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Sizing school rings

Hi, gang,

I recently took in two gts school rings to size. One was only a quarter
size & I was able to stretch it. The other one, however needs to go up
two full sizes. It has a solid back, a blue stone with faceted back &
smooth top, with gold inlay in the top of the stone. Any suggestions on
sizing? I’m afraid that with how massive the metal is I won’t be able to
protect the stone without causing so much of a heat sink that I won’t be
able to solder. The metal is 10k, ring is made by Balfour. Is there
anyone out there who specializes in this type of sizing or should I just
look up the company and send it back to them? Anyone have their number?

Thanks in advance!

Sharon Z.

Try to cut the shank, round the two ends,and you got a like new chef-d’oeuvre.
Good luck whatever your final decision,

Sharon, goodmorring to you . I did it one time and ruined the ring .
Class rings are covered for life by manfg. Send back it is not wreath it
trust me . Send them all back.

Hello Sharon, You can size the ring if you cut it at the back and then
open it using your ring stretcher. After fitting the piece in, place the
ring upside down in a dapping block filled with water and solder. Have
fun! Tom Arnold

I have sized these kind of rings and take my advice send it to the company
who made it. Trust me when I tell you, that what you will make sizing this
ring will not be worth the trouble it can cause. The Stone is synthetic
and with the inlay it will be more trouble that it’s worth. I learned the
hard way. It isn’t worhth it!!

Good luck!
Matt the Catt

Send it back to Balfour. They are equiped to handle the problems that
come with class ring sizing. Class rings are a MAJOR PAIN, especially
solid back going up 2 sizes. You never get paid enough to work on those
&**!# things! Find a scrap one from a pawn shop and try it. They will
buy it back after you are through playing and wash the dirty words off it.

Dear Sharon,
sizing is often tricky and although your description is
complete, nothing beats eye-balling the actual item. If the ring is strong
and the back of the band reasonably heavy, say around 1.5mm thick, I’d
risk tapping it up the ring mandrel the two sizes.

If you have to size it up by adding a piece as your post implies, what
sort of stone is in the ring? If it’s a synthetic sapphire or spinel, it
will go through the fire unscathed - providing the stone is very clean and
there’s no gunk behind the stone inside the setting. Some soldering fluxes
will etch into sapphires above red heat. I’ve had 18ct rings of Italian
origin that were set with paste (glass) and simply refused to resize them
unless I could unset the stone. This might be your best course. At least
you can clean everything up afterwards, and you don’t end up with a whole
lot of burnt gunk or acid pickle behind the stone.

If you have no experience, it might be a better idea to send it out or
watch someone that knows what they are doing. 1. These stones are
generally synthetic and will withstand a lot of heat. Don’t be afraid to
warm them, but whatever else you do, don’t quench them. 2. These rings are
often constructed from 3 pieces. A top piece which holds the bezel and
stone and 2 shank halves. After cutting, watch to see if the ring starts
to crack along the seams as you are spreading the shank. 3. These can
often be extremely heavy rings and I would suggest annealing during the
spreading. Slowly heating the ring and allowing to air cool as we don’t
want to quench the stone. 4. Don’t be surprised if you can not round up
this ring. Especially if it is going up 2 sizes. 5. Use 14K hard or medium
solder. Ten karat solder in my mind is unsuitable for any sizing. 6. Note
whether there is enamel before starting. In modern class rings, it is
usually resin based and not vitreous. It will burn out during heating and
will need to be replaced. Have I missed anything? Hmmm… No doubt in my

Bruce D. Holmgrain
e-mail: @Bruce_Holmgrain

phone:: 703-593-4652

Send the ring back to the manufacturer if at all possible these things can
turn into a real night mare. if you are ever asked to size one that is
not gold , refuse. i talked to one of the guys who makes these things
once and he suggested to send it back to the manufacturer they are not
designed to be sized easily.


Know that is out of the way. When I first started in this industry
(about 20 years ago) we used, hear comes the bad word, ASBESTOS. To this
day I still use it when something like this comes up. soak it down in
water and make a paste and then put your ring into it to cover all but the
shank or even as much as half of the shank. Then use a very hot torch and
get in and heat it up and soldier and get out. Then add water to the
paste,the paste should be in a little container such as a large watch
parts container( the ones they send parts in the mail) or even a small
microwave plastic dish about 3inx3in square and 1 to 1 1/2in deep. the
water will aid in cooling things off and keeping the stones or even the
plastic gasket that is behind some of the stones in some class rings.These
are either clear or colored to enhance the color. This is also a very good
way to size ss rings that have turq. and coral, mother of pearl on and on.
You can even use it to put a prong on a diamond next to an emerald( NOT ON
THE EMERALD) but you must be fast and good at soldering. I have done over
a thousand different solders this way and have not gotten any lung
problems or any health problems. It is easy and it works. I must say that
if you do some very big silver gents rings that are set with saw dust
behind the stone or some glues you might have to replace the saw dust or
the glue. Hope this helps ya out.


My Dad has sized a lot of gents classrings. I’ll talk to him Monday and
post his suggestion.

Kelly Rae

I came across a note in a rockhound magazine which suggested burying the
ring in a potato to protect the stone while resizing. Would that work for
a professional? Rose McArthur

Send the ring back to the manufacturer if at all possible these things
can turn into a real night mare. if you are ever asked to size one that
is not gold , refuse. i talked to one of the guys who makes these
things once and he suggested to send it back to the manufacturer they
are not designed to be sized easily.

In fact, at least one class ring manufacturer I know of doesn’t even
attempt any repairs or modifications, other than minor refinishing of a
ring returned for any reason. it’s cheaper for them to simply pull the
mold off the shelf, and manufacture a whole new ring, in the correct size,
or with the correct stone or details, or whatever else was wrong, than it
is to maintain a repairs department, or even to attempt to fix the
mistakes. This way, any repair is returned as a brand new ring, avoiding
bad fixes and incompletely repaired problems.

As to sizing them, the golds used are aften heat treated for additional
durability, so far as I know. This makes some of them, especially things
like the mens college rings, almost impossible to bend either smaller or
larger after cutting, making sizing them almost impossible to do well.
And thats before even considering the fact that often, the stones are
seated on a plastic gasket at the girdle, which makes setting them easier,
as well as reducing the amount of dirt that can get below the stones,
especially on those set with closed backs. Care to guess what that plastic
gasket will do when you go to solder one of these rings, even if you use
heat sink compound? And then, if we discuss the non gold alloys, things
like “siladium”, the non gold white alloy. it’s essentially a surgical
stainless steel, which casts wonderfully, and makes a very durable ring.
But it sure isn’t designed to be resoldered shut after sizing, don’t ya

And finally, in my experience, the class ring manufacturers as a group
have some of the highest levels of service commitment of any jewelry
manufacturers. Some will offer lifetime service, for any reason at all,
for nominal costs. About a decade ago, I had a gents ring from the mid
1940s come in, with the owner wanting to know if this ring could be
restored. It was worn almost to the point that you could only barely
decipher what had once been the design. Sent insured back to the
manufacturer, the ring was replaced with a new one, as of course they
still had the mold. Cost was some sort of nominal charge, like $20 bucks,
plus postage. I don’t know if it would still be that cheap, but the
customer service provided was, to say the least, impressive.

Hope this helps

Peter Rowe

… we used,… ASBESTOS… soak it down in
water and make a paste… I have done over
a thousand different solders this way and have not gotten any lung
problems or any health problems.

We used to use furnace tape, which was asbestos, for this. Kept wet, the
paste does not give off airborne fibers, and thus is safe enough. But
dry, and jostled, is another story. Still, it’s likely that the risk of
this technique is pretty darn low, considering the small amount involved.
Personally, though, I’d suggest a slightly larger container than a watch
parts tin. Remember that it’s not the asbestos paste, but the water it
holds in place, that is actually giveing you protection. A larger
container, preferably metal, instead of plastic microwave ware, is less
likely to either dry out or catch a torch flame on the back edge and catch
fire (grin). a suggestion is something like an ordinary tuna fish can,
small enough to sit on the bench pin, but large enough to hold enough heat
sink to last through longer operations.

All that said, though, it should also be pointed out that the most
effective method is to do the same thing with only water, no paste. It
cannot dry out at the surface of the metal… The ring must then be held
is a third hand, but that’s no biggie. Spattering water, as it boils
right where the ring enters the surface can sometimes be a bother, but all
in all, this pretty much absolutely keeps the immersed part of the ring at
or below 212 degrees F. And if you want a paste or other medium to help
hold, sand, or carborundum soldering grains work as well as asbestos mash,
also holding the water to the ring. They cannot be as easily applied to
smaller areas for protecting some small part when not just immersed upside
down in the can, of course. But any means of keeping such an area wet
will work just fine. A facial tissue even, wrapped around a stone set
ring (I’m not really talking about big class rings here…), held in place
by your soldering tweezers, and dunked in water prior to soldering, so it
too is a wet soggy mass surrounding the stone, is effective, quick, and
easily to remove after soldering. Over in the
newsgroup, we just had an interesting thread were the use of (yes, believe
it) mashed up bananna, as a heat sink, was discussed. Again, so long as
the area needing protection is kept wet, it will be kept sufficiently

Hope this helps.

Peter Rowe

We tried putting a ring in a potato in class and while it certainly
smelled wonderful, the stone was damaged beyond repair. Most professional
jewelers I know use cool jool or similar products.

iris stuecklen
baltimore md

Hi Rose, The potato is full of water and will therefore protect the ring’s
stone from heat for a time. It is also useful for “steam casting”. After
burning out, place the flask on a charcoal block with the opening up .
Melt the metal and pour it into the flask. Having previously cut off the
end of your potato, now place it firmly on the flask. The water in the
potato will immediately turn to steam, the steam will drive the metal into
the flask with amazing force. And the jokes you can tell are without end.
Tom Arnold

I’ve half shanked inlay rings without softening the epoxy or damaging the
stones, by burying them in a mud made from a magnesia block. Make a thick,
wet mud in a heat-proof container, and bury as much of the ring at
possible. Make sure the mud stays wet. Use a hot flame, and solder fast!

Karen in Boulder, CO