What is ring sizing?
Ring sizing is an ancient process where we change the size of a ring to fit you. Much like everyone has different size and shaped bodies, we have different size and shaped fingers, so there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ ring. When making a bespoke ring we measure the ring size of the client and make the ring bespoke to them, however when buying vintage or antique pieces that have been pre-loved we don’t have the luxury of fitting a ring to the client who wants to buy the piece, so we alter it to fit them.
Watching the shank of a ring get cut for resize
How do we size a ring?
As we mentioned, ring sizing has been done since our ancestors first started making jewellery, and so can be traced back to the earliest piece of jewellery ever found, a necklace of fish bones found in Monacco that is dated around 25,000 years old. As such there are traditional techniques and more modern techniques.
The traditional technique to size a ring, still used today, is to cut the shank of the ring and then either solder it closer together, using a jewellers torch, making it smaller, or adding a small section of metal, the same as the original ring, to make it bigger. When cooled the ring is then polished to remove any evidence of a join in the metal, and if done correctly, you should be none the wiser.
Alternatively, for greater precision, jewellers can opt to use a laser to form the join in the metal. This is quicker and great for more intricate work. However, laser machines can be expensive and not every jeweller opts to work with them, it is personal preference.
A third way to size a ring is to ‘tap it up’ or stretch it up. This is only suitable for rings you wish to size up a small amount, and primarily for plain bands with no stones set into them, as the settings can become stretched and the stones loose. To do this the jeweller will either put the ring on a metal mandrel and tap the back of it with a hammer to stretch the metal, or they can place it on a ring stretcher, that when you pull the leaver will expand and stretch the ring.
A ring stretching arm, source google images
Alternative ways to size a ring
Although cutting the shank of the ring is the most common practice to size a piece, there are a few other ways that the size of a ring can be changed, such as adding small balls of metal to the inside of the shank, which is reportedly how the Duchess of Cambridge resized Princess Diana’s ring to fit her. A sprung band can also be clipped onto the inside of the shank to alter the size.
The benefits of these methods of resizing are that they are much less invasive and you can change the size of the ring quite drastically, without it being too permanent. However, these methods are costly as they require much more metal to be used than a standard resize, and are only suitable for sizing a ring down by a significant margin, and cannot increase the size of a piece.
Duchess of Cambridge's engagement ring and the ball method used to size it
How much bigger or smaller can we make a ring?
As a general rule we don’t suggest that you size a ring more than three UK sizes up or down, this equates to around one USA size. This is however a fairly fluid rule and we may be able to size a piece more, we recommend if you would like to do this that you contact us first and we can let you know if that would be possible.
Why can’t you size a ring more?
It is easier to size a ring up more than it is to size a ring down, and this is all to do with the circle of the band.
If you cut a portion from a circle and pulled the two sides in together the circle becomes to take on a more oval shape, and this is exactly what happens to your ring. If you size a ring down too significantly you start to lose that circular shape and the ring may not fit correctly. On top of this, if you have bezel or pave set stones, as you pull the back of the ring together you are stretching these settings wider and this can result in the stones becoming loose.
Will it compromise the durability of the ring?
If done well by a professional goldsmith then the durability of your ring should not be at all compromised, in fact you shouldn’t even be able to see the evidence of a re-size.
Can you re-size antique rings?
Yes you can! Antique rings on the whole are perfect candidates to be resized to fit their new caretakers, however some rings may not be suitable, which we will discuss below.
What rings cannot be sized?
Overall most rings can be resized, however there are a select few that we would not advise or cannot be done. The first would be any ring that doesn’t have a plain section of the shank that can be cut or soldered and includes full eternity rings and rings that have engraving all the way around the shank. These rings cannot be sized as you would be having to remove a whole stone from the eternity or break up the finely engraved pattern running around your ring, and this would ruin the overall look.
Tungsten, titanium or steal rings are also not eligible for resize as the metals are so tough you cannot cut through them, which I have witness first hand when we had to call the fire service to cut a ring off a clients finger that got stuck!
A full old cut diamond eternity ring from our bespoke service