Simple jewelry repair can prevent the loss of your favorite piece of jewelry. This Fix-It Guide on jewelry repair tells what can go wrong, how to identify a jewelry problem, and what parts and tools you will need to fix it. It then gives instructions for how to repair various jewelry clasps, how to repair a jump ring, how to reattach a post setting, how to repair earrings, how to repair pins or brooches, how to replace a watchband or spring bar, and how to repair eyeglass frames.
How Does Jewelry Work?
Jewelry clasp repair is most often needed. Of all the components–collectively known as findings— that make up most pieces of jewelry, the most vulnerable is the clasp. It’s the clasp that holds the piece securely together around the neck, wrist, or ankle of the wearer. Related are the pins and hinges that allow jewelry or eyeglasses to pivot or move.
What Can Go Wrong with Jewelry?
Clasps can become loose and not hold the piece of jewelry securely. Jump rings can open. Posts can detach from pierced earrings. Clips on standard earrings can become bent and uncomfortable. Pin or brooch fasteners can become worn. Ring prongs or bezel settings can need repair. Watch straps may need adjusting or replacing. Eyeglass screws can become loose or even lost. All can be fixed with the following jewelry repair instructions.
Inspection and maintenance are the best methods of keeping jewelry and eyeglasses functioning longer. Most important, clean jewelry regularly using jewelry cleaning products specific to the type of metal that’s in them. Check and tighten eyeglass frames, especially reading glasses that are frequently put on and removed. And be sure to use both hands when putting glasses on taking them off to avoid stress from twisting the frames.
How Can I Identify a Jewelry Problem?
It’s relatively easy to identify the problem, but fixing it depends on identifying which component needs repair. Here are some common jewelry findings:
- A box snap has a V-shaped spring that slides into a boxlike sheath.
- A fold-over clasp has a curved arm that rotates on a hinge.
- A figure-eight fitting fits over a post to provide extra security for many types of clasps.
- A spring ring contains a spring that compresses when the nub is pulled back.
- A banger snap clasp has a V-shaped prong that widens as it slides into a sheath, securing the clasp.
- A lobster clasp pivots to open.
- A jump ring is a metal ring that can be pried open.
- See below for instructions for repairing these and other jewelry components.
Don’t try to repair wristwatches or expensive and keepsake jewelry. Take them to a professional jeweler or watch repair service.
What Do I Need for Jewelry Repair?
- Small screwdrivers
- Small standard pliers
- Specialized jewelry pliers (flat-, round, needle-nose)
- Eyeglass repair kit (may contain helpful tools and supplies)
- Nail file
- Emery board
- Spring-bar tool
What Are the Steps to Jewelry Repair?
Lobster clasp repair:
- Realign the hook and latch of a bent clasp by carefully moving them with needle-nose pliers until the parts meet.
- Close the gap between the ends by carefully squeezing the sides of the jump ring with pliers until the ends meet.
Fold-over clasp repair:
- Bend the tab back onto itself if the clasp doesn’t snap closed. Test and repeat if needed.
- Reshape the arm as needed with needle-nose pliers.
Spring-ring clasp repair:
- Remove the ring by opening the loop holding the spring ring to the jewelry piece.
- Position the replacement spring-ring and close the gap between the ends by gently squeezing the sides of the ring with pliers until the ends meet.
- Replace the entire ring if the spring breaks or the nub snaps off.
Banger snap clasp repair:
- Widen the V-shaped prong by inserting the blade of a small screwdriver and gently twisting.
- Test and adjust the clasp until it snaps securely into place.
Box snap clasp repair:
- Pry open the leaves of the V with a nail file or other flat tool.
- Reshape a bent sheath by manipulating it with flat-nose pliers.
Figure-eight clasp repair:
- Carefully squeeze the center of the eight with round-nose pliers.
- Test and repeat until the eight fits snugly over the post.
Jump ring repair:
- Grip each end or the jump ring with needle-nose pliers and carefully twist the ends in opposite directions. Stop once the gap is large enough to slip the jump ring over an adjacent ring or other fitting.
- To close a jump ring, twist the ends in opposite directions with pliers until the ends meet.
Post setting repair:
- Test the setting to verify that the post and prong sit firmly in the cup or disc. If they do not, replace the setting.
- Remove old adhesive by carefully scraping the cup and stone with a pin or other pointed metal object.
- Use a toothpick to place a spot of epoxy onto the cup, making sure you cover the prong with adhesive.
- Slide the stone onto the prong and hold it in place for three to five minutes.
- Allow the earring to completely dry before use.
Hoop earring repair:
- Grasp the wire or catch and carefully bend it back into shape with flat-nose pliers.
- Use a fine emery cloth to buff out any marks caused by the pliers.
Clip-on earring repair:
- If the clip falls off, reinsert the clip into the holes.
- Use pliers to carefully squeeze the flanges toward each other.
- To adjust spring tension, gradually bend the neck forward or backward with pliers.
- If this fails, remove the clip from the earring and bend the spring to increase or decrease tension.
Pin or brooch repair:
- Straighten a pin stem by holding the brooch firmly while carefully pulling the stem through the jaws of flat-nose pliers.
- Straighten a bent tip by bending it, then filing the end to a point with a fine emery board.
- Tighten a loose or wobbly pin stem by carefully squeezing the point flanges together with flat-nose pliers.
- Tighten a ball clasp latch by positioning the latch so the nubs point up, then firmly squeezing both sides of clasp together with flat-nose pliers.
Watchband or spring bar replacement:
- Use small pliers to grasp, depress, and remove the spring bar holding the band to the watch.
- Remove the spring bar from the band. If it is damaged, replace the spring bar.
- Install the spring bar in the loop of the new watch band and insert one end of bar into lug. Use small pliers to maneuver the spring bar into place.
Eyeglass frame repair:
- Carefully check to see if the hinge is damaged (and needs replacement by an optometrist) or simply requires that the screw be tightened or replaced.
- Use a small screwdriver to carefully tighten or replace the screw. Do not over-tighten.
- Once firmly in place, place a drop of instant glue on the screw to keep it in place. Be careful not to allow the glue to touch other parts.
You probably can’t repair a finger ring yourself, but you can clean it using jewelry cleaning products available at larger household and discount stores. Most jewelers will clean and inspect rings and other jewelry for free, especially if you purchased the ring there. They want to earn your future business.