If you’re like most women of a certain age, you accumulated an array of jewelry over time — some of it valuable pieces, others are bits of costume jewelry that may not be worth anything. You love wearing the pieces, especially because they really make an outfit special. Over time, you find your jewelry no longer looks great, as it once did. Jewelry gets damaged, dirty, or goes out of fashion. Here’s your guide to maintaining jewelry to protect your investment.
The meaning of jewelry
Maybe you’re lucky enough to have expensive pieces in your jewelry collection beyond your engagement ring and maybe a pearl necklace, which was standard issue when we were younger. In some cultures, wealth was determined by jewelry, such as in India where a woman’s wedding jewelry defined not only wealth but contained symbolic meaning.
Over the centuries, jewelry was something you could keep close and exchange in times of tragedy because they had universal value. Stories abound, for instance, of Jews using their jewelry to gain passage out of Nazi-occupied territories. Others share similar stories of exchanging jewelry for life-giving needs such as food or safety.
Likewise, you may have pieces handed down from your mother or grandmother. These pieces may have great sentimental meaning even if their monetary value isn’t great.
From time to time, things happen to your jewelry. Whether it’s your child pulling on a necklace until it breaks or losing a stone from a ring, damage happens. Likely, you throw the damaged pieces in a draw or back in your jewelry box. Next time you rummage for a nice piece, maybe you come across the broken jewelry wishing you could wear it again.
Well, before you throw the piece of jewelry away, check out these solutions for maintaining jewelry so you can wear it again.
When my kids were younger, I was in graduate school and didn’t own much jewelry beyond my wedding set. With my grandkids, it’s a different story. I have lots of pieces, mostly costume stuff from Chico’s. None of my jewelry is expensive, but I love the pieces none the less.
The grandkids seemed to love twisting, pulling, and generally straining my necklaces and I had more than a few with broken strands. I keep a jewelry repair kit handy for fixing broken pieces.
Here’s what you need to fix those broken pieces.
- save as many beads as possible as finding matching beads is challenging. Online retailers really help when you need a special bead to replace those you lost.
- buy special thread made of metal or plastic to restring your beads. It’s nearly impossible to reuse the broken string. I also keep a supply of raffia as it makes a great foundation for stringing beads.
- buy clasps as these seem to break frequently
- some special needles for working with beads. These needles are more flexible so they work around large beads.
Sometimes, you can get away with simply removing a strand if your necklace has multiple strands. In other cases with multiple strands, I find restringing each strand separately works best, then merging the strands by attaching them at their ends.
Here’s a necklace I’m working on right now. Notice some strands are still merged while others I finished restringing yesterday. Next, I’ll attach all the strands together and add a new clasp.
We all get earrings as gifts or bought them only to find the posts too big to fit comfortably in our holes. After a day of wearing these earrings, our earlobes feel sore. The solution is to either wear them frequently until the hole expands or fix the problem.
The solution isn’t that hard. Buy a few diamond files, since you need a diamond to cut easily through the metal of the post. Put the earring in a vise or simply hold it tightly, exposing the post. Gently file the entire length of the post, turning frequently to keep the rounded shape. It takes a little patience since the key is to remove a small amount of metal at a time. Put something good on TV or radio, and file away. Just remember not to push too aggressively or you may break the post.
Losing a stone
Losing a stone from a piece of jewelry isn’t an easy fix. If you lose the stone completely, this maintenance project is also expensive. The best solution is to maintain jewelry by checking the stones periodically and fixing the problem before it’s a major expense. Most jewelers will check the stones so that’s the ticket for expensive stones, like diamonds.
For less expensive jewelry, you can replace the stone by purchasing an inexpensive replacement. That and some superglue and you’re set.
It depends on the type of bracelet. For some, the repair is similar to repairing a broken necklace. To complete other repairs, the elements aren’t strung but attached to a metal structure. For this type of repair, you need a small soldering kit with a gold-tone or silver solder. Be really careful, as the tip of the soldering iron gets extremely hot so you need to protect your surface as well as your hands. Also, ensure small children and pets are safely away from your work area.
A tiny amount of solder will fix your bracelet right up.
Going beyond maintaining jewelry
Keep all your supplies and extra bits of jewelry around. I keep them in a small basket so anytime I have a few minutes, I have everything close by for maintaining jewelry. If you have to gather up materials, the repair seems more difficult and you might put it off. I keep my basket near the living room sofa so I can grab it for a repair while watching TV.
Keep all the extra bits you don’t use because you now have elements to update your old, unfashionable jewelry or start from scratch on a new piece. I also like to hand out in craft stores and buy extra beads or other materials whenever I see something I like and load up on stuff whenever they have a sale.
Cleaning your jewelry
Jewelry takes a beating. It gets sprayed by perfume, dangles into things, has grubby hands reaching for it, and gets coated in lotions. Your gems lose their luster, gold looks tarnished. and dirt collects in the crevices. A good jewelry cleaner works for most jobs, but I keep a small sonic cleaner on hand for bigger projects. Don’t add delicate stones, like Opal, but most other jewelry goes into the cleaner basket for a nice little bath and comes out shiny as new.
You can get a nice sonic jewelry cleaner for under $40 at a variety of retailers.
OK, enough for today. Enjoy your day.
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