The basics of jewelry repair and restoration

Jewellery is precious in more ways than one. It’s not always just about its commercial worth, which in some cases can reach the tens and hundreds of millions.

More often than not, for the everyday consumer, it’s about the sentimental value it holds. It could be an engagement ring, a pair of earrings handed down through multiple generations of the family or a necklace bearing the birth date of your child.

Whatever the piece, it can be devastating if it suffers any damage and needs repairs or restoration. But what exactly do those words mean? What are the key differences and what types of equipment are commonly used in the process?

What are jewellery repairs?

This typically refers to when a piece is fixed or put back together using largely the original parts. It may require additional components to be added, like an extra link in a chain, but the bulk of the initial item remains intact and therefore doesn’t risk losing the sentimental value it may hold for the owner.

What is jewellery restoration?

The process of restoration may include repairs as well, but it’s likely that more work is needed to be done. Restoration is typically required if the piece is beyond repair – for example, if it’s become severely damaged or previous work has created an even greater problem. For example, if the stone on a diamond ring falls from its setting and is lost, that gem could be replaced and the ring restored, but it would not be classed as a repair.

So, there are key differences between repair and restoration but the end goal remains the same: to make sure the piece looks as good as new. 

What equipment may be required?

There are all manner of handheld tools and heavy-duty equipment that may be required to carry out jewellery repairs or restoration. For example, hands-free eye loupes enable you to magnify your view of the piece you’re working with and see the intricate details clearly. Then there are pliers – the smaller the better for precision work – that comes in a range of different noses to suit various requirements.

In terms of machinery, an ultrasonic cleaner from suppliers such as RS Components can help to remove dust, dirt and grease from jewellery by passing ultrasonic waves through liquid contained in a tank. A drill press can bore consistently accurate holes with great efficiency, reducing the amount of physical exertion required, while you’ll need a sturdy bench set up at a good working height to ensure maximum productivity.