Jewellery masterpieces. Diamond rose brooch by Theodore Fester

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Created by Theodore Fester in 1855, the gold-and-silver-setting rose has about 250 carats of diamonds and was created for Princess Mathilde Bonaparte, Napoleon’s niece. She owned one of Paris’ most distinguished literary and artistic salons. When she died in 1904, the piece was auctioned and eventually sold by Cartier to Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt III

What you should know when buying no-name jewellery

We all go to a usual jewellery store and buy no-name jewellery (I used to do that too before I've become a jeweller). Often the things are of decent quality and we are happy with what we are getting. However, there are some problems that you might come across. I've learned of them only when I started doing repairs! 

When I have a piece in my hands and I approach it with a saw, the pliers or a torch... this is when all the problems are starting to come up onto the surface. If a piece of jewellery is made well, there is no problem to fix or change it. However, a poor quality will be revealed during repair. There is going to be extra work involved to fix it if it is possible at all.

Let me show you what problems you might come across and what you can do with this knowledge :)

1) When you are buying a ring ask the seller if it can be sized even if it fits you.

If you bought a ring that the seller did not want to size in the first place... do not ever give it away for the sizing. There are designs that cannot be modified. That ring might just break during sizing. Experienced jeweller won't take it for the sizing anyway, but do not count on that. It is not always easy to see that something should not be touched.

Sterling silver ring. This ring made in my studio is a sample of a ring that cannot be sized.

2) If a store offers free claw check up every 6 months, use this opportunity.

No-name jewellery is mass-produced. What does it mean and why should you care?

It means that all the stone settings were cast for the standard sizes of the stones (3mm, 3,5mm, 4mm etc). However, the stones do not always have the standard sizes. 1/10 of a millimeter might not sound like a big difference to you, but in the world of precious stones it means a lot! It means, that a stone  can get loose enough from the setting to get lost overtime. 

3) If a store offers free ring sizing, use this opportunity. I mean, actually get a ring that needs sizing.

Well, this advice you won't hear too often! However, think of what I've written at the beginning... if there are any problems, they will show up during sizing or repair. For example, let's say you are buying a ring with the channel-set stones (even diamonds!)  No-name ring has been mass-produced and the  channel setting might not be perfect for the stones. 

Here is the inside information from the jeweller who has done some repairs (that would be me). The diamonds might be secured with transparent glue! I am not kidding. The seller won't even know this. Who will? The jeweller who will try to size this ring. Size up or down... and the diamonds will just fall out. 

The sizing won't 100% guarantee that the problem will be fixed for you, though. If they are careful and use laser, they might save the stones in the place without having to repair it. 

What to do? Well... keep your ring in a box and wear it carefully, just in case. You won't know how your stones are being secured for sure. You will not see the glue even with good magnification. 

4) When you are buying no-name silver jewellery you can never be sure if it is sterling silver or silver at all. 

If you wear it carefully and do not try to modify it or size it, you might never find out. It always comes up during the repair only. Whenever I was approaching silver jewellery with a torch, I never knew what to expect. It was a 50/50 shot!

Only actual silver jewellery can be sized / repaired / modified. Silver is a white metal that needs to be soldered under a very high temperature. Other white metals (besides the precious ones) either cannot tolerate such temperature or lose their white color. If a piece is just silver plated then the plating will come off. 

5) Size a silver ring only if it has a great sentimental value for you, so you do not care how much it is.  

Sometimes you might come across a great deal and buy sterling silver jewellery at a cheap price (possibly abroad or on sale at a craft fair). That's cool. Just make sure that you really like it and it fits. Buying a cheap ring that does not fit is not a great idea. Ring sizing most likely will cost more than the ring itself in that case. A jeweller who does repairs will want to be paid for the actual spent time, at least an hour. 

If your ring was $10-$20 and the sizing $30-$60... Is it still worth it? 

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask in your comments!
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