Tips from the Bench: Tipping is not a City in China
The last thing a lady thinks about when she receives a new ring is how it will eventually need to be repaired. Modern jewelry making can create pieces of exceptional beauty and durability, but everything eventually wears out over time.
One part of a ring that wears more than any other is the head, or more specifically, the prongs. Pronged settings account for a wide margin of all engagement rings and other ring styles, especially those with a center stone.
Being the high point of most engagement rings, the prongs serve the dual purpose of not only holding a stone in place, but also protecting it from impacts. All of the bumps and knocks and scrapes that prongs endure steadily wear away particulate, making them thinner and thinner, just like the tires on your car. This state of wear makes prongs more susceptible to failing: a prong gets bent out of place, or worse – broken off – in turn jeopardizing the security of the stone it was holding. That is why prongs need to be rebuilt every so often: a repair procedure referred to in the industry as “tipping.”
If you suddenly notice one of your rings snagging on your clothing or hair when it didn’t before, bring it in as soon as you are able because there may be a damaged prong. It may be as simple as a bur on the prong, or it may be the tip of the prong has lifted off of the stone it is securing.
If a snagging prong is left unaddressed, it may eventually get hung up so badly that it breaks off.
How fast do prongs wear?
How fast prongs wear depends on the how heavily the ring is worn and the metal from which it is made. Silver wears away faster than gold, while gold wears away faster than platinum. And if you’re one of those people who never takes their wedding rings off (sleep, exercise, work, etc.), the rate of wear will be accelerated.
We’ve seen rings come back in for tipping after just a couple of years, and we’ve seen engagement rings come in for their first tipping after twenty-five years, so there is no magic number regarding when you should bring a ring in to be tipped.
That is why routine cleaning and inspection is an important part of owning jewelry. Not only does it keep your jewelry bright and shiny, but it helps us – the ones who perform your repairs – keep you apprised of necessary preventative maintenance.
Tipping prongs is a much less costly repair than is rebuilding a head or replacing a missing stone. And it’s a repair that may be needed perhaps only two or three times over the life of the ring, depending on how you wear it. Whenever you bring your engagement ring, or any jewelry, in for a free cleaning and inspection at Windsor Jewelry, the prongs are one of the first things we check.
So please bring your jewelry by Windsor some time! It only takes a few minutes to clean and check a few pieces, and it’s a free service we offer to anyone, regardless of whether or not you’ve ever done any business with us before.