Sizing ring with bezel-set stone

I have gone through the archives looking for discussions on
sizing rings where the stones cannot be removed without damaging
the setting and it seems that the prevailing opinion is to work
with the stone under water. The theory seems to be that, because
the stone was in water (or wet paper), the stone could not get
hotter than the maximum temperature of the water. That doesn’t
sound right to me. Couldn’t the metal absorb more heat than the
water could dissapate and transfer that heat to the stone
(especially if the shank was a 4 or 5 mm. band)?


Hello Linda, There are some products available for protecting
stones while soldering.From Rio Grande there is ‘Heat Sheild’,
which you squirt on to the stone and setting.It is not
appropriate for softer stones though. In a pinch I have used
drywall mud. Make a nice pile on a jar lid or something and
embed the top half of the ring with the stone in it. I use a
little torch so it is easier to localize the heat. I have used
this technique on a ring with opal in it, and to my great relief
it worked. I don’t know if I would try that again
though!Scary!Good luck.

Hi Linda,

Yes some heat can be transferred but it is minimal.

I use this method for repairs all the time and have never had a
problem with too much heat. I even use this method on sterling
silver. As you probably know it transfers heat much better than
gold. The problem is usually getting a hot enough flame. I use a
propane and oxygen torch. When doing wide bands like you mention,
I get out my big torch a Victor with a # 2 tip. Even though it has
the same size orifice as the #7 tip on the Smith Little torch it
produces a much hotter flame.

Good luck

Timothy A. Hansen



First question, what is the stone? Second, what is the metal.
Water is one of the greatest heat absorbers in the world. You
can size nearly any heat sensitive stone by sinking it in water.
It is true that the stone will not get any hotter than the
temperature of the water. If it is a gold ring often you can
hold the ring in your fingers and solder it there. If your
fingers get hot then you put the whole thing in water and the
stone does not get damaged. Many stones will accept the heat of
sizing without any problems. Only sink the ring in water up to
the level of the bottom of the bezel. The farther you sink it
in ther water the more heat it will absorb and it will be harder
to get the solder to flow.Soldering a ring while holding it in
your fingers is one of the first things I teach new people it
gives you a very graphic representastion for just how fast the
heat is transfered through a shank. Holding the ring in your
fingers does not work with silver though. And a 4-5 mm band may
be a litttle too heavy for finger work.

Good luck

Ray in lovely sunny southern Oregon

Hello Linda!

There are a few products out there for heat sink purposes. What
you found is prevailing jewelers’ technique, I would say.
However, many jewelers do these type of sizings in their
fingers. Sure it gets hot; your fingers can take 140 degrees for
a few seconds too. Your hot water @ your tap is probably close
to that. If you haven’t done it or seen it done, try and get an
experienced craftsman to show you.

If you want to do it yourself, here goes. Coat the ring with
boric acid dip. Let cool. Create a little tension in the ring,
and slip a piece of solder between the seem. The full length of
the seem. You can place the solder on top of the seem if you’d
rather not create tension. Hold it in your thumb and two fingers
and wet the stone and your fingers in cold water. You did flux
it, right? Use a large tip with a hole about 1.2 mm or so. So
you can generate a large hot flame. Without seeing the piece
there ids no way to judge the flame size or intensity. Generally
the flame is 5 to 8 inches long, and an oxidizing flame. If you
use too much oxygen, therefore, more temp, you could fudge
(melt) the area. You could also burn your flux, therefore
eliminating its’ assistance in flowing the solder. You do have
several advantages, you have cold water right there. You can
quench if it gets to hot and reflux.

If were talking silver, that requires more heat and is more
difficult. Yuk!

If you had a jeweler who could show you that would be best.

Good luck,					

Ray, Tom and Julie,

Thanks for your help.

A while ago, I tried to size a silver ring (a 5mm or so band)
with a green tourmaline and a CZ without removing the stones. I
used a heat shield product that is in a jar and a radioactive
pink color. The CZ crazed and the tourmaline blackened, so I
threw out the pink stuff. I now have an anthill garnet in a
14K gold setting with a 7mm band that needs to be made smaller.
I have a “Little Torch”, so 5 to 8 inch flames are not possible.

Would the pink stuff have worked if the ring were gold instead
of silver? I had also tried garnet sand quite some time ago,
again with silver, but found it difficult to get solder to flow -
too large a heat sink, I guess.

Are you really able to do the water thing with all kinds of
stones? I picture amethysts with citrine halos…


Linda and all, I am not one to ever make waves with anybody but
on one of the posts the fallowing two comments were posted about
sizing rings. Quite frankly I believe them to be absolutley
wrong… and very dangerous too…

“Generally the flame is 5 to 8 inches long, and an oxidizing
flame.” “You can quench if it gets to hot and reflux.”

Now a 5 to 8 inch flame… I use a 5 to 8 inch flame when
casting . that is when I am melting about 145 or s grams of
gold… YOu DO NOT need a flame that hot… Use a small falme like
you would normally use with a normal sizing job… Secondly…
NEVER EVER EVER quench a ring with stones in it… I am telling
you… the stones WILL break. except a diamond but why take the
chance, you neer know the diamond may have an inclusion in just
the right area and good bye stone…

One last thing… I have been a jeweler know for 11 years, and I
hve never heard of anything like holding a ring or anything for
that matter in your fingers while soldering… This again is a
dangerous and un-needed practice… use the sand and water as I
spoke about in my original post to this thread. And if you don’t
need to protect any stones, use the third hand… that is what
they are meant for… don’t take a risk of burning your fingers…
it really isn’t very smart…

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention the HEAT SHIELD that some spoke
about before… this is a very good product but very messy… I do
use it on certain thigs but over-all I still have to say go with
the sand and water idea…

Good Luck
Marc Williams. MarcCo. Jewelry Mfg.

Linda, When sizing rings that have heat sensitive stones, what I
do is simailar to what has been suggested. my method is this…
take an old crucible (round) fill it with real sand, say from a
beach, put some water in the sand so that the sand is saturated.
sink the top of the ring where the stones are into the wet sand
and solder away. In the past 11 years I have never damaged a
stone using this method. The metal will get hot but the sand and
water will cool it enough to as to not effect the stone… The wet
paper towel method is useful BUT there is the risk of actually
drying all the wetness up thus running the risk of cooking the
stone… you really need to watch what you are doing when using
the paper towel method… One very important thing to remember,
when sizing a silver ring using any method, you will be using
more heat for a longer time to get a proper solder joint, my
suggestion is to go with the sand and water and you shouldn’t
have a problem. you will just need more patience… When it comes
to stones that can’t take heat, the first thing I suggest is to
take them out. I realize this is not always possible, that is
when you should turn to the other methods… Good luck… feel free
to ask anything any time…

Marc Williams, MarcCo. Jewelry Mfg.

Hi Linda, Find someone with a laser welder. They can solser
right next to a stone without any problem. In fact you hold the
piece in your hand while you use the laser welder. etienne

HI; I use a mixture of olivine (casting grain) and put water in
outil it floats on the surface, I would suppose any sand would
work, but the grain size seem to hold the object well. I then
use a very hot flame, roaring if silver, and bear the heat
quickly I use wire solder so I can control when the solder is
applied and where. When you get to the red In silver, you bring
in the solder and flow freely. stop then . you may have the
water eveporate but the mud crust protects the stone. I have
done turquoise inlay and shell this way. Works for me Ringman
John Henry

No offense to anyone but ditto on the daredevil wet finger
method… I use tissue paper soaked in water wrapped around the
stone area. You can build up a tissue paper mache stand in a low
walled can or ceramic dish. Immerse the protected section of the
ring in water to insure that it doesn’t dry out. Start with a
lot of insulation and work down to to just enough to do the job,
better too much that too little, all you’l be wasting is gas and
clean and prep time if it doesn’t go the first time. You will
get a feel for the right amount. The trick is to cover enough of
the ring to keep it cool, but not too much ; precluding adequate
heat. A small but intense flame directed from the inside of the
ring may help to keep it ftrom sputtering and messing the whole
thing up, heat it up fast enough to flow the solder but not
damage the stone or melt the gold. It’s easier than it sounds,

I have to add my two cents to this one, soldering under water is
hard if not down right impossiable. I used to do it all the time
and it was just a pain in my south end. so here’s what i came up
with, and I have’nt lost a stone yet , knock on wood. I got some
of that grain that they use in those rotating soldering trays
and put just a touch of water in it, and I mean just a touch. I
always had steam building up when i used water and it would blow
out my little torch, a pisser at that. I bury the stone into
this grain as far as I can with out covering up the spot I’m
trying to solder. I order the replacement grain because it comes
in a round can with a lid. It’s about 6 inches or so around and
an inch maybe an inch and a half high. It works great! I’ve
soldered with emeralds and even turquiose, now it will depend on
your skill and alot of luck , so you pays yer money and yous
take yer chances at your own risk, but hey it’s been working for
me and it’s alot easier than trying to do underwater soldering.
I can give you a part no.# and who I got it from if anyone’s
interested, just email me.

Keep it shiny, Matt the Catt

Once again, I feel like jumping in where I might better minding
my own business. Come to think of it, jewelry is my business.
Just about thirty years ago, I was taught how to size rings. I
was taught in a shop that did trade work for 150-180 accounts
year round. In order to maintain these accounts, the owner of the
company thought that it would be a good idea if we knew how to
size rings competitively. Fast and cheap. No broken stones. No
thinned shanks. No loose stones. No pits. No visible seam. No
comebacks. If a job came back, it should come back because we
were instructed to size it to the wrong size. First we’d check
to see if stones poked thru the inside. Then we’d check the
size. If sizing down, we’d cut out 2.5mm for each size down.
Then close up the shank and run a saw thru again to insure a
close fit. Holding the ring in our fingers, flux the join, heat
from the inside and pull the solder thru. Quenching quickly in
sulfuric acid. Neutralizing the acid in a solution of baking
soda. Wipe. File the inside. Round on a mandrel. File and emery
the outside, chech the stones and send on for finishing. Total
time less than two minutes. Soldering isn’t done with an
oxidizing or reducing flame but with what welders refer to as a
neutral flame. Complete combustion of carbon and no excess
oxygen. At the time we used Hoke torches with natural gas and
oxygen. Since, I have used midget torches, water torches, little
torches, oxy-propane and oxy-acetylene. All of these worked
fine. Today I don’t use sulfuric acid. It was fashionable to
party in rudely tattered Levis in those days and I had the
rattiest. Holding the ring in our fingers was not stupid. It was
not dangerous. It was a disipline that allowd the jeweler to
experience better what was happening while working on the job.
While holding the ring I knew when I was overheating the ring. I
didn’t need to wonder if the spit wad, drywall mud, wet cotton
or commercial heatsink was drying out. I knew personally when I
was spending too much time heating the shank and when was a good
time to quench it before overheating the stone. This method
doesn’t work well with heavy (5-6mm) shanks. It also doesn’t
work with silver rings. It will carry you a long way with
platinum, however. With gold I tend to use hard solders and I
weld the platinum. I also learned to solder silver charms with
silver solder this way. I have even silver soldered lead, pot
metal and pewter charms onto silver charm bracelets this way. I
have seen way too many lead soldered charms.

This has been too windy and maybe on another ocaision I'll tell

you about sizing up.


P.S. I have never burned my fingers with this method. Only a
moron would hold a ring long enough to do that.

P.S.S. I have seen people break stones using the mud packing

Bruce D. Holmgrain
Maryland’s first JA certified Master Bench Jeweler

I attended one workshop where they stuck the stone into half a
raw potato before soldering. the shank. Stone emerged ok.
(But the potato tasted terrible)

To Bruce, and all No seam lines, no pit marks, no thin shanks,
and most of all no returns for shoddy worksmanship… THAT is what
I am all about… And once again I firmly believe that holding a
ring in your fingers while you size it is a bit ridiculous…
yes… stupid and dangerous… My work speaks for itself.

On holding rings in your fingers you wrote.

 " It was a disipline that allowd the jeweler to experience
better what was happening while working on the job. While
holding the ring I knew when I was overheating the ring. I
didn't need to wonder if the spit wad, drywall mud, wet cotton
or commercial heatsink was drying out. I knew personally when I
was spending too much time heating the shank and when was a
good time to quench it before overheating the stone." 

I never had to hold a piece of metal to know what was happening
to it as I heated… All I have to do is look at it… The trick is
to train your eyes to know when something is at the point you
need it to be for the solder to flow… I would prefer to not burn
my fingers, I will need to work with them for the rest of the
day…And I find it extremely hard to believe that you never fried
a stone after quenching a hot ring… Oh and by the way I don’t use
“spit wads, drywall mud or wet cotton” I have used Heat shield on
rare occasions and if you don’t use a flame thrower on your work
the heat sink works fine… The most sensible and easiest method I
firmly belive is the sand and water method…

Marc Williams

Being a jeweler for 23 years I have tried many things, including
holding rings in my fingers. A trick that I learned from my
father who was a true old style master jeweler. Not once have I
burned my fingers and not once have I cracked a stone this way.
I also believe that a heat shield on heavier pieces is a must, I
would never hold a heavy shank ring in my fingers. I also
believe that we all need to realize that there are as many
different techniques as there are opinions, and if people stop
asking questions or stating their opinions for fear of being
ridiculous, stupid and dangerous there might not be much sharing
going on.