Remaking a brand new jewellery chain ring.......again.
14th July 2017
Seeing jewellery of this low quality become the norm breaks my heart.
This customer had recently received a ring purchased from one of the largest jewellery chains in Australia. The ring was to be her engagement ring. She came to me for three reasons:
- have a wedding ring made
- have the ring resized to 4 sizes smaller
- to see if I could convert the ring to white gold
The wedding ring
This ring was never designed to be worn as an engagement ring and in its present shape would accommodate nothing other than the most fitted of wedding rings.
In it`s current condition I advised against putting any wedding ring next to it. Yes I did write "condition" and yes this is a new ring.
During it`s design and manufacture the ring had been thinned out to such an extent that if another was worn next to it the edges would very quickly become even sharper and eventually dangerous.
Jewellery chains do this to rings to create them using as little gold as possible. You will see by how much when we later compare the weight of this ring to the version I make.
Resizing the engagement ring.
I stopped doing repairs to anything other than jewellery I make quite a few years ago. I was either going to be remaking this ring or doing nothing at all.
If I sell one of my standard design rings, for say an engagement, and it is out of size by as much as this one was I remake it to the correct size.
I have such an engagement ring that I am rebuilding to the correct size right now and will write about it soon. Custom designed rings need to be made to the correct size the first time.
Converting the ring to white gold
There is no magic way to turn yellow gold to white. In order to do this the gold alloy needs to be refined to pure and then formulated into a white gold alloy. Cleaning/refining scrap gold I do once a year to make the process cost effective. The cost of doing this for one ring would be unviable.
In the case of this ring the diamond set portion that appears to be white gold is merely plated with rhodium to achieve the white colour. This plating would have worn off over time. She informed me that her fiancé was not aware this section was plated.
Building rings in parts that vary in precious metal colours takes time and skill. Jewellery chains like to cast their rings in one piece, a process that uses very little of either.
By now the customer had decided to remake the ring properly in white gold. Lets look at the diamonds the jewellery chain used.
Once we pull away the claws you can see how small the diamonds actually are with a diameter of 1mm.
Setting small diamonds in white gold is a permanent way to make them look bigger. Setting them in yellow gold and then rhodium plating it white however is much cheaper and temporary. This ring is in reality a very expensive piece of costume jewellery.
Over time the rhodium would wear away revealing the yellow gold claws that would then highlight the small size of the diamonds.
Looking at that photo above you may have noticed that the diamonds look a bit cloudy. They are not dirty but rather very low in quality. Diamonds like this are what my customers have heard me refer to as "frozen spit". That is what they look like to me.
The diamonds that were used by the jewellery chain in this ring were so low in quality that we threw them out. They were worthless and ugly. My only regret is that we wasted time unsetting them.
When the jewellery chains advertise those incredibly low priced large total diamond weight pieces, this is more than likely the type of diamond quality they are selling you. Always ask them to specify the colour and clarity of the diamonds in writing.
The one part of the original ring that we will use in the remake would be the sapphire. Time to start designing.
Making room for the wedding ring.
If we raised the setting and shoulders slightly, modified the base of the halo we could make a path for a straight wedding ring to sit.
Preserving what she liked the most
She loved the taper of the ring shoulders down to the band. Originally I intended to widen up the band to strengthen it and reduce the gap between it and the intended wedding ring. She decided to stay as close as she could to the original.
Let`s make it already
So after a lot of depressing truths on the way we remade the sapphire into a new white gold ring shown below. She was really pleased with the finished ring today when she picked it up.
The jewellery chain ring weighed 2.2 grams, the one I made 5.5 grams and they look pretty much identical from the top. Over double the gold weight used to make the same ring.
Now you can see why the jewellery chains thin rings out disregarding the fact that it reduces their life or in some cases destroys them. They care more about getting your money and giving you as little as possible than they do about the jewellery they make and sell.
Australia is addicted to junk jewellery
The prevalence of mass produced low quality imported jewellery advertised at constant "half price" sales has become the norm and sadly led to people pushing back at what it can cost to make a piece of jewellery properly.
The Australian public`s demand for low price jewellery has resulted in jewellery chains reducing the quality of what they sell to maintain their profit margins.
I have been writing about it for years. Here are links to a few of those posts:
- What to expect when you buy your engagement ring from a jewellery chain. Not good!
- Diamonds are not all equal
- The devil is in the lack of detail!
- Disposable jewellery - the new norm :(
- A trick of the trade
- Are you getting what you paid for?
- I am sorry but I cannot resize that ring.
- Total diamond weight - TDW
Find a real jeweller before there are none.
This trend towards low quality imported jewellery has led to the deterioration of the Australian jewellery industry. Sadly after this generation I feel there will be none. Try finding a real watchmaker or engraver today.
Fortunately for me I have a wonderful group of customers to keep me busy that appreciate jewellery made properly using quality materials .
If you are thinking of purchasing a piece of jewellery that you hope to become a family treasure, consider talking to a real jeweller in your area, someone who actually makes jewellery, cares about the product they sell and can service it.