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Thin is In: A Vendor’s Dilemma

The thin jewelry trend
Fashion is often influenced by the cost of production. With precious metal prices rising to record levels we have seen fashion take to a course where thinner and lighter is “fashionable”. It certainly is logical, but it is my belief we have reached and likely have passed beyond a reasonable limit to an extent on how delicate and light some ring mountings are to be made. While the comments I am about to make apply more broadly, I’ll just touch on a couple portions which seem to be creating frequent problems.

Rings with 1.5mm shanks are thin and delicate. For many people they are way too thin to be durable. Added to this trend for thinness is the micropavé of many light items further reducing the metal content and therefore also reducing durability. A ring for daily wear takes an incredible amount of abuse in the normal routine of life. Add this wear factor to a light and overly delicate design with tiny diamonds plugged into a Swiss cheese of holes for holding these stones there is nearly nothing left to give the ring sufficient strength. These very delicate and beautiful rings are just going to give consumers problems sooner or later. Some folks may be very careful and dainty with their rings on, but most people are going to see trouble in their future with such pieces.

Historically, one of the things which gave rise to this fashion are some of the wonderful Art Deco and filigree items from the first 1/2 of the 1900’s. One must remember that these items mostly look so delicate and fine today because they were made heavy enough when new that they have worn away a good deal of their metal by now, but are still holding up. They were not so thin when new. And, the thin ones made for less money back then have worn out and been scrapped or rebuilt.

I am seeing bracelets too thin to be durable, earrings with friction nuts so thin that they won’t stay on the ear, micropavé and invisibly set diamond jewelry made so light that the items bend and the stones fall out. If you have insurance, you are covered for the loss of the diamonds, but normal wear and tear on jewelry is not covered.

My suggestion is to investigate and shop well to determine if a light, delicate item is really right for you. Using a 2 or 2.5mm shank will help the ring to stand up to normal wear. Using hand made or die struck components, which are more dense metal than cast components, also often increases hardness, and durability. The labor to make a slightly heavier item is truly nominal. Only the added metal increases the cost and while it will cost more, the jewelry will last a long, long time and frequently never give the owner any problem over decades of use.

Not to make light of what I see as a a tragic situation, but I see the chase for thinness in rings akin to the public’s mistaken attraction to the super thin fashion models who are about one tiny meal away from turning into dust. Just a little more body on both jewelry and models would not be a mistake……. (My experience is all with jewelry and unfortunately not with models, oh well.)

Vendor’s Dilemma
The vendor’s dilemma is to agree to sell an item which will not wear well over a long period of time, or sell what you request in spite of this reasonably clear knowledge. All vendors want and need your business. Some will always agree to make whatever you wish. Some may warn you and then make what you want anyway and a few will never agree to make a piece too light or too thin to hold stones well or to be less than durable. Let the vendor guide you and keep an open mind. We cannot go thinner and thinner still. We have reached that limit already. Fashion and common sense will head in the opposite direction at some point. Look for advice and listen to those things which your vendor suggests concerning daily use and wear and tear issues. If the vendor makes no mention of durability and thickness concerns, then you should ask. You may be glad you did.

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Who is David Atlas?

D. Atlas - Expert Gemologist

David Atlas’ resume

David S. Atlas, a noted jewelry and gem expert, celebrated 50 years of experience in 2017.  He has combined his real world and industry experience with education from his father, GIA, ISA, ASA, AGS and NAJA for over 5 decades to offer the best in jewelry consultation services, appraisals, and advice in the areas of diamonds, colored gems, precious metals, and jewelry.

David began his jewelry career in 1967 with his family firm, which was founded in 1898. He can assist you in making smart decisions when insuring, buying, selling, divorcing, and inheriting precious jewelry and gems. Minimizing insurance costs and taxes, while maximizing any potential benefits is the right course of action.

David S. Atlas offers technical, forensic services when needed, such as when there is a question of origin of damage, or differences of opinion which creates worry and concern. He is a consumer advocate offering experienced advice, service and discretion.

David is an Associate Director of the National Association of Jewelry Appraisers. This is the largest jewelry only appraisal organization both in the USA and the world. He has also been the Chairman of Ethical Issues for this Association for over 20 years.  David created and graded all advancement Certification tests for NAJA until 2019.  As of 2020 all NAJA Education and testing has been converted to online learning.

You can see to the right side of this page that Mr. Atlas has undergone a full background check to increase public trust in his services and encourages all appraisers to do likewise.

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D. Atlas - Jewelry Appraiser

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Services for:  Consumers, heirs, trustees, dealers & retailers  by appointment. Call David Atlas, 215-385-0258 or email d.atlas.co@gmail.com

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D. Atlas - Jewelry Consulting

I know what I like, but I have no idea of how to get it. Who can I trust, or is there some way to better protect myself? Can these two items be taken apart and put together to form a new, modern piece which I could wear? Is this a real diamond? Is there a “problem” with this piece of jewelry?

David S. Atlas can assist you with the answers to these questions and more. 50 plus years experience, a trusted and noted expert in the field.