perfect engagement ring for me
Some internet websites offer rings, but they never mention the ring size! They do not offer to size the ring for you, or even give any suggestion as to how that should be done, because this requires a higher level of customer service than a “cell-phone-seller” wants to hassle with. If you order a diamond ring, for instance, and there is no size choice available, you really do not know whether the ring you get will fit your finger or not! If it is a new woman’s ring, it will probably be somewhere between a size 6 and 7, but it could vary by as much as a full size either way. If it is a ring that was returned to the seller by a former customer, it could be any size, because the customer probably had it sized to fit their finger. New men’s style rings are usually manufactured as a size 10 or 11, but, again, this is not an exact measure. To determine your ring size, you can download a helpful document from the Viridian Gold website, or drop in to a local jewelry store and have them check it for you.
Now, if you do buy an unsized ring from one of those non-service sellers, you will have to take it to a jewelry store or repair shop and get it sized. Depending on the ring, that can cost anywhere from $25 up to $100–that is what someone at Fast Fix, a mall-kiosk jewelry repair shop told me. The $25 figure would be for a ring that only needed “stretching”, such as a simple yellow-gold wedding band. But, most rings will need a more complicated sizing procedure described below.
The jeweler (I am speaking of a real craftsman here, not just the owner of the jewelry store) will perform the ring sizing on his jeweler’s bench. First, the ring shank will be cut through at its lower portion (the bottom of the ring). By the way, gold dust is toxic when breathed, so the jeweler must take great care to protect his lungs from inhaling the dust. If the ring is to be reduced in size, the jeweler cuts the shank again to remove the excess material in the shank. He/she then places the ring on a mandrel (a cone-shaped hard-metal “finger” graduated in size from a point up to the largest ring size) and forms the ring into a circle, closing the gap and thus reducing the ring size. If the ring is to be enlarged, the jeweler also will use the mandrel to open the ring to the proper size, and then insert a “plug” of the same metal type as the ring.
Next, the ring shank ends, along with the plug if one was used, must be soldered together. The solder used will be a compound that matches the ring’s metal, but has a lower melting point than the ring metal itself. For instance, 14K gold solder is still 14K gold, but it uses a different mix of alloys which causes it to melt at a lower temperature than the 14K gold ring itself. The ring shank is heated, and the solder is allowed to melt and flow into the gap, thereby joining the two ends together after it solidifies. If required, the ring size is then “fine-tuned” by fitting it on the mandrel and using a hammer to gently form the gold to the correct ring size.
Now, the excess solder and thickness of the plug are removed with a file to match the contour of the ring. And, finally, the ring is buffed to a bright shine. If the ring is white gold, then it is usually re-plated with rhodium to restore that brand-new appearance (some newer white-gold alloys do not require rhodium plating). The newly created ring joint will be completely invisible to the naked eye, unless the jeweler has been careless or is inexperienced!
Another method of sizing, which can only be used on simple, unadorned bands, is ring stretching (to increase size) or swaging (to reduce size). No cutting or soldering is done with this technique, but it can only be used for changes of one or two sizes. In this method, the ring is first annealed, meaning that it is heated to a high temperature and then cooled down in a controlled manner. This relaxes the metallic structure of the ring (which tends to “harden” over time) to make it more malleable (softer). For a size increase, the ring is stretched on a tool that gently applies pressure to the ring, causing the metal to stretch. For a size decrease, another tool is used which incrementally forces the metal to conform to progressively smaller sections of the mandrel–the ring is then reshaped to remove the cupping distortion produced by this method. And, finally, the re-sized ring is buffed to a bright shine. If it is white gold, it will be re-plated with rhodium.
So, you can see that this process involves great skill and practice, which explains the need to charge a little more to have the ring sized to your finger size! At Viridian Gold, you will always see the added amount, if any, for sizing next to the ring size you select in our ring-size selection menu. This amount will be added when the ring is placed in the shopping cart. And if you need a 1/2, 1/4 or 1/8 size increment in your ring, just call us and we will accommodate your needs!