Resizing pearl ring

Hello Felicity, By all means, place the ring pearl side down in
a container of water. As long as there is water present, the
pearl will not burn. After soldering, do not pickle the pearl, as
it will dissolve in acid. Have fun.
Tom Arnold

   Sizing a ring without taking the pearl out is asking for trouble down
the line. I used to try it but ended up somewhere down the line replacing
that same pearl one way or the other if it's an expensive ring
especially. If you can get it off using something like attack or
something similer then steam it off, but unless you have a pearl maker in
the back of your shop ALWAYS remove that pearl. 

Not that bad. The trick is simple. Take an old tuna fish or cat food can
(empty, of course) or similar container. Fill with water. fit your
sizing seam, and hold in your third hand tweezers so that the pearl, along
with the whole upper half of the ring, is under water. Solder the seam
this way. You’ll need a torch using oxygen and fuel gas, rather than the
cooler gentler types like air/gas or prestolite, if the ring is silver or
heavier gold. But I guarantee that done this way, the pearl will never
exceed the temp of boiling water, and it won’t be damaged by that at all
(any more than the above recommended steam, which can be a good deal hotter
than plain boiling water). Only with the heaviest rings, especially silver
ones, or those where soldering must be done somewhere other than the bottom
of the shank, should it really be needed to remove the pearls. Taking them
off is not always without risk either. If they happen to be glued on with a
super glue, attack won’t work so well… I’ve seen more pearls damaged by
people fighting to get them off a ring, than damaged by leaving them in, IF
proper means of heat sinking the pearl and the top of the ring are used to
protect the pearl.

There are variations. Some folks, instead of just water, use wet sand.
Others wrap the pearl and the top of the ring in tissue paper (kleenex)
than dip in water to create a mass of wet goop around the top of the ring.
Or you can use the commercial heat sink compounds like cool jool. But the
important thing to remember is that it’s the water, and there must be
enough of it, that does the job. Too little, and transmitted heat up the
shank can dry out the heat sink and then the pearl is in danger. That’s
why I use just plain water in a whole little can of it. Always enough.
Done with care, this even works with things like rings set with amber. If
you think pearls are heat sensative, you’ve never worked with Amber (grin).

Now, it’s important to remember that you not only need to preserve the
pearl, you need to be sure it’s properly glued too. If the pearl was
correctly glued, there will be no problem. But if poorly glued, or not
clean, even slight heating (whether from the steam cleaner or from sizing
as above and having the water get hot) can soften or weaken some glue
joints, especially epoxies. So its a good idea to check that the pearl is
tight after you’re done. If it was going to loosen anyway, then sizing is
as good a way to loosen the glue as attack. If, after everything is cool
from sizing, the pearl is solid, doesn’t wiggle or turn, then it’s fine.

And, in Matts favor, it should also be mentioned that pearls CAN be
damaged by other than heat. The pickle, some cleaners, polishing, etc, can
damage some pearls. So for these getting them out can be preferred.
Unfortunately, getting the most fragile types (like mabes) out of a ring
can be the trickiest, as often they are assembled and trying to remove them
will disassemble them instead… So use your head. In many cases, the
easiest way, sizing as I’ve discussed above, will be safe and reasonable,
without subjecting you or the ring or the pearl to any more risk than
needed. But make the decision on a cautious and conservative evaluation of
the rings needs and your skill level, not your own desire to be done
quickly. Then you won’t be taking undesireable risks.

Peter Rowe

Dear Peter,

Interesting that you should bring up amber. Does the tuna can method work
with an amber and silver ring? Also, does anyone know how to remove
amber? I’m concerned that anything that dissolves glue may do the same
for the stone.

Thank you,

you know I used to try to soldering that way, I was told you could do it
that way to solder silver rings that have turquoise in them. Tried it and
after it was all over with realized some things are’nt meant to be done
the " easy " way.When ever I’ve got to either do a repair or a sizing
,etc. I take the pearl or turquoise out. Now I’ve used other types of heat
sinks to do sizing on rings that have say emeralds and even amythest in
them , but I personally feel certian things should be done a certian way
due to my own experiances. If you can get away with doing it the other way
more power to ya. Keep it Real…Matt the Catt

Peter, just a quick note to let you know I’m not trying to say removing is
always the best way, I’d prefer to just leave most things where they are
if it’s possiable. It’s just that over the years to avoid more problems,
at least for me, it was and still is easier to just remove the pearl than
to take a risk. Having accsess to a steamer and having done it so mant
times I have no trouble removing them first. don’t get me wrong I’ve also
got good at removing broken posts too. But I got good at that due to
working for a manufacturer who had a pearl line and had a few worms
working for them that seemed to let epoxy glue get away from them at
times. I’ve learned alot from you being in this little group and am always
honored to be in the company of such knowledgeable people as yourself.
Thanks Matt the Catt

I like to use the water in a small steel mesuring cup. It works great for
small shanks and pearl rings. for the larger silver rings i have a steel
bowl of snd, I put enough water in the sand to make a mountain of wet
sand. and this works well with a large flame and usually no problem with
steam putting out your torch. as with the water method


   Interesting that you should bring up amber.  Does the tuna can method
work with an amber and silver ring?  Also, does anyone know how to remove
amber? I'm concerned that anything that dissolves glue may do the same
for the stone. 

Whether a water heat sink will be enough to protect amber (or any stone,
for that matter) depends in part on the ring in question, and the thickness
of the silver between where you’re soldering and where the stone is, plus
the distance between those points.) Amber is actually rather risky no
matter what you do. I’ve worked with it succussfully many times using a
water heat sink, but (and this is important) usually these are gold rings,
or thinner ladies silver rings. Rings like that are easy to heat sink, as
the conduction of heat between the shank where you’re sizing the ring all
the way around to the stone is pretty slim, and easily protected. The
water does mean you don’t have to worry about where your torch flame is
pointing (directly or by “reflection”)… You won’t accidentally cook the
stone by having the flame go over your solder area, past it through the
ring to the stone…

But amber is so heat sensative that if you give me a heavy silver mans
ring set with amber on top, and want it sized, I would not be able to
guarantee doing it without damage a case like that would probably be a good
time to see if the guys with the laser welders could help you out, but even
those machines are not really designed to weld the sizing seam on a heavy

And, as you surmise, amber is a resin that’s not hard to damage with
organic solvents. It won’t be harmed by all of them, but I rather expect
that the concotion found in Attack, used to dissolve epoxy, is not going to
be good for the amber. I’ve not tried it recently, though. Might be worth
risking a small scrap to see. Someone elses scrap, not mine. Amber has,
on occasion, cause me headaches. Had one nice piece in a brezel that
needed repair. Carefully lifted the bezel back, but for the life of me
couldn’t seem to get the stone out of it. Finally got it out at the same
time I realized that the reason it balked was that the setter had helped
get his bezel tight with a libral application of super glue. The tensile
strength of super glue considerably exceeds that of amber. When the stone
came out, it left numerous little slivers of itself, still glued to the
bezel. had to slightly reduce the size of the bezel, and repolish the edge
of the amber to fit it back together. Fortunately, the customer had been
warned that considerable risks were involved, and was quite happy to get
back her repaired brooch no matter that some more drastic changes had been
needed than I’d hoped were going to be needed.

And Matt the Cat also mentioned those turqouse/whatever inlay pieces,
where the “stone” is more epoxy than anything else. Epoxies will soften
appreciably in boiling water, loosing bond strength. With a glued pearl,
enough bond takes place inside the pearl at the end of the post,
presumably, that a brief immersion in water which might approach boiling
probably won’t loosen it (but check when you’re done to be sure)
Generally, you won’t take so long in soldering that the water or the glue
gets anywhere near that hot anyway. But with the inlays? now you’ve got
massive metal contact from the heaviest part of the ring to the most
sensative componant, the glue. I’ve gotton away with it a few times, but
those times I’ve considered it real lucky. I don’t generally expect that
sort of inlay to survive, and only take such a job with the expectation
(and price quote) that I’ll have to redo the inlay when it’s done. But
then, most of those inlays are cheap stone anyway, and often you can place
the damaged and removed inlay in attack, salvage the stone inlay pieces,
and reassemble them with more epoxy to redo the inlay. Doesn’t work so
well with the really little crushed stone type of junk, but then I’m
fortunate to not be working for a firm that takes in much of that crap

peter rowe