Ah, Ring Sizing – Perhaps the Least Exact Science of All!

The number one rule for sizing a ring is that it must be sized so the ring is secure on the finger, but can slide over the knuckle without the wearer having to struggle too much to put it on or take it off. Therein lies a major challenge – knuckles do not always stay the same size! Factors that can affect knuckle size include the weather (temperature and humidity), personal weight fluctuations, and various medical conditions such as swelling due to fluid retention, arthritis, etc. Any of these factors can cause the size of one’s knuckle to vary from day to day, or even through the course of one day.

After a ring has been sized correctly to fit the knuckle, issues often arise due to a discrepancy between the size of the knuckle and the size of the base of the finger. It is very common for the base of the finger to be smaller than the knuckle. This can result in the ring turning around on the finger, particularly if the ring is top-heavy (usually with gemstones). There are several ways to address this problem, depending on how big the knuckle size discrepancy is.

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If there is just a slight amount of ring turning on the finger, sometimes merely flattening the back of the shank will stabilize the situation.

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For a more pronounced problem, two small beads of metal (referred to as “cleats”) can be placed inside the shank.

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The next option is to install a flexible strip of metal (or “spring ring guard”) inside the shank, which “hugs” the finger to keep the ring in place.

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Finally, if none of these solutions are viable, a hinged shank can be installed, which opens and closes to the size of the base of the finger, making the size of the knuckle irrelevant.

The cost of these remedies varies substantially; charges can be fairly minimal for flattening the shank, but are quite a bit more expensive for the hinged, openable shank.

As jewelers we are often asked what it costs to size a ring. The answer is determined by several factors, including the type of metal (14K gold, 18K gold, platinum, etc.), the width and thickness of the shank, and by how many size increments the ring is being sized up or down. Also, if there are gemstones in the ring which could become loose as the size is altered, it may be necessary to tighten them. Additionally, the sizing of a white gold ring usually requires a re-plating of rhodium to keep the evenly colored, bright white finish.

In short, a “simple” ring sizing may not always be so simple. However, a qualified jeweler can help with advice, and provide a cost estimate when consulted about a particular ring. The best strategy when trying to determine the correct size is to be aware that there are several things that need to be taken into consideration and shoot for a happy medium!

Sharon S. Axelson
Graduate Gemologist, Gemological Institute of America
Certified Gemologist Appraiser, American Gem Society

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