Jewelry and Watch Repair

Do they stretch a ring when they increase the size?

Normally, no. Most rings are not stretched at Colonial Jewelers. The only rings that are would be plain wedding bands that are going up less than one size. Rings are sized up by adding a section of gold or platinum to the bottom of the shank, then it is polished and refinished to seal the sizing seam so no break is visible.

How do they size down a ring?

When a ring is sized down a small portion of the bottom of the shank is cut out and the remaining sides are soldered back together. When a ring is sized up a small portion of gold or platinum is added into the shank. The seam is then polished and refinished to seal it and make it look like one piece again. After it is sized the stones will need to be retightened since they often shift during the process of changing the size. Once the ring is sized and the stones are tightened the whole ring must be polished and refinished.

What actually happens during a refinishing? What is Rhodium?

When a piece of jewelry is refinished at Colonial Jewelers it is essentially made to look like new. All of the stones are checked for security and tightened. Any scratches and scuffs are polished out and the original finish is restored. When a white gold piece is refinished an additional step must be done. Because white gold naturally has a slight yellowish hue because of the natural yellow color of gold, a layer of Rhodium must be electromagnetically applied after it is refinished. Rhodium is a member of the platinum group of metals and is very rare and precious. It is what gives a refinished piece of white gold jewelry its bright white shine. When a white gold ring starts to “yellow” at places where it gets more wear it is actually the rhodium wearing off and means it is time to be refinished.

How often should rings be checked?

Rings should be checked at least every six months. All jewelry that is purchased at Colonial Jewelers comes with free cleaning and checking of the stones for life. All of our associates are trained to check the stones for tightness as well as assess the prongs to determine if they need repair. It is natural during normal wear and tear for stones to loosen up over time and for prongs to need to be rebuilt or replaced. It is always better to catch a problem before it results in a lost stone, so having your jewelry checked regularly by one of our professionals is essential for the longevity of your treasured pieces.

When is laser soldering preferable to torch soldering? Why does laser cost more?

The laser welder is a very technologically advanced machine that allows the goldsmith to spot weld one specific area of the jewelry without heating the whole piece. The only gems that can take the heat of a torch are Diamond, Ruby and Sapphire. All others must be removed to protect them if a torch must be used. With the advancements in laser welding technology the Master Goldsmiths at Colonial Jewelers are able to work on more delicate items that otherwise could not be repaired safely. Because the laser machine itself is costly to maintain and the skill level necessary to operate is difficult to achieve, laser welding costs more than torch welding. In turn, it makes some repairs that would otherwise be un-repairable able to be made beautiful again.

Why can’t we size class rings?

Traditional class rings with stones in them often have the stone reinforced in the setting with a thin piece of neoprene. Because sizing always requires some level of heat, the neoprene layer will melt during the process, causing the stone to shift and permanently loosen. Class rings must be sized through the manufacturer and they generally have reasonable pricing and turnaround times.

What do they do with the gold from a ring that is sized down?

The price of the ring sizing takes into account a credit for the scrap gold that is removed. The actual amount of gold that is removed is much smaller than you would think. A size down might only produce a mm size piece of gold which during the process actually becomes shavings.

Why do watches need to be sent out for repair? What is the advantage of resealing your watch?

Watch repairs (other than simple battery replacement) should be done by an expert watchmaker who is trained in the intricate movements of a watch. Our watchmakers are extremely reputable and experts in their field. We will gladly supply you with an estimate before any work is done. If you plan to get your watch wet it needs to be sent to an authorized service center to be re-pressurized and re-sealed. This is the ONLY way that a watch will remain waterproof and can be guaranteed.

Why is that clasp repair so expensive? Lobster vs. spring ring.

Lobster clasps and spring ring clasps are constructed differently on the inside. Spring rings are more delicate and cannot take any form of heat. Therefore most are never soldered onto a chain but are attached carefully with jewelers’ pliers. Lobster clasps are sturdier and can take the heat of soldering so more labor and materials are involved.

Why should beads/pearls be knotted?

Pearls and beads should be knotted for several reasons but mainly for safety. Knots help prevent bead loss if a strand were to break. Also, they keep precious pearls from knocking into each other and rubbing. Finally adding knots also adds strength and endurance to a piece.

If the prong is up on my ring, why can’t we just push it down? Why refinish?

When a prong is lifted it sometimes shifts the stone with it resulting in a loose stone. The goldsmith must then reposition the stone so that it is safely into its “seat”. This process usually leaves tool marks on the ring and those need to be polished out. A refinishing includes checking and tightening each stone as well as polishing out any scratches and restoring the rhodium finish, giving the peace of mind to safely wear a ring.

What is the difference between a tip and a full prong?

A tip includes adding a small amount of metal to the existing prong which has been worn down or slightly broken. A full prong is when the goldsmith replaces the entire prong and re-cuts the seat for the stone. Retips usually don’t last as long as full prongs.

When I bought my ring, it was white gold, but I think I received a lemon. Why does it look yellow to me?

Gold comes out of the earth a yellow color. It is alloyed with white metals, like nickel, to appear whiter. It will never look totally white in this state. A final process of electromagnetically plating it with Rhodium must be done. Rhodium is a member of the platinum group of metals and is very rare and precious. It is what gives a refinished piece of white gold jewelry its bright white shine. When a white gold ring starts to “yellow” at places where it gets more wear, it is actually the rhodium wearing off and means it is time to be refinished. This can happen as often as every year or as long as every five years depending on the wearer’s level of activity and body chemistry.

What is a shank and what is a half shank?

A shank is the part of the ring that goes under your finger. Over time, the shank can become thinner because this is a point of regular wear on the ring. Periodic maintenance may require that you have the shank replaced to bring it back to its original thickness. Sometimes only half of the shank needs to be replaced because only that section has worn away.

Why do you recommend soldering our rings together?

We recommend that if you are going to always wear both your engagement ring and wedding band that you solder them together to protect them. If the rings twist and rub up against each other they can actually wear away parts of the other ring. This most often happens with the wedding band rubbing up against the center Diamond head of the engagement ring and actually making a small divot in it. Over time this can make the Diamond loosen and could result in a lost stone. Rings can always be unsoldered at a later date and refinished to bring them back to two rings.

My pearls were so much longer before I had them restrung…were all of the pearls put back on my strand?

Pearl strands stretch over time because of gravity and wear. When you bring in your strand the knots have loosened; they can appear an inch or more longer than they originally were. When they are restrung properly the knots will pull the pearls or beads closer together and they can appear shorter. We will always count the number of pearls for you before you have them restrung so you know that they are all there, even if it looks shorter when done.