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  • Writer's pictureLee Lally

Bench Tips: Basic jewelry repair and maintenance


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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