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August 1999

For Your Staff:Selling Quality

Inspecting Three-Stone Rings

Knowing the key inspection points on a three-stone ring demonstrates another aspect of quality in your shop

by Jeffrey Mathews
JA® Certified Master Bench Jeweler
Jeffrey Mathews Designs, Dallas, TX

Open any publication featuring jewelry and you'll find the three-stone ring – usually a large center stone flanked by two smaller matched stones. Beyond this, three-stone rings vary as much as the shoes you buy.

Though it's a simple and classic design, the style, structure, gem material, metal and finish present a lot to consider during an inspection. The features of three-stone rings and those that signify quality are important to know, whether quality-checking a new ring or taking one in for service.

Design Variations of Three-Stone Rings

Traditionally, three-stone rings feature prong-set, faceted gemstones as the major design element. Designs may vary greatly based on the materials used and the size and shape of the stones, but they exhibit these common features:

A. The center stone and setting.
B. The side stones, settings and positions.
C. The shank design and function.

Here are the signs of quality you should look for in these common design elements.

 

The Center Stone

The center stone is level and securely set. It shouldn't sit so high above the finger hole that it turns the ring or makes it cumbersome to wear. The culet of the stone should not protrude into the finger hole.

For structural security, the angle of the center stone prongs should be between 65° and 75° from the upper gallery and symmetrical from each side. The lower gallery is the structural base and should be 0.75mm to 1.50mm wide. The upper gallery is slightly wider than the lower gallery.

 

 

FYI: Parts of Three-Stone Rings

1. Upper Gallery Wires

2. Lower Gallery Wires

3. Center Stone Prongs

4. Side Stone Prongs

5. Ring Shank

6. Split Shank

 

The Side Stones

The side stones are arranged to maximize their appearance and minimize the appearance of the settings. The relative size, height and angle of the side stones form a pleasing transition from the center stone to the shank. Where the stone contours align, the girdles may be set close together for maximum view. Creatively fashioned prongs add a custom look.

A view from the top of this ring shows an emerald-cut gemstone with tapered baguettes. The prong styles are appropriate for linear cuts.

 

 

When the shapes of the three stones prevent them from being in close contact, the side stones are set lower and angled to bring them closer to the center. Viewed from the top, the center stone appears to overlap the side stones. Be sure the stones are set securely and the prongs are matched, symmetrical and well-finished. Side stones should be set at the same angle and height as the center stone. Inspect all metal-to-metal junctions and surfaces for a proper finish

The center stone appears to overlap the side stones. The prong styles are appropriate for curved and pointed cuts.

 

The Shank

The shank design supports all three gems with a sound structure and practical features. The shape of the shank (finger hole view) can keep a top-heavy ring from turning on the finger or provide a comfortable cradle for adjacent fingers. Split shanks create a lighter look and feel. Split, curved-out shanks show less metal and are better for top-heavy rings. Solid shanks can double as prongs or channels for setting.  

 

Turn the ring to inspect the sides for symmetry, adequate thickness (typically not less than 1.5mm) and distinct finishes. Shanks may be tapered for a beautiful transition to the stones or for function – to keep a top-heavy ring from rotating. There are three basic shank shapes and endless variations.

Finally, look inside the finger hole: you should be able to easily read the quality mark and manufacturer's mark. The base of the lower gallery should be symmetrical and well-finished.

You can reach Jeffrey at his studio in Dallas, (972) 496-6042.

Illustrations by Lainie Mann


The JA Professional's Guide to Fine Jewelry Craftsmanship
Inspecting Three-Stone Rings

By Mark B. Mann
JA Director of Professional Certification

These features are essential to ensuring quality when inspecting a three-stone ring.

A. The center and side stones are level and securely set.

B. The center stone is not so high from the finger hole that it turns the ring or makes it uncomfortable to wear. The culet of the stone doesn't protrude into the finger hole.

C. All prongs are shaped and tapered evenly.

D. For structural security, the angle of the prongs holding the center stone is 65° to 75° from the lower gallery and symmetrical from each side.

E. The side stones are angled from the center to maximize the overall appearance of all stones in the ring.

F. The height and angle of the side stones form a pleasing transition from the center stone to the shank. (Ring size can suggest the best position of the side stones. Usually, the larger the ring size, the less the stones will angle downward.)

G. All solder joints are complete and free of pits.

H. The distance between the upper and lower gallery wires are even and proportionate to the overall ring.

I. The quality mark and manufacturer's mark are visible and easy to read.

J. The inside of the ring is flat, even and free of polish lines.

K. All metal junctions are free of excess solder; the detail is crisp, polished and free of pits and tool marks.

Features Indicating Potential or Actual Problems

The center stone is not level. The culet protrudes into the finger hole.

The side stones are not symmetrical to the
center stone.

The stones are "trapped" in the setting (see sidebar at right)

The ring shank is not symmetrical when viewed from the finger hole. The ring shows wear at the side and bottom. The shank design is not symmetrical on the side.


 'Trapped' Stones

An important quality feature in a three-stone ring is that all stones are properly seated in their prongs rather than being trapped between the gallery (or seat) and bent prongs. Fitted, notched seats in the prongs ensure the stones will remain level and secure in the settings. Set-prongs are notched and the stone is level.

 Set
The prongs are notched and the stone is securely seated in them
 "Trapped"
The stone is trapped be-tween the upper gallery wire and the bent prong

 

 

Illustrations by Lainie Mann

© 1999 Jewelers of America

This information is required to pass the fourth level JA® Certified Master Bench Jeweler of the JA® Bench Jeweler Certification program.

Installments previously published in Professional Jeweler are now available in a countertop book titled The JA Professional's Guide to Fine Jewelry Craftsmanship. To order a copy, call Jewelers of America Inc. at (800) 223-0673.

 

 

 

 

 

 



Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.



 

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