very good money in
the early 80’s. I was able to cut a ring down just by judging the
about of metal to cut out. I never had to measure. Going up, I cut
the shank and slide it on a ring mandrel to the size it needs to be
and cut a piece to fit. Very repetitive and after three years VERY
boring. I am not very fond of repair work at this point and will only
do it for regular customers. Frank Goss

One of my best sources for new customers is my competitor. He runs a
very upscale store, but seems to have little respect for the bench
jeweler. He will hire anyone who can hold a torch, and pay them very
little. In turn, he expects them to crank out work like a machine.

As a result, a lot of jobs are too rushed to be done properly.
Nothing seems to turn a customer away like a repair job that breaks.
So, his customers come in my door, with their ring in hand, asking
me why the solder joint broke. I will take the time to talk to them,
and take the proper amount of time to do the job properly.

Now, I have a customer for life.

Some bench people are naturally fast and totally organized. Most of
us are on the slower side. Speed at the bench, or on a musical
instrument, comes with practice and repetition. You build it over

Please don’t be afraid to charge for your work, and don’t forget the
time you spend working with the customer, carefully inspecting their
jewelry, and treating it with respect. If someone is only shopping
by price, let them walk away. They can go to one of your
competitors…and make THEM lose money…

Doug Zaruba

PS: I would expect that 3-5 sizings per hour is a reasonable amount
to expect from a bench technician. We have had sizings that were so
complicated, they took over an hour to complete, and some that were
so easy that they were done in only 5 minutes. The real question to
ask is: are you making enough money doing sizings to continue to

Speaking of prices. Does anyone have a current repair price list?
I am not in the main-stream loop, and don’t do repairs for people
every day, however, I would be interested to see how close some of
my recent repair charges have come to what jewelry stores charge.


In 1974, when I worked at a trade shop in downtown Oakland, I did a
lot of sizing, tipping and chain repair. There were days when all I
did was size rings for 8-10 hours.

I had to open the envelope, check the instructions, make a sketch,
measure, cut and size, up or down, then sand. I did not have to
polish, as that job as well as final wrapping was given to someone

These were generally simple jobs, often brand new rings coming from
stores for a little up or down. So I decided to actually time myself
and during one steaming hour, I completed 13 jobs! That’s less than
5 minutes each.

I have never worked as fast since, nor have I wanted to. Alan

Revere Academy of Jewelry Arts 760 Market Street - Suite 900 San
Francisco, CA 94102 tel: 415-391-4179 fax: 415-391-7570 web: email:

Hello all , In an earlier life I was the instore jeweler for a
large cataloge showroom type store , this store sold around 5 million
in jewelry per year .Most of the work was ring sizing . In an eight
hour day I have sized 80 some rings many times [ all by myself] .My
record was something like 94 . You have to organize your work and
"batch" it . The work envelopes need to identify the ring . The rings
are removed, examined , if “stretchable” set aside . I would usually
work in a batch of 10 . Each ring is cut , fitted with piece
/remove piece and put into wet sand . All soldering is done at once ,
while rings are pickling the “stretch” jobs are done [ or any odd
work like chain repair ] . The rings are rinsed , then hammered ,
filed , sanded each step performed on all the rings , so you don’t
lose time changeing tools , in that shop I could swivel sround in my
chair and lay out the rings in order [ did I mention keeping the
rings in order so you dont have to waste time figuring out what goes
where? ] by the polishing machine . I would usually finish and
polish half the work or so before lunch , so I would only have to
clean - up [ hands and etc ] twice a day .You must examine your own
work procedures and be ruthless in eliminating wasted motions This
type of production is really only possible with little or no
interuptions . . When I left that store and started my own trade shop
it became difficult to even size 40 rings a day [ more typically
25-30] what with the phone calls, “rush” jobs , getting things
billed and shipped or delivered and etc. not to mention Making
Jewelry again [custom work] . I have met a jeweler who did all his
filing/sanding with wheels on the polishing machine who claimed 100+
ring sizings were easily possible in a day

Mark Clodius

Michael: I sized 87 rings in an 8-hour period a couple of weeks ago.
I really didn’t work for 8 hours on the sizings, probably lost about
1-1/2 hours on slack time. That comes out to about 4-1/2 minutes per
ring without the polishing. I polish my articles in a batch of not
less than 20, sometimes all at once. I guess that organization is the
key. I don’t use a saw and very seldom use solder. Finishing is done
with tools that I would have never used from my previous training. I
don’t use a file, or an emery stick. All pre polish finishing is done
with the flex shaft.

What’s a third arm used for? I have seen those in the jewelry supply
catalogs, but can’t see any valuable use for buying one. All of my
soldering or fusing is done on a honeycomb block.

I have retrained myself in the past few years regarding jewelry
repair. Having spent more than thirty years at the bench, I
continually strive to improve my production levels without
sacrificing quality. I can do a gold head&set in about 10 minutes,
but platinum takes about 18 minutes. Where’s the quality? It is in
every repair that I complete! As I said before, organization is the
key. I organize my task by difficulty, completing the most difficult
first when I am fresh. The easy jobs are the ones that I complete
last. I remove myself from the distractions around me and concentrate
on what I have to do, providing my employer with a valuable asset. My
most notable accomplishment is polishing 127 pieces in 2+ hours. I
do have support staff for cleaning, rhodium plating and QC checks.
What I am saying, an old jeweler can still learn new procedures for
accomplishing some every day tasks. I continually train on the most
basic task. Some days, I do nothing but wax carving, other days I
concentrate on sizing. I am not a Master Certified Bench Jeweler, but
I am damn good at my craft. The All Mighty has given me a skill and I
intend to use it to its fullest. My ultimate goal is to complete 100
sizing jobs in an 8-hour period. I guess that means 6 1/2 hours
including slack time. By preparing myself mentally before starting
each day, I maximize the number of items that I can complete. I take
pride in my every day accomplishments in jewelry repair, but I also
regard my custom articles as excellent quality. I do numerous pieces
in Platinum and 14kt gold. I am currently working on a money clip,
which weighs 2.5 ozs of 14kt and has over a carat of diamonds set in
initials. Am I bragging? NO! I am just saying that what ever you
place as your daily goals are only there for you to exceed.
Basically I Out Plan, Out Prepare and Out Perform. I remember the
Movie “Caddy Shack” where Chevy Chase becomes one with the golf ball.
UN NUN NUN! I find myself concentrating on my goals, being one with
article that I am working on and focusing to exceeding my goals. Most
importantly, I continually train my other jewelers so that they may
also increase their skill levels. Sharing my knowledge is the
greatest accomplishment that I can achieve. I hope that their
increased skill levels benefit me. However, as long as I have given
them something to better themselves as craftsmen, my purpose has been
fulfilled. I came form the old school of jewelry, the one before
Stuller. I still know how fabrication and manufacturing jewelry, this
is my greatest teaching tool. What ever we place as our goals is all
that we can ever expect to accomplish. We must always raise the bar
a little every day and strive to go the distance. Got a little off
track, Must have been one of those Senior Moments. Regards, Not A
Commissioned Artist, Just An Old Jeweler But Still Learning, Roger
in The Great State of Texas

I was just wondering if anyone out there was that fast (10 rings
down in 1 hour) on a day to day basis or even ever once? I have
sized "new sale" rings in 10 to 15 minutes depending on how many
sizes up or down, types of stones and settings but 6 minutes seems
not likely to me. 

Hi, when i was working in a trade shop about ten years ago 8 min
was about right but no polishing. now i can do it in that with
polishing IF EVERYTHING GOS RIGHT. so i tell the customer to come
back in 30 min. just my .02 USD

Gold Smith / Diamond Setter
<>< john 3:16

speed shouldn’t be the issue. value is. is it worth 30 bucks to get
your ring sized by a competent jeweler. absolutely. but try to get
people to agree. it is an unfortunate aspect of the jewelery trade
that there are people out there that get more customers by
underselling. this works short term but in the long run qaulity
suffers and shortly thereafter your reputation gets trashed. i feel
it’s far better to be fairly compensated by a few people than to
hack up jobs so volumn will pay the bills. i’ve seen plenty of fast
work in my day and surely a plain shank is easy to size down in 5-10
minutes. but what happens when the ring has lots of detail? usually
a speedster leaves lumps of solder or badly placed seams that are
visible in a good lighting situation. AAAnd not always but usually
cheats like soft solder or easy flo was used to go fast. also the
shanks tend to have have belies or thins or a large non detailed
areas in the back instead of a pattern to match. the people who do
this don’t care if the sizing last so long as they get the money.
when i was younger i actually tried to produce work fast to stay
employed. the stress and lack of quality wasn’t worth any amount of
money. i also have to say that none of those outfits lasted long.
Just remember that jeweler stands for jeweling which means making
jewels . that’s not done by hurrying.

sorry for being mouthy on this Dave Otto

Sounds like the egos in Texas are as big as everything else. LOL.
But, I have to agree with the principles here. For all the mess on
my bench, I do have an organized way of dealing with the work when
there is a big load. Batching like jobs together, polishing large
batches, etc. I’ve never really timed myself on a particular job,
but I know I can turn out 30-50 jobs per day when I really need to.
That does not include major jobs, but does include sizing, some
retipping, new heads, chain repairs and the like. And, the
preparation is more than 1/2 the battle. If your head is it to the
job at hand, it will work. If not, it won’t. Attitude counts, and
when mine stinks, so does the production. My techniques aren’t all
the same as Roger’s, but the concept is much the same. Find the
techniques that work for you, organize your work and go at it.
Quality doesn’t have to suffer for speed, necessarily.
Jim in NC mountains, glad that spring has sprung

It is possible to do a good job on plain rings and be fast. Fancier
designs or more complex rings take more time. I have seen some
globbed up seams and other ugly finish jobs in my time, too. But,
having watched a few people working over 25 years in the trade, I
have noticed that working slower doesn’t necessarily point to more
competent work. Sometimes people are slow just because they are
slow and incompetent. One of my great peeves is going to hard solder
a sizing job only to find that the last guy must have used easy. I
try to be as cautious as I can about finding and avoiding old seams,
but when I am sizing a piano wire ring up to 13 that has been sized
several times before, sometimes the whole thing just blows up.
Frustrating. I know that points to poor counter take in procedure,
but lets not go there. I’m not at the counter, not setting policies,
just doing the best I can with what gets handed to me.

    One of my great peeves is going to hard solder a sizing job
only to find that the last guy must have used easy. 

Hi Jim; I was taught, years ago, to lightly sand the area where you
are going to size the ring then heat it with the torch till the seams
oxidize and become visible. Then cut out that area completely, going
outside of the old solder seams. It’s extra work and extra gold, but
it’s the professional way to size a ring and I still do it that way.
It’s also the only way to assure you won’t have pits in your solder
seams because some jeweler before you used easy solder or maybe
didn’t have such a good joint to solder to begin with. By the way,
Rio Grande sells a chemical called “solder prints” which they claim
when applied to an area will darken and make visible any solder
seams. I’ve not tried that yet, but one of these days I’ll get some
and see how well it works.

David L. Huffman


It isn’t ego that drives me to do a good job; it’s knowing that I am
giving all that I possibly can. The key is attitude and I guess that
is what I have. You may want to check out a book by Keith Harrell , “Attitude is Everything”. He states
that the only difference between a Champ and a Chump is a capital
"A" for Attitude. I have his book on tape and listen to it driving to
work. I have seen him twice at training seminars.

    I've never really timed myself on a particular job, but I know
I can turn out 30-50 jobs per day when I really need to. That does
not include major jobs, but does include sizing, some retipping,
new heads, chain repairs and the like. And, the preparation is more
than 1/2  the battle." 

As you stated that planning is the key. My PDA is just as important
to me in daily business as the tools in my bench. I plan my day and
the tasks waiting for me.

* Ordering parts
* Estimates
* Appointments
* Daily Journal
	The other important tools are:
* Mission Statement
* Vision Statement

Increasing Production I am able to increase production by finding
ways to expedite everyday task.

* Do the difficult jobs early in the morning.
* Pull all parts at the same time.
  • My assistant prints photos on the back of envelopes. It takes 15
    seconds and is easier to match up articles to the appropriate repair
    envelope. When you are running 450 to 500 jobs through the shop a
    week, you have no room for error.

  • I don’t retip prongs with solder I use only metal, the solder wears
    faster and takes more time to finish. There are some exceptions,
    platinum with diamonds and some colored stones.

  • 95% time I do not use solder to size rings, I use gold. There are
    not any solder seams to break and it takes less time. I really hate
    to see some one solder a sizing joint. I will remove that area and
    replace it with new gold. If it goes out and breaks at the old
    joint, the customer will expect it to be the place where I sized it.
    No solder seams to weaken the shank.

  • I use four tools to finish my rings. Inside buff, hard flat lap,
    soft brush for prong areas and muslin buff for polish. Only two
    compounds, White diamond for cutting and Blue for high polish.
    Separate buffs and compounds for platinum.

  • I polish most chains at the bench and only polish at the lathe if
    the chain is in bad condition. Most only need cleaning.

I only wish that I used these procedures 20 years ago when I was
struggling to do trade work. I would have been able to retire before
now. Then, if I could do 20 jobs a day I was happy with my
production. The difference between then and now- I have had the
opportunity to learn from others and the time to practice my trade.

I always watch the amount of time it takes to do a task. I have to
know what I have room to fit in before close of day.

My goal in life is to make a positive difference. I share my skills
and ideas with my employees, so that they may better them selves. I
don’t want to see them 5 years from now still working as a bench
jeweler unless they want to. I want them to become managers and
share their skills with their employees.

Regards, Roger

I used to have a trick, I got some iodine from the drug store and
when you put it on gold, any sizing marks showed up and good, when I
ran outta the iodine, I went and got more, it was not on the shelf
anymore and had to ask the pharmacist for it, and it did not show
anything, maybe they now sell a weaker solution or something now Rick

Hi everyone this trick works for me to find the seam of a sizing,
just lie the ring flat on a piece of white paper under your bench
light and you will see the seam, then use a permenant marker to mark
sizing spots.

Keep on creating, Tara Blokzyl - Maple Ridge, British Columbia, Canada