Jewelry Repair, Tips and Tricks
In this blog I will discuss preventative maintenance. Preventative maintenance starts with you. That’s right, you heard me say it. A lot of jewelry repairs can either be prolonged or prevented if you take some of my advice seriously. I know most people will not heed my warnings or say I am crazy and do not know what I am talking about. I will tell you this, I have been in the industry for 34 years and one thing I have learned is how to prevent jewelry from breaking. I will give you the same advice I give my wife, daughter, son, relatives and friends. I hope you pay very close attention for what I am about to reveal to you. Most jewelers do not want you to know this information because they want you to bring in your broken jewelry for repair. Me on the other hand prefer to sell you a new piece of jewelry when I see you. Please do not misunderstand me, we need you to break your jewelry from time to time so we can keep our jeweler employed full time, but we also want you to be aware of what you can do to save yourself some misery and money.
First and most importantly, do not sleep with your jewelry on. I cannot emphasize this enough! This is probably the number one reason people have issues with their jewelry. You are probably asking yourself about now “how can sleeping with your jewelry on cause damage”? I will explain it to you very simply. Gold, silver, and platinum are soft metals believe it or not. They do not have the same strength of other metals such as steel, titanium, or tungsten. While you are sleeping the average person will shift between 700 to 800 times per evening. This puts a huge strain on the metal’s integrity. The bracelets, chains, anklets, and prongs on your rings are all getting stretched out on your sheets. Pulling on the prongs on your rings, allowing stones to fall out while you are sleeping. Anklets that were once 9 inches in length are now 10 plus inches, bracelets that were once 7 inches are now 8 plus inches.
Sleeping with certain earrings on is optional. If you must sleep with your earrings on or fall asleep with them on, I prefer you sleep with your studs on. Why, you ask, its simple? Most studs lay flush up against your ear. Less damage is likely to occur to a stud earring than a hoop earring. Please do not misunderstand me, I prefer you take off the studs so your prongs that hold your diamonds or gemstones in place do not get stretched out or broken. Many people tend to find their stones in the bed. The prongs do get caught on pillow cases and comforters stretch out and break off while you are sleeping. Some people like to take their studs off because the posts poke them in the back of their ears while they are sleeping. When it comes to hoop earrings, I strongly suggest you remove them before heading to the bedroom or fall asleep on your couch. Hoop earrings are normally hollow and easily get bent, disfigured, locks loosened, and broken posts all while you are fast asleep. Many women I know sleep with their huggie style earrings on because they hug the ear and are made a bit more sturdy than traditional hoops. I am not condoning that you sleep with the huggie earrings on but again, if you must sleep with them on let it be something that can hold up well from all the stress that you put on the jewelry while you are sleeping. I will now share more information that you will find very useful. Many jewelry store owners or employees will not take the time to go over these things with you at the point of purchase for different reasons. Luckily, you buy your jewelry from AJ’s Jewelry a name you can trust for over thirty years. I have always felt a well-educated consumer is my best client. Here are the tips I promised you.
The first few tips will pertain to earrings. Earrings have a tendency of getting lost often for so many reasons. Taking off sweaters and shirts cause earrings to go flying off and locking mechanisms get damaged as well. Dancing at a club, being drunk, play fighting, exercising, and obviously sex can cause you to lose earrings or damage them also. If you pay close attention to what I am about to share, then you have a better chance of keeping your earrings in your ears and not in my repair shop.
The first tip I am going to share with you is to inspect your rabbit ears on you earrings. The rabbit ears are literally shaped like a pair of rabbit ears. The rabbit ears are always located on the top corner of the earring. The rabbit ears are what locks your post in place, so they stay in your ears and not on the floor. The way you do this is simple. First, put the post in the locked position as if you were putting them on. Hold the earring with one hand, with your free thumb gently rub up against the part of the post that is sticking out of the rabbit ear. If it comes out easily then you will have to make a slight adjustment yourself. No jeweler required. To make this adjustment, gently squeeze the rabbit ears together using your thumb and pointer or middle finger. This puts the pressure back on the rabbit ears and now locks the post in place. You should hear a click when opening and closing the post. So, try and remember before you go out to check your posts to make sure there is tension on your locks, and you will not loose your earrings. Watch the video to see exactly how this is done.
The second tip on how to fix a pair of earrings has to do with realigning the post with the locking mechanism. This is a big problem for kid’s earrings as well as adult earrings. Often people are in a rush to remove their earrings. As a result, this leads to damaged locking mechanisms. The big mistake most people make is pushing down on the post of the earrings to remove them. This is a major problem. What you end up doing is misalignment the notch on the post with the other half of the locking mechanism. Many consumers think they were sold a defective pair of earrings. That is not the case most of the time. Unfortunately, on many occasions you are the culprit. Luckily, you are reading this blog and will now have the information necessary to not only fix this problem yourself, but you will also know how to prevent it. First, never, ever push down on the post to unlock your earring. With one hand holding the back portion of the earring and your other hand on the front of the earring pull down on the front of the earring to unlock it. When you remove the earring this way the post and the other part of the locking mechanism stay aligned insuring that your earrings stay fastened to your ears preventing loss and damage. Watch the video for step by step instructions on how to remove earrings properly and fix them yourself without using any tools except your fingers.
The third tip pertains to regular push back earrings. This tip will require a pair of skinny needle nose pliers’ you do not have any handy you can try using your fingers but be careful and go gentle. If you feel your backs are sliding off the posts to easily then you can adjust them yourself from home. Simply slide the needle nose pliers into the two openings on the earring backs and squeeze. This should add the tension back onto the backs. If you still feel they are loose then stop in for a pair of new earring backs. Feel free to watch the video to learn more about this quick fix technique.
Now that you have learned some valuable ways on how we can keep your earrings in your ears and not on the floor or in the repair shop I can now discuss locks for bracelets and chains. So many people lose their jewelry unnecessarily because they do not know what warning signs to look for. After taking off and putting back on your chains and bracelets the locks will at times need some TLC. Sometimes locks get worn out or loosen up after years of neglect. This is what you can do to prevent loss or damage. Some tips I provide will require a simple pair of needle nose pliers and some will require just two fingers. Let’s talk about the box lock first.
The box lock gets its name because its shaped like a box. The lock consists of two pieces. The male part and the female part. The male part goes into the female part and locks in place due to tension that is on the male part of the lock. After taking the bracelet or chain on and off the male part loses tension and will not stay locked into the female part of the lock anymore. When this happens more than likely the male part falls out of the female part undetected and this is not good for the consumer.
Sometimes there is what is called a sister hook that is attached to the box lock which acts as a fail safe in case the lock ever does get loose. I do not like to rely on the sister hook to prevent the jewelry from falling off. In this case this is what we suggest you do at home to tighten up the box lock yourself.
Simply hold the lock in your hand and with the other hand gently lift the male part of the lock up by the lip on top of the lock as demonstrated in this video. If your worried about braking your nail, you may use a needle nose pliers to assist you. If you find that your sister hook is loose on the side of your bracelet or chain, you may also squeeze the sides of the sister hook gently to add pressure back onto the lock. You may also use a pair of pliers. Some box locks on diamond bracelets you will find the lip of the mail part of the bracelet on the side not the top of the bracelet. You can use the same method to add tension to the lock as shown in the video. The same applies to the sister hooks on the bracelets. If you are a worry wort like me and want extra protection for your jewelry you can add a safety chain to your bracelet. The safety chain acts as a safety net in case your lock opens while you are wearing your jewelry. The safety chain will prevent the jewelry from falling off your wrist and inevitably loosing it. To add a safety chain would require a trip to AJ’s Jewelry to have it installed. Safety chains start at $65 and up to install in 14kt gold. Safety chains are available in 10kt, 14kt, and silver. Now that we have discussed the box lock, I will touch base on the industry’s most popular lock.
The lobster claw lock. The lobster claw gets its name due to the fact its shaped like a Lobsters claw. Lobster claws are built to last and will more than likely last the lifetime of the jewelry. Lobster claws work with a spring, not with tension like a box lock. On occasion the springs will either pop out or get loose. When this happens more than likely you will need a new lock. Sometimes the lock will get snagged or pulled hard and the lock will need to be realigned. Always check to make sure there is no gap between the lock as shown in the illustration. If you see there is a gap in the lock then grab hold of those needle nose pliers and put them to good use. All you need to do is take the pliers and bend the piece that is unaligned with the lock back into place. Do not worry about bending the metal. It is made to be manipulated. If you are afraid to attempt this on your own bring it in for a quick fix or watch the video on exactly how to fix your own lock from home.
Now that you have learned to do some moderate jewelry repairs at home and take care of your jewelry properly, I would like to share with you some information on how you can prevent your diamonds and other gem stones from falling out of your rings.
Rule number one, do not sleep with your rings on because when you do bad things happen while you are sleeping. The reason you should never ever sleep with your rings on is because the prongs get caught in the sheets and blankets. When this happens, the prongs get pulled and your stones get loose. Since most women never take their engagement rings off before bed, they are most prone to get damaged. A good way to make sure your diamond is not loose in your setting is to do a simple shake test. The way to do a shake test is to go into a quite room and shake your ring. If you here little clicking sounds that means your stone is loose and you need to make a visit to our repair shop immediately before you lose the stone.
For people in the medical profession or anyone who uses latex gloves daily I beg you not to wear any rings with prongs. Why, you may ask. Its simple, the prongs get caught on the latex and get bent out of shape. When this happens, well you guessed it, no more stone in your ring. Hence, another trip to AJ’s Jewelry for repair. Plain wedding bands are ok to leave on because they are usually smooth as silk.
Now for my clients who work in offices, here are some things you may not be aware of. While you are tapping away on your keyboards, filing important documents in those clunky metal file cabinets and doing other various things around the office leaves your rings and other pieces of jewelry susceptible to damage. How so you are wondering? I will elaborate, while we are tapping away on our keyboards or just releasing nervous energy at our desks your jewelry is taking a beating without us even realizing it. All that tapping and banging is rattling your stones and adding scratches on the bottom of your rings. When you are filing away those documents your rings are accidentally getting caught and ripping the prongs off your engagement rings. Many women come to the shop in a panic after having a battle with the file cabinet at work. Most women are lucky and find their diamonds on the floor if they are lucky enough to realize what has occurred, others not so lucky. Bracelets are notorious for getting caught on cabinets. When that happens most of the time you end up with a bracelet that needs jewelry repair. Women who wear diamond tennis bracelets we strongly recommend adding a safety chain. This will act as a fail safe in case your bracelet gets caught on something or accidentally opens. A safety chain is the best investment you can make if you have an expensive or sentimental bracelet that you want to keep forever. I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed sharing the information with you.