If you wear rings with gemstones, perhaps you have already noticed those tiny prongs that keep the stone fixed in the mounting. Many jewelry shoppers don’t take into account how many prongs a ring has before buying it, and that’s because people don’t realize how important these small protrusions are.
How Prongs Can Harm Your Gemstone
You know what prongs do, and perhaps you are also painfully aware of how easy it is for one of them to bend and snag your clothes or hair.
However, you should also know that when a prong is worn out or not in alignment, you are at risk of losing your stone.
And the more of your prongs are problematic, the more likely it is that your stone will fall off next time you hit your ring while wearing it.
To make things worse, bent prongs also make your stone more likely to crack when bumped.
Since prongs are very thin, they bend and wear out easily.
That’s why you should always be on the lookout and check regularly whether they are well aligned to make sure your stone is not loose.
Prong Maintenance Basics
When your prongs are worn out or broken, you need to have them fixed as soon as possible or you risk losing or damaging your stone.
Your jeweler will usually remove what’s left of them and solder new prongs in place or will simply add more metal to their tips to make them stronger. By the way, this process is called prong retipping.
You should have your prongs inspected at least twice a year.
What you should remember is that when a jeweler repairs your ring, you will be charged a fee for each prong that is fixed. Therefore, the more prongs you have that need retipping, the more you will pay.
So, what is better – fewer or more prongs?
Fewer Prongs – Fewer Problems
Generally, the fewer prongs you have, the less you will need to pay for repairs in the future.
Also, the more prongs you have, the more likely it is that at any given time, one of them will break or bend.
However, it is also true that if you have just a few prongs and one of them is damaged, you stand a higher risk of losing your stone.
So, you should consider this tradeoff when selecting a ring with prongs.
What Is the Optimal Number of Prongs?
Although there is no definite answer to this question, most rings will have four to eight prongs.
Just keep in mind the pros and cons of having more or fewer of them when buying a ring.
If a mounting has a lot of prongs, think twice about the ring’s maintenance and repair costs.
Of course, you can always avoid all this hassle and get a prongless mounting.