Monday, December 6, 2021

Prong-Less in Paradise



Richard Alan

Redundancy is a sure way to learn something and in my business it rings true when dealing with customers.

My new shop has been a beehive of activity with both old and new faces appearing to mend broken jewelry or replace watch straps or dead batteries. The predominant repair problem of 2012 is still worn out ring prongs.

Yeah, so I sound like a broken record, redundancy once again. I can’t stress how important it is to check the security status of one’s prongs, channels or bezels that hold your valuable diamonds or gemstones.

Unless you live on a deserted island most of us know the value of fine diamonds. Gold jewelry is at an all time high, caused by an economy that is still floundering in the gutter, making nice jewelry seem like an apple on the tree you just can’t reach.

The masses have realized it is more economical to repair or alter what you already own; that is, of course, if you haven’t sold it off to take advantage of the high gold scrap prices.

Inspecting one’s own ring is not all that difficult, the prongs are either there or they are not. Prong wear is to most, unnoticeable. The prong can wear only so thin and eventually becomes non-existent which can and will lead to gemstones becoming loose or lost.

Last month a lady with a very large diamond ring presented it to me for inspection. Three out of the six prongs had sheared off clean. Had it been set with four prongs it surely would have been history. In this particular case, it wasn’t prong wear but porosity, a corrosive condition that can be the manufacturer’s fault or caused by the wearer who uses bleached based methods to clean her jewelry. Wearing your jewelry while



enjoying a daily dip in chlorinated swimming pools or hot tubs is another cause of porosity.

Prong replacement is a fairly simple repair. In most cases, multi-prong loss requires total head replacement. A head is the pronged component that holds your diamond or gemstone. When your ring starts snagging on towels or clothing it could be a sign of prong wear.

Another problem that can occur to engagement rings twenty or thirty years old, is the bottom of the ring or shanks begin to wear and become thin, especially when the engagement ring and the wedding band are worn together. Usually, soldering them together can solve the problem if they are not worn too hair thin.

Shank or head replacement is a common repair in my shop. There are circumstances where total ring replacement is the only option.

Other problem areas are pendant or charm loops otherwise known as bails, the part that attaches to the charm and slides on the chain. Over time, the chain literally cuts through the bail and the result is your favorite charm, pendant or religious medal is lost. The simple repair is a build up of the loop or replacement.

It’s also a good idea to inspect the jump rings and clasps for wear that connect the chain around one’s neck. The saying “a stitch in time saves nine” comes to mind here.

Bring in any questionable pieces to my Island Plaza location for a free inspection. It only takes seconds and will guarantee you can enjoy wearing your memorable pieces for years to come.

Richard Alan is a designer/master goldsmith with over forty years of experience creating fine jewelry and is the owner of The Harbor Goldsmith at his new location in Island Plaza on Marco Island. He welcomes your questions about “All That Glitters” at 239-394-9275. 

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