Conservation and Restoration
What You Need is a Master Goldsmith. The Jewelbox Has Them.
At the Jewelbox, we get questions about care, repair, preservation, and restoration of jewelry almost everyday. We want to take this opportunity to educate you about the best way to care for jewelry and to answer some common questions.
The structure of jewelry is often very complex and a poor repair or restoration can not only be unattractive, it can damage the piece. Most good jewelers are able to repair modern items but heirloom or antique jewelry should be repaired only by a jeweler who is used to working with appropriate materials. “Big box” or “chain store” jewelers do not generally have this experience and expertise.
Clean and Check
To ensure the long term beauty and stability of your jewelry, we recommend bringing your pieces into The Jewelbox for regular “checkups.” Like you would go to the dentist or have the oil changed in your car, it’s a good idea to bring your jewelry to The Jewelbox every six months to get cleaned. Doing so provides you with two main benefits: It keeps your pieces looking beautiful and it provides an opportunity for us to examine your jewelry under magnification to make sure that everything is structurally sound. If we spot any issues, we will make recommendations for repair, preservation or conservation.
It’s important to note that different metals and stones need to be cleaned in different ways. Therefore, it is very important to have your jewelry professionally cleaned. At The Jewelbox, we know how to clean your jewelry in different ways that are appropriate for the stones and metal used.
Try to keep individual items of jewelry separate from each other. This is particularly important where there are precious stones, as the gems can scratch other materials. Some stones, such as emeralds, are quite brittle and may be damaged if jumbled together with others. Traditional jewelry cases, rolls and boxes are often well designed to secure and support items when they are not being worn. Keep items of the same type or size together. For example, keep single strand necklaces, bangles, earrings, or brooches with other similar pieces. Pouches and wraps made from good quality cotton or silver protection cloth are useful for keeping silver items protected.
Types of Damage
Most damage occurs as a result of wear and tear: Stones and enamel become chipped, clasps may break prongs can become worn and surfaces are scratched. Metals such as silver, copper and copper alloys will tarnish and most jewelry becomes dirty. Rings can get soap and other materials encrusted in them, and earrings and necklaces often become gummed up with hair products and make-up.
Weak clasps, prongs and pins can be repaired or replaced so that the piece is safe to be worn. If you have this done to a historic piece, make sure that the replacement is identical to the original. Stones that are loose in their setting should be repaired by a specialist jeweler, such as one of the Jewelbox’s goldsmiths, as an inappropriate repair may weaken the setting or damage the stone.
Restoration means “Bringing back to a former position or condition.” In restoring an a piece of jewelry, the most important element is the final appearance. At The Jewelbox, the client and staff work together to determine the most desirable period of an object’s life and the goldsmiths restore the piece in a manner appropriate to that desired time period.
Preservation involves keeping an object from destruction and seeing to it that the object is not irredeemably altered or changed. Preserving an object places additional layers of requirements on the decisions regarding materials and methodology. In preservation, the primary goal is to retain the maximum amount of original materials and details. Preservation dictates that in order to retain the maximum amount of original material and details, repairs must be done with minimal or no changes to the original design, in like materials, and, if possible, using the same methods that were used when the piece was originally created.
A short note on cost – Cost is greatly dependent on the scope of a project, including materials and the overall needs of a piece of jewelry. Since a piece of jewelry typically holds a great deal of emotional and monetary value for its owner, we believe that it’s of utmost importance for repairs, restorations and preservation to be done right. Work done by the Jewelbox is completed by an expert goldsmith, ensuring not only respect for your jewelry but also master-quality repairs.
A short note on security – Theft of jewelry is an unfortunate but common crime. Luckily, there are steps you can take to keep good records of your jewelry and to increase your chances of recovering your stolen treasures. Jewelry -even jewelry that you’ve worn for many years – is very difficult to describe in fine detail from memory in the event of a theft so it’s important to have detailed photographs of your jewelry. Take clear photos of the front and back of each item, as well as any unique features such as hallmarks or engraving.