Some of my most loyal, long-time readers may remember my “Ring Disasters” series from 2011. More questions have come up recently about the issues addressed in this particular post. I realized that I could add more information and explanatory photos to answer your newest questions. So, check out this new and improved re-tipping post. Maybe you’ll love the rest of the series too!
Let’s Dive Deeper into Your Choices for Ring Prong Repair
In Ring Disasters, Part 3 – Ring Prong Re-Tipping Pro’s and Cons, your Santa Barbara Jeweler explained what re-tipping is, how it’s done and why if it took ten years to break that prong, the re-tip won’t last another ten years.
Sharon’s ring, pictured to the left, had two barely intact prongs holding her diamond. Miraculously Sharon found her diamond when it fell out. It was on the floor mat of her car. This was a jewelry repair I was happy to do.
Is Re-Tipping the Only Way to Repair a Broken Prong?
No, re-tipping is not your only option. Some rings are created with the main ring cast and one or more settings soldered on separately after the balance of the ring is made. These settings when created separately are called “heads.” . The head is cast separately from the rest of the ring design.
If you have prong work needed on a head as opposed to a ring where all the prongs are an integral part of the ring that changes your options.
With a head, if two or more prongs need to be re-tipped, I would probably choose to replace the whole head. I’d opt for a replacement of the whole head because it is more secure and is a longer lasting fix than re-tipping.
An Example of Multiple Heads
In the ring pictured with the pearl and diamonds, the mountings for the diamonds are all heads. They were soldered into that ring after it was created so they could use different sizes and shapes of gemstones if they chose.
In this ring there were three different sizes of diamonds. That kind of versatility allows for you to customize a bit on a ring design that you admire.
When Are Heads Used and Why?
Some rings have a basic design that is cast up to be modified with heads after it is cast. The engagement ring style to the left can set any size or shape of gemstone. It is this versatility that makes using heads in jewelry design popular.
When the main design is cast, the heads are soldered on. It can be simple like the rings to the left or more complex like the grandma ring above.
The Perfect Scenario for a Re-Tip
Scenario: Your ring collides with a door or something and knocks the tip of your prong off or cracks it. The rest of your prongs are thick and strong. This is the perfect time to have that prong re-tipped.
When To Replace Your Head Instead of Re-Tipping
If five or ten years have gone by and a prong just broke off, it may not be the only troubled prong.
If the other prongs are worn down also, which with a daily wear ring they very well may be, re-tipping that one prong isn’t going to cut it.
Heads are easy to replace and if many prongs are worn down it makes no sense to re-tip one prong and leave the rest worn and in danger of breakage.
It’s like getting a flat when you have badly worn tires and fixing that one tire and not getting new tires all around.
Replacing the Head is a More Lasting Repair than Multiple Re-Tips
If you’ve broken more than one prong on a head, I’d recommend replacing the whole head instead of doing multiple re-tips. You’ll get a stronger and longer lasting repair that way. Sharon’s ring above needed a new head not re-tips for the safety of her diamond.
If only one prong was damaged on her ring, I’d recommend re-tipping that one prong.
Think About the Lifetime of Your Ring, Choose a Lasting Repair
On an older ring, with cast in prongs, not heads, the other prongs next to the broken one, will be to varying degrees worn down as well and perhaps ready to crack off if they get hit just right.
For frequently worn rings, I recommend you visually check each prong under magnification before signing off on a single prong re-tip.
You may wish to do multiple re-tips for aesthetics as well as the safety it offers for the rest of your gemstones.
Don’t Let Your Ring Prongs Stray Into the Red Zone
Check your ring prongs at least once a year on your daily wear rings.
Whatever repair option you choose, do not wait until you’ve lost a diamond.
I’ve written a whole series on fixing prongs, because it is the most common repair behind ring sizing. There is a lot to know about prong repair and I want you to know about it. I wish for you, when you get repairs done you get the right repair at the right time, by the right jeweler. Ask a few questions, look through the loupe, make sure you are comfortable with your jeweler and keep your diamond all during your happy life.
Your Personal Jeweler,