Jewelry, Gems, & Minerals/Platinum Ring

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Question
Hi There,

6 years ago my husband had a platinum engagement ring made for me (solitaire), and a year later our wedding bands were also made (by the same jeweller) in platinum. We absolutely love them, so last year when my husband had an anniversary ring made for me, her went with platinum again. Unfortunately we couldn’t use the same jeweller that made the engagement/wedding rings, so he used a local jeweller that had a good reputation. The anniversary ring has 4 small diamonds set in a row. Within 6 months of having the new ring, it had bent/squashed into an oval shape. We were very surprised as our other platinum rings are great and this had never happened before. I took it back to the jeweller and he suggested I had damaged it, and as I was wearing it on my right hand it wouldn’t last as long as the wedding rings (on my left hand). He said he could bend it back into shape but if we did this every few months eventually the diamonds could fall out, which is not ideal.

I work in an office, and take my rings off when I get home, never do yard work/heavy lifting with them on. I took the ring into other jewellers in town, and they all suggested there was a problem with the new ring, however none of the 3 jewellers I spoke to would tell me what the problem was (as they didn’t want to be seen bad-mouthing the other jeweller, which is fair enough.) 1 jeweller however, showed me my wedding rings under the magnifier, and after 6 years these rings had tiny, hair like scratches on the surface. Looking at the 6 month old ring under the same magnifier, the new ring appeared to have big scratches and holes (pitting) all throughout, right up to the setting. It was quite confronting as it seems to show a real difference in quality.

The jeweller told me he used PT 950 made up of 950 Platinum with 25 Copper and 25 Iridium

My question is: What has cause the large holes (pitting) and oval shaping -  the composition (Iridium and Copper), the actual manufacturing or casting of the ring, or myself? I get the impression from other jewellers it has to do with the manufacture and not my treatment of the ring but none of them are game to tell me! The original jeweller continues to tell me its something I’ve done, (suggesting Pole Dancing does this on more than 1 occasion). What can I do to ensure the ring doesn’t bend again?

Thanks for your help!

Answer
Dear Bianca,

Apparently bending of platinum finger rings is not unusual, although it seems it should not happen at all except for extreme events which would definitely be remembered.  Bending like you have experienced generally has no single event in memory which could cause the deformation.  I cannot follow a ring around all day and try and see what causes the bending but may suggest a few contributing factors, including manufacturing.

The platinum alloy used for the anniversary ring is a new one to me.  I have not seen this mix of copper and iridium in use.  A quick study of various jewelry platinum mixes leads me to believe the copper additive would make the metal both harder and more resistant to surface damage.  However, I do not know how easily it is to properly cast a  platinum 95%/copper 2.5%/iridium 2.5% recipe.  

Generally rings as you described are formed by casting methods.  How well and controlled is the casting process will be reflected in the quality of the actual item cast.  Quality is also dependent on the suitability of the platinum alloy mix for casting and jewelry use. The pits you mentioned are not the same as scratches and if mere indentations from repeated striking on a pointed surface the appearance would be more like a tiny dent than pit.  Actual pits in the metal are a result of the casting process with several possible reasons, one of which is trapped gases in the metal and another is proper metal flow into the mold at correct temperatures.  I do believe the pits are from the manufacturing process but cannot say that caused the ring to deform since it likely did not.

Deformation certainly means the metal was soft or thin enough to bend without obvious reason.  This sort of bending generally happens over a period of time and once a point is reached the oval shape may happen fairly easily.  I will say tight grip on an automobile steering wheel as a possibility.  Still, it should not have happened.  Even a sturdy ring will bend if the ring and finger are caught in a shutting door or are somehow struck quite firmly.  However, with no event happening that you remember, I believe the ring was not sturdy enough for normal every day wear.  The ring should do as well on either hand, even if one hand might “do more work” than the other.

You might try this:  Take notice of your right hand ring finger through a few normal work days and off days.  Do you see any pattern of gripping or tapping or repetitive strikes or pressure on that finger in normal activity? This sort of self-detective work may reveal a pattern of pressure on the ring which you would not normally pay any notice.

My summary based strictly on what you have told me, not having seen the damaged anniversary ring:  The pitting of the metal is a manufacturing fault.  The ring is not sturdy enough in metal recipe, thickness or both to handle normal daily wear.

A last thought: Look at the ring. Is the top section open underneath?  Generally there will be openings to the backs of the gemstones, allowing proper cleaning and adjustment when setting.  This is normal.  Is the entire bottom of the ring top open and thin on the sides? Is this portion deformed?  If too thin and weak, a hollowed top section may deform, allowing the rest of the ring to follow suit. Generally wrinkles or obvious deformation will be visible. This sort of bending is a sign of weakness in the stone set area of the ring and you should expect continued damage unless the ring is done again in slightly thicker and sturdier fashion.

I certainly cannot rule out something in your daily routine which might have brought on the damage but that is why the few days of self-detective work are advised.  I also cannot help but believe the ring is simply not strong enough for normal daily wear.

The jeweller is wrong in putting the blame on your right hand if both hands do essentially the same sort of normal work load and the right hand is not involved in extreme pressure or highly repetitive pressure or striking of the ring.  Again, check out your daily activity with a keen awareness of hand activity.  When that test is passed, the blame is squarely on the ring in the first place.

Bianca, oh my, there is not one easy answer. I do hope my thoughts are of some value to you. If you have a reason to get back with me on this question, do not hesitate to do that. Fair enough?

God Bless and Peace.  Thomas.  

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Thomas

Expertise

Have a question about jewelry repair or working with precious metal jewelry and gemstones? For many years up to December 31, 2010, I was a working professional bench jeweler, involved everyday with setting stones in mountings, designing and making jewelry, repairing and limited custom manufacture. If you work with jewelry as a hobby or as a profession, I might be able to help. I deal with the retail business, not mass production. Ask privately if you wish. See the box for that: It keeps your question between us. Please DO NOT ask MAKER'S MARKS, but metal quality marks are fine to ask. Please DO NOT ask diamond prices. See a gemologist for that.

Experience

I have extensive experience in design, service and making of jewelry. I deal mostly with precious metals and gemstones but work with many materials as needed and usable to create an artistic design. My experience also includes freelance photography and photographer of jewelry and similar items for a former employer and individuals. Design of custom items requires reading the desires of the client and being clear on what can be done within that framework...then fulfilling the transition of idea to reality. Effective communications is essential in a working designer/producer and customer relationship.

Education/Credentials
Education is English/Physics! Started in human resources, to advertising, to jewelry...wow, what a road. I have had formal training in jewelry work and many shared experiences with top grade jewelers. We just never know were we will go or be. Follow your best, your dreams, with some discretion! Don't let the work tear up your body along the way as it has mine.

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