Saturday, December 4, 2021

Knuckle Island



Richard Alan

I sort-of kind-of touched on this subject a while back, and it’s a real complicated problem – practically epidemic – and it’s something I deal with every single day in the shop.

The process of making a nice diamond ring sale can be a challenge, as you may have gathered if you read my last column. It’s what happens after the sale that the fun begins, and that magical feat can range from impossible to miraculous.

Now the diamond ring has to fit the finger. That may seem to many of you a simple cut-and-dried project…only, avast ye landlubbers, it’s another rip roaring adventure of “Welcome to Knuckle Island!”

I am now standing and staring at the diamond ring’s new owner, whose left hand appears to me to be five big toes!

Please understand my sincere condolences to many of our citizens who have to live with arthritic knuckles, fingers and hands; many of my close relatives suffer from this sometime painful affliction. I affectionately refer to them as members of the “Marco Island Knuckle Club,” over 3,000 members strong.

My problem (along with every jeweler on this planet) is getting a ring to fit correctly on those gnarly fingers. Picture this, a size 5 finger with a knuckle that measures a size 11. This means that even if the ring is sized to a 10, and you add a squirt or two of Windex (a lubricating element) on the finger and force the ring over the knuckle, the ring will still be 5 sizes too big once on the finger.

The equation that follows … a very uncomfortable + an unsatisfactory fit = an unhappy customer(s), and possible loss of that challenging diamond sale, especially if they decide to forget the whole thing, resulting in a very unhappy jeweler- namely me!

What to do? There are tricks and techniques I have experimented with over the years; ring guards, ring bumps, butterflies, spring-loaded mechanisms, open and closing contraptions, Double-Snap, Sure-Fits, Finger-Fits, Super-Fits – all enough to give me the fits! All the above are systems I can use to remedy the situation, only they will all cost the customer more money to achieve the final desired effect – a diamond ring that fits perfectly.

Fitting a ring to a hand with abnormal fingers becomes a work in progress, some methods work immediately or it can take a trial and error process. It all depends on the severity of the enlarged knuckle.

There is a cure-all that involves using either the Double-Snap or Super-Fit; once attached to the ring it actually opens and snaps closed on the finger insuring a perfect fit because there is no dealing with the problem knuckle whatsoever.

The Super-Fit web site ( mentions there are other reasons that a ring may not fit properly, the weather, time of day, the seasons, and especially physical activities. It’s a fact that hot, perspiring fingers can expand up to 2 sizes, so going to the jeweler to get your rings sized after a round of golf or a few sets of tennis would not be advisable. Oh! There is another reason, ladies and gents, lay off the bread, and especially the all-you-can-eat buffets. There I said it!

My dilemma is that the Super-Fit shank plus installation (labor) will add anywhere from $800 to $1,000 to the cost of the already purchased ring, and most folks refuse the sure cure for the perfect fit, because it’s all about the money.

Correct me if I’m wrong, I see some very impressive “rocks” here on the rock, and if your lady is sporting a beautiful diamond ring (that costs as much as an average Marco condo) which is always slipping left, right and upside down, what’s $800 to fix the ring problem? You may or may not agree, just my thoughts on the matter.

Ten years ago, every month I used to install three or four Super-Fits to customers’ new or existing rings. Now I’m lucky to install two a year.

The actual remedy or cure is unaffordable to most (Gee! Kind of like our current health care system). The other options that are available are not as effective, but may give some level of satisfaction. It can become a trial and error thing, and the process takes up lots of time and money on the jeweler’s end, which results in costs to the owner of the dang blasted knuckles.

I have gotten so proficient at diagnosing and curing “Knuckleitis” I should write a book.

The simple addition of sizing beads, or some form of a ring guard, can give good results to most minor cases, and that can range in price from $10 to $100.

The bottom line is every Super-Fit I installed solved the “knuckle problem,” and although it was not the least expensive way out, it did insure a perfect fit every time.

Contented customer + perfect fitting ring = happy jeweler.


Richard Alan is a designer/goldsmith and owner of The Harbor Goldsmith at Island Plaza and welcomes your questions about all that glitters. 239-394-9275 or visit his informative website at



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