Looking for suggestions on how to make a ring shank smaller for a customer that already has a large turquoise bezel setting. I was listening to a podcast that a silversmith put the stone setting in a potato and then soldered the two ends together. Not sure I want to take that risk. Other options? Thank you.
Ah the internet. Sigh.
It can be a beautiful thing and a horrible thing as well. There are so many well meaning folks out there giving jewelry making advice. Sadly there is more bad advice than good out there. I’m gong to give a big no on the potato advice.
First and foremost never ever take heat to a mounted stone that you can’t afford to replace.
Silver conducts heat well. Really well. This makes torch soldering on silver with with stones in place a pretty dicy operation. Especially a soft and fragile stone like turquoise. Because of silver’s properties a laser welder doesn’t work well on it. A TIG welder will. If the mounting were gold or platinum this wouldn’t be as big an issue. They can be spot soldered. Silver can’t.
If you are new to jewelry making I would suggest that you turn this task over to a seasoned professional repair person. The stone needs to be buried in a good heat shield product Like the Vigor Heat Shield or Kool Jool. A container of water needs to be within arms reach to quickly quench the bottom of the shank. The torch flame needs to be tight and very hot. One has to go in very hot and very fast. The flame must be aimed away from the stone. Even as someone who has 50 plus years of experience and worked in the trade shop repair trenches I still would be reluctant to take on a task like this.
When asked what jewelry making advice I wish I knew when I was starting out I always say "I wish someone had taught me then when to say “No”.
Thank you for your sound advice. I’ve tried some experimenting with heat shield on smaller man made stones but no success. I do not have any welding equipment and always send repairs to the jeweler around the corner. He is closing shop after being in business for 50 + years. I think the last bit of advice is the best. Learning when to say No.
If your customer will agree to it, you could simply cut out a piece of the shank, close the shank and you will have an adjustable ring.
While the right thing to do is remove the stone and then make the ring smaller, you could just make a smaller ring and put it inside the bigger one and secure it with tabs. Then it will be ready for the owner’s finger to get bigger or someone else to wear it…Rob
Good idea. Would I remove the piece towards the back of the ring?
I try to avoid such a ring sizing, but offering trade work, I cannot always avoid it.
When I cannot refuse it I use a product called Wolf Clay, to protect such stone, and a very hot torch. It works quite well.
For me, anyway.
It does not eliminate risks, but it does help.
Unfortunately when I tried to help a non jeweler friend acquire Wolf Clay for a project I learned that this product is only available through Kate Wolf, and only for her ex students.
I will say that this sizing is not a beginners project. Even with decades at the bench, I cringe whenever I am stuck doing a sizing like this.
As for the laser, I can get away with it on most silver sizings, but joints are simply not as good as a well soldered seam. A repair which requires educated decisions that i have to weigh carefully every time.
I like that idea too. I’m not familiar with tabs. Deb
Thank you for the information. I think I will saw off the shank, saw the side of the bezel and remove stone and start over. Or do I saw from the bottom of the bezel? Deb
I’d try to avoid a destructive approach.
Being SS, or maybe even Fine Silver, lifting the bezel off of the stone is probably do-able, with care.
I have used a razor blade, carved mostly away, to give me a small, but very sharp cutting start to begin to lift edge off of the stone, working around the bezel, and hoping to then gently lift the top edge off off the stone, without scratching or pinching the stone, then moving on to an other similar but heavier tool crafted from a sheetrock knife blade to further lift the bezel, until I can remove the stone.
Ringdoctor is right. Try what he suggests first before you wreck the ring. You may have to cut the bezel down a bit to get rid of the damage. There is often more than enough to hold a stone. Check the area on the stone that was in contact with the bezel as there may be damage there before you just go ahead and reset it. Good luck…Rob
Bad idea. Adjustable shanks always eventually break from the flexing that occurs during daily wear. Usually at the top where the shank is soldered to the stones. Then it becomes a full time consuming rebuild. Removing the stone without braking it and destroying the prongs or bezel. The rebuilding the top, soldering on a totally new shank and then resetting the center stone.
Debra, I would remove the piece from the side opposite the stone. then be sure to slightly round the ends so it is comfortable to wear. The client can then adjust it to fit. I’m sure the stone will be quite happy about the solution which is fast and safe . As the French say why do complicated when you can do simple. Ha ha
I have learned lessons on repair. And they always cost me money. I now say, “No, I don’t do repair”. I refer the client to the “qualified experienced licensed and insured jeweler” who does my repairs. I thought about taking repairs as a subcontract and then I discovered about the liability insurance. Yes, the insurance, just to accept and guard the clients item.
Ok, if you want to try your hand at the repair… have you tested the silver, is it sterling, silver or nickel; is the turquoise real or dyed; has the original jeweler disguised the depth of the stone by setting it on top of cardboard, sawdust…YES, it happens and is a common technique used in turquoise jewellery! There are so many frightening problems that create large expense, and bad customer relationship, that can go wrong in repairs. If you damage the stone, can you replace it? Can you recover the time and cost of making that mistake? Can you recover your reputation after the damage? Recommending is better than recovering!
All very good points. Thank you for your information. I too have refused to do repairs. I’d be devastated if something happened to the stone. It is a sterling bezel, ring shank and real turquoise that looks to have a couple of fractures. Hopefully I will be able to find a qualified jeweler. TY
Wolf caly is now available commercially via Rio Grande
and Pepe Tools ind other out lets.
Happy ring sizing
I recently (reluctantly ) down sized a turquoise ring. Just as you have done I looked for a lot of advice and did a bit of research. I did successfully by filling a small sturdy tin can with sand, almost to the top. The can was then filled with water on top of the sand, yes I know a giant heat sink right! I buried the ring in the water covered sand leaving enough of the shank sticking out to do the job. As suggested in some of the other replies I want in hot and fast. Yeah job done! The water and the sand was only ‘hotish’ (I Could stick my finger in it no problem straight after and it was ok) when I took the ring out of the sand the turquoise stone was unharmed…Whew!
I tell people that repairing and sizing jewellery requires equipment and skillsets that most studio jewellers do not have. Then I suggest they call a jeweller that advertises repairs. I learned the hard way to stick to my skillset and respect my limitations.
ingenious! but still risky… hotish is more than warm and turquoise, especially of low equality is too heat sensitive…i should say that all turquoise, even high quality…
I agree with everyone who urges caution… some things are just too difficult to do safely and not worth the time and effort…not even mentioning the high risk… Discretion is the Greater Part of Valor!!!