Can You Size a Gold Plated Ring?

Recently we’ve been getting a lot of inquiries from customers about gold-plated rings. “Can it be sized?” “Can the plating be reapplied?” The answer to both questions is “Yes!” Read on to learn how you can size a gold plated ring.

What Is Gold-Plated Jewelry?

Gold is an appealing color, but the price of solid gold jewelry isn’t as appealing to some people. To get around this, jewelry manufacturers create gold plated jewelry, allowing you to purchase a gold-colored item at an affordable price. 

Gold plated jewelry is usually made out of a base metal, such as sterling silver, brass, copper, or a commercial alloy. The base metal is then covered with a thin layer of gold. 

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A copper ring before and after gold plating

How to Size a Gold Plated Ring

Before the jeweler gets started with the sizing process, the ring is evaluated to see if it will hold up during the process. Gold-plated jewelry ranges from fine, designer-quality jewelry to very cheap costume jewelry. The cheaper the material, the more difficult it is to work with the ring. As an example, a gold-plated sterling silver ring can be easily sized, while a gold-plated copper or alloy ring can potentially cause complications during the sizing process. Here’s what the jeweler will look for:

  1. Base metal: Some costume jewelry rings cannot be sized at all. This is because the metal underneath the gold plating is incompatible with the soldering work that the jeweler needs to use in order to size the ring. It might burn when exposed to heat, or it might be completely heat-resistant, preventing the jeweler from heating it to a state where the metal is pliant and malleable. To test this, the jeweler exposes the ring to a laser. The laser hits a very small area of the ring, and the jeweler examines the metal’s response in order to see if it can be worked with.
  2. Gemstones: Some natural and faux gemstones pose issues during the sizing and plating process. Turquoise, pearl, and coral have to be unset, as they will not react well to the heat in the sizing process and the chemical exposure during plating. Faux gemstones such as rhinestones and glass may burn when the ring is being sized. As many of them are glued into the ring, the water in the plating process will cause these faux stones to loosen and fall out. 

If the jeweler determines that the ring can be sized, they proceed with moving the ring into work. The sizing process involves cutting the ring open at the back. To size up, the jeweler slides it onto a ring mandrel, or a rod that is calibrated for all ring sizes, and pushes the ring up until it reaches the correct size. Then the gap at the back is closed by adding an appropriate amount of metal to compensate for the new size. 

To size down, the jeweler adjusts the cut ring until it’s at the correct size, and then proceeds to remove excess metal. Once the metal is removed, the jeweler solders the cut shut. 

The next step is to polish the ring, as the sizing process leaves tool marks and rough surfaces on the ring. The jeweler runs the ring under a polishing wheel, which is made out of an abrasive material that takes the surface of the ring off until it’s shiny and smooth. This process also removes any remaining gold plating on the ring, as the residue from the original plating will cause the ring to plate unevenly if it’s left on top. 

After cleaning, the ring is then placed in the gold plating tank. This tank contains water and gold salts, and electricity runs through the tank to create a chemical process that fuses the gold to the metal of the ring. Any other components, such as stones, will not be affected by the gold plating process. Once the ring is removed from the gold plating tank, the process is finished and you have a newly sized gold-plated ring!

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A gold plated ring, before and after sizing

Caring for Your Gold Plated Ring

Now that you have your new and perfectly sized ring, there are a few things you need to remember. Again, gold-plated jewelry is not solid gold; over time, the color will come off from daily wear. How long the gold plating will last depends on how rough you are with your hands and if you’re careful with your jewelry. For instance, swimming with it on will almost instantly ruin your gold plating, as chlorine and sea salt will eat away at the gold. Expect to bring in a gold-plated item for maintenance at least once or twice a year. 

Now you know to size a gold plated ring! If it’s a sentimental piece or a ring that you just absolutely love, you should definitely get it to the right size so you can wear it again! Comment below if you want to get started on sizing a ring and we’ll help you out. 

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