Wednesday , July 30 2014
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Jewelry repair 101

ALL THAT GLITTERS 

Richard Alan 

harborgoldsmith@comcast.net 

Prong repairs are easily performed by goldsmiths. SUBMITTED PHOTO

You notice your diamond ring is snagging on clothing and towels and such. You’re thinking, it’s been a while since you last had the ring professionally inspected, cleaned and polished. You have a busy schedule as it is, who has the time? Great, now the ring has snagged your blouse!

Good news is, it only takes seconds to inspect a diamond ring and minutes to clean and polish it. Bad news is the snagging ring could be the result of a missing or bent prong. I would suggest you no longer wear the ring in question and get it looked at before it results in a catastrophic stone or diamond loss, especially if it is a four prong setting.

Prong settings are susceptible to wear and tear, dinging and banging against everything that life can throw at them. The more prongs you have the more maintenance they will require. As a rule pronged earrings and pendants will require less attention for the lack of physical contact with earthly objects.

Most prong repairs are easily performed by bench jewelers or goldsmiths but what exactly is the process? To some women it can be one of the most traumatic experience of their lives.

Why did this happen to me? How do I know the jeweler will give me back my original diamond? Maybe he will lose or misplace my diamond. It goes on and on. 

A simple explanation of the process will ease the worry warts out there.

First the goldsmith (namely, me) will inspect the ring to find out what caused the mishap in the first place. The causes are as numerous as the personalities that enter my establishment.

Most common reason is the prong or prongs are worn out. Prongs are like tires and after so many miles they have to be repaired or replaced entirely.

Wearing the same ring 24/7 you can expect some kind of repair will be needed eventually.

Chlorinated pool water is the next villain. Wearing your jewelry regularly in the pool will surely dissolve your prongs at an alarming rate and cause the prongs and the rings themselves to become brittle and break easily. This process is call porosity; the bleach eats the alloys in the gold and eventually, this action will destroy your jewelry making all the pieces contaminated and impossible to repair…. Never clean your jewelry with bleach! 

So lay off wearing every piece of jewelry you own in the community pool. It’s tacky and bad for your jewelry and you could lose them in the pool and clog up the filter. Besides, no one is looking at your jewelry anyway, most are whispering about your poor choice of swimwear!

Knocking the ring on a hard surface such as marble counters or pots and pans can also contribute to prong loss. So ladies, this is a good excuse for your husband to do the dishes to prevent such mishaps.

A simple prong repair does not require the diamond to be removed from the setting. However, many heat sensitive precious gems have to be removed.

It is also imperative that the ring is surgically clean so no dirt, food, or lotions will burn on the bottom facets of the diamond. Most amateur repair persons leave this step out and the result is roasted toasty diamonds which now look black to the eye and are near impossible to clean.

A gold wire laminated with gold solder is placed on top of the existing prong or stub of the prong, welded or soldered, cut, trimmed and polished. A good quality prong repair should look like the breakage never happened.

In some cases, total replacement of the whole head holding the diamond or gem must be performed if all the prongs are severely worn. It’s a smarter way to do the job. It can be less expensive to replace the ring with a fresh new head than re-prong the entire ring.

Certain channel set diamond rings will require occasional repair, especially when two rings rub together on the same finger. The constant friction can cause havoc to wedding sets. Replacing or rebuilding worn out channels is a difficult and time consuming process and can be very costly. Soldering them together halts the process and your rings will look and fit better.

The guys out there should also be aware that nothing lasts forever except the wrath of an ex-wife or ex-girlfriend. So, having rings checked and cleaned occasionally to prevent stone loss is practical and can spare one future grief. More on the ins and outs of jewelry repair when I see you next time.

Richard Alan is a designer /goldsmith with over forty years of experience and the owner of the Harbor Goldsmith at Island Plaza. He welcomes your questions about “All That Glitters”. 239-394-9275 or har borgoldsmith@comcast.net 


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