Intermediate project. Eighth in a series of 12 ring repair projects.
Photos: Barry Blau.
Mrs. Mariposa has been a regular customer of your jewelry store for as long as you can remember so you are not at all surprised to see her 1 afternoon. Rather than browsing and checking out the showcases for anything she has not seen before, she asks if you can do anything to prevent her ring from sliding around her finger. Upon close observation, you can see that the ring slides over her knuckles easily enough, but when it is all the way onto her finger, it appears several sizes too large.
There are several ways to correct this problem. The most economical solution would be to add sizing beads, and the most expensive would be to use a commercial ring mechanism. You suggest that Mrs. Mariposa add a 14K gold spring insert or “butterfly” to the inside of the ring shank. This is the middle course as far as appearance and cost, and it may also be the most comfortable because the spring action is self-adjusting. It is only slightly more involved than adding beads and, in many cases, it provides far greater comfort.
In order for the spring material to add thickness to the inside of the ring, it may be necessary to size the ring first, depending on the fit and the width of the ring. For instance, a wide ring will fit more tightly and, therefore, needs to be sized up as much as 1/2 a size to allow for a butterfly. A thin solitaire will need to go up no more than a 1/4 of a size before installing the spring. If the ring already slips easily over the knuckle, the current size should accommodate the thickness of the spring.
Determine the length of the 14K gold strip needed by measuring the interior diameter (mm) of the ring and multiplying this measurement by 1.75. This should result in a strip that covers 1/2-2/3 of the ring interior.
Bend the strip over a ring mandrel that is about 2 sizes smaller than the ring. Use a pair of round-nose pliers to bend the ends of the butterfly strip outward so that they will not injure the wearer.
Pre-polish the inside of the ring if needed, as well as the inside and outside of the spring.
Before soldering, check for prior seams. Always use easy solder to attach the spring. Dip the ring in firecoat solution, set it up in mounted soldering tweezers, and then place a small piece of easy yellow-gold solder on the inside of the shank. Bring the flame to the shank and gently warm the metal. Apply just enough heat to permit the solder to melt onto the surface, but do not allow the solder to flow completely.
As an alternative, you can make a 4mm-long indentation with a ball bur on the inside of the shank where the spring will be attached. Place a piece of solder in the depression, melt it, and then file flush before attaching the spring. The advantage to this method is that it eliminates excess solder that might flow up the sides of the spring solder.
When the solder is melted onto the shank, place the firecoated and fluxed spring in position and hold it there with a pair of soldering tweezers. Now heat the assembly with an unusually hot flame as you sweat solder the pieces together. Watch for signs that the solder has flowed from the ring to the spring. Do not overheat.
STEP 7. Make sure that the edges of the spring are smooth and rounded so that they cannot injure the wearer. Check the fit and symmetry. Test to see if the spring holds its shape under pressure. If it doesn’t, it should be hardened by rubbing the surface with a polished burnisher.
Touch up the spring with a buffing wheel, clean, and then use rouge to apply a high polish as needed. The ring should now slide over the knuckle without too much effort, sit comfortably, and remain right side up.
Alan Revere is a German-trained master goldsmith, an award-winning designer, and a jewelry educator, author, and lecturer. He is the director of the Revere Academy of Jewelry Arts in San Francisco.
This project is adapted with permission from Ring Repair.
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