Easiest way to repair your vintage jewelry? Do it yourself

Published 6:17 pm Friday, November 8, 2019


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Question: Hi Jerry, I know that I’m late to the game but I’m really into vintage and costume jewelry. It doesn’t have to be too old but I like the colored stones. The bigger the better. I dress up with them to go out for the night, to church and even just messing around town.

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The reason that I’m emailing you is that I have a question about missing stones. Do missing stones have an effect on the value and how can I go about repairing them? Who does that kind of work here in Danville? Can I just wear them anyway? Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions.

Answer: You are never too late to join the group in the world of collecting. This is a question that I get asked many times. There are a couple of ways to go about it. 

If the piece is rare, in form or color, or by a well known and collectible maker, a small missing stone won’t go against it too much. Some, but not a lot. 

Now, if the piece is more common or if the stone is one that is easily seen, then the

negative effect on its value will be stronger. Bear in mind that this is in reference to missing stones.

If a piece is broken, then that’s a different story regardless of who made it. The highest value is for those pieces that are in perfect or near perfect condition.

Repair has always been tricky. I’m afraid that unless you reach out to other collectors, you simply won’t get things repaired. Back when the earth was cooling and I worked at Graves Jewelers on Main Street in Harrodsburg, Lucille Graves kept a small box of various loose costume stones in order to repair pieces that customers brought in. That today is unheard of. You could become your own repair person. I’ve done it more times than I can think and you can too.

I know many serious collectors who pick up damaged pieces cheap, only to take them apart for the stones. If you think that you’ll be doing this on a regular basis, I’d go to a hobby shop and pick up an inexpensive bead box to keep things in order. Also, while you’re there, pick up some rubber cement.

Rubber cement is the go-to glue for jewelry repairs. It dries clear and firm, but not super hard like other “instant” contact glues. Keep this in mind — the color of a stone varies by maker, time period, method of manufacture and the country that it came from. In other words, it can and will be difficult at times to make a perfect match. That’s why you need a stock to choose and work from. Be careful. If you have numerous stones falling out, it might mean that the glue is weakening and it will only get worse with time. Pieces like those you don’t want to wear.

So, go to the Goodwill or some yard sales and try to buy cheap, damaged pieces. Wear and enjoy your collection. Do basic repairs, if need be. Only a nasty person will point out

a missing stone in your vintage bracelet. Thanks for a great question.