By Tony Cruz
Many people have a misconception about jewelry repairs because they just do not understand the process and what is necessary to make a quality repair. Cost, time, and amount of work needed are mysteries unless you understand what is required to do a good, professional job. Some of the questions and comments heard are:
“Why does a simple repair take so long?”
“All you have to do is put a stone in. Why does it cost so much?
“Is all that work necessary?”
“I just had this fixed! -(Probably three years ago)- Why does it need fixing again?”
Jewelry repair, like any other repair work, requires skill, knowledge, and the right materials. In order to do the job right, we have to thoroughly examine the piece and identify the areas needing work.An example is resetting a stone into a ring. This job is not always as easy as pushing the stone back into place. There was a reason the stone is loose or fell out. The most likely culprit are worn down, bent, or altogether missing prongs. In this scenario, the prongs must first be repaired or replaced. If there are other stones in the area that are heat sensitive, they may have to be removed before the solder repair process. Setting the stone has a number of steps that must be taken to ensure the stone is tight and will stay in place under normal wear. The final step is the finishing and re-polishing to remove the tool marks and residue from the repair process. In a busy repair business, multiply this repair by over fifty repair intakes per week, and you can see that a quick repair is not always possible. However, dropping off your ring to get your stones and prongs checked for under $20 is a lot less costly than replacing a missing stone! The replacement cost depends on the type of stone and the size. Early detection is the key to savings and security.
Ring prongs need to be regularly checked and maintained. If the prongs were repaired earlier, it is possible that a prong could get snagged and bent, or even broken. The causes of the damage are not always known, but an experienced jeweler or jewelry repair person will be able to diagnose the problem and the probable cause of the damage. Perhaps the item was exposed to chlorine and caused the metal to break down. Maybe the prong was bent and resulted in a snag that broke it off. Sometimes, the material itself is flawed due to a bad casting, which could be hidden until a break occurs. Each of these causes requires different repair techniques and materials.
Sometimes, a piece of jewelry has reached the end of its life and needs to be replaced. Chains that are worn thin and stretched will probably have a number of weak areas that are prone to breaking. Perhaps it would be better to replace the chain than to keep having it repaired every few months. Rings can suffer the same fate. The shank, or the underside of the ring, can become thin due to decades of wear (such as an heirloom piece), or due to resizing. Sometimes, the old shank needs to be cut, and a new shank needs to be attached. In more extensive repairs, sometimes the whole ring might need to be recasted and the former stones removed and set into the new ring.
Many extensive repair costs can be mitigated. Often times, a piece of jewelry needing a lot of work has been neglected for years. It probably has not been cleaned or even taken off in years. Having your jewelry cleaned and inspected on a regular basis prevents bigger problems in the future. We recommend that jewelry be cleaned and inspected a minimum of two times per year.
Proper care of your jewelry along with regular inspections by a trained professional can minimize repair costs and frustration. Most people want their jewelry to last and be trouble free. Since few of us own “museum pieces,” which are delicate and fragile, we should be able to wear our jewelry and enjoy it. Doing so requires maintenance. Maintaining your investment in jewelry with proper care, cleaning, and prompt repairs will benefit your pocketbook and your enjoyment.
JWR Jewelers’ staff is trained to inspect, maintain, and repair your jewelry properly and efficiently. Our in-house master jeweler does all repair work on site. We are available to answer questions about your jewelry including proper care and precautions while wearing it. Cleaning and inspections are performed at no charge while you wait. If you would prefer, you can leave it and pick it up later!
Tony Cruz graduated with a BBA in Management and a Juris Doctorate (JD) from UGA School of Law. He practiced law for 9 years. He has been in the jewelry industry for over 20 years and over 16 of those years full time. He has worked for JWR Jewelers for over 10 years as Store Manager. He is a GIA Graduate Gemologist.