Your diva pearls demand your respect. Someone asked me the other day, "How come you're charging me so much to size this pearl ring? Its band is half as thick as the sapphire ring you're sizing, but it's more expensive?"
"That's a fair question," I said. And one I've answered many times before.
Since I blog among other things, about the questions that come up the most, I felt it was time for pearl ring sizing to get its moment in the sun, its fifteen seconds of fame. I could go on in this vein, but instead I'll answer the question.
Heat Endangers Your Pearls
Pearl rings take more labor time - and therefore can cost more - to re-size, because the pearls have to be removed.
Pearls can’t take the heat! Pearls are an organic substance. They burn easily, the surface cracks easily and heat just stresses them.
The Six Steps of Pearl Ring Sizing
1. First the pearl or pearls have to be removed from your ring. Generally speaking, this is done by soaking the pearl in acetone which doesn't damage the pearl, but does break the glue bond. If your pearl is damaged this step may hurt your pearl.
2. The “seat,” a satellite-dish shaped setting that your pearl nestles in, must be cleaned of old glue. If this is not done properly the new glue may not hold your pearl after the work is done and it is re-set.
3. Normally, the seat will have a peg sticking up, that along with glue, holds the pearl in place with added security. Pegs are simply thin vertical metal posts that extend into the center of the pearl. If there is no peg, I normally add one at this stage. A peg adds a great deal to the security of the pearl in your ring. Just as a side note, sometimes the peg breaks off inside your pearl. Since I can't remove it and if the pearl is OK, I'll drill a new hole in the pearl to accept the new peg I solder onto the seat.
4. Now it's time to alter the size of the ring. If your ring has a thin or worn out shank, this is the time to add gold by re-shanking your ring. Click to read my blog post about re-shanking. The less times you have to mess with your pearl ring the better. So I frequently recommend my clients pre-emptively reshank their pearl ring if it will need this job in the future.
5. After the ring has been sized, the pearl is glued back onto the peg and seat.
6. Any final polishing is gently done.
Now you know why sizing pearl rings is more expensive than sizing heat-resistant gem rings.
What Does it Cost to Size a Pearl Ring?
At the low end any ring sizing involving a pearl would be $75.00. It can easily pop up to $135.00 or so.
The Almost Final Word
One final word on pearls. If your pearl is older, has a thinner layer of nacre (the shiny layer, like tooth enamel that the oyster deposits on the nucleus) or has been a bit beat up, consider replacing your pearl or pearls at the time of the repair.
Pearls that live on a frequently worn pearl ring often become lackluster with much wear. Cleaning will not change that look.
Older or worn pearls are also at more risk of being damaged in the removal process before sizing. No matter how great your jeweler is, there is some risk in the pearl removal step.
What's the Takeaway Message Here?
Love your pearls, wear your pearls and replace them when needed and love them some more. And be sure your Jeweler knows pearls before you hand over your precious pearl ring for repair.
Your Pearl Jeweler,
Want to learn more about pearls? Check out these blog posts
Choosing Pearls: Five Things You Need to Consider
Pearls, Your Jewelry Divas and How to Store Them
French Wire Finish for Your Pearls; It’s Stronger and Prettier
Top Ten Reasons To Restring Your Pearls
The Pitfalls of Pearl Restringing – What Might Happen After Restringing
Pearls Must Be Knotted! Or Pearl Restringing with Knots
Ten Ways to Casual-ify Your Pearl or Bead Necklace