How to use the value in your current jewellery maximize your jewellery budget.
Well, we’ve all been through something, haven’t we? And it’s not over yet. To a certain extent we are all living with some uncertainty about what is around the corner. But, as a testament to us humans, we continue to move forward. We still get engaged. We still get married. We still want to record a special milestone with a symbolic and beautiful piece of jewellery.
But maybe we are more conscious than in the past of remaining practical in our purchases. This guide is meant to help you maximize the value of the jewellery you already own to create your new custom piece.
Recycling Your Jewellery
If you’ve worked with me before you’ll know that I’m passionate about reusing jewellery to create something new. Why take something else from the earth if we don’t have to? Also, by reusing high cost materials such as gold, platinum and diamonds, it is absolutely the best way to maximize your custom jewellery budget.
In addition to the obvious benefit to your budget, you are also able to transfer the sentimental value of the original piece into your new piece. And isn’t the sentimental value what jewellery is really all about?
I’ve written extensively on the how to’s and the faq’s of reusing your jewellery on this site and I encourage you to check out those pages if you’re interested in learning how to reuse your jewellery in an heirloom redesign.
Repairing Your Jewellery
Perhaps you love the jewellery you already have but it has seen better days. Although some precious materials such as gold, platinum, diamonds and gemstones can be very durable, they are not indestructible.
Over time they will show their wear just as any other material. But the good news is that, in most cases, we can repair your precious pieces of jewellery to good as new condition! Below I talk about some of the most common ways to repair your heirloom pieces which will help you preserve their value without having to necessarily purchase any new materials.
Sometimes an heirloom piece is perfect in every way except it doesn’t fit your finger. For rings in materials such as silver, gold or platinum with gemstones such as diamonds, rubies or sapphires we can easily change the size of your ring for you. The process requires soldering of the ring which means high heat must be applied to the materials. The materials I mentioned earlier are all able to take the high amount of heat required.
Unfortunately there are some gemstones that are unable to withstand the amount of heat needed to resize a ring. Gemstones such as pearls, opals, onyx, and turquoise will be destroyed by the high heat of a soldering torch. For other gemstones such as emerald or aquamarine the results are more unpredictable. Sometimes they can are able to endure the heat fine and sometimes the heat causes cracking or colour changes.
In cases with gemstones that are unable to withstand the heat of soldering we try to remove these stones from their settings before proceeding. This is usually not a problem with prong settings but we run in to trouble with bezel settings. In order to remove a stone from a bezel setting you have to destroy the setting. So if you wanted to resize a ring that had a bezel set fragile stone we’d likely have to remake the setting entirely.
I know, this term sounds slightly ominous. But, don’t worry, all reshanking means is removing the bottom portion of the ring “shank” and replacing it with a sturdier shank. Why would you want to do this?
Have you ever seen a ring that has had a long, happy life but only has a sliver of the ring shank remaining? This is because over time the gold in the ring gets slowly worn away by every day life. Activities such as opening doors, gardening, cooking, washing dishes, working out – all of these activities slowly remove tiny pieces of gold from your ring. So after decades what remains of the ring shank is a thin, worn band sometimes with a knife edge.
The good news is that, in most cases, we are able to remove the old, worn shank and replace it with a thicker, wider, stronger one. Once the reshanking is complete the ring is ready to be worn again for decades to come.
Everyone should always pay attention to the condition of the claws or prongs of their ring, even if your ring is fairly new. The reason is that, just as the metal at the bottom of a ring is removed over time, the metal in the prongs will also wear over time. I’ve often seen many old rings with some of their prongs worn entirely away. Luckily the other three prongs had kept the stone in place.
So how do you know what to look for to make sure your prongs are in good order? When inspecting your prongs you’ll want to make sure that there is a good amount of metal still in place on the top of the prong. If the amount of metal has worn down to near the table of your stone you’ll want to consider retipping your prongs.
Retipping just means adding metal to your prongs to reinforce them and provide strength to keep your stone in place. Sometimes you’ll only need to retip one prong or sometimes multiple prongs. Ensuring your prongs are in good shape will give you worry free wear for years to come but it is still highly recommended to come in for an inspection every couple of years.
The other thing to consider with respect to prongs is that, from time to time, they need to be tightened. Over the course of the years your gemstone may become slightly dislodged from the seats in the prongs. Or the prongs themselves may have lifted a bit and need to be tamped down again. Another reason to come in for an inspection every couple of years!
Of course any of your pieces that you bring in for repair will be repolished again to new-like condition. Sometimes people don’t realize that the surface of their jewellery pieces can be repolished back to a high polish.
I’ve spoken to some clients who thought their old pieces were just “old” and that the metal in them could never shine again. Not true! We can refinish and polish your heirloom pieces and have them shining like new.
If you’re perfectly happy with your item of jewellery except it just doesn’t fit, seems fragile, broken or dull then maybe all it needs is a make-over to make it perfect. For the majority of jewellery, a repair cost will be much less than purchasing a new piece.
Refining Your Jewellery
I don’t know if you’ve been paying attention to the gold market but gold is at an all time high these days. This means that if you choose to refine your gold now you will receive a cash credit larger than in years past. What does refining mean and why would you choose to do it?
Refining is the process of taking your gold to a smelter where they determine the percentages of the different types of metal contained in your piece then give you a cash credit for the pure gold or platinum content only.
If a client chooses to work with me I offer the service of taking in their gold to refine for a credit that they can use toward their new piece. I have to stress here that taking in gold or platinum for refining is not my business. I only offer it as an option to my clients in order to maximize their budgets.
But why, you might ask, would you want to refine your gold if you can reuse it? Well, in some cases, reusing gold doesn’t work. For example, if you would like to have a white gold ring but only have yellow gold to reuse then we can’t actually change the colour of the gold. In this case we can refine the yellow gold and apply it as a credit toward to the new white gold project.
In the final analysis reusing your actual gold will always provide you with more value than refining your gold for credit. But refining is a good option when either reusing your metal isn’t possible or when you have more gold than you need for your project and would like to apply the excess as a credit toward your project.
Each of these methods, recycling your jewellery, repairing your jewellery or refining your jewellery will help to stretch your jewellery budget. In most cases you will only be paying for labour costs and not materials costs. And with the price of gold these days that’s going to save you a lot!
You know, when I was little my grandparents had an old fridge from the 1930’s in their basement that they used to keep extra food. When they passed away that old fridge was still going 80 years later. I grew up with the idea, as many of us did, that things should be built to last and when they failed they were worth repairing.
Somewhere along the way our culture shifted to this idea that newer is better. But now I’m encourage by the resurgence in craft and skilled workers emphasizing quality materials and products that are worth the cost of the labour involved in producing them.
While reusing your jewellery or repairing your jewellery does involve labour costs, those costs are worth it to preserve your pieces for the next generation. Whether they are in their original form and repaired or in a new form by being recycled.