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Repurposing your old jewelry


Repurposing your old jewelry

Lisette Fee

Back when I worked at the Jewelry Doctor, the jewelry repair shop in Greenville NC, I learned SO many tricks and ways to repair and assist people with the smallest of jewelry woes. 

You wouldn't believe how many times people would bring in costume and mall jewelry that was honestly so cherished they couldn't stand to see it'd broken and not wear it.  We also received beautiful antique gold, silver and plated jewelry that needed extreme sensitivity. 

Ellis Cutrell, the Jewelry Doctor and my mentor.

Ellis Cutrell, the Jewelry Doctor and my mentor.

So with this post I want to give you some insider secrets on how to make your jewelry last and turn it into new and beloved pieces of jewelry

1.  Buy yourself flat nosed pliers and epoxy -  These are the two main tools that you'll need for very simple repairs.  Whether it be from connecting a jump ring or gluing back rhinestones or faux gemstones.  Often times customers would need just a simple connection of parts that had come undone. 

And epoxy is fantastic for all sorts of things, especially gluing back rhinestones or costume jewelry.  But one word caution DO NOT USE IT ON REAL GEMSTONES.  Leave that to the experts. 

Simple silver jump rings can save your jewelry!

Simple silver jump rings can save your jewelry!

2.  The MISSING earring - It happens to all of us, you've got those awesome cocktail earrings or chandelier earrings as we say and the other falls off or simply gets lost.  It's the worst because you really love them.  The SOLUTION? Turn that single pair of earring into a pendant! Yes, it'll be a perfect centerpiece on your neck AND eye catching.  You may need to buy a small box of steel wire jump rings (essentially small round rings to connect pieces) and these can easily be purchased at your local Michaels or AC Moore. 

3.  The missing stone - I think this is the worst loss for any piece of jewelry, and sometimes it can be irreplaceable.  Here are several solutions to this conundrum:
-If it's semiprecious or gold/silver jewelry, take it to your local jewelry repair shop and ask if they can locate a matching stone. 
-Redesign the piece using the old gold/silver with your local jewelry pair expert.  They can again, turn it into a pendant or a new ring.  The cost is not as much since you'll be reusing the same gold and silver with the time of your expert. 
-Mail in the gold/silver and leftover stones to a metal supply company such as Hoover & Strong.  They will either give you credit or send you a check!
These are honestly your best options when it comes to a missing stone.

4.  Your silver jewelry is tarnished and black -  It's a fact of life, oxygen begins to slowly blacken and tarnish your silver, especially the silver you want shiny! Thus there are several at home remedies that can work wonders to fix this problem.
-Keep a spare piece of chalk with your silver to ward off tarnish.  This handles the issue from the beginning.
At home silver tarnish removal:
Line the bottom of a glass baking dish with aluminum foil
Fill the dish with steaming hot water
Add salt (sodium chloride) and baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) to the water. Some recipes call for 2 tsp baking soda and 1 tsp salt, whereas others call for 2 tablespoons each of baking soda and salt. Personally, I wouldn't measure the amounts... just add a bit of each substance.
Drop the silver items into the container so that they are touching each other and resting on the foil. You will be able to watch the tarnish disappear.
Leave heavily tarnished items in the solution for as long as 5 minutes. Otherwise, remove the silver when it appears clean.
Rinse the silver with water and gently buff it dry with a soft towel.

5.  And lastly, if all else fails.  Take your cherished pieces to an expert.  It goes without saying that repairs are best done by those that know what they're doing.  And if you're completely clueless, that's okay! Invest the money and you will be glad you did!

I hope that my advice and tricks help you maintain and repair your own jewelry.  It'll make you feel empowered and satisfied!