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Jewelry, Gems, & Minerals/wide wedding band cracked


QUESTION: I went to have my wide 14k yellow gold wedding band resized and the jeweler said it was cracked.  I then could see a fine thin crack.  He said it would be difficult to resize as "old" gold can become brittle.  Is this true?  I have had the ring about 40 years.  Could it be heated and remolded as such, or how do I get rid of the crack(s)?  Thanks!

ANSWER: Dear Sadie,

Cracks are generally the result of chemical damage over the years or possible mishandling when a sizing was done and the metal overworked.  There is always risk in this situation and the jeweler is quite correct about difficulty in the work. I expect the work will be at your risk in case other damage appears during the sizing process.

The first action by the jeweler is to try and remove problematic stress in the metal by a gentle heating to low red heat and cooling. This is to anneal the metal, a process allowing the metal to rearrange is a realized state and remove any "work" hardening.(Think of bending a coat hanger wire back and forth over and over until it breaks. The bending hardens the metal to the breaking point.)  Unfortunately, in worse cases, when annealing heat is applied the ring may crack in another location.

If the ring cooperates through the annealing, there is hope for sizing. Recasting the ring is not practical and would require new metal added to assure a good result. Cost would be quite high just for the labor.

A jeweler use a strong brazing flux such as Handy Flux®, a paste flux that becomes liquid under heat and will help allow solders to flow where the material might not otherwise go. This paste flux is applied to the cracked area and as heat rises the solder is added.  A plumb gold hard solder should be used. This means the solder is the same karat as the ring metal. With good fortune, the solder will pull right into and possibly through the crack, essentially repairing the crack as well as can be. Then sizing is attempted.  How it turns out is defendant on the touch of the jeweler but mainly on the true internal condition of the metal.

Sadie, best wishes with the sizing. God Bless and Peace.  Thomas.

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QUESTION: So "old gold" in general can become brittle from processing, or is that just in general.  I don't think I've over exposed my ring to chemicals in general over the years-I would wear gloves or remove the ring.  I'm just curious as I previously thought that gold in general would last for many years without damage.  Thanks!  (This might affect my future purchases0.

Dear Sadie,

The gold I have personally examined with cracks such as you have experienced, ranged from new to very old.  I have seen quite old jewelry items and the metal is in fine condition, regardless of the worn condition of the exterior surface. Cracking is generally a result of one of three conditions present: 1. Chemical corrosion from environmental exposure generally related to chlorine or similar agents 2. Stress induced cracking from work hardening  3. Defects in the metal from the casting or other forming process which may cause hidden cracking and stresses which may appear later, including poorly formulated alloys(recipes for the karat gold) to exacerbate the problem. Age in itself does not cause cracking.

Sadie, I do hope this helps. Best wishes in the sizing work. Hope is not lost in that.

God Bless.  Thomas.

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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.


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 is English/Physics! Started in human resources, to advertising, to, 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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