Ring Shank Tragedy – Lame Horses and Thin Rings

Tilda’s tragic treasure trouble started on a fun Caribbean trip. Tilda bought a “gorgeous” ring on her trip to Barbados. Within a month the shank, (the bottom part of the ring below the main design,) was badly bent. Tilda called me, afraid to wear it.

Her question was, “How is this possible? This ring is bending and I just got it.” OK, here I jump up on my soap box and vent about badly made jewelry.

Four Reasons For Ring Shanks Gone Bad

The main problem with a ring shank on a ring you purchase is that some manufacturers frequently make them thin and lightweight, so they wear out way too quickly.  They do this for several reasons:

1. They think the ring looks sleeker and sexier with a thinner shank.

My Response – “Maybe it does. Not a good excuse!”

2. They may put on a thin shank because they simply don’t know any better.

My Response – “Not a good excuse!”

3. They’re simply not good jewelry makers.  Maybe they’re inexperienced.

My Response – “See above!”

4. I think the main reason for thin shanks, however, is to save on cost.  A one millimeter thick shank is half the cost of a two millimeter shank.  In a factory making thousands of rings this difference adds up.  This is especially prevalent in jewelry marketed and sold on TV.

My Response – “This is wrong.”

Cheapifying the Shank to Make the Sale

re-shank candidate, shank too thin on pearl ring

This Ring Needs a Re-Shank

The manufacturer  may feel that if a client is comparing two similar rings and one is less expensive, they’ll choose the less expensive one to “get a better deal.” Well you can bet the less expensive one has a thinner shank.

Look carefully at the thickness of the ring shank of the piece you are considering purchasing, especially if you will be wearing it frequently.

Ring Shanks Done Right

At the same time, lots of fabulous jewelry designers, like Calla Gold Jewelry (shameless plug,) and responsible jewelry manufacturers put appropriately thick shanks on their rings to give you a great jewelry wearing experience.

Thick Shanks and Wedding Jewelry

Jewelry designed specifically to be worn as wedding jewelry, should be made with a nice thick ring shank. By thick I don’t necessarily mean wide, I mean the depth of the ring shank, measuring from your skin outward to the doorknob you are grasping.


Example of a thick shank

Daily-wear jewelry needs to be more strongly made than occasionally worn rings. If not, it will fall apart like a sand castle at high tide.

Tilda’s Tragic Treasure Redeemed and Re-Shanked

We re-shanked Tilda’s wobbly ring. The top is still too thinly made, but the bottom is now so firm and strong, that Tilda can wear her ring with confidence. For more discussion about Re-Shanking Rings with examples please see: “Re-Shanking Your Rings; What, Why and When?”

I Digress Into Horse Metaphors

This Semi-Bezel Would Release the Gem Without the Thick Shank

When I was a girl and loved and owned horses, one of the often repeated advices was something like “no hoof, no horse,” the meaning was, if your horse was lame (limped due to an unhealthy or injured foot), you wouldn’t be able to ride it and it was risky to buy, because it might never be sound (healthy footed).

When My Heart Overruled My Good Sense

Me and My First Sweet Horse, Red.

I regret to say that my third horse purchase was my dream horse. A past champion jumper who was so beautiful, he made my eyes water. Slight problem, he was lame, so all I had to do was fix him right? (Did I wonder why I could afford him?) Two years and stupid amounts of money,(for a teenager) later, with my eyes stinging with sadness, I gave him away. He was still lame.

What’s The Takeaway Message Here?

Buying a thin shanked ring is like buying a lame horse, he may look like a knock-out, but your pocketbook will take the punch with future vet bills, er, I mean jewelry repair bills. Go for the well made ring and smile down the years at the pleasure it brings you.

Your Personal Jeweler,
Calla Gold

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About Calla Gold

Calla Gold is a Personal Jeweler and Author who takes pride in working with clients one-on-one to integrate their personal sense of style and taste into custom designed jewelry and repaired jewelry pieces.   Unlike typical Santa Barbara jewelry businesses, Calla Gold has no brick-and-mortar location. Calla Gold comes to you, bringing you the jewelry collection you want to see and collaborating with you to create unique custom jewelry. Calla also works with at-a-distance clients.

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Daniel Zia
13 years ago

Like most things in life when it comes to shanks you get what you pay for! Great advice on Wedding Rings, you would not want that one to be wobbly.

13 years ago

This is why it’s so important to go to a personal jeweler! Mass made items are made with cost effectiveness in mind over the customer’s long term satisfaction. I love that your designs involve how we intend to use the piece! Great job!

Tamra Gentry
Tamra Gentry
13 years ago

Calla, I absolutely LOVE this post (and I love your blog)!

I totally agree with *everything* you’ve said about thin shanks. I see them all over the place as they are quite popular now (thanks in part, I think, to sites like Etsy), and all I can do is shake my head.

I’ve heard all of the reasons you listed that people use thin shanks, and I echo your sentiments on each EXACTLY. –No excuses.

Greatt post!

BTW–love the horse story! ;-D