Most people don’t really think about maintaining their jewelry, beyond the bare minimum of getting it cleaned and polished once in a while. That’s a dangerous mentality, however- while jewelry is designed to last, it’s inevitable that years of daily wear will affect the piece, especially if it’s a ring. Prongs are no exception; these itty-bitty strips of metal that hold down diamonds and other gemstones aren’t going to stick around forever. Read on to learn about why ring prong repair is so essential.
What are Prongs And Why Do I Need To Repair Them?
Simply put, the prongs in your jewelry are the tiny bits of metal that function as the setting for stones. They’re usually made from soft precious metals such as silver and gold, which means that over time they can wear down, or even snap right off. This greatly increases the risk of the stone falling out.
Rings are especially prone to this; as they’re worn on the hand, the prongs comes into contact with everything that you touch. The daily abrasion results in missing or stubby prongs.
The Ring Prong Repair Process
- Evaluation: When a jeweler receives a ring, they take time to give it a thorough examination. They take the following factors into account:
- What kind of metal is it? Standard precious metals are easy to work with; stainless steel requires more effort since it has a very high heating point and needs special equipment.
- How many prongs need repair? The jeweler needs to know how many prongs require work to ensure the safety of all the stones.
- Does the prong have to be replaced or re-tipped? Prongs can either be worn down, or completely missing. This affects the work that the jeweler has to do to the piece.
- What is the stone type? Not all stones can handle the heat from soldering. Opals and pearls should never be exposed to the jeweler’s torch; as such, the jeweler needs to carefully assess the piece and make sure that any sensitive gems are removed or protected prior to metalwork.
- Repair: Once the jeweler has assessed the situation, they proceed to work.
- Re-tipping prongs: If part of the prong is still intact, but requires lengthening to securely hold down the gem, the jeweler will add a bit of wire or metal bead to the top. This piece is attached to the original prong with solder, a metal alloy that works like a glue in jewelry repairs. The jeweler will match the solder to your item’s metal type; for instance, gold repairs will require gold solder.
- Replacing prongs: The process for replacing an entire prong is exactly the same as re-tipping. However, the jeweler uses a longer piece of wire to create a new prong and ensures that it’s properly fastened to the base, or the structure that holds the stone.
- Finishing: After the prongs are repaired, the jeweler moves the ring through the standard polishing and cleaning procedure.
- Rhodium plating: Of special note is the rhodium plating process. Designs that are made from white gold, or contain white gold prongs, need to be rhodium-plated for visual reasons. The rhodium is a strong, silvery precious metal that is used to give white gold its signature bright look.
The Cost of Ring Prong Repair
Pricing for ring prong repair can vary depending on the following factors. On average, a sterling silver ring that needs 1-4 prongs re-tipped is $22.
- The number of prongs that need repair: The more prongs broken, the more labor and materials needed. The price scales up accordingly.
- The extent of the damage: It takes more material to repair a missing prong than a broken prong. This material cost is factored into the overall price.
- The type of metal: Sterling silver is comparatively cheaper than more precious metals such as gold and platinum. The type of metal is also taken into consideration for the material cost.
Now you’re all informed on ring prong repair! Get started with our prong rebuilding and re-tipping services below.
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