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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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Jewelry Repair: Opal and white gold hand fabricated ring

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As a custom jewelry and jewelry repair shop, sometimes we think we’ve seen every piece of jewelry ever created. And just when we get comfortable in that belief, someone asks us to repair a rare piece that even blows us away. As was the case with this hand-fabricated antique Korean ring.

A few months ago, one of our customers brought in a beautiful hand-fabricated white gold setting that was missing its original stone, and its craftsmanship blew our socks off. The ring was a family heirloom that had been passed down to our customer, but the stone had long been missing. Wanting to wear it again, she brought it into Custom to see if we could find and set a great replacement stone into the ring. As soon as we saw it, we answered with a resounding, “Yes, please!”

The thing that made this ring stand out among the many brilliant rings we see, is the fact that it was completely-hand fabricated, meaning, that every part of this ring was hand-made from an individual piece of metal and then soldered together to create its final form. While we employ this form of jewelry creation at Custom, on occasion, most modern pieces that have complex stone setting or filigree work will be wax-cast rather than hand-fabricated, since wax casting creates a more precise outcome. Which is why this piece was so intriguing. It had both complex stone setting and filigree work on the under-bezel, and the craftsmanship was so precise it looked as though the ring was modern and had been wax-cast. The hallmark on the inside of the ring proved that it truly was an original antique, but our eyes could have almost been deceived. Regardless, we were delighted to fit and find the perfect opal for this lovely antique setting, and couldn’t have been more pleased that she chose Custom to work on it.

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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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Jewelry Repairs – Ring Sizing

Jewelry Repairs – Ring Sizing. Sizing a ring is a fundamental jewelry repair. We are here to help with any ring sizing, bigger or smaller, simple silver band or intricate platinum  and diamond engagement ring. You need to trust your jeweler with your most prized items, and no quality is more important in a jeweler  than experience. With nearly 20 years of Custom Jewelry making and jewelry repair experience, Custom is uniquely suited to take on even your most valuable ring sizing  job. We do all our repair work here in our store. Your piece of jewelry will never leave the premises and can often be returned to you on the same day you bring it to be sized.

Jewelry Repairs - Ring Sizing

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Jewelry Repair – Ring Sizing

There are many reasons why a person might want a ring sized. For an experienced jeweler, 99% of ring sizings pose no problems. However, there are a number of things to consider when choosing a jeweler to resize rings. First and foremost would be if the ring contains stones. Only 3 stones can safely withstand the heat required to size a ring. These stones are easily remembered using the American flag rule: red, white, and blue, meaning rubies, diamonds and sapphires. All three stones can withstand the heat of a sizing, without sustaining any damage. All other precious and semi-precious stones risk shattering or changing color if heated to high temperatures. Stones present another issue, especially if the ring is being made larger. Sizing a ring up or down changes the shape of the mounting. Sizing a ring down makes the stone settings loose, requiring the jeweler to re-tighten them before he is finished with the job. Sizing a ring up, alternately, tightens the stone settings, putting extra stress on the gems. The majority of stones are softer, leading this extra stress to cause them to break. A jeweler experienced in jewelry repair is aware of this and will take the necessary precautions. At Custom we take care to examine your jewelry very carefully. We have the experience necessary to perform all the vital steps that insure that your heirlooms are returned to you in better condition than they arrived. Our extensive experience in jewelry repair allows us to guarantee the pieces we work with will not lose stones, or suffer other failures for a years time.

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Jewelry Repair – Prong Re-tipping

A common jewelry repair is re-tipping the prongs that hold stones in their mountings. Re-tipping is most commonly needed on gold rings, as they experience the most wear and tear. It is important for you as a jewelry owner to keep an eye on your pieces, and make sure the settings are healthy. This includes checking for visible cracks anywhere on the mounting, missing or worn prongs, and especially missing stones. A missing stone means the extra expense of replacing the stone, in addition to the damaged prongs. Hopefully, we can help you avoid this extra cost by educating you on when it is time to re-tip or replace your prongs.

Healthy prongs should looks like the ones in this illustration.
From both the top and the sides, these prongs have an adequate amount of metal to hold the stone securely in place.

The illustration below shows a prong that is worn primarily from the top. This type of wear can be repaired by re-tipping the prong. Re-tipping involves flowing solder onto the top of the prong, to build it back up. Re-tipping is generally only possible on pieces holding diamonds, sapphires, and rubies. These are the only stones that will withstand the heat of the torch during the repair (more on this in a later post).

In this image, the prong has been worn primarily from the side. Wear such as this requires a full prong replacement.

A prong replacement involves sawing off the old prong at the base and soldering on a new one.

Another thing to look for are lifted prongs. This can occur if the prong was not set correctly and in wearing the piece the defective prong snags on clothing or any number of other things.

take a close look at your jewelry to see if you can see any of these problems. If you do, bring it to Custom so we can give you our expert opinion and fix any problems correctly.