March 1998


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:

  1. There's usually a slight reduction in dimension of the shank where the sizing procedure took place.
  2. With some ring design configurations, there may be a slight chance it can't be returned to perfectly round on the inside.
  3. 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.

Proper Fit
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 adjustable shanks.)
  • 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 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 results.

(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.)


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 reasons why.

Uneven aligment

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.

Uneven alignment

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.

Proper realignment

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.


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.


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 over time.

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 open.

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 Solder
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 solder.

Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.


HomeAsk the ExpertBrainstormStatsSite of the WeekConsumer Press Scan
Your Business On-LineCalendarMagazine & Site ArchivesStaffSite Map
Professional Jeweler EventsGuide to Electronic Services
Classified On-LineJA Certification Study Session

Home Ask the Expert Brainstorm Stats Site of the Week Consumer Press Scan Your Business On-Line Calendar Staff Site Map