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Bench Tips: Basic jewelry repair and maintenance

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Jewelry repair may seem like the less glamorous side of a jeweler’s daily grind, but ring repairs–and other forms of jewelry repair work–are important steps to restoring and preserving your jewelry for many years to come.

So, what should you know about jewelry maintenance in order to minimize jewelry repair time and ensure your beloved engagement ring or your grandmother’s antique earrings have a long and happy life? We’ve collected a couple tips and insights about basic jewelry maintenance and repair that any jewelry lover should know.

1. Jewelry should be serviced every so often. Having someone scrutinize and adjust your treasured opal pendant or mother’s sapphire ring could put you on edge, but just like the dentist, a regular check up can prevent long-term heartache. A yearly cleaning or inspection with your jeweler will allow him or her to look for potential long term problems, such as loose stones, worn prongs, or a thinning band. Along with receiving a bright and shiny cleaned piece of jewelry upon your return, you’ll also get peace of mind knowing that your engagement ring or anniversary band can be worn with confidence for another year.

2.  Proper jewelry storage is your friend. No one is going to have a velvet-lined Fort Knox in their closet. But, figuring out the best storage places for specific types of jewelry can help elongate the life of your pieces and limit your need for jewelry cleaning. For example, silver is naturally going to tarnish over the years due to oxidization. However, if stored in airtight containers, you can actually limit how often you need to shine your silver jewelry. Also, ensuring your jewelry boxes are large enough to set pieces down without touching one another, will cut down on scratching and therefore rebuffing. So, while you may not be able to give every piece special storage treatment, pick out a few you love, do some research about their best possible homes, and find them a cozy spot in which to live.

3. Soap, water, and a soft cloth works wonders. There are a million fancy jewelry cleaners out there claiming to work better, faster, harder than the others. Some promise to clean your jewelry, but not harm them. Others are “tough on tarnish.” But the reality is, most of the time, they are unnecessary. Strangely enough, for most precious metals — silver, gold, platinum — polishing with a soft cloth and your own arm strength will bring back their shine. If your jewelry is really dirty and set with hard stones –like diamonds or sapphires — that you want to see shimmer, one of the easiest and best things you can clean with is a little soap and water. I’m not kidding. Use a mild hand soap, like Dawn, diluted in a little water. Then, dip a very soft worn out toothbrush in the solution and gently scrub your jewelry in a circular motion. Once done, simply rinse in water and air dry on a towel. You’ll be surprised how much your jewelry will shine, and how much money you save on fancy cleaners.

4. Sometimes the best repair is not what you would expect. Repair work is inevitably going to happen, and when it does, be prepared that it may not look exactly as it once did. If a clasp breaks it could need to be re-soldered together or replaced completely. If a ring shank splits, it may be salvageable as is, or it may need extra metal to fortify it from future breaks. If your stone cracks, don’t immediately despair that you will have to buy a new one. You may be surprised that it can simply be re-cut and reset as good as new. So, keep an open mind and take your repair work to someone you trust.

So go forth and adorn yourself in your newly shiny, shimmery accouterments, and tell us about your own jewelry tips and tricks in the comments.

 

 

 

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Tips for Shopping for a Custom Engagement Ring: Part Two

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Welcome to the second installment of our two-part series on shopping for a custom engagement ring. This week, we’ll be talking about timelines, process, and hopefully giving you some good advice about how to expedite your engagement ring process.

Part Two: Process & Timelines

Most of the other questions we get revolve around how long something will take or what you, as the customer, needs to do in order have a smooth designing process. I’ve taken some of the top behaviors we see and turned them into a few tips on how to ensure that your proposal with a custom ring will go as smoothly as possible.

5. Set a proposal timeline. One of the questions we normally get is “how long will this take?” and the answer is very dependent on the type of ring you want to create. Intricate design work takes longer than a simple band, and if the jeweler has to outsource some of the construction — like hand engraving — then that will also add to the timeline. So, the best thing to do is to decide when you want to propose, and then start shopping around a few months before that date. Most custom rings will take around 4-6 weeks to create, but some definitely take longer and you want to give yourself enough buffer for unforeseen circumstances (like your jeweler getting sick). So ask yourself when you’d like to propose to your loved one. Are you a Christmas lover, and want to ask over a bonfire? Is there a special anniversary coming up you want to take advantage of? Once you know when you’d like to do it, then you can work backwards from that date to start shopping around. Ideally you’d give yourself a 2-3 month buffer: enough time to get a few price quotes, have the ring created, and finalize the details of your proposal after the ring is completed.

6. Remember your jeweler is human. Sometimes metalsmithing and jewelry creation seems like magic to me. Somehow someone takes a lump of raw material and turns it into a beautiful, shiny adornment. But behind every intriguing piece of jewelry was a very skilled (and very human) hand molding it into what it is. Like with most things nowadays, I’ve become so accustomed to a “right here, right now” lifestyle that I forget sometimes that real artisanship takes time. So when you’re shopping for Custom Jewelry, don’t be in a rush.  It’s like the old adage says, sometimes the slower you go the faster you get there, and a jeweler should only go as fast as the speed of art. The reason we love handmade is because it is unique, individual, and has the artisan stamp of one person’s viewpoint at a single moment of time. So embrace slight imperfections and don’t expect fine work to be done in a day. Keep an open mind, and remember, your jeweler is human. But he or she is going to work to keep your business and wants to make a piece for you that stands the test of time — even if it’s going to take some to create.

7. Know the ring size. You’d be surprised how many rings we’ve created without having an accurate ring size. Here’s the thing. You don’t have to have it.  But it is soooo much better if you do. Here’s why: When you propose, your beloved is going to want to wear the ring. Right then. Right there. And they do not want to worry about it falling off or not going on. The other reason is that when the jeweler designs a ring, they take specific dimensions into consideration. The size of a person’s hands and fingers is one of them. A 5 mm width looks different on a size 5 finger than a size 7 finger, and fine tuning your design to be as beautiful as it can be is something you can only do with exact dimensions. Most good jewelers will plan rings with the ability to size it up or down by 1 size, but having to drastically change an intricately designed ring can get really hairy, really quickly. So our advice: figure out the ring size. Doing so means not having to come back to the jeweler after you propose, and allows you to end up with a complete and fine-tuned custom design. Not to mention, your beloved will be ecstatic when it fits like a glove the first time.

8. Find a jeweler you trust. This may be obvious, but it is also the best tip we’ve got. While ideally you’d have all of our previous tips in mind while shopping, working with a jeweler you trust is worth it’s weight in gold (pardon the pun), as they can walk you through the process. As I said in my last post, good jewelers have your best interest at heart and will give you options to fit timeline, budget, and scope of the work you want. They are happy to answer your questions and want to create something beautiful with you. So if all thus fails, find someone who you connect with.

With that, I’ll leave you with a few more of the beautiful engagement rings we’ve had the pleasure of creating. We hope they inspire, and happy designing!

  Bezel-set-sapphire-engagement-ring  Blue Topaz Tree Ring  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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Jewelry Repair: Sterling Silver and Turquoise Earring Replacement

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Could it get any worse than losing your favorite set of sterling silver and turquoise earrings? How about losing only one of your favorite sterling silver and turquoise earrings, and being constantly reminded that you can’t wear them anymore by the remaining earring in your jewelry box. Now that’s rough.

Thankfully, this customer contacted us about replacing her one-of-a-kind earring’s long-lost mate. Custom’s challenge: Rebuild and recreate this silver and turquoise earring completely from scratch. We accepted, and it turned out to be a really cool jewelry repair job.

This earring consisted of three main sections: a round post, a decorative body, and three silver drop-shaped accents, each connecting to make the whole earring. Using the existing earring as a guide, we were able to hand fabricate the decorative body and round post. Then we took silver wire and finely hammered each piece into three decorative drops. After that, it was simply a matter of setting the turquoise into place and linking everything together.

We were very pleased with the results, and more importantly, so was the customer. Check out the process below, and take your best guess at which one was the original in the comments!

 

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Art Deco Decadence

Blue Sapphire Art Deco RingHere at Custom we pride ourselves on pushing the limits of traditional when it comes to creating custom engagement rings, wedding sets, and anniversary bands. That being said, we appreciate the classics elements found in all beautiful and well-made art. And nothing says classic like the glitz, glamour, and architectural brilliance of the Art Deco movement.

The Art Deco time period is most commonly associated with the 1930s: think Great Gatsby, think Chrysler Building, think classic Rolls-Royce. However, the movement encompasses the entire time period from 1920 to post World War II 1940s. Originating in France, the movement spread widely, influencing most European nations as well as the United States. Even though the style can be occasionally mixed up with the Art Nouveau movement, there are distinct differences between the two time periods.

While both movements started in Europe and are characterized by rich, ornate styling, the Art Nouveau movement draws its inspirations from nature; where as Art Deco is unapologetically industrialist. Favoring squared-off lines to billowing waves, geometric patterns to organic shapes, and clean symmetry to asymmetrical artistry, Art Deco is not afraid to flaunt the spoils of the time period’s technological advancements, and this is great news for the jewelry lover.

During the Art Deco time period diamonds reigned as king, further distancing itself from the opals and pearls of its predecessor, Art Nouveau. Also, during this time period, classic jewelry houses, such as Cartier and Tiffany, emerged as the forward-thinking trendsetters, influencing many  talented modern-day designers, including those at Custom.

When looking for Art Deco jewelry keep an eye out for the cool, smooth metalsmithing of the time period. The glamour of white gold, and a mix of diamonds, emeralds, rubies, and onyx stones. So, feast your eyes on some classic construction from the great designers of the 1930s, and give us a shout out when you want to create your next Custom, Gatsby-inspired piece.

 

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Spring into Art Nouveau

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At Custom we’re always looking for inspiration to create that next great ring, bracelet, or set of earrings. So, quite a bit of our time actually goes to researching design, art, and philosophy from antiquity into modern times. To us, nothing says “Spring has sprung”,  like the Art Nouveau movement.  It’s whimsical, takes a lot of motifs directly from nature, and is known for its soft, almost billowing details. So it’s no surprise that while researching new ideas for Spring concepts, We fell in love with the Art Nouveau movement all over again.

Like many fashionable things, the style of Art Nouveau originated within the artist cafes of turn-of-the-century France. Literally translated as “New Art”, this delicate, ornate, and ethereal style gained popularity amongst the youth of Europe. So much so, that an alternative name for this style is Arte Joven or “Young Art”.

While the timeframe of this movement varies, Art Nouveau typically spans from late 19th century to early 20th century (1890s-1914), and can be spotted by its very distinct influences from Japanese culture and the natural world. Among the most easy-to-spot jewelry characteristics are intricate enameling in golds, pinks, and greens; soft, wave-like lines;  nature-inspired themes, such as flowers and vines, and unique stones like opals, pearls, and colored cabochons.

 Known for its light and airy feel, as well as its organic and elegant shapes, this movement still influences many designers today, including the crew at Custom. So with that, we’ll leave you with a few of our favorite Art Nouveau images to check out. Do any of these get your creative energies flowing? Do you think some of the art can be turned into some awesome jewelry? Let us know which ones inspire you in the comments.