You may have inherited old jewelry (like your grandmother’s ring) which has high quality stones but is set in a style that you don’t completely like. Or maybe it is too ornate for you to wear everyday, and gathers dust in a safe or a jewelry box. You may want to consider resetting the stone. Here are some tips on deciding whether or not to alter the piece or keep it intact, and how to find the right jeweler for the job.
Does the piece have historical significance?
Some settings have such historical significance or sentimental value that it hadds to its personal or even financial value. For example, it may showcase the worksmanship of a prominent jeweler, or on a more personal level, contain the engraved sentiments of the beloved who gave the ring.
You may also want to try having the jewelry professionally cleaned or repaired, so it is restored to as close as possible to their former elegance. For example, check if the prongs (the claws that anchor the stone to the stone’s bed) are okay. Perhaps, once you see it in its original glory, you may decide to retain the setting after all.
But if it was simply a piece of jewelry that was part of your grandmother’s collection, and your feelings about the setting haven’t changed after it’s been cleaned, then go ahead.
Have the piece checked by a trusted jeweler
Look for someone who has the experience, background, training and more importantly, integrity. You are going to leave your precious pieces to the jeweler for at least two weeks, so you should go to someone reputable. You don’t want to run the risk of getting some worthless piece of synthetic stones back.
You have to check if the jewelry is a restoration expert. Some stores are only resellers or retailers and will not have the skill to do the job well. Sometimes, even long-established jewelers can botch up the restoration work and resetting.
It also helps if the jeweler is also a gemologist who can tell you exactly what kind of stones have been used. You may think you have a ruby but actually have a red tourmaline.
Consulting with jewelry experts
The jeweler will tell you if it’s safe to take the stone out. For example, your grandmother’s pearls may have lost so much moisture that they have cracked, and resetting them would do more damage.
Recording the stone details
Experts will not risk their professional reputations to switch stones on their customers’ pieces. They will always check the exact condition of the stones in the pieces given to them, write down the details in a receiving sheet, before starting any work on the jewelry.
In some cases, especially if the stone is really expensive, the jeweler will make a map of the stone’s ‘inclusions’ or flaws. Each stone is unique. Some of the inclusions and variances in stones are not so visible to the naked eye so a map is helpful in making sure you will get your own stone back. In the States, some restoration experts will require clients to get an appraisal lab report apart from the map, before they take possession of your stones.
Questions to ask the jeweler
Before leaving your stone , ask the jeweler whether your piece is insured for theft or any type of loss in his shop. Ask also if the piece will stay in the shop or be sent away for the job. Inquire about his qualifications and experience and ask him to show you samples of the resetting work his shop has done.
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