THE JA QUALITY ASSURANCE GUIDE: RING SIZING
A comfortable fit and a carefully crafted shank - the hallmarks of
a quality ring. When taking in a ring for sizing, be sure the whole staff
can communicate these aspects of quality to your customers
by Mark B. Mann, Director of Professional Certification Jewelers of America
This month's article and the portion of the "JA Quality Assurance
Guide" that follows illustrate the two components critical to the success
of a ring-sizing job.
Taking in a Ring to be Sized
As with any repair or reconstruction, it's important that you communicate
clearly with the customer when taking in the ring. The customer must understand
the problems that may occur as a result. The sizing process itself inevitably
causes - at best - slight physical changes. In some cases, it may cause
rather major changes in a ring's appearance. You must explain many of these
potential changes to the customer before beginning the job:
- There's usually a slight reduction in dimension of the shank where
the sizing procedure took place.
- With some ring design configurations, there may be a slight chance
it can't be returned to perfectly round on the inside.
- In some cases, the texture of the resized ring may not exactly match
the pattern it had when originally machine-made.
Assuring Quality Workmanship
Your attention to quality in performing the ring-sizing job reduces or eliminates
the chance the customer will be disappointed or unhappy when the ring is
delivered. It also will eliminate your having to perform costly reworking.
It's always easier to do it right the first time! Again, remember these
issues of quality workmanship will be illustrated fully in the "JA
Quality Assurance Guide" segment on ring sizing that follows this article.
It is essential the ring fit properly when you've finished sizing it - that's
the whole point of the job. Here are a few steps to ensure a proper fit:
- The ring must pass easily over the knuckle, maintain enough contact
between the ring and the finger to keep the ring upright and not have so
much ring/finger contact that it feels tight or causes moisture buildup.
(In some cases, these conditions can be met only by using an adjustable
shank. A future article will address quality issues relating to installing
- To determine the correct size for proper fit, measure the customer's
ring size using finger gauges provided by suppliers. The gauges come in
sizes from 1 to 15 and in standard, wide and domed configurations; use
the gauge configuration that most resembles the ring requiring sizing.
Make sure the gauge, when tried on the customer's finger, satisfies the
conditions of a proper fit - passing easily over the knuckles and maintaining
the appropriate contacts.
- Be sure all ring gauges used in the store match each other and also
correspond to the ring mandrel of the bench jeweler performing the sizing
work. As a rule, mandrels can differ by as much as a quarter-size to a
half-size from each other and/or from finger gauges.
What is a Quality Shank?
When taking in a ring for repair, it's important to explain to the customer
that your quality bench repairers make every effort to retain the original
dimensions of the shank, but that some loss is inevitable in the sizing
process. (On the two pages that follow, managers, sales associates and bench
repairers can study the chart of examples of rings sized by three bench
repairers and look at the loss of shank dimensions resulting from each sizing.
Compare these figures to your store's shank dimension losses. If you find
your own rings are losing too much shank, turn the page and look at a series
of drawings to help them solve why this may be happening).
Remember that all features of quality repair apply to new merchandise
as well. The sales associate first can use the "JA Quality Assurance
Guide" to show the customer illustrations of a properly sized or manufactured
shank and then demonstrate that the ring being discussed meets those standards
of quality (or that the ring when bought will be sized in the store's shop
to these standards of workmanship).
Communicating Quality Issues To the Manufacturer
If sales associates and other store personnel are discovering that new jewelry
doesn't meet the standards of quality we've been discussing, they should
carry that message to their managers, who then will look at the manufacturers.
This is how the industry commits to higher standards of quality!
Building a Stronger Team
As we said last month, we urge you to keep these monthly features and share
them with your colleagues. We think the "JA Quality Assurance Guide"
will help your store's team become more skillful - and, along with your
customers, more knowledgeable.
Try this simple exercise to see how your gauges and mandrels compare:
Place the standard size 5-ring gauge over the bench jeweler's mandrel used
most often for ring sizing. Compare what you see. What's important is to
ensure your ring gauges match the ring mandrel of the bench jeweler performing
the sizing procedure and to communicate accordingly. Based on what you see
here, are you confident you're accurately communicating ring sizes with
each other? In these examples, you can see one band is centered on size
51/2 and the other band edge is flush with size 5 1/2. Though each will
yield a different size, both examples could be interpreted as the same size.
I know of a store that routinely found rings they'd sent out for sizing
down had greatly reduced shank dimensions. The shop they sent to offered
resizing at extremely reasonable prices. After investigating, the jewelry
store discovered the resizing shop was intentionally removing more of the
precious metal than necessary, soldering the ring back together and hammering
the shank to enlarge it to its required size.
Ahh...that explains the more-than-reasonable prices!
RETAINING SHANK DIMENSIONS: A PRIMER
Retaining shank dimension is important to the overall life span of a
ring. Errors in workmanship that reduce the ring's shank width and depth
can significantly lessen the strength of the ring and its ability to withstand
the stresses of normal wear.
This chart illustrates the losses in shank dimension resulting when three
bench jewelers resized rings with different types of shanks. All rings but
one were sized down, and we took the measurements (to one hundredth of a
millimeter) at the bottom center of the shank, where the actual work was
completed. The first measurement is the width of the shank, the second is
the depth. Note the style and condition of the shank while analyzing the
(We appreciate the help and participation in the shank dimension test
of bench jewelers Anthony A. Baldwin, JA Certified Master Bench Jeweler,
and Tracy Fedokovitz.)
SHANK LOSS PROBLEMS EXPLAINED
Try this exercise. Measure six rings from your store before they are
sized and then again after they've been sized; note the average reduction
in shank dimension and compare it with the examples. If you find you are
routinely having a greater loss in shank dimension, here are some possible
When sizing a ring, first remove the necessary amount of shank by sawing
and realigning both sides of it so they are perfectly even. In this illustration,
the sides of the shank have not been realigned properly but have been soldered
anyway. The two drawings below illustrate the amount of metal lost from
the depth of the shank as a result of the poor alignment and sloppy workmanship.
Maximun thickness of misaligned shank
See the amount of metal on the left inside and right outside of the shank
that has to be removed by filing to make the joint even.
Thickness after filing
The shank after it has been filed; the grid area shows the resulting
unnecessary loss of metal from the shank's depth.
The side edges of the shank have not been realigned properly but have
been soldered anyway. The drawings below and to the right illustrate the
amount of metal lost from the width of the shank as a result of the poor
alignment and sloppy workmanship.
Width after filing
The shank after it has been filed; the grid area shows the resulting
unnecessary loss of metal from the shank's width.
Maximun width of misaligned shank
See the amount of metal on the side edges of the shank that has to be
removed by filing to make the joint even.
The shank has been prepared for sizing up. It contains a piece of sizing
stock (rectangular wire of the proper dimension). Notice both sides of the
shank have been realigned properly before soldering.
PROPER RING SIZING
A) The depth of the shank follows the design configuration from top to
bottom when viewed from the side; no signs of overfiling.
B) The width of the shank follows the design configuration.
C) The style of the shank is maintained consistently around the base; the
integrity of the flat and even tapered shank shape is not lost by resizing.
D) The location of the sizing is correct - at the center of the shank bottom.
E) There are no obvious signs of poor workmanship: no visible solder seams,
cold solder joints, incomplete solder joints or pits in the solder seam.
The inside of the ring is finished to a lustrous high polish.
F) The depth of the shank is thick enough to withstand normal wear: not
so thin that it quickly goes out-of-round through average use and not so
thick that it's heavy and unusually uncomfortable.
POTENTIAL RING SIZING PROBLEMS:
Shank Has Uneven Depth
When you look at a newly made or resized shank from this angle, you can
see if the design integrity has been maintained (the taper or free-form
design continuing throughout the resized area). In this case, the shank
is thicker on the left side than on the right because the right side has
been overfiled, causing a reduction in the depth. Depending on the shank
design, its dimension from top to bottom should remain consistent around
the bottom of the new or resized shank.
Shank Has Uneven Width
When you view the newly made or resized shank in profile, the width is not
even all around the bottom of the shank; in this case, it's narrower on
the right. Overfiling again would cause one side to be narrower than the
other. Whether with a symmetrical design, a tapered or a free-form shank,
the integrity of the design should be consistent and maintain the appropriate
width even through the resized area.
Shank Contour Maintained
Here the contour of the half-round and knife-edge shank shape have been
maintained during resizing. The style of the shank must be maintained consistently
during manufacture or resizing. The integrity of the half-round, flat or
knife-edge shape should be retained throughout the shank.
Resizing Location is Incorrect
Resizing should be done at the center of the bottom of the shank unless,
in rare cases, the design features of the ring preclude it. In this case,
the sizing has been done on one side of the shank.
Visible Solder Seams
After the ring has been soldered together and finished, a visible solder
seam results from errors in workmanship because of poor alignment, ineffective
soldering or other factors. Visible solder seams may signify the shank has
the potential to break
Cold Solder Joint
A cold solder joint results from an error in workmanship. It occurs when
the ring is not heated enough to "accept" the solder properly;
instead, the solder flows only around the outside of the shank. A cold solder
joint appears to be complete when worn but, as shown in the illustration,
will break open through normal wear.
Incomplete Solder Seam
This partially visible line results from uneven heating. It did not get
hot enough for the solder to flow uniformly across the solder joint, which,
besides being aesthetically unpleasant, will be weak and may break open
Pits in Solder Seams
Visible pits in the seam result from an error in workmanship occurring when
the solder joint area is overheated; the result may be a seam that breaks
Improper Finishing of Inside
Visible tool marks such as lines, dents and poor finish on the inside of
the resized shank are a sure sign of sloppy workmanship.
Overlapping and Filled with SolderCopyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.
When there is poor shank realignment, too much solder in the seam and the
finishing process does not remove all of the solder, there's an appearance
of minimal loss of depth in the area. This error in workmanship may be somewhat
difficult to detect when the shank is newly completed and highly polished,
but it will become more evident over time. It will be a slightly different
color and usually will have small pits scattered throughout the puddle of