PRODUCTS

wear & tear

The concept of “wear” with respect to jewelry is inter-woven with the individual characteristics of hardness, durability, and scratch resistance.  While one metal may be harder than the others, this does not necessarily mean it will last longer than other metals.

Platinum is known for its “durability,” meaning its ability to stand the test of time.  The inherent qualities of metals in the platinum family, including palladium, enable the metal to stay relatively intact when damaged.  Platinum wears much better than gold in that when the metal is scratched or dinged, it simply is displaced rather than lost. It is softer than gold, however, and will show scratches more quickly.  Platinum is more durable than gold in the long run.

Palladium is softer than gold, but not as soft as silver.  Like platinum, the metal of palladium will be displaced, rather than lost, when scratched.  Palladium is much lighter in weight than platinum, however, and will scratch and bend more easily.

We recommend against silver for wedding bands because it is a softer metal.  It is not nearly as strong or durable as gold or platinum.

White gold, when alloyed with X1 or similar alloys, is extremely hard and scratch resistant.  Nevertheless, when scratched or worn, the metal will be lost and is therefore not considered as durable as platinum.  Of all of the colors of gold, however, white gold is the most durable; followed by yellow gold, and then rose gold.

Higher karats of gold are generally softer.  With rose gold and yellow gold, the durability factor decreases inversely with the increase in amount of pure gold.  White gold, when alloyed with X1 and similar alloys, does not appear to follow this principle, however, as 18k and 14k white gold are equally hard and scratch resistant.

For more information on the different karats of gold, please see this post.

finishes

Jewelry can be finished in a number of different ways, from polished & shiny to rough & scratchy. Hammered finish is also an option, and hammered jewelry additionally can have a polished or brushed effect.

Dan finishes most of our jewelry with either a polished or a satin finish. (We use the terms “satin,” “matte,” and “brushed” interchangeably.) Occasionally, Dan gives our pieces a sandblasted finish, a “raw” finish, or a “rough” finish.

satin finish vs. polished finish

satin vs. polished

The photo to the right shows two bands made of 14k rose gold and hammered with our “pebble” hammering style. The band on the left has a satin finish, while the band on the right is polished. The satin finish is more muted, while the polished finish has been buffed to a high shine with the aid of polishing compounds.

Scratches are only a matter of time with any finish, but they will show more quickly with a satin finish than with a polished one. (The scratches will be there regardless, but they will be less obvious with the polished finish.) The speed with which jewelry shows wear depends upon the lifestyle of the wearer — and with respect to rings, how much a person labors with his or her hands.

sandblasted finish vs. satin finish

sandblasted vs. brushed

The next photo shows two bands made of 14k X1 white gold. The ring on the left has a sandblasted finish, while the ring on the right has a satin or brushed finish.

The process of sandblasting involves literally blasting jewelry with small beads of glass. Consequently, the resultant finish displays tiny pits in the metal.

rough finish

rough finish

Dan also gives our jewelry a “rough” finish when requested. In this case, he takes a file to the piece with the intention of giving it a controlled scratch finish (shown to the right).

And sometimes, he simply leaves the metal untouched after he completes a piece.  With this “raw” finish (or lack of finish), the organic nature of the metal is revealed.

raw finish

raw finish

The raw finish is especially nice on palladium and platinum, and is shown in the picture to the left on a faceted platinum band.

Regardless of which finish you choose, time and wear are bound to take their toll on your jewelry. Wedding bands, for example, will buff themselves into a dull shine within several months of wear – regardless of finish. The finish can be redone, but often at the expense of losing a bit of metal and/or detailing on the rings. With respect to wedding bands, the main consideration is how you would like your rings to appear on the big day.

carats of diamonds

What’s in a carat?

“Carat” is one of the Four C’s that impact a diamond’s worth, along with cut, color, and clarity. The words “carat” and “karat” are likely derived from the same root (meaning carob pod – see karats of gold); however, in the US, the two different spellings have become indicators of stone mass (carat) and purity of gold (karat).

The word “carat” is now used to measure the weight of stones, especially diamonds. Though many people believe “carat” to be synonymous with “size,” this is not technically correct. Two diamonds could be the same carat weight, but cut in different proportions that render stones of different dimensions.

A point system provides a standard of measurement. A single carat is divided into 100 points. The weight is designated by “ct” for single stones; and by “ct tw” (carat total weight) for settings containing multiple stones. A diamond designated “.5 ct,” therefore, will be a half carat in weight. A diamond labeled “.05 ct” will be five one-hundredths of a carat or “5 points.”

“Cut” is an indicator of the proportions and balance of the facets on the stone. Shape, size, and placement of the facets all influence the determination of how well a diamond is cut. From best to worst, a diamond’s cut may be rated as Ideal; Excellent; Very Good; Good; or Fair.

“Color” signifies the extent to which a diamond is colorless, or white. The industry uses a letter scheme to measure color, from D (colorless) to Z+ (colored) diamonds. Diamonds rated D, E or F are considered colorless. Diamonds rated G-J are “near colorless,” in descending order of letter; and those rated K-Z become more yellow or darker (such as the “coffee color” or champagne diamonds) as the letters proceed to the end of the Roman alphabet. More intensely colored diamonds are also called “fancy” diamonds.

“Clarity” acts as an indicator of whether flaws are present in a diamond; and, if so, the extent to which they are visible. Here are the various designations of clarity:

  • F / IF: Flawless / Internally Flawless
  • VVS1/2: Very Very Slightly Included (Flaws are difficult to see even under 10x magnification.)
  • VS1/2: Very Slightly Included (Flaws can be seen under magnification, but not by naked eye.)
  • SI1-3: Slightly Included (Flaws visible under magnification, may be visible to the naked eye.)
  • I1-3: Included (Flaws are visible to the naked eye.)

Unfortunately, there is little standardization for measurement of the various factors discussed. Determination of the 4 C’s is subjective, and different jewelers may label (and advertise!) the same stone with widely divergent designations.

At this time, we believe that GIA certification (by the Gemological Institute of America) is the strictest grading available for diamonds. GIA certified diamonds command an extra price, but with the assurance that you are getting your money’s worth.

Dan does not always use GIA certified diamonds in his work; however, we purchase only from suppliers that use a strict grading scale and pledge to sell conflict free stones.

karats of gold

What’s in a karat?

Back in the day, when Constantine was emperor, there was a solid gold Roman coin called the “solidus.” The weight of the solidus equaled 24 karats. A “karat” was at that time measured by the weighing of carob beans, which were thought to be of uniform weight and therefore helped to standardize the trade of gold and currency. (The word “karat” is derived from the Greek word “keration,” which in turn is derived from the Arabic “qirat,” meaning carob seed or pod.)

Whenever the solidus made its way back into the Roman treasury, it was melted down and reissued after having been weighed again against the carob beans. Because of this, the solidus maintained a standard weight, despite gold wearing away with use. Prior to the age of the Roman Empire, the carob beans themselves were used as a measure when purchasing gold. The beans were plentiful and readily available, so market-goers could carry their own beans as a unit of measurement and be assured that they were getting a square deal with their purchases.

Today, we use the 24 karat standard of the solid gold Roman coin when measuring the purity of gold. 24k gold is considered 99.9% pure. The higher the karat number, the greater the amount of pure gold included in the item. 14k gold is therefore 58.3% pure gold (14 parts of 24, with the remainder being alloy); 18k gold is 75% pure gold (18 parts of 24); 21k gold is 87.5% pure; and 22k gold is 91.6% pure.

Because gold is very soft in its pure form, alloys are used along with the gold to strengthen the metal – and sometimes to render the resultant metal different colors (e.g., white gold, rose gold, etc.). It is easiest to see the change in karats when looking at yellow gold. As the karat number increases, the metal becomes more deeply saturated with a rich yellow color due to the increase in pure gold.

In the photos that follow, you will see three strips of metal; from top to bottom: 14k, 18k, and 21k yellow gold.

14k, 18k, & 21k yellow gold

14k, 18k, & 21k yellow gold

 

14k, 18k, & 21k yellow gold

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And in the following photo, you will see two rings of the same style… on the left, in 14k gold; and on the right, in 18k.

14k and 18k yellow gold wedding bands

14k and 18k yellow gold wedding bands

The trade-off for the splendor of richer gold is price and durability. Because the higher karats of gold do not allow for as much alloy in the final piece, the metal will be softer and more subject to wear… but certainly no one will dispute its beauty.

comfort fit

What is a “comfort fit wedding band”?  Comfort fit is a style of band where the inside of the band rolls or “tapers” outward to the edge. This makes the band easier to get on and off, and makes it more comfortable in respect to movement of the fingers. A thicker band is necessary to create the roll of a comfort fit profile, however.  Consequently, the drawback to comfort fit is that it’s more expensive.  A non-comfort fit band has more of a square edge on the inside, though Dan does round the edges to the extent that he can on our non-comfort fit bands.

People who are not accustomed to wearing rings often prefer comfort fit bands, as do people with larger ring sizes and people who do a lot of work with their hands. So, we have a lot of men who prefer comfort fit – but also a lot of smaller women. Some people, however, don’t like the extra thickness because they feel like it makes the ring too bulky. It’s much easier to feel the difference of comfort fit bands than to understand it cognitively, so we recommend going into a couple of jewelry stores and trying on some bands to see what feels good (which gives you an opportunity to confirm your ring size, as well).

We typically make our standard bands (non-comfort fit) from stock that is 1.5mm thick; and our comfort fit bands from stock that is 2mm thick.  We can make our bands from stock of any thickness, but we recommend against going less than 1.5mm unless you do very little work with your hands.  Here is a picture of a 3mm x 1mm band that we made in 14k gold for a customer who, despite our warnings, went forward with the thinner stock because he didn’t want to feel the ring on his finger.  Within a week of his marriage, the band was bent somehow:

Wedding band made of 1mm thick stock and bent within a week of marriage

 Dan has created several renderings to show the profiles of our standard bands (1.5mm thick) in comparison with our comfort fit bands (2mm thick).  The following picture in Figure 1 shows, from the left: a pipe/flat band with no comfort fit; a pipe/flat band with comfort fit; a half round/domed band with comfort fit; and a half round/domed band without comfort fit:

 

comfort fit wedding bands

Fig. 1: from left to right: pipe, no comfort fit; pipe, comfort fit; half round, comfort fit; half round, no comfort fit

 

In Figure 2, Dan modeled several different widths. The widths of the bands are shown at the bottom of the rendering, and the thicknesses are shown on the left side. The 2mm thickness allows for the comfort fit.

The two rows on the top are of half round bands in varying widths, with the top row being comfort fit and the second row being non-comfort fit. The two rows on the bottom are of pipe bands in varying widths, with the third row being comfort fit and the final row being non-comfort fit.

Fig. 2: Profiles of comfort fit rings and non-comfort fit rings in various band widths

 Finally, Figure 3 shows two comfort fit bands – pipe style on the left; half round on the right.

Fig. 3: pipe style comfort fit band; half round comfort fit band

 “Comfort fit” is a term that gets thrown around rather loosely and is therefore confusing.  Some people have the misconception that a half round or domed band is synonymous with a comfort fit band.  It is not.  Either a flat band or a domed band can be made comfort fit…  what is necessary is a thicker shank in order to accommodate the bevel on the inner edges of the band.  Rings that are marketed as “comfortable” are not necessarily comfort fit (even though they may well be comfortable).

Another misconception with respect to comfort fit bands is that a person’s ring size will change depending on whether the ring is a standard band or a comfort fit band.  In fact, ring size should stay the same, regardless of whether the profile is comfort fit or not.  A comfort fit band will go over the knuckle more easily, but the size of the finger where the ring will sit is a constant. 

Finally, some people label comfort fit bands “Euro fit.”  The original Euro-fit bands (also called “ergo bands” or “ergonomic bands”) were somewhat square in shape, and therefore ”comfortable” in the sense that the bands did not spin around the finger or catch on things.  Many retailers now use the term “Euro fit” and “comfort fit” interchangeably.  The band in Figure 4 is both a Euro fit ring with a soft, square shank and a comfort fit ring with rounded interior edges. 
 
Euro ergo fit finger-shaped wedding band

Fig. 4: ergonomic, Euro-fit, comfort fit band

Ultimately, the decision to go with comfort fit or non-comfort fit is a matter of personal preference and budget.  The best way to determine which style is right for you is to try several rings on to see what you like.

size matters

Determining ring size is a bit tricky, as numerous factors impact how a ring fits.  In fact, your ring size can change up to a ¼ size throughout the course of a single day!  Your fingers are more likely to be swollen in the morning than at night, and they will be plumper in the summertime than in cool weather.   Eating salty foods will cause your fingers to swell.  Pregnancy can turn them into little sausages.  Illness, exercise, and hormonal changes all can affect your ring size.  Knuckles can be problematic, as well.

Helpful hints:

  • Your ring should go onto your finger more easily than it comes off.
  • When washing your hands, your ring shouldn’t slip around.
  • Your ring should not leave a mark or cut off circulation in any way.
  • You should have the same ring size for a comfort fit band as a standard (non-comfort fit) band.  The comfort fit band will enable you to get the ring onto your finger more easily, but the ring size itself should not be different.
  • A finger on the dominant hand will be about ½ size larger than the same finger on the non-dominant hand.
  • Square bands are more difficult to resize later than round bands.

If you are considering a wider band, you likely will want to go up ¼ to ½ size.  When more metal covers the surface area of the finger, extra “breathing” room allows your finger to move around more easily.  If possible, it would be best to try on bands in the same width you are considering – or to have someone help you with wider sizing rings.

We recommend going to *at least* two jewelers to get help with sizing prior to ordering online.  Ring sizing is a bit of an art, and unfortunately not all practitioners of this art are equally adept.  Plastic ring sizers or DIY tricks found on the Internet might help you to get into the ballpark of your size, but there’s no substitution for the guidance of a person who understands the nature of fingers.

It is critical to get as accurate a ring size as possible prior to ordering a handmade band.  The eventual size of the ring comes into play from the very start, impacting how much metal is alloyed and the length of the stock once it is hand-milled.  Dan measures ring size frequently through the course of making a ring, at every step, to ensure that he is on track.  He can make your ring at whole, half, quarter, or eighths of a size…  or even just “a hair over” or “a smidge under.”

When Dan checks the size of a ring, he measures where the *edge* of the ring falls on the mandrel.   The ring in the picture, therefore, is a size 9 ¾ .  If a jeweler were to size a band with the “9 ¾” mark at the center of the ring or on the top edge, the size determination obviously would be different.  Most jewelers will size rings as Dan sizes them and as shown in the photo – but it isn’t a given.

It is important to note that when Dan sizes a ring on the mandrel, he pushes down on the ring.  He does not do this in a forceful manner; but he doesn’t simply let the ring fall onto the mandrel, either.

If it turns out that your ring needs to be increased or decreased in size just a bit, we will be happy to help you to resize the ring.  We offer this as a free service, but we ask that our customers cover shipping and insurance costs from both ends.  It shouldn’t take us longer than a day or two to turn the ring back around to you.

If the ring is a size or more off, however, there’s a good chance that Dan will need to make a new ring for you.  We have had several customers who were given wildly incorrect sizes by their local jewelers, which is why we recommend going to at least two jewelers for assistance.

If you are not accustomed to wearing rings, you likely will believe that your ring is too tight once you put it on.  We have a lot – A LOT – of men, especially, who are convinced that they need to increase the size of their rings; but once they wear the rings for a little while, they get used to the feeling and find the rings comfortable.  It’s best to give it a little time before running to resize…  you wouldn’t want to increase the size only to lose the ring when it falls off your finger.