Repairing Channel-Set Jewelry


July 1998

For Your Staff:Selling Quality

Repairing Channel-Set Jewelry

Knowing why these pieces of jewelry need to be repaired demonstrates another aspect of quality in your store

by Mark B. Mann Director of Professional Certification Jewelers of America

Last month's article ("Channel Setting Round Stones," pp. 165-168) covered the proper method of setting melee diamonds in a channel and a few examples of errors in workmanship common to channel setting.

This month we'll discuss the characteristics of channel-set pieces needing repair because of wear or errors in workmanship. We'll also look at problem-solving techniques to use with these pieces.

We're giving you and your staff an exercise – use the illustrations and photograph that follow to identify the inspection points you should check before taking in a channel-set ring for sizing.

Channel Repair

These are the most common reasons why channel-set jewelry (usually rings) are brought in for repair:

  1. Loose stones.
  2. Metal worn from the top and/or side of the channel.
  3. Inadequate support or no support bars between the channel walls.

Detecting loose stones It's often difficult to detect loose channel-set stones, but one sure method is to use a pair of fine-pointed tweezers. First, use the tweezers to grip the sides of a stone and try to turn it one way and then the other. The stone will turn if it's loose; the easier it turns, the looser it is.
Metal worn from the top and/or side of the channel
Stones often loosen because too much metal is worn away from the top and/or side(s) of the channel. The metal wears away easily, but you can build it back up by adding a new gold bar across the worn area – the top, side or both.


Metal worn from the top and/or side of the channel (continued)
If the metal wear is minor, the bench jeweler uses a burnisher to push the metal from the top down, thus tightening the stones by reflattening the bar and compressing the metal over the stones.

Inadequate or no support bars between channel walls
The channel walls require support bars to keep them from spreading apart and loosening the stones.

Quality Exercise

Instructions: Your customer needs the channel-set ring pictured below sized down one size. Test your knowledge of the inspection points you should check before take-in.

First, using a separate piece of paper (and without looking at the list below), write in order the correct steps in the inspection procedure. Then look at the list below and see how yours matches.

  1. Inspect, using magnification.
  2. Check for loose, chipped, broken or abraded stones.
  3. Clean the ring.
  4. Check again for loose stones.
  5. Examine the stones carefully. Are they genuine? Synthetic? Treated? And again look for chipped, broken or abraded conditions.
  6. Check for support bars between the channel walls. Are there any? If so, are they of sufficient dimension and placed properly to hold the walls in place securely?
  7. Check the thickness of the channel wall. Is it sufficient for stone security?
  8. Check the seating of the stones in the channel wall. Are they executed properly to ensure their security?
  9. Check for evidence the ring has been sized before. If it shows the signs of having been sized before, is the channel distorted?
  10. Make sure the shank is substantial enough for sizing. (See the JA Quality Assurance Guide in Professional Jeweler,March 1998, pp. 99-104, for more information on this point.)
  11. Determine whether sizing this ring needs to be done in several steps (resulting in a slightly higher charge for the service) or if it can be sized down in a single process.

Contributions to this month's article came from David Geller of David Geller Jewelers, Atlanta, GA, and Cameron Comer of David Baker Jewelers, Dublin, OH.

JA Quality Assurance Guide
Repairing Channel-Set Jewelry


Proper Channel Repair

  1. Channel walls are flat, even and parallel; there are no visible solder seams.
  2. Tightening loose stones has not resulted in any visible traces of burnishing or hammering.
  3. If stones have been reset, the individual seats were cut properly.
  4. The tables of the stones are level with the top of the channel wall.
  5. The stones are tight and secure in the channel.

Potential Problems

Channel walls wavy and thin
Channel walls are stressed because they were made dimensionally too light or have worn thin.
Walls too low
The overall height of the channel walls is inadequate and needs to be built up.
Tool marks
Channel wall shows excessive tool marks from tightening stones without refinishing.
Seats not prepared properly
Seats in the channel for reset stones are not cut to the proper size – they are too large or too small.
Lacking structural support
There are no rings or bars beneath the stones to connect the opposing channel walls, which may fan out (move out of parallel) or drift apart, loosening the stones. This is caused by errors in design and manufacture.

©1998 Jewelers of America Standards as described by the JA® Bench Jewelers Certification program

All Illustrations by Lanie Mann

Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.


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