A ring with a precious stone setting can be a truly beautiful thing, but you'll probably forget all about the beauty if your expensive stone falls out and disappears down the plughole. Keeping the prongs of your stone's setting in top condition is vital for the safety and appearance of your ring, but damaged prongs can be difficult to detect if you don't know what to look for. Fortunately, jewellery repair specialists are more than capable of repairing damaged prongs, keeping you ring beautiful and your stone safe.
How can I tell if my ring has damaged prongs?
If you ring's prongs have sustained damaged, the damage may not be immediately visible to the naked eye, even if it is badly bent or broken. As such, you should give your ring a closer inspection every so often to make sure the setting is still secure. Use a magnifying glass or jeweller's loupe to check for snapped or chipped prongs, making sure to inspect them from different angles. You should also pay close attention to how snugly the prongs fit against the stone -- they should rest directly against the stone's surface for their entire length, so visible gaps generally indicate a bent prong that can leave your stone unstable and prone to falling out.
How should I have damaged prongs repaired?
If you notice visible damage to your ring's prongs, you should stop wearing it immediately, particularly when outdoors or in the bath/shower. Even a slight knock can cause a stone to fall out of a bent or broken setting. As such, you'll probably want to have your ring repaired as quickly as possible, particularly if your ring is a wedding or engagement ring.
Once the repair specialist has had a chance to inspect your ring, and the scale of the damage it has sustained, they can begin repairs. You can have your ring's setting repaired in one of three ways:
- Prong reshaping: If your ring has bent prongs that have not snapped or flattened, they can usually be moved back into place. This is generally the quickest and least expensive option and leaves no visible sign of repair work, but it is not a viable option for badly misshaped or broken prongs.
- Prong re-tipping: This procedure involves fitting a new tip to the end of a snapped prong, using special solder that contains the precious metal your ring is made of. Using this special solder means that repair work is not visible to the naked eye -- however, it is slightly softer than the original metal, and a re-tipped prong will be permanently weaker than its unbroken companions. If you choose this option, take care to avoid damaging the repaired prong, and give it occasional inspections to ensure the softer solder is not bent away from the stone.
- Head replacement: If more than one prong of a setting is damaged, re-tipping them all may leave your setting unacceptably weak. In these instances, jewellery repair companies generally recommend having the entire setting replaced, with a new head of prongs fitted to the ring with solder. This kind of repair leaves you with prongs that are just as strong as the originals, and because the soldered part of the ring rests underneath the setting, it is much less vulnerable to damage. However, this procedure is considerably more expensive than re-tipping, and you may have to wait several weeks before you can reclaim your prized ring.