Kayleigh wanted to set her diamond higher on her engagement ring. To have her ring prongs lengthened. It didn’t go well. She kindly shared her pictures and her experience. In this post I want to dive deeper into why lengthening her ring prongs didn’t work and why. Sometimes when you start to mess with your ring, it can be disappointing and expensive.
Cut to the Chase?
Beware the Urge to Lengthen Your Prongs
Raising Up Kayleigh’s Diamond
Kayleigh is in the EU and all of these adventures happened before this email and with jewelers I’ve never met. Here is her first message to me, chopped up to add explanatory pictures from her.
“I made the stupid mistake of having my 950 platinum diamond engagement ring setting “raised” i.e. a jeweller added length to the prongs and added a ring as an extra gallery on top of the existing gallery so that the diamond would sit a fraction higher.”
“I hated the appearance of the extra ring under the diamond and the prongs were uneven and looked so rough and untidy.”
When Kayleigh sent me this picture of the side view as I’d requested I was speechless. Not only was her diamond in danger of falling out, but no sweater was safe. Even after the jeweler fixed this ridiculously awful setting job Kayleigh wasn’t loving her worked-on ring. And with good reason.
“After feeling terrible for ruining what was a beautiful ring to begin with, with a lot of sentimental value, I wanted to just have the ring reverted to the way it was before. As I was concerned with the quality of the work, that had been done. I spoke with another jeweller for a second opinion to see if they could remove that extra little circle and cut the prongs back to original length and have the tips back to a polished sleek appearance as before.”
Casting Integrity and Why Patching Metal is Not a Good Idea
Here is my response to Kayleigh –
Once it is cut away, you need to discuss how high you want your diamond to sit on your finger. This should be measured in millimeters. Try on a ring that demonstrates the height you want and use a millimeter gauge to measure the distance from the top of your finger to the top of the diamond. Next a new head, (setting), needs to be carved in wax. It then needs to be cast in platinum and reattached to the base of your ring.
Adding and subtracting bits of metal to your already worked on prongs just won’t work. I know it seems like it should be doable. A seamstress can take bits of material out to make something smaller, she can add bits of matching material in to make something bigger, but with heating and cooling of metals and all the problems and blobs that can occur during this process, you don’t want that anywhere near the setting of your precious diamond.
You need the integrity and strength of an entirely new head.
You may hear from your jeweler, that that’s not a head. A head, is a pre made setting and he’s right, it’s not strictly speaking a head, but I’m a jeweler I use my words the way I use my words. Basically you need a newly made, cast with integrity, four prong setting for your diamond, in the same design style as your original.”
Why Can Broken Prongs be Re-tipped, But my Prongs Can’t be Lengthened?
What you were wanting to have done was more structural. A tip is a very small part of the prong. Lengthening a prong involves cutting the prong from a lower place and hand fabricating a new prong. Then we solder the two parts together. That soldered area will likely look a bit blobby. That makes it less structurally sound. For a technical dive with more data on why the work done is weaker than the integrity of a cast prong read Ring Disasters, Ring Prong Re-Tipping Pro’s and Cons.”
“Can You Melt One Ring and Make a New One?”
“I vaguely think he advised against it due to having weak points in the ring and that it’s been resized before. Sorry I honestly can’t remember the exact reason. Would any of those reasons sound applicable to you?”
“If someone is going to carve a wax and create a new head for you they have to be pretty skilled and pretty familiar with custom design. A lot of jewelers who do repairs or even custom jewelers, don’t want to deal with it. I’m a nut and I’ve done that sort of thing quite a bit, because I understand the emotion involved when someone wants to keep their original ring. But it’s definitely not something most jewelers are willing to do.”
“He said I could have a new ring in the same style cast for not a lot more, which would be stronger i.e. with no joins either side of the head. So I leaned towards getting a new ring altogether, although my preference would have been cutting out the old head because then the rest of the ring would still be mine for sentimental reasons.
I even discussed having the platinum from that ring melted down and having a new ring made from that, but he said it couldn’t go into a cast due to compatibility so it would have to be custom made, which would be at significant cost. So I decided against that. Why couldn’t I re-use my platinum ring to make a new one?”
“It does make economic sense to just get a new ring that is cast all in one piece from a cost as well as a strength perspective.
I have a blog about reusing old gold. The principles discussed in that blog also work with the idea of wanting to re-use platinum metal.
Rather than rehash that info, I’ll just have you read it. Then you’ll have an understanding of why melting your platinum to make a new ring would not be a good idea.”
“Thank you so much for taking the time out to reply, at least now I know that it’s definitely not an option to simply cut back the prongs and amend the ring back to how it was. And good to know I was advised correctly by the diamond trader.”
I absolutely get it now. I wonder, if getting a new ring cast is likely to be more cost effective, if I could then have the two heads ‘swapped over’ just literally for the purposes of keeping my original ring metal for sentimental reasons. Sounds ludicrous but possible? Depending on how much they charge on top to chop out both heads and solder them onto the other shank. And strength wise, even on a ring that was resized do you think that would be definitely safe?
“For the best integrity for your ring, making a brand new ring freshly is the best idea. That ring will last the longest and have the least problems.”
Some time later Kayleigh wrote to me-
“Thank you for all your your helpful advice and time. Although I feel really bad knowing it’s not the same ring my husband proposed to me with, I now have a new ring in the same style, with my original diamond in it.
I hope I’m not taking advantage of your generosity, but I would love a bit more advice for the last time! I’ve had a new ring made. The ring still looks different to my original one. It’s a bit thicker (my previous ring was resized half a size up so it’s possible if they used stretching that’s why it’s thinner), Me – Nope. Kayleigh – but the prongs are not shaped as nicely in my opinion.
The prongs on the original setting were smooth and straighter as they arose and spread out from the base, but the prongs on the new one bend round a lot more. It’s not just at the tip where they bend in more to grasp the stone, but the curve starts a lot further down. So the new one is more like a ‘U’ or bucket rather than a ‘V’ shape. This is also evident from the front. The original ring also had slightly more sloping shoulders which I preferred. And fibres keep getting trapped under the prongs which never happened with the original. I spoke to the jeweller who said there’s only one mold, and one style so it had to have been cast the same. He said maybe it’s all in how the setter set the diamond. I would love and appreciate your thoughts on why there may be these differences and what we could do to rectify them. I know they’re subtle, but I just wanted it as identical as possible to my original ring.”
“In my opinion that ring did not come from the same wax mold. Perhaps they carved a new one. Clearly the original up sweep is more ‘v’ like and the new one is more ‘u’ like. It is definitely a more squaty upsweep of a design. In no universe could that be from the same mold. On the other hand I notice that once it’s on the finger it looks nice and probably only you and I would notice any difference.”
“Would it be ok if I used a very very soft fine grit nail buffer to reshape the shoulders just slightly and just smooth down the ‘corners’ of the prongs then take it to be polished? Not enough to affect the strength just to smooth appearance?”
“I wouldn’t use grit. If anything get your jeweler to put it on a polishing wheel to buff, grind it. However again, it is nice looking on the finger and any grinding will remove some platinum and that’s not so good.”
“I won’t bug you any more! To make up for it I have family in the states so I will make sure I recommend you 😉 ”
“Enjoy your pretty ring set and diamond and congratulations on marrying your forever love.”
Five Tips For Making Changes to Your Ring Prongs
- If one prong broke off and the others are still thick, re-tip one prong.
- If your prongs feel too short, don’t have them lengthened, have a new ring made to your measurements.
- If you have an older ring that has worn down prongs and the design is all together, get all re-tips and then check it every six months going forward.
- If your ring has a separate head and it’s getting worn, replace the whole head, instead of two or more re-tips.
- Shortening prongs is not a structurally sound solution to a too tall setting.
Not All Jewelers Are Craftspersons
If you are going to have work done on your ring, especially your prongs, try to find a jeweler that designs jewelry and repairs jewelry. Look at their work and read their reviews. Also check out my blog Twelve Questions to Ask Yourself When Choosing a Jeweler.
May your prong solutions be smooth and may your rings bring you joy.
Your Personal Jeweler,