Can you repair jewelry?
Oh my goodness! I get asked this question all the time. It happens all too often when someone finds out that I make jewelry. The first thing that comes out of their mouth is, “ So, I have this ring,” and I’m thinking to myself, “oh no! Here it comes!…” and they say, “It’s too small and I want to wear it on this finger. Can you size it for me?” This is such a popular question so I’d like to clear up this misunderstanding straight away. Repairing jewelry is a whole other ball game compared to designing and making it.
Jewelry repair is a VERY specialized field of work. For example, there are thousands of hairstylists in the hair biz, right? But not all hairstylist specialize in hair extensions. It’s a specialized field of work that requires extra training. Not all hair is the same so the stylist must know in advance what to do in certain situations.
You most likely wouldn’t go to a stylist who doesn’t know how to work with hair extensions, am I right? Of course not! You’d go to the one who specializes in that kind of work. Their expertise in this area of hairstyling is what you pay them for. It’s they’re job to make your extensions blend so well they “look real.” And that’s not a simple task. The same is true for jewelry repair.
Before we go any further, this is not to say that I can’t repair my own jewelry creations because I can. The point is when someone brings me a piece of jewelry I didn’t create it can be a problem. Repair work is not my area of expertise.
Why is jewelry repair so specialized?
Well, in some cases you might think your bracelet is sterling silver. Only to find out that it’s actually made of brass metal that’s been silver plated (this is very common). Another scenario is that you “think” or have been “told” that your family heirloom is either platinum or white gold. The heirloom is so old that the quality stamp may have worn away. This stamp indicates the type of metals used in the piece. Before any repair work can start the metal content must be tested. Provided the metal content is in question.
So what does this have to do with repairing jewelry? Don’t jewelry makers know how to work with metal? Yes, jewelry makers do know how to work with metal. But if a piece of jewelry is plated with another metal the jeweler will need to know this information. It takes a special type of metal testing kit to find out what type of metal your jewelry was made from. But this is only a taste of things to expect when having a repair done.
Other scenarios include having to remove stones from a ring or bracelet to be sized properly. Heat from a torch can damage gorgeous stones. Gemstones could become cracked upon removing them. And what about a piece of jewelry that was made with two different types of metals to achieve a two-toned style? Not all metal has the same melting point. This and more need to be taken into consideration when doing any kind of soldering repair work.
Jewelry repair requires specialized knowledge, craftsmanship, and special tools
Like I mentioned before, I can do repair work on the jewelry that I make. “Why,” you ask since I don’t specialize in repair work? Because I know my resources! When I buy raw materials and gemstones I buy from reputable sources here in America. So if something should go wrong I can repair my own work with ease. This comes down to knowing the history of my jewelry as well as the quality I provide.
If you’ve purchased jewelry elsewhere I’d suggest you find a local repair guy or gal who specializes in this work. It will save you a lot of hassle in the long run. But! Finding a jeweler that specializes in repair work is no simple task. At the very least, you’ll want one that you can trust. In this case, you may want to ask friends where they go to get repair work done. You’ll want a jeweler that won’t ruin your prized possession. It’s important to know the quality of the jeweler’s repair work and reputation beforehand!