Get your jewelry out of the box and back on your hand.
Almost everyone has a piece of jewelry that is broken, missing a gemstone, no longer fits, or has recently started catching on clothing. Unfortunately, in many cases this jewelry ends up banished to the jewelry box or safe deposit box. The great news is it doesn't have to stay there. Here is a step by step guide to getting your broken jewelry out of the box and back on your hand.
Who do you trust?
If you do not have a personal jeweler, ask for referrals from your friends or look online at the non profit American Gem Society (AGS) for a list of jewelers in your state who have gone through a rigorous peer review process. You can learn more about AGS and find a jeweler by visiting their website at www.americangemsociety.org. Look at how long their company has been in business and their financial stability. Ask how experienced their bench jeweler is. Look online at the social media sites to see what their customers are saying about their services and customer service.
Things to remember when dropping off your jewelry
Your jewelry should be carefully inspected under magnification during the take in process by your jewelry professional. A detailed description of your jewelry will be written on your repair envelope. Do not be concerned if there is some generic information listed such as a "red gemstone" instead of a ruby. Several gemstones can look very similar and cannot be accurately identified without additional testing so your jewelry professional has been instructed to give only a visual description. Smart phones make it easy to take a few photographs from a few different angles for your own records. This is where having a formal appraisal on your jewelry is a benefit. If your jewelry has diamonds in it, they will use a diamond tester to confirm it is a diamond.
If you are having your ring sized, don't guess. Your jewelry professional has ring sizers of different widths and can help you find your custom fit.
Do not leave any jewelry that is irreplaceable such as your grandmother's heirloom pendant. It is highly unlikely that anything would happen to it, but why take a chance. There is a section on your ticket for the insurance replacement estimate. Do not leave this section blank as it limits the company's liability in the event something happens to your ring. If you do not know the amount to put as a value, your jewelry professional should be able to give you guidance perhaps by finding a similar item in their showroom. The value is the retail replacement price (what it would cost to replace the item) and does not include the sentimental value.
How much will it cost?
Reputable jewelers will have a detailed price list for their services. An estimate may be necessary if a stone replacement is required. Stone replacement can be very tricky if necessary to match another stone. On larger repairs, you may want to get a few estimates but realize that if there is a big difference in price between shops, one jeweler may not have properly identified all of the work that needs to be done resulting in either the jeweler not doing all of the necessary work or you receiving a phone call with an notice that your repair will need additional work and will cost more.
You will want to take in your jewelry for an evaluation versus just calling around for prices. Variables such as the thickness of the shank, type of metal and whether or not the stone will need to be removed to work on your ring can have an impact on the price.
How long will it take?
If they have an in house jeweler, some repairs can be done while you wait depending on the difficulty level of the job, how many jobs the jeweler has and whether or not parts need to be ordered. In the event you would like something done while you wait, you may want to call the shop and see if they will schedule an appointment. There may be a premium charged for this service depending on the company. Industry average is one to two weeks. Watch repairs if sent to one of the service centers can run several weeks.
What to expect
One of the wonderful things about fine jewelry especially gold and platinum is that a skilled craftsman can make your jewelry look like new. Although that is usually the case, certain pieces of jewelry can be very challenging if not impossible to repair to it's original condition. Although not as popular now as in the past, herringbone chains and hollow gold ropes are two examples that will show the solder marks and be stiff where repaired.
Sometimes it is better to replace instead of repair. If you need to repair a broken prong (the metal that holds a stone securely in a ring) and retip two other prongs, you may opt instead to just replace the head of the ring with a platinum head for additional security. Your jewelry professional will explain the options available to you and let you select the choice that best fits your need.
When you pick up your repair
Unless you made prior arrangements when you dropped off your repair, you will be the only person allowed to pick up your jewelry. Carefully inspect your repair to ensure it meets your satisfaction. If you dropped off a diamond, your jewelry professional should test it in front of you and allow you to inspect your jewelry under magnification. If for any reason you are not satisfied, bring it to their attention prior to leaving the store so they can make it right.
What about watches?
If your watch is still under warranty, take your watch to an authorized retailer of the brand (i.e. Movado, Citizen, Gucci, etc) to have it sent to an authorized repair facility. If not, take it to your jeweler for service. Simple services that can usually be done in the store are changing the battery and adjusting the band.
Jewelry is meant to be worn and admired, not locked away in a jewelry box. Have your jewelry professionally inspected and cleaned at least every six months in order to keep your jewelry in like new condition for your enjoyment for many years to come.