How Much to Size my Opal Ring?
Opals are beautiful and mysterious and opal lovers are devoted to them. They come with a bit of baggage though, for some a belief in superstitious bad news and for some a lot of breakage.
The breakage is mainly from their delicate make-up. I have multiple opal rings and if I was asked if I’m superstitious, I’d say no, if anything I notice nice things happen when I where my opals.
In this post I give specific pricing for specific opal ring repairs I’ve done focusing on sizing, but adding other details too.
How Delicate Are Opals?
Opals are 5.5 – 6.5 on the MOHS scale of gemstone hardness which I explain in my blog post: What is the Mohs scale? Gemstone Hardness vs Durability.
Bottom line, diamonds are a 10 and opals are more vulnerable to damage. Opals are very sensitive to temperature change.
Loretta’s Cooking Cracked Opal
My client Loretta called me and said,
“I heard a tiny sound and looked down at my opal ring and it had cracked.”
“What were you doing?”
“I was putting a roast in the oven.”
“Yep that could cause an opal to crack.”
I tell you this so you’ll understand why your jeweler either needs to remove your opals to size your ring or use laser welding which doesn’t heat up the balance of the ring. I explain the difference between these two methods of sizing in my blog post: How Laser Ring Welding Fixes Fragile and Unfixable Rings.
Bottom line, it’s complicated to size your opal ring, so expect to pay more.
The Quick Cost Basics of Sizing Opal Rings
The cost of sizing a single opal ring that is 14kt yellow gold with a thin shank one size smaller could cost $95.00 to $105.00. The cost of sizing a yellow gold single opal ring with a thin shank one size larger could cost between $115.00 to $125.00.
Here now are some examples of rings I’ve sized which may show you how tough it is to give a simple price for sizing one of these rings. May these examples help to answer your question about the kind of prices to expect to pay to size your opal ring.
Ring #1: 14kt Yellow Gold Four Opal and Amethyst Ring Sized from 6.25 to 7. Cost to size: $137.50
This lovely ring came to me with a chipped opal that Sarah chose to have me replace. The cost of her replacement gem was $13.50 and the labor to set it was $28.00. Her sizing cost including un-setting and re-setting her opals was $110.00.
Ring #2: 14kt Yellow Gold Three Opal Ring Sized from 6.25 to 7. Cost to size: $97.00
We used laser welding on this ring to protect the opals during the sizing process. Happily all of the opals remained whole.
It is all too easy for these fragile gemstones to chip, crack or break when working with them.
Ring #3 : 18kt Yellow Gold Five Opal Vintage Ring. Sized from 7.5 to 12. Cost to size: $480.00
You may be wondering at the price. I can’t break out the price of sizing as I didn’t just size it. I made a new thicker and deeper shank for the bottom half of Diane’s vintage ring.
Sizing a too thin ring from a size 7.5 to a 12 creates a much larger area of thin shank. That shank needs to support the crown or top design portion of the ring. Adding the same thinness of shank would have been a mistake.
Having a large expanse of thin ring shank invites cracking and bending of the bottom of the ring and bending on the top that leads to more cracking and opals falling out as the settings move unstably.
The shank or bottom portion of the ring has a job to stabilize and support the top or crown portion of the ring. Thin shanks don’t cut it.
Here’s a list of the work that was done to restore this vintage ring:
Re-shanked thicker and deeper to an extremely larger size
Removed old lead solder points
Repaired areas that were cracked and unstable
Added gold to too-thin areas of the crown portion of the ring.
Ring #4: 14kt Yellow Gold Opal and Diamonds Ring. Sized 5.75 to 7. Cost to Size: $95.00
This was a very straight forward ring sizing. We used the laser to size this ring. We polished the gold and cleaned the diamonds nicely.
Because the shank of her ring was fairly thin and she planned to wear it on only special occasions we did a simple sizing without thickening her shank.
Ring #5: 18kt Yellow Gold Inlaid Opal and Channel Set Baguette Diamond Ring. Sized from 7 to 8. Cost to Size: $435.00
Lori loved her channel set custom opal and diamond ring. Unfortunately her finger got bigger and she flat out couldn’t wear it.
We knew going into this project that enlarging her ring was going to cause opals to crack. The inlay areas would change shape as Lori’s ring was enlarged. When gold inlay troughs bend, the inlaid gemstones inside often crack. We used the cool laser welding method so as not to conduct heat and cause more damage with heat.
The picture at the top of this page shows a close up of one of Lori’s two broken inlaid pieces. Two pieces of opal broke during the sizing. I found more raw black opal, and had it specially cut and inlaid. The day Lori put her ring back on was a really happy one.
Don’t let your ill-fitting opal rings be sidelined. Size them!
Your Personal Jeweler,
What beautiful gemstones opals are! The prices seem very reasonable for how challenging the sizing clearly is!
Thanks for that. I try to keep it reasonable!
Your Personal Jeweler,
The different colors of opal are fascinating. Thanks for explaining about how challenging they are to work with.
I appreciate that you give examples with pictures.
I’ve gotten some nice feedback about putting in prices into this series.
I’ll keep it up if I can think of any other subjects for the series.
Your Personal Jeweler,
Thanks for sizing information. I had not idea opals could crack so easily. Opals remind me of my mom, whose birthday is Oct. 25.
When I became a jeweler, I thought opals were pretty magical and I too didn’t know they were so fragile. I actually broke one early on in my career. I guess I was being too enthusiastic. But that’s OK, I’m a jeweler, I replaced it!
That’s neat that opals remind you of your mom. I think of emeralds when I think of my mom.
Your Personal Jeweler,
I saw the picture of the opal wedding ring and thought I’d weigh in on why it looked so destroyed. I’m a gemcutter. As has already been said, opal is fairly soft, but it’s a poor choice for a daily-wear ring for multiple reasons. It’s basically a type of amorphous glass with water infused into it. This means that as the humidity around the ring changes, the stone will expand and contract, change colors, etc. While some expensive opals are extremely stable, some of them have a tendency to crack, “craze”, or “die” based on the environmental exposure they get.… Read more »
It’s nice to hear your detail on the make-up of opal. I happen to love them. I’ve seen hardy ones and wrecked ones. You’re sure right that their hardness is all over the map.
Your Jeweler Friend,