Well you may ask what is a micro set ring?. I am sure you all know that the word “micro” is short for microscopic which means very small among other things. So micro set rings are rings set with small stones which have extremely small pieces of metal on each stone and so, there lies the problem. I do not know how many of these we have taken in to fix already and it is only early days yet – in micro set times. I believe that we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg in relation to the amount of stones mostly diamonds that are going to fall out of these rings in the future. For some reason these rings became popular as wedding rings a number of years ago. They were usually made to compliment the huge number of “halo” rings that are on the market that are used as engagement rings. Many of the “halo” rings themselves are also micro set with huge numbers of tiny diamonds around, under, over and beside the main diamond. These rings are very good at making a small centre diamond look larger and one gets a lot more “bling” for their money but, they are totally impractical. Many of the rings I have examined have perhaps two tiny claws on each stone or two claws between two stones. I believe they were designed like this in order to save money on the metal and time on the setting. Most of these rings are mass produced in the Far East and shipped all around the world. Many Jewellers who are not Goldsmiths themselves find these rings handy to pop a centre stone in and then proclaim that they made the ring themselves. I have pointed out many loose micro set diamonds to clients as I value their rings in particular from one or two non established Jewellers in Dublin, Antwerp and Dubai. Some people say they do not mind if one diamond falls out because they are very small and must be inexpensive to replace. Yes they are small and generally not expensive however, it is another matter trying to get them back into the already worn setting with one or two tiny claws left to hold the diamond in. It is extremely difficult to have to solder on a thin and tiny claw in the middle of a setting or side of a shank. The other tiny claws beside the missing claws can sometimes even melt from the heat of the soldering while fixing the broken claws and if one has to do this between six and eight times on one ring it begins to look like a “dogs dinner” no matter how good the Goldsmith is. These rings like a lot of jewellery manufactured today are more like “disposable jewellery” meaning there is little point in wasting lots of money trying to get them fixed for years and years. It is better just to cut your losses and buy a new mount without the huge amount of tiny diamonds which is what we have had to do for a number of people already who bought these rings from someone else. I admit to having a few micro set sample rings in my own shop. However, I am very fussy about which ones I sell and for what reason they are being bought. I would never sell a micro set ring as a wedding ring for the seasons already stated and if one insists on having one as an engagement ring then I will only sell a ring that has at least four claws on all the small diamonds and is made in platinum and not gold. The diamonds have a chance of staying in the setting if there are four claws on each stone and as platinum is a very hard metal it is the best metal to use for micro setting.
The other problem with these micro set wedding bands is that most of them weigh about two or two and a half grams and customers expect them to last the whole of their married life!. If the marriage only lasts about six years then it should be alright but, if it lasts any longer then one would have problems. Unless a wedding band is made by hand it needs to be a minimum of three and a half grams in weight to last any length of time in my opinion. The gold mix is not nearly the same mix as in your grandmothers day. With all the EU standards the gold mix has changed quite a lot and the gold is much softer today and from my own experience if worn everyday will usually last on average seven years before it has to be fixed, changed and added to. So, how anyone expects a two gram micro set ring to last thirty to forty years is beyond me. I think Jewellers selling these rings to young couples as long term wedding rings are going to have lots of problems in the future with angry customers. I have always tried to think what is best for my customers long term rather than making a quick buck short term. There are a number of new entrepreneurs (who do not have adequate qualifications) in the jewellery trade in Dublin who claim to be much cheaper than established jewellers and they do not seem to have any qualms about selling these rings however, I know that they will eventually ruin their own image by doing so it just takes time but, the young people buying these rings at the moment do not know that yet.
As I have said before I think these rings are alright if they are used occasionally i.e. going out on an evening for dinner or going to a party so where they will not get much wear or abuse. I would sell one of these rings to a customer if I knew this is what the ring was going to be used for but not as a wedding ring even if it is made in platinum with four claws it is not suitable. Even if I sell a “halo” ring as an engagement ring I have to make sure that the four claws are long and strong as opposed to short and thin so, there are only a few of these types of rings I would sell. I have lost many sales over how strict I am on mounts etc but at least I know I will not have to face that customer in a few months or years with all the stones falling out.
If you want an engagement or wedding ring with a lot of small diamonds in it then I would really recommend that you get one with deeply grain set diamonds with a slightly thick wall running along the edge of the setting. This way it can take a long time for the metal to wear away and if set correctly with four large grains on each stone then they should stay in for a long time. However any ring no matter how well it is set needs to have all the stones and settings checked at least once a year and perhaps some may need to be tightened up a little.