Ring Sizing 101
By: Jennifer Choi, Graduate Gemologist (GIA)
One of the most common repairs people have is getting their ring adjusted to fit. Most rings are manufactured in a “stock size.” The stock size for ladies is usually a size 6 and a 10 for men. Most people do not wear a “stock size.”
I equate it to buying jeans. Short, regular, tall size options can really make a difference. The fit of the jeans also comes into play.
Factors to Consider
Ring shank width. (A shank is the bottom half of the ring) A narrow ring shank will fit differently (smaller ring size) on your finger than a wide shank (substantially larger size). For example, I wear a size 3.5 on my ring finger for a thin shank, and a 6 on a wide band. This means that while your wife wears a size five for her engagement ring, it doesn’t mean she will wear the same size if you add a wide band to it. Take a moment to look at your fingers, palm side up, and you will see that the finger gets thicker towards the knuckle.
Design of the ring. A ring with a flat top, invisible set stones, or tiny side stones may not be able to stretch/shrink to fit you. A jeweler will be able tell you the limitations of the ring. An example: A size 9 channel set anniversary band cannot be sized down to a size 5. The angles of the metal that hold the diamonds is would change too much, causing the stones to fall out.
Two sizes is usually the max range of adjustment for rings with stones. Rings with squared off shanks are more difficult to size and will cost a bit more labor wise because the jeweler has to make two adjustments. (like taking a dress up in the sides instead of the back seam) A quality jeweler should be able to copy the milgrain (tiny beaded edge) or ridges/designs after the sizing is done.
Engraving. If your rings are engraved on the inside, remember to ask to have the ring re-engraved before you leave it with the jeweler for sizing. The re-engraving is usually additional, but it beats having a ring that reads, “Never t art.”
Ring Material. Some rings cannot be sized. Tungsten, stainless, and titanium rings come to mind. When people purchase these rings, they simply have to buy new ones if they gain/lose weight. Some tension set rings also should not be sized.
Plated rings (gold over silver has been made more popular by Macys, Kmart, and soaring gold prices) can be sized, but most jewelers will refuse them because the plating comes off with the heat of the jeweler’s torch. If you fall in love with a plated or costume ring, don’t despair… Buy it as close to your size as possible. A simple ring guard can be worn to make it more “wearable.”
“Temperamental” stones–expect to be charged more for the sizing. Shell, coral, cameos, pearls, opals, malachite, turquoise, tanzanite, and emeralds HAVE to be removed before any sizing with heat can happen. They have to be re-set after that, so this explains why it takes longer and costs a little more.
Platinum vs. White Gold. Platinum jewelry is like owning a Cadillac. I once had a broken bolt and spent $800 to replace the whole wheel. Platinum is more rare than white gold, making it and its “parts” more expensive. Without fail platinum jewelry is much more expensive to service and repair. Platinum scratches more and tends to “bend” instead of break. Platinum is denser and feel “heavier” when compared to a gold ring of the same size.
White gold is an alloy of white metals, like silver and nickel combined with pure yellow gold. This mixture is why white gold looks “yellowish white.” To overcome this, most manufacturers rhodium plate white gold. Rhodium is a member of the platinum family and gives white gold the “white-white” look of platinum. With exposure to chemicals (bleach), wear and tear, or perspiration, the rhodium plating can come off. It can be touched up by a jeweler.
Sizing Options A common ring sizing problem is “big knuckles, skinny fingers.” I see this one every day, and it effects people with arthritis the most. There are options for adding springy bars, gold beads (bishop bumps), and even hinged bands to the bottom of rings to make them more comfortable. These options vary greatly in price, so ask for your options at the repair counter. There is more than one way to skin a cat.
A common problem with the big knuckle crowd is: once the ring is over the knuckle, it flops around. In the past, we have installed a wider shank to counter balance the weight from the top of the ring. A ring guard is usually the least expensive option to solve this problem.
Sizing vs. Stretching Rings are adjusted to fit by stretching if they:
A. have enough metal in the shank to handle the adjustment without getting too thin
B. are being adjusted up to a half size. The metal is adjusted without adding extra metal to it.
Rings are sized when they are cut and either reduced or expanded. Jewelers reform the shank by heating it and melting liquid gold into the seam to re-seal it. If the ring is being expanded, the jeweler will add a piece of gold to the ring and melt the gold into both sides of the piece. This is the more expensive of the two options and more time consuming.
Need your ring size? We recommend getting it sized by a professional in person. The disposable ring gauges are somewhat accurate, but not foolproof. Another option is to bring in a ring that fits to get comparatively sized.
Your ring size may vary up to 3 ring sizes thru the course of the day. Factors involved: weather finger shrink in the cold and swell in the heat, diet (salty food can swell fingers), time of month (self explanatory, ladies), and time of day (I wake up with skinny fingers and go to bed with fat ones). If your ring doesn’t fit perfectly, you may want to wear it for a couple days to see how the fit fluctuates. Going from an ice cold office to the blazing heat outside can cause big changes.
Ring sizing is a complex repair. Many factors contribute to how the ring is sized, or if it CAN be sized. One indisputable fact: you will not wear a ring that doesn’t fit. Talk to your local jewelry repair technician about any further questions you may have. Keep in mind every ring is different, and don’t be afraid to take “impossible jobs” in for a second opinion.
Ring sizing is completed same day service at Rose Diamonds Custom Design & Repair on site in our “open bench” jewelry repair center. We have been sizing rings for commercial accounts as well as individuals for years, and welcome you to swing by with any questions, “impossible jobs,” or free jewelry cleaning.
Jennifer Choi is a GIA trained Graduate Gemologist who has owned businesses in Fort Lauderdale, FL and Miami, FL in addition to our flagship store in Springfield, MO. She teaches a “Intro to Jewelry and Gemology” Course and personally designs original custom jewelry pieces for clients across the country. For more information on Rose Diamonds Custom Design & Repair, please visit: http://rosediamonds.wordpress.com