Friday , August 1 2014
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We look but we do not see

We look but we do not see

Ever look for an article and even though it is in plain sight, the signal to your brain still renders the darn thing invisible, but come back minutes later and there it is?

B16_1Most guys can relate to this searching experience if you have ever misplaced your wedding band. I guess the word is panic because no explanation to your bride, no matter if it’s really true, will convince her you misplaced it in the garage while working with power tools.

People who wear jewelry look but do not see everyday; it could be a cherished heirloom diamond ring from a departed loved one. Let’s say it belonged to your Great Grandmother who passed it down to your Grandmother to Mom and now you’re wearing it. Rings with prongs or channels that hold precious gems such as diamonds or colored stones are like tires on your vehicles, they wear out and have to be re-tipped or replaced. So any ring that has been worn for three generations or so will more than likely need some attention.

When inspecting such treasures in my shop, whether it is a simple insurance appraisal or for your information, I look for wear and tear and traces of prior repairs, good or bad, that may have been performed decades ago, or even a century ago. This holds true for almost all kinds of jewelry. I have been in the business of repairing jewelry for over forty years and I have seen too many ruined pieces. Needless to say it keeps me very busy and there are times, I will admit, if I have to re-prong one more diamond ring I will need to be committed. My more than occasional vacations prevent me from checking into a climate controlled rubber room. (Note to self) Now that I think of it most bench jewelers I know are certifiable!

Jewelry can and does wear out or break. It could be clasps that no longer clasp, and, as mentioned above, prongs that are too worn to hold the gem they were designed to support. The weakest links in gold or silver chains let go and so, too, the loops that hold your favorite pendant.

Not all jewelry wears out…(only if it is never worn and how much joy would that bring you?)

B16_2Tennis bracelets are a common repair in my shop. Most ladies wear them 24/7 and multiply that by twenty or so years and the piece is in pieces. The rivets that hold each flexible diamond section together (like a door hinge) wear through and break, even a safety chain won’t help you here and unless you are lucky enough to notice it fell off your wrist, it could be left lying sadly in an Indian casino parking lot only to be found by some gambling degenerate who then pawns it for $100. It could happen! One of the reasons one insures one’s jewelry.

The point I’m trying to make is, don’t assume your jewelry will last for ever. It won’t. For those of you out there whom I have just freaked out about the fate of your expensive tennis bracelet, here is a simple test to see how worn the links on your bracelet may have become. Lay it on a flat surface diamonds up, now slowly try to form it into a circle by moving it side ways. If the bracelet has severe rivet wear, it will form a circle or worse a spiral. Another way to tell wear is if the bracelet is a lot larger than when you purchased it.

The bad news is there is no cheap quick fix, especially if all the links are worn. Repairing each and every worn link is actually more costly than removing the diamonds and re-setting them in a new bracelet. This also holds true for gold Rolex watch bracelets. They run their course and need to be replaced too, and today that will cost thousands of dollars… Don’t blame me I’m just the bearer of bad news!

The most ridiculous thing a customer can tell me is, “I have been wearing it for over thirty years, I never had a problem with the ring!” Meanwhile, while I am examining the ring under magnification, I notice there are numerous small diamonds shattered, chipped or missing and two prongs barely holding the center diamond. My offer of a free ring cleaning would have been disastrous for me since every stone in the ring is being held in by the suction of the grime and turkey stuffing from who knows when! If I remove the decades of gunk the diamonds would fall out, the result could cause the customer to cuss me for “ruining her ring.” By first pointing out the wear and damage before cleaning I avoid many ugly embarrassing situations.

“No good deed goes unpunished.”

Only last week a customer asked me to check her prongs on a very large diamond ring, my question was… “what prongs?” It was truly miraculous that diamond remained in the ring. It was beyond a re-prong and required a brand new mounting.

Another important item is the security of diamond earrings, studs or hoops. I’m not just talking about the prongs but the fastening system as well. Screw backs on stud earrings are the best, but only if they screw on and off tightly, loose or stripped threads will defeat the purpose of security. The gold or platinum post and nuts will wear with years of twisting the backs on and off, rendering the posts useless. Get them checked and replace them to be safe.

Diamond hoop earrings have numerous types of fasteners. If they are out of adjustment or worn, loss could occur. Get them checked!

The old saying that we don’t miss anything until it’s gone, rings like a bell when it comes to losing a cherished piece of jewelry. Ever try to match a missing earring? Hopeless. Try finding a replacement for Great Grandma’s diamond when it falls out due to negligence while in your care. Avoid loss and the resulting pain and anguish. Now, look at that ring on your finger, how long has it been since you had it professionally cleaned and inspected? I mean really look at it.

About The Author

Richard Alan is a designer/goldsmith and owner of the Harbor Goldsmith at Island Plaza and welcomes your questions about all that glitters. Contact him at 239-394-9275 or harborgoldsmith@comcast.net


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