Don't Lose A Diamond: Practice Basic Jewelry Maintenance
Losing a diamond is just about the worst thing that can happen to an engagement ring – besides losing the whole ring altogether! The center diamond represents the promise of love between engaged couples, and most of the time, it’s the most expensive part of the ring. Losing it can be devastating! A diamond owner can be sure that center stone stays put with just a little maintenance and the occasional attention to detail.
When a diamond is set into a mounting, a combination of pressure and tiny carved grooves keep it in place. A ring is composed of two parts: the shank and the head. The shank is the part of the ring that goes around the finger, the head is the part of the ring in which the main gems are set. A head is usually composed of prongs, or vertical metal bars, that form a basket to hold the diamond. A jeweler uses a tool to carve a “seat”, or a narrow notch, into the inside of each of prong. The seat is used to hold the diamond by its girdle, or its outermost edge. The position of the seat depends on how high or low the jeweler wants to set the stone.
The excess prong that extends above the diamond is trimmed and folded over the top of the stone into a “tip”. If done properly, each prong exudes equal amounts of pressure to each side of the stone and holds it securely in place. The tips keep the diamond from moving up, the prongs keep the diamond from moving out, and the seat keeps the diamond from moving down! Tips and prongs work hand-in-hand, so think of them as two parts of a whole.
Ring mountings are designed to protect the center diamond and keep it locked in place. The diamond shouldn’t wiggle, spin, or rattle if it’s properly set. But ring mountings are made of metal, usually gold or platinum, and take a lot of wear and tear throughout their lives. Over time and with regular wear, your diamond can loosen in its mounting – but this can be due to a variety of factors:
Diamonds are the hardest naturally occurring substance on Earth. Nothing can scratch a diamond, except another diamond. Since mounted diamonds are held in gold, over time a diamond can “carve” its way through a prong and become loose.
A tip might have been worn thin and caught on a loose thread, pulling it away from the surface of the diamond.
An extra-hard hit to the top of your diamond ring can push the stone out of its seat, especially if the tips are worn thin.
It’s always a smart idea to keep an eye on your diamond and setting to ensure everything still looks secure. A quick check is easy if you know what to look for:
Too-short prong: Take a look at your center diamond from the side – get in real close. All four (or six) of the tips on top of your stone should be at the same height. If one is shorter, or nearly nonexistent, it’s time to come to a jeweler for a re-tipping. A thinning tip is more susceptible to catching and pulling away from the diamond, leaving it vulnerable to slip out of the setting.
Bent prong: Looking at your diamond from the top-down, take note of where your tips sit around the stone. They should be equally spaced around the perimeter. If one tip is closer to another, it's probably taken a hit and the prong is bent out of place. Do not try to bend it back! The integrity of the prong is now compromised and can break if bent in the opposite direction, it’s best to let a professional adjust it for you.
Sharp prong: Run your finger over the top of your stone, do you feel anything sticking up that shouldn’t be there? Or have you noticed your ring getting caught on clothing or pulling a thread loose? Those are both signs of a prong that has already pulled up and away from the diamond. It’s best to bring it in for repair before it ruins any more of your sweaters and pulls the diamond out in the process!
We like to say that prongs are like tires on a car – they wear down over time and occasionally need to be replaced. If you want them to work properly, they need regular maintenance and servicing. We recommend bringing your ring in for a prong check every 6 months. It’s always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to the security of a meaningful diamond!
Other jewelry can wear down over time too, including earrings, bracelets, and necklaces. Here’s what to look out for:
Loose clasps: You could have sworn you clasped your bracelet or necklace correctly, but it still fell off! Take a look at the clasp and make sure the arm, or the movable part, comes back to the clasp in the same position. It should be sitting flush or very, very close to the stationary part of the clasp. If there’s a gap, the end of the necklace can slip out and you can lose your pendant – or worse, the whole necklace! Tightening the clasp is an easy fix for a jeweler, but in some cases, the clasp might need to be replaced.
Stretching: If your gold chains and pearl necklaces seem to hang a little longer than usual, it’s probably stretched out. The bead-cord running through a strand of pearls can stretch over time from the weight of the necklace. It’s best to get them restrung before the cord breaks and you have to play a game of Pick-Up Pearls! Gold chains can stretch too, as the gold links rub against each other and become thin, or in other occasions, the links themselves can actually become stretched and distorted.
Bent posts: A bent post on a stud earring might seem like an easy fix, but try not to bend it back by yourself! Just like a bent prong, that earring post is now compromised and bending it back straight might break it completely. We always recommend bringing this kind of repair to your jeweler before trying to take any action yourself – a free quick-fix is better than paying for a weld or a whole new setting!
It’s the job of any responsible jewelry owner to take care of their precious accessories. Jewelry can be a pricey investment, sure, but that doesn’t make it indestructible. Clothes can wear out if worn every day, cars can wear out being driven every day -- jewelry is exactly the same! If you notice damage to your fine jewelry, as noted above or if something just doesn’t seem right, bring it to your jeweler as soon as possible. We have a full-service repair shop on site in our store – we don’t send anything out! Your precious gemstones will be in trustworthy, capable hands throughout the entire repair process. The sooner you catch a problem, the easier (likely, less expensive) it will be to fix.