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Bling styles come and go, but when it comes to rings, you can count on one thing: The majority of them will be made of gold or silver. As your jeweler will tell you, this is no coincidence. The relative softness of the two precious metals makes them easy to shape, mold and size into any design, from a plain band to a flamboyant cocktail ring.
Stretching Rings With Simple Designs
You might have a silver band that's pretty plain or has evenly spaced etchings all around. If you put the ring away for a few years or inherited it from a friend or relative, it may be a little too tight. The simpler the design, the easier it is to stretch the ring to fit your finger. If it's a matter of a size or half size, your local jeweler can size it quickly and inexpensively. Jewelers use a ring gauge to measure your finger size, and then they heat the silver and use a tool called a mandrel to stretch your ring. The mandrel is a long, solid metal tube that's thicker at the base and gradually gets thinner toward the end. Ring sizes are engraved at intervals along its length, and the jeweler slides the heated ring along the mandrel to stretch it to your size.
Rings With Stone Settings
Gals love silver rings with a polished piece of turquoise or another semiprecious stone set in the middle. Once again, if it's a matter of a size or so bigger, the jeweler can heat the silver ring and stretch it on the mandrel. The stone setting makes this a little tougher, though, and it might cost a few dollars more. The ring can't be stretched evenly all the way around, so the jeweler has to stretch it on one side while making sure the silver doesn't get so thin it breaks when you wear it.
If you have a silver ring with more than one stone setting or a shaped carving or design that can't be stretched, things get a little more complex. The jeweler will have to cut your ring, rebuild the design and weld the ring back together in the correct size.
Stretching More Than a Size
If you've inherited a ring that's more than a size too small but you just can't live without it, your jeweler can probably come up with a solution. Unless the silver is very thick, the ring has to be cut, rebuilt and welded, probably with some extra silver added in. This fix won't make as much of a dent in your wallet as it would with a gold ring, so you'll be able to sport your silver ring without spending too much money.
For the max in ring-size versatility, ever-creative jewelers have developed stretch rings so you can wear them on any finger or share them with your girlfriends. Stretch silver rings have elastic or stretchable alloy bands inside, with silver bands or beads along with stones and crystals in an array of designs on the outside. These rings give you a stretching solution without a trip to the jeweler.