Vintage jewellery possesses a unique allure, capturing the essence of bygone eras and timeless elegance. However, as these cherished pieces age, they may require delicate repairs to maintain their beauty and functionality. Let us dive into the meticulous art of vintage jewellery repairs and discuss the signs that may indicate that your treasured pieces are in need of a little care and attention, and why seeking professional repair services is so highly recommended.
Signs that your vintage jewellery needs repaired
a. Thin band or shank
The shank is the lower portion of the ring and is usually thinner than the rest of the piece, rendering it one of the weaker parts of what could be considered a solid chunk of metal. Due to the shank’s seemingly concealed location when the ring is being worn, signs of damage often go unnoticed until you lose your precious band. It is often a good idea to look for cracks, bending or signs of thinning.
b. Damaged prong
The prong is one of the most important parts of the ring as this is where any precious stones are held. Despite being seemingly minuscule, the location of the prong allows wearers to spot any signs of minor damage. For example, the ring may be snagging your clothing etc.
If a prong becomes damaged or worn, it may not provide adequate support, which of course means you run the risk of losing your precious stones. That being said, you can check for damage to the prongs by touching them and feeling for anything out of the ordinary. Remember, repairing or replacing damaged prongs is vital to safeguard your precious gems.
c. Loose stone
As mentioned, over time, a damaged prong can result in the loss of a precious stone. However, you can also lose a precious stone due to everyday wear and tear, such as chipping or from a hard blow.
A loose stone can be a cause for concern as it may indicate a weakened setting gem. Professional jewellers can assess the setting and retighten the stone to prevent potential loss. Regular inspections, such as probing with a toothpick, may help you detect loose stones.
d. Broken clasp or chain
The clasp is one of the weakest parts of a piece of jewellery. Due to its relative complexity compared to its size, and general wear and tear, the clasp is often the first part to break loose.
Why should you opt for a professional vintage jewellery repair?
As jewellery is often minute in size, we would strongly recommend that you engage the services of a competent artisan rather than an amateur who cuts corners with a DIY repair that may cost an arm and a leg. Preserving the integrity of vintage jewellery requires expert craftsmanship and specialised knowledge. Professional repair services offer the following benefits.
Experience of handling vintage pieces
Skilled jewellers will have the expertise to handle delicate vintage pieces, ensuring proper restoration without causing additional damage.
Access to unique materials
Professional jewellery repairers will have access to a wide range of materials, including vintage components and the gemstones required to ensure an authentic restoration. For a layperson, the materials alone can be quite difficult to acquire.
Tailored restoration techniques
As each vintage piece is unique, it requires a customised approach to the repair process. Professionals can identify the most appropriate restoration methods for different types of jewellery and materials. And that’s not the only thing to consider. Certain cleaning chemicals require expert handling in order to avoid the risk of accidents.
What to expect when having your vintage jewellery repaired
a. Identifying the type of jewellery
The first step in vintage jewellery repairs involves identifying the type of jewellery and the materials used. Gemstones such as sapphire and diamond require specialised polishing and cutting instruments due to their hardness, while 24ct gold needs a more delicate touch due to its soft nature.
b. Determining the best restoration method
Once the type of material has been established, it’s time to assess the damage. Experts will often use reference photos of the item. From there, they can establish what it initially looked like and what needs to be repaired.
c. Repairing the piece
The process of repairing vintage jewellery varies from piece to piece but commonly has four main elements.
1. Ring sizing
As time goes by, you may outgrow your ring in the same way as you outgrow your clothes. With a professional repair service, you have the option of enlarging or reducing the ring’s diameter. However, in modern rings, certain materials are an exception as they are seemingly impossible to resize. They include carbon and titanium, among others.
2. Stone repair and replacement
If a stone only has minor scratches, it can be repaired by polishing. However, this procedure may change the look of the stone and could be ineffective for gems with major cracks.
3. Prong repair
The tiny pieces of metal that hold your gems firmly in place will wear away over time, risking the loss of your precious stone.
4. Refurbishing or restoring the metal part
This is often considered to be a general repair and may include polishing, plating and detailing.
Preserving vintage jewellery is an art form that requires precision, skill and passion. By recognising the telltale signs that your treasured pieces need repaired or a professional service, you can ensure that they will continue to shine brightly for generations to come. Moreover, by engaging the services of expert craftspeople, you can embrace the journey of restoring the past, and honouring the beauty and history of your vintage jewellery.
If you need any help repairing or restoring your vintage pieces, please get in touch with us at Saint Gyles Jewellers.