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Possible defective engagement ring


#1

Hi everyone,

I posted this in another forum and I was recommended to post here in
order to get more opinions on this matter. Here is the original
post… Any advice would be VERY MUCH appreciated…

I need some advice about the engagement ring that I gave to my
girlfriend… We live in Japan, and also I bought the ring from a
fairly high-end shop here after months of research…

It has a quite a unique looking design which i hadn’t seen before
which is why I decided on it, but after a two months of wearing it,
the ring bent a bit which in turn let the diamond fall out… Needless
to say, it was quite stressful and traumatic (especially for my
girlfriend) but we found the diamond after some hours searching…

We took the ring back to the store, and they said that the ring was
a little bit too loose in size, and maybe my girlfriend might have
held something heavy or hit the ring on something which warped the
ring (i.e. the ring went from circle to an irregular ellipse… (90%
platinum), which let out the diamond b/c the ring’s body separates
to form arms which hold the ring in place… I think its a bit like a
tension setting but there are grooves in the ring for the diamond to
lay in. I will give a URL at the end of this post.

So they adjusted in their shop to make the size smaller, however
when we got back the ring, the curvature of the design seemed a bit
squished which made the ring seem a bit different from the original
design which was a bit disappointing…

But we overlooked this, and my girlfriend was real hesitant with
wearing the ring, so she wore it just maybe three times in two
weeks… After which, when re-examining the ring, we noticed that
the main body of the ring seemed to be bending a bit… the diamond
was still secure, but because we the curvature of the ring was
noticably changed, we took the ring back…

We complained and had a heated discussion at the shop, in which they
basically said that 90% platinum+alloy is actually much softer than
18k gold and its not uncommon for this to happen… What they said
they could do is ask their design studio to alter slightly the ring
design, which we agreed to…

So essentially my question(s) are this:

  1. Does each time the store adjusts the ring, cause the ring
    constitution/structure to become weaker?

  2. Is it possible that the ring was defective to begin with, and if
    so, how would we know?

I would like to ask them just to make a new ring, but I would only
ask this if I know that the ring structure is already damaged, or if
I knew that the ring is somehow defective…

One response I got said that perhaps it is design flaw, but here is
a link to some photos of the ring:

http://picasaweb.google.com/jessepenn/Ring?authkey=vXAHYkaDqUA

any thoughts or advice would be much appreciated!
Jesse


#2

Jesse,

Does each time the store adjusts the ring, cause the ring
constitution/structure to become weaker? 

The answer to your first question is “NO” provided that adjustments
done competently.

Is it possible that the ring was defective to begin with, and if so,
how would we know? 

The answer to your second question is “ABSOLUTELY”. How do you know?
Engagement rings are made to wear everyday. They must be able to
withstand the forces than average ring encounters in daily routine.
If it doesn’t, it is not designed right, or not made right, or both.
Would you buy a car which would fall apart every time you hit a
pothole? Of course not. As a car designed to take some abuse, so must
the jewellery.

Their excuse about 90% platinum been softer than gold, does not pass
a giggle test, but even if it would be true ( which is not ), it is
their problem and not yours. They are the experts, they should know
which metal is appropriate for the design and which isn’t.

You best course of action is to get your money back. From the picture
that you provided, the problem is that setting geometry which holds
the stone in place is not stabilized, and it is not de-coupled from
the shank. To continue with car analogy is like driving a car without
shock absorbers. Every time the shank of the ring encounter some
force, it gets transmitted to the setting and that disturbs setting
geometry which caused stone to fall out. The whole design is flawed.

Leonid Surpin.


#3
We complained and had a heated discussion at the shop, in which
they basically said that 90% platinum+alloy is actually much softer
than 18k gold and its not uncommon for this to happen.. What they
said they could do is ask their design studio to alter slightly the
ring design, which we agreed to.... 

Pure platinum is a very soft metal and is unsuitable by itself for
use in rings due to the high amount of wear and tear that rings
receive on a daily basis. To resolve this it is alloyed with other
metals to add strength. For some reason in Japan the typical
platinum alloy is 90% Platinum and 10% palladium. This is a very soft
alloy, in fact it is just marginally harder than pure platinum. So it
is not really suitable for use in structural aspects of rings either.
If this ring is made from the platinum palladium alloy that is most
of your problem.

Does each time the store adjusts the ring, cause the ring
constitution/structure to become weaker? 

Not if they are done in a professional manner but, they can if not
done correctly.

Is it possible that the ring was defective to begin with, and if so,
how would we know? 

It is possible but I believe the main problem was the choice of the
wrong platinum alloy to begin with which is a design error not a
defective product.

I would like to ask them just to make a new ring, but I would only
ask this if I know that the ring structure is already damaged, or
if I knew that the ring is somehow defective.. 

Ask them to make it from a more suitable platinum alloy. Like
platinum-iridium, platinum-ruthenium, platinum-cobalt, platinum-
copper or platinum-tungsten.

One response I got said that perhaps it is design flaw, but here is
a link to some photos of the ring: 

I would say that this ring may need a little bit of redesign to be a
safe setting but if it were made in a high strength platinum alloy
it would be a lot better than it is now.

James Binnion
@James_Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


360-756-6550


#4

Some years ago I was called upon to ‘fix’ a nearly identical ring.
It (a ‘name designer’) was sold by the store I worked at then so it
was absolutely imperitive to fix it once and fix it right.

I see exactly why your ring failed. I can see in the pics that the
wires that do the holding swirl around and under the diamond. They
join under the stone which is fine except the outer arms of the
swirls have nothing to hold them in unmoveable relation to each
other. A deformation of only a very few thousandths of an inch and
the stone loosens. This type of setting demands absolute rigidity.
Unless it is manufactured using the patented "Tension setting’
process it is destined to fail.

The squished repair you describe was the result of trying to squeeze
the wires tighter to the stone. As soon as the ring gets some stress
it will loosen again, and again etc.

The cure is to make a very rigid underbezel (picture a ring or cup
slightly smaller than the diamond) and solder this to the outer arms,
which can be hidden totally under the stone. This ties the working
surfaces of the swirls together. 18K white gold would be preferable
in my book to platinum. 18white is quite stiff and that is precisely
what you need here, to join the swirls so they cannot move in
relation to each other and thereby the stone.

Whether you choose platinum (for the sake of keeping the ring all
platinum) or the 18K (for the sake of a stronger repair, imho) the
stone can remain in place during the repair. Either soldering with
20K white welding gold solder or lasering in place will get the job
done.

The person was right when they said platinum is a softer metal. This
in my view is inadvertantly admitting a design flaw. Part of design
is choice of materials and construction. If the Plat was not up to
the job it should have been bolstered in the way I described. Design
is so much more than just appearance. You wouldn’t build a Ferrari
with a Hyundai engine.

BTW, the customer whose ring I repaired was so satisfied that a year
later she had me make a matching ring with ruby. Neither of which I
have seen since, which is an indication that the stones remained
tight.

Good luck with it and please let us know how it shakes out.


#5

I’m posting a reply… Apologies if it doesnt make it underneath the
proper thread, I havn’t quite figured out how to do that. Thank you
for the replies, they have been helpful… Some questions, given that
apparently the problem with the ring is both the structural integrity
and the materials used, what is the responsibility of the store to
fix this problem – i.e. is it justified to ask the store to either
add a “cup” to the diamond as suggested, or even make the whole new
ring with a stronger alloy to mix with the platinum at NO CHARGE?

Also, the store sent me a design alteration which, sort of as
neilthejeweler suggested, two claws supporting the diamond… two
claws, not an underbezel/ring… Would this increase the stability to
an acceptable point? Also even though if it were to stabilize the
diamond/setting area, wouldnt the shank/body of the ring still be
susceptible to bending if it is in fact a weak alloying of platinum
and say palladium as James suggested?

Cheers,
Jesse


#6
It has a quite a unique looking design which i hadn't seen before 

Jesse, there’s been a few good posts on this already. The ring is
spaghetti, and it needs to be solid and rigid where the diamond is
set. The photo you have of the top view - the one with the glint in
the diamond, shows everything. The two shanks come up on one side,
and only one thin shank on the other side, and there’s not nearly
enough strength to hold a diamond in the real world. Retrofitting it
with an underbezel is one thought, as Neil said. You can bring a
split shank like that up, but where the diamond is the whole thing
needs to be tied together with 100% rigidity. The double shank is
way to wide, way not reinforced, and way too thin to expect to hold
a diamond beyond the showcase. Which metal it is means little
because diamonds aren’t set by which metal, they are set by
engineering - you can set it in 24k if it’s engineered properly.
It’s a bad ring, as you discovered, and don’t take any nonsense from
the store. As Leonid said, a ring is SUPPOSED to last - anything else
is unacceptable. There’s a reason why it’s a unique design that you
hadn’t seen before…

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com


#7

Dear Jesse,

I totally concur with previous opinions given by Jim B., Leonid,
Neil and my husband (John Donivan). Your ring was made wrong from the
start, for several reasons. Starting with the alloy, it would have
been much better using one of the mixtures that Jim wrote about. I
do alot of repairs and am a more traditional metalsmith. I prefer 90%
plat. and 10% iridium. I feel that this performs very well over the
course of time. I have worked on rings that needed sizing that are
over 60 -70 years old and still are very strong & sound. We have
even sized up my mom’s set for me and that was purchased in 1947. It
has never had any of the diamonds come out and Mom wore it everyday
until she passed. Even the small baguettes stayed in place.

You might also re-think the design in the area that the center stone
is secured. Looks like there should be some kind of under bezel or
circlet that can tie the side wires to the center. These rings are
meant to be worn everyday!!! You & your fiancee did nothing wrong
except try to wear a ring.

You might also take a refund and find someone who is trained better
to work in platinum. Before you bring the ring back, take a few more
pictures to document and see if there is another jeweler who can do
this piece for you. Or at least have this store start over for you
if this is your only alternative.

I wish you good luck and hope that this problem will be fixed.

Sincerely,
Jo-Ann Maggiora Donivan


#8

Hi All;

I agree with Leonid, the design is obviously not going to work, and
as he said, an engagment ring, which is worn constantly, should
withstand a reasonable amount of stress. This design wouldn’t work
even with a much stiffer material, let alone platinum. As for the
hardness of platinum verses 18K gold, that is irrelevant. Whoever
made the ring used platinum. Their argument only supports the opinion
that the design isn’t correct for platinum. It is failing because of
it’s design, and a crucial element of correct design is the choice of
appropriate materials for that design.

I’ve been designing and making jewelry for 36 years, I have a BFA
and MFA in metalsmithing from top college metals programs. I was also
trained by a Lebanese/Armenian master jeweler, and have worked with
dozens of other accomplished jewelers. For the last 10 years, I have
owned and operated a trade shop repairing and doing custom work for
retailers, as well as manufacturing small runs of lines for
independant designer/retailers. I write articles on jewelry design
for trade magazines like Jewelry In Fashion Trends, etc.

I’m not blowing my own horn; I’m too old for that do do anything for
me. I’m just presenting the credentials I have to back up my opinion.
It’s not typical to get a refund in these cases and you’d probably
have to go to court for that. But there is no reason why they
shouldn’t give you full store credit towards another mounting, and
I’d think you’d be happy with that. That’s what I’d offer my customer
if I wanted to ever make another sale to them or anyone else they
talked to about the situation.

David L. Huffman


#9

Hello Jim;

I have the utmost respect for your opinion on metallurgy, but I just
fired off a post stating that I didn’t think this design would work
even in a harder alloy, contrary to your opinion but before I’d read
it. What I saw was the shank coming up and wrapping around the stone,
with no support under the diamond and no bridge between the finger
and the arms which lift up to the stone. This thing just looks like
it would have to be incredibly tough not to change shape. But the
pics weren’t very good.

I’d never heard about the Japanese preference for a
platinum/palladium alloy, but you’re spot-on about that alloy, it’s
real soft, certainly too soft for that kind of design. You may be
correct, that a tougher alloy and a little modification would correct
the problem. I just have my doubts about that design, and
particularly about the ability of the people who made it incorrectly
to begin with to correct the problem.

David L. Huffman


#10

I would have them make it over with a design that is more secure and
sturdy or refund your money.

James Binnion
@James_Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


360-756-6550


#11
is it justified to ask the store to either add a "cup" to the
diamond as suggested, or even make the whole new ring with a
stronger alloy to mix with the platinum at NO CHARGE? 

How much do you like the basic design? If you’re open to something
else, look at other designs they offer but with a serious eye towards
durability. Yes, I am of the opinion they should fix the problem at
no additional charge, If the new mounting is of equal value. If you
opt for something else that’s considerably more expensive I think it
fair for them to charge you the difference. Although if it were I who
made such a egg on face mistake I’d just make you happy, cure the
problem free, have a nice day.

two claws supporting the diamond.. two claws, not an
underbezel/ring... Would this increase the stability to an
acceptable point? 

I don’t think this judgement could be fairly made without seeing
exactly what they have in mind. One man’s claw is another man’s wispy
wire.

Also even though if it were to stabilize the diamond/setting area,
wouldn't the shank/body of the ring still be susceptible to bending 

Sometimes there are aesthetic compromises to be made. If you
absolutely LOVE the spiral arms, want that look specifically and
unchanged, then IF the diamond problem is solved, normal
mis-shapening might be acceptable to you ( the ring could conceivably
be reshaped from time to time) If you’re agreeable to some
modification of the look, build the arms heavier and tied to the
under-shank in some way. All rings risk bending in daily life. You
take your hands for granted but they are subject to a lot of
stresses, so too rings. If you want absolute structural integrity
you’d need something like tool steel(tongue planted firmly in cheek
here), which of course is not a precious metal and we’re mostly
accustomed to precious metals for holding larger diamonds.

I’d talk to the store and see what they propose to do to fix the
problem and what they will do if the cure doesn’t work and what time
frame they will allow for more problems to creep up before everyone
fairly considers the ring out of warrantee.


#12
I have the utmost respect for your opinion on metallurgy, but I
just fired off a post stating that I didn't think this design would
work even in a harder alloy, contrary to your opinion but before
I'd read it. 

I was not able to see all the details of the ring clearly but I have
my doubts about the design as well. I would never do that type of
design to secure a diamond. I don’t know why the Japanese use the
Pt/ Pd alloy but it is in wide use there.

So I am in complete agreement with you and the others as to the
designs suitability for any typical jewelry alloy. There is a
platinum alloy or rather family of alloys that might work. The heat
treatable alloys that Steven Kretchmer developed for his tension
settings and the one sold by Imperial Smelting and Refining
(Platinum HT) Have the strength to do this. But even so I think the
design is very risky and with anything short of super high strength
alloy forget it. Steven’s rings looked risky too but he was confidant
enough in the alloy to guarantee the replacement of the stone.

Jim

James Binnion
@James_Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


360-756-6550


#13

Thank you again for the numerous replies…

What I’ve ascertained is that remaking the ring with a different
alloy would help AND adding an underbezel to support the diamond.
Additionally there is the whole issue of trust as whether the store
can do this job competently and guarantee their work. I will call the
store later to inquire, but they have given me a sketch of the
proposed change, which I wrote earlier as adding 2 claws below the
diamond to support it.

I have confirmed with the store and it is a platinum90%/palladium
10% alloy…

I have posted up the sketches online at the same site:

http://picasaweb.google.com/jessepenn/Ring?authkey=vXAHYkaDqUA

The first two sketches are the side and top views, the second sketch
is from underneath looking up. Could you comment on whether this
adjustment would secure the diamond to a satisfactory level… or
would a underbeze/wire ring be more suitable?

Cheers,
Jesse


#14

I talked to the store owner, and he said that the reason they use
palladium with platinum is because it is worth more in value compared
to alloying it with other metals. He said they often use irridium in
other countries as Thailand which lowers the value…

He could not guarantee that the diamond in case its lost because it
of the size of the store (meaning the price of the ring and the level
of the store). He did say that he would ask the designer again
his/her opinion and go from there.

Its difficult to know what the best thing to do is at this point…

  1. Have them make the necessary changes to the design they see fit,
    and then wear the ring hoping that the mount is secure enough knowing
    that there is there is know guarantee if the stone is loss?

  2. Change the ring completely?

  3. Get a refund and purchase a new ring elsewhere…?

Since it is the ring I used to propose to my girlfriend it has
inherent emotive value, which means I am hoping to take choice number
one… but would like to have peace of mind with the work done…

Other options?

Jesse


#15

Jesse:

I can’t comment on the metallurgy or construction of the
ring…others here are fair more competent to do that.

But as to your choices. I would do #3. If you keep this ring, you
and your lovely lady will always be checking it to see if it has
deformed, if the diamond is loose, etc. It will be a lifetime of
worries.

Cut your losses and replace the ring from another store. Or better
yet, many of the jewelers here are wonderful designers, have one of
them design a ring just for you two. It will make the story of your
engagement ever so much more fun. Check out their websites, email
them, find someone you like and trust. You will then have a truly
one- of-a-kind ring to celebrate your engagement. With your tenacity
in problem-solving and well considered approach to this ring dilemma
you will have a long a happy marriage. Get a ring that reflects this
quality you are putting into making it “just right.”

hth
Carla
www.carlamfox.com


#16
Have them make the necessary changes to the design they see fit,
and then wear the ring hoping that the mount is secure enough
knowing 

Jesse, the best, simplest and most painless thing to do is to solder
a tube bezel in the place where the diamond is set - very low. That
will give you a completely secure diamond and also preserve the look
of the ring. You could tinker around with the design, but that’s
more speculative. A bezel will be 100%.

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com


#17

Ok, I looked very carefully at the pics of their proposed fix. It’s
my opinion, and I have done this type of fix successfully before,
that the two prongs will do nothing to address the inherent
flexibility of the ring. The spirals will still be as mushy.

It takes three points to fix a plane. The two prongs would still
allow the stone to rock with the prongs acting as the axis.

The underbezel still needs to be heavier. It has to be rigid enough
to tie the two spirals solidly together. This means the cross section
of the underbezel has to be at least as thick as the spirals, thicker
would be better. It has to be able to withstand the "flex-force"
coming from the spirals, and remember the spirals would have
mechanical advantage…acting like a lever…so that a force applied
to the spiral at a distance of say 6 mm from the girdle of the stone
would have more distorting effect than the same force applied at 2mm.
This thing needs to be built like a brick house.

Sometimes overkill is good thing. I appreciate the sentimental
aspect you mention. If you’re open to a bigger change in the concept
of the ring…consider having the stone set in a tapered bezel and
then this assembly is soldered into appropriately prepared recesses
in the spirals. Visually you would see a thin ring of platinum fully
surrounding the circumference of the stone. The original concept was
really a modified channel setting (or bar setting) leaving much of
the girdle exposed. Nice airy look but as we see, insufficiently
rigid. The bezel changes the look but the bezel edge can be done in
such a way as to be ‘less visible’ than its dimension might indicate.
basically its shaped to a knife edge. When the eye looks at shiny
metal it doesn’t really see the whole metal…it sees the reflection
of light from it. A knife edge deceives the eye, making the metal
seem like less. You would see a thin ring of bright light around the
stone rather than a fat donut of light.

Assuming good workmanship, this bezel concept would fix the problem.
But there is the aesthetic compromise I mentioned earlier.


#18

Hello Jim and others;

I thought about Steven K’s alloys when this thread began. The design
of the ring in question looks very familiar. I think I’ve seen
several variations of this type of mounting. But all those designs
had something about them that, although appearing to hold the stone
at risk, were actually more secure than they appeared. The trick was
to make it appear this way to the inexperienced. This never seem
enough for Steven, so he developed alloys that allowed him to do
things that seemed so unlikely that even the professionals were
baffled by them. But how many less knowledgeable jewelers attempted a
"tension set" ring unaware of the characteristics of Steven’s alloys,
and it didn’t work? And how many knew better and did one with a small
ring under the diamond, where the stone was actually channel set?

In the case of the ring that started this thread, I think that
here’s what we’re seeing; a design that was inspired" by one that
actually worked, but they didn’t quite get it right.

David L. Huffman


#19

Hello Jesse;

I seems as if the changes might be adequate to correct the problems,
but it is difficult to say with certainty as the sketches are a
little difficult to see. But I’d still be very skeptical if they
insist on the platinum/palladium alloy. Either they are ignorant, or
they are blowing smoke at you about the alloy’s value issue. First,
the difference if price is minor, we’re talking about 5% of what, 6
pennyweights, tops? Second, what’s more important, a few dollars
investment in the “superior” platimum/palladium alloy (a distinction
that only a metalurgist with proper equipment could determine) or the
security of a diamond worth thousands of dollars? I guarantee the
diamonds I set, for a reasonable time, and with periodic inspection.
It goes this way… either you have the big bucks to stand behind an
inferior product or you make damn sure you’re right about how it’s
done.

David L. Huffman


#20

I will opt for the adjustments suggested especailly by Neil and John
Donivan and ask for the shop to do them. Adding a knife-edged tapered
bezel which connects to the spirals underneath seems like a great
solution. I prefer overkill to always having to worry about the ring
and diamonds stability… As I said earlier, the ring was constructed
from 90%platinum/10%palladium…

I was thinking of asking them to remake the ring using a more
durable/stable/stronger alloy combination. As Steven K’s alloys
appear out of my price range, any suggestions for the strongest
combination with 90% Platinum? I’m open to changes in the alloying if
it will grant the ring stability and peace of mind…

Cheers,
Jesse