Can stainless steel rings be resized: The Top 8 Hacks (2022)
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resizing stainless steel rings

Can stainless steel rings be resized?  Or is it one of the metals that requires you to have the recipient of the ring be sized first, eliminating all chance for surprise?  Well, to be fair, stainless steel is different from other metals and that’s what we’ll explore as we discuss the re-sizing of this interesting ring metal.

1. What Is Stainless Steel?

There are so many jewelry terms out there, so many varieties of metal.  What is this stainless steel, anyway? Why is it stainless? Do other metals get stained? 

Well, stainless steel isn’t 100% steel.  It’s an alloy of 11% chromium, iron, and other metals, sometimes including nickel.  Basically, the combination of metals makes it so stainless steel doesn’t have bad reactions to water and other elements, and does not rust.  That’s basically what is meant by stainless—in short, it’s a low-maintenance metal that holds its color and is durable.

2. Can Stainless Steel Rings be Resized: Why is Stainless Steel Used for Jewelry?

Round sapphire platinum ring

Image via Tiffany

One of the main reasons jewelry makers turn to stainless steel is its strength and durability.  If it can make a friggin’ bridge it must be strong enough for a bracelet, right?  It’s not too expensive, and its color is pretty to most eyes.  Some people are going to want a shinier silver, while to some, a matte finish that has more grey in it is sufficient.

Further, Stainless Steel is un-plated, meaning no fading and no chipping.  The durability helps this metal keep its shape when made into jewelry.

There are a bunch of different grades of stainless steel, which measure various things such as strength and flexibility and their reaction to heat, etc.  The numbers go from 200-699 and indicate what sort of metals are used in the alloy.

Want an example? Here it is.  One type of stainless is called 316L, and it’s made of steel, iron, chromium, and nickel, plus molybdenum.  The latter is what makes this type more resistant to corrosion.  This kind of steel is often used for earrings.  Incidentally, the L is for “low,” as in “low carbon.”

3. Why Is Stainless Steel Difficult to Resize?

You know, we live in a world of yins and yangs, ups and downs, costs and benefits.  With steel, one of the major strengths leads to a weakness, the difficulty in re-sizing.  As mentioned, steel is very strong, and that’s exactly why it’s hard to resize.  To explain, gold is fairly easy to resize because it is so malleable.

resizing stainless steel rings: Stainless steel ring cutting
Image by Lakeview Images via Shutterstock

Basically, to resize a ring, you have to open it up.  Metal surgery. This means subjecting it to heat.  Well, the very tough and durable stainless steel has what’s called a high melting point.  This means it takes a lot of heat to crack it open to make it bigger or smaller.

Because of this high melting point, there is certain machinery required.  This is why many jewelers just have to turn away these rings.  Oh, they want to do them! They have a burning desire. But they just can’t.  So, yes, one can resize stainless steel rings, absolutely. It just takes a specialist.

4. Can Stainless Steel Rings be Resized: Some Stainless Steel Rings Can’t Be Resized

Cut ring

Image by Lakeview Images via Shutterstock

OK, I’m not a lying liar.  Don’t say I’m a lying liar who’s lying.  Many stainless-steel rings can be resized, just not every single style.

Here are the problem children:

Eternity Bands-These studded bands really are for an eternity, or at least their size is.  They’re neither going up nor down in size, so size wisely.

Inlay- an inlay is a band of metal on the inside or outside of the band itself.  A bonus.  If a ring has these, it’s essentially impossible to get in there and cut that crazy stainless steel without doing some harm to the poor, innocent inlay.

Rings with patterns- sometimes you see designs or words in a sort of stencil on rings.  As is the case with inlays, these deals will get screwed up with resizing.

5. Stainless Steel That Can Be Resized

Enameling- Don’t worry about an enameled ring, such as a class ring.  True, that enameling will melt off, but it can be reapplied, which is what happens during the re-sizing process.

Finishes- Finishes of different kinds are often brushed onto stainless steel rings.  These will melt off easily during a re-sizing process.  Yes, they will have to then be reapplied, but the resizing can occur.

6. Can Stainless Steel Rings be Resized: the Re-sizing Process

resizing stainless steel rings: Soldering jewelry rings to increase ring size
Image by Anastasiasi via Shutterstock

Oh now that you know about finishes and enameling, maybe you’d like to know how re-sizing works to begin with.  Well, it must be subjected to high heat.  Then, the metal is cut.   If they are sizing the ring up, they then put a shank of metal into it to act as a bridge.

If they are sizing it down, they then close it back up.

The jeweler or technician then has to clean the ring and polish it.

Just to make a few points, so you know you’ll get your money’s worth.  The cleaning that happens is not just a tiny cloth but an ultrasonic chamber in which bubbles blast away the dirt.  What is cooler than that? The polish is done to fix some of the little dings done during the resizing.

Now, as mentioned above, if there’s enameling or anything like that, this is the stage when they will be put back on, usually redone.  This is how the process can get a touch time-consuming.

7. Alternatives to Re-sizing

Here’s the thing, duckling: you don’t have to necessarily re-size a ring.  Now, if you’re wanting to size up, there’s not much you can do. You have to really do a re-sizing. But if the ring is too roomy and you want to size down, there are a lot of easy fixes.

Sizing lining

alternative to resizing stainless steel rings with transparent lining

If you put more stuff inside the band, it will fit your finger. A sizing lining is just a little inlay of material, usually metal, that goes into the inside of a ring to fit your finger.

Sizing beads

alternative to resizing stainless steel rings with sizing beads
Image by Christine Alaniz

Say you don’t want a whole inner ring, an alternative is a couple of little beads that cushion against your finger in two spots, thus making the ring fit. No ring surgery, no anesthetic.

8. Can Stainless Steel Rings be Resized FAQs

Q. How many times can you re-size a stainless-steel ring?

A. One issue with quite a few ring metals is that they weaken with each re-sizing.  However, stainless steel is super-strong.  So you don’t have that particular problem.  The issue with steel, for those of you who just skipped down to this part of the article, is that stainless is just really hard to re-size in the first place. 

Once you locate a technician who can re-size  your stainless steel jewelry, you sure could get it done multiple times.  But it will be costly and somewhat time-consuming.  Think of the work that needs to be done if the ring has enameling or an inlay.  

It’s important to just be sure you’re getting it right the first time, or try to get a size correct before you purchase the ring.  Remember that there are alternatives like sizing lining that can help without an actual resize.

Q. Does Resizing a Steel Ring De-value It?

A. Re-sizing a platinum ring doesn’t necessarily devalue it.  Rings get devalued with visible scratches, wear, or metal that is rubbed off.  If your ring doesn’t have these flaws after re-sizing, you’re good.  Therefore, of the reasons that re-sizing stainless steel can be a big difficult, this is not one.

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January 10, 2022 by Hiuyan Lam