While repairing an old ring I was admiring the work that went into making the piece. Totally handmade, obviously European design by the way it was constructed, though not a very expensive ring. The stones were worn and needed replacing, and it had a few cracks in the gold work. It was a really pretty ring though, and with a few hundred dollars to upgrade it to new condition it would make a great heirloom ring to be kept for generations in a family.
I started wondering about all the beautiful jewellery that could be saved and restored, to be handed down as heirloom pieces to children and grandchildren. Unfortunately, there is a tremendous advertising frenzy going on right now urging you to grab all your old gold and send it in for cash. It is causing a lot of people to take the money without seriously considering some of the jewellery that they are selling.
The following paragraph needs obvious updating regarding current gold prices. Rather than continually updating todays gold price I’d just like to give you a heads up and let you continue reading the post. That said I did sell a few ounces of fine gold from my bench filings and dust so I could buy a decent Nikon DSLR camera
The ring I described above weighed 3 grams, including stones, so the buyer would offer about $13.00 a gram if it was 10 kt. They would likely only pay you for 2 or 2.5 grams, taking the weight of the stones off. Giving you $26.00 for a nice looking ring that could be worn for decades if properly restored and maintained. There is meaning, and beauty in that ring every time the wearer looks at it. There is lunch at the food fair for two with the $26.00.
A lot of very creative craftsmanship is going to be melted down for scrap as long as gold remains high. I don’t want to discourage people from melting down useless items like broken chains, bracelets, or old mass produced jewellery that you never liked anyway. Now is the time to get a little cash back for it.
Some jewellery that is exceptionally unique and valuable will be seen as such by jewellery stores and resold as estate pieces after the buyer gives the scrap gold value to the seller. That is up to them as they now own the piece, and it is better that someone else can enjoy the piece as it was intended.
If anyone reading this is having difficulty making decisions regarding some of their old jewellery and are in need of some advice, please let me know. I don’t buy old gold or scrap, but I would like to encourage owners to think twice before sending a handmade piece of art to the melting crucible.
You can send me a photo if you are unsure whether a piece is worth restoring, or is perhaps too valuable to destroy. It would be better if you have a local jeweller that you trust to discus the piece with them. An honest jeweler would rather restore a worthwhile piece for you than make a few dollars from your gold.
I can be contacted by email at this address firstname.lastname@example.org
I have just watched the most beautiful short film on creating jewellery I have ever seen. Although an English translation would be nice, the camera work and lighting are so beautifully done, it doesn’t really need any dialog.
Here is the Video. I received the link from http://twitter.com/Luxuo ……..
The pieces created in this video are nothing short of amazing. It is truly inspiring that there are people in the world willing to spend the money to have these couture jewellery objects crafted. In this case it is the luxury design house Louis Vuitton,with enough capitol behind them to let their designers and jewellers create an extravagant fashion piece to show that they have some of the greatest craftsmen in the world behind their Logo.
I have spent countless hours over the last three decades setting diamonds, using much the same techniques and hand tools that are used in the video, but could never imagine getting a commission for a piece of that size and complexity. In any case, these are not easy times for selling luxuries and goods that are not essential.
Well off clients with a passion for good design and the finest quality are one of the reasons beautiful things get built. They are the ones employing the greatest craftsmen on the planet. The finest cabinet makers and furniture makers for the mega yachts and mansions. Without them, the really incredible displays of craftsmanship might not be here. Even though we may never get to see the results, except, perhaps from photos in Architectural Digest or Yacht Design magazines, at least the skills of these craftsmen & women are utilized and old world crafts are not lost.
Another fine example of wealth being put to good use is a yacht restoration made possible by Dennis Conner, the famous yachtsman and Americas Cup winner. The project is described in a website compilation by Douglas Cole, who skippered and owned the yacht during the 1970s.
Here are a few photos from the website, the outcome is breathtaking if you are a lover of wooden boats.
To me, what Dennis Conner did with this project was an important preservation of a well deserving old gal. He has given new life to a beautiful work of art, and employed the genius of incredibly talented craftsmen. Once again, a tremendous amount of money well spent.
This post stems from a coffee break discussion at work. While talking to a woman about jewellery she mentioned an incident that happened to a relative of hers many years ago. A diamond ring was sent out for repair and returned with what she claimed were lower quality diamonds than were originally in the ring. Now I am assuming here that these were smaller stones and not a large solitaire diamond.
I didn’t have to give it much thought before replying what I believed may have happened in this case. The store where the ring was originally purchased over estimated the quality of the diamonds they sold in the ring. An updated appraisal downgraded the diamonds quality.
I am hearing from a lot of people who are afraid of getting their diamond jewellery repaired for fear of having the diamonds switched to a lower quality. I would like to assure you that in the case of smaller diamonds, and I’m referring to less than four or five point diamonds, it just does not make economic sense for any jeweller to remove and replace diamonds. This is especially the case where the stones are bead or pave set. In that case the jeweller would have to retip the beads he cut out to remove the stone. I would say that if you have a diamond cluster ring with VVS diamonds in top color and the stones are claw set, then make sure the jeweller knows that you know what they are when you drop the ring off. Of course it’s best if you have an appraisal to show them.
Another thing you should do when you drop a piece off is make sure no stones are missing. Ask the jeweller to loupe, or closely examine the item before he puts it in the repair envelope . This is for his benefit as well. I have done it myself when I’m in a hurry and take a clients ring for repair, only to find out after they’ve left that a tiny stone is missing. If they have time,a jeweller should give the piece a quick cleaning so they can better see if there is any problems like cracks or cracked stones that need replacing or additional repairs.
In the decades I have been in this business I have encountered surprisingly few dishonest jewellers willing to risk their business and reputation by stealing from customers. There was one notorious Vancouver store owner in the 80s & early 90s who was caught switching diamonds more than once. These were larger diamonds. The last time I remember him being caught, he apologized and said ” yeah, I can’t believe my goldsmith did that, I fired him when I found out”. What reason would a goldsmith have for changing a clients diamond unless his boss told him to do it? I hope this thiefs karma has caught up with him, and so does everyone else in the Vancouver jewellery trade.
Don’t be afraid to take your jewellery in for repair, but be smart when you do it, and let the jeweller know you are aware of exactly what you are dropping off. Ask others of they’re experiences with local jewellers in your area. If you have any questions at all, just email me and I will get back to you ASAP
Well, they’re at it again. Full page adds in the local paper ” 70% off jewelry”. This seemed to start in the 1980s with the large mall jewellers. My boss & I laughed when we saw it, but we also felt it was a serious problem too in some ways. It really cheapened our industry, and made people feel jewelers as a whole were dishonest ( especially the ridiculous 90% off claims).
At 70% off they still were higher priced in most product than our store.
I do admit there are some deals in the malls. Chains, for example. I often tell clients to look for sales on chains because in some cases I cannot match the prices, especially if they are clearing stock that has been around for awhile. You just have to know your per gram prices by comparing different stores. Once again watch for quality. Be careful of herringbone styles, they will kink and become unwearable. Also, thin boxlinks are fragile. Ask the retailer to guarantee that all the links are soldered.
Preview of some Silver rings that will be on my Website.
These days are great for companies buying your old jewellery. They are making a lot of money from people. Everyone is being bombarded with advertising urging you to sell the old gold jewellery you’ve put away in drawers or jewellery boxes that haven’t been worn in years.
Unless you are selling fine gold, 24 Karat, even 22kt, or gold coins. I would like to suggest that you use your old karat gold, 10kt,14kt, or 18kt to update and redesign your gold into something that you will be proud to wear. If gold continues its upward rise in price, in the future after you have sold all your old gold you will have to spend a lot more money if you want to wear a piece of gold jewellery.
I am very concerned about the environmental problems associated with gold mining, but I won’t get into that discussion in this post except to offer a link from Oxfam to show one example of the effect of destructive gold mining practices…… http://bit.ly/5aXlQ
One thing about gold is it doesn’t disappear when it’s melted. It can be reused forever. It almost never ends up in a landfill,unless by accident ( my wife can confirm that, but that’s another story). My policy is to buy re refined 24kt gold and alloy it myself. It saves me money, and I don’t have to worry about where or how it was mined. I would like to show you examples of how I work with clients old gold……………….
This is how wire is made….by pulling square wire through a round drawplate in decreasing sized holes……
After plate & wire are made it can be fabricated………
And turned into this…….
When a client, whom I had done work for previously, asked to have an heirloom ring repaired, I suggested it was going to be very expensive, and that, for a few hundred dollars more, using her old gold I would duplicate it. It had to be an identical piece in every way, but I advised her it should be thicker and more substantial, to last for her family and continue to be handed down over the years.
The process was the same as above, only I had to do a lot more work carving the design from a solid white gold ingot. I photographed the original ring with the new one in order to show the difference in thickness, so you can imagine how much longer this one will last. Please consider this when buying jewellery….
When something like this is handmade, you may see minor imperfections, especially when blown up in a photo. This is not necessarily a bad thing, unless it is noticeable or obviously poor craftsmanship, it adds character and uniqueness to the object. In today’s world of computer generated and machined jewellery, handmade should be even more appreciated. Handmade perfection may be attainable, but the extra time it takes makes it that much more expensive.
So… if you can find yourself an honest, skilled craftsman… Sorry! ….make that skilled Crafts person, go ahead and recycle your old gold into something beautiful. Enjoy it, along with the compliments you will receive from others.
My sailing days began when we lived in Vancouver’s Kitsilano neighborhood in the ’70s. We lived a block from the beach and I always felt a need of being off the beach and on the waters of English Bay. We started small with a Zodiac inflatable, and a 6 horse Chrysler outboard. It got us out there and we were immediately hooked on boating. We spent many afternoons enjoying the waters of English Bay . A friend had just bought a laser sailing dinghy and suggested I try sailing lessons at Jericho Sailing Club, which I did.
I remember the feeling when I first left the beach and the wind powered the boat forward in silence, no deafening roar of the Chrysler behind me. I knew I had found a new passion.
The laser sailing was short lived however, when we found a beautiful little 23′ Gaff rigged cutter, with a lapstrake hull… … We sailed her all through the Gulf and San Juan islands, up to Desolation Sound for several years. Then we went from wood to Fiberglass with a C&C 27, and later a brand new 1982 C&C 32, which we lived aboard for four years…..
We left the sailing world for too many years after selling “NW Wind” and moving to Ontario for a while, but sailing and boats are in my thoughts almost every day of my life. I get out occasionally with friends and have crewed on a few races, which we hadn’t done when we owned our boats. I’ve downsized to a 20′ twin keeled sailboat that I am slowly (very slowly) going to get ready for my retirement from the factory, when we can hopefully enjoy cruising at our own pace.
The connection with jewellery………..
I am focusing on sailing related designs as well as what my clients are asking for. Years ago, when I worked for a retail store, I made a limited edition series of six different sailboats in Sterling Silver. They were on silver stands, and one of a kind miniatures. I wish I had pictures of all six ( my favorite was the schooner, which sold quickly), but these are 3 of them.
I apologize for the quality of some of these photos, but my old scanner isn’t compatible with Vista so I’m having to photograph prints to upload here.
This is an assortment of Sterling Silver Sailboat pendants I also produced……
I am now combining woodcarving with silver seascapes, more sculptural, but still using precious metals……..
An example below is a cocobolo/maple box with a seascape/sailboat top.
……I made this as an entry for a gallery showing called ” Vessels “. When it sold it inspired me to begin thinking of creating more pieces along these lines.
A work in progress is the Silver and 14kt. gold Sailboat with a Cocobolo wood hull.
Another View ………
…..The funny thing about this piece is when my wife and I took it to the Vancouver Wooden boat show a few years ago, and had it displayed in a friends outside booth. It was a hot sunny day and I kept it in an acrylic display box. I had used shellac as a finish, and it quickly blistered and I had to completely refinish it. Live & learn.
Having removed the finish I decided to do a Silver seascape under the hull. I will post photos when it’s finished.
Hello, this is my first blog attempt, and I hope you will find it of some interest. One of the purposes of the precious metal blog is to advise people what to look for when buying jewellery, and avoiding mistakes that may lead to future costly repairs.
Let me begin by giving you a brief history of my career as a Goldsmith. I began learning my craft in the 1970s and am still learning every day that I work at my bench. I was taught by some very talented jewellers, and diamond setters, the rest was up to me putting in the hours, practicing and learning by mistakes. You don’t want to make mistakes on a clients expensive, sometimes irreplaceable piece of jewellery. It takes years to gain the confidence, and knowledge to look at a piece and judge if it is going to be a nightmare to work on, or a challenge that you are capable of handling properly.
Over the years I have worked for large manufacturing jewellers, ( ie., more than a dozen employees) as well as smaller shops and retail jewellers. It has given me experience with all aspects of the trade.
During the 1990s I owned a studio in downtown Vancouver for several years. I made custom jewellery for the retailers, as well as my own clients. It really became my whole life, sometimes sleeping overnight at the studio to make a deadline for a client, and working seven days a week. When we moved to Langley the commute became too much so I moved the Studio closer to home.
I no longer do work for the trade. I work at my own pace, so I can’t really do rush jobs with 1 or 2 week deadlines, but I still enjoy interacting with private clientele . I have actually taken a steady job in a factory down the street from where I live ( a seven minute walk ). No relation to the jewellery trade, but an architectural lighting company.
Working at the factory has given me a new freedom to pursue my creative interests. At present I am not taking on new clientele but spending my bench time creating new designs.
I will include photos of my work as I continue writing, but most of my work over the many years was not photographed. At least with digital cameras today, it makes it easy to keep a portfolio of work done.
This is a recent cocktail ring that the client wanted large and flashy.
Some of my work is carved and produced using the lost wax casting method, but this was totally hand fabricated.
Below is an example of carved and cast work. Roses had deep meaning for this client and his fiance.
……The Diamond engagement ring nestles with the rosebud Wedding band.
I would like to strongly urge that you search out independent local jewellery artists when making your jewellery purchases. Do as much research as possible to find someone whose product reflects your own tastes in design. Word of mouth is one the best methods of finding a competent goldsmith that you can trust. That is where I get almost all of my clients from.Please try to stay away from big box stores when buying jewellery. I can not imagine someone admitting to their fiance that they bought the Engagement ring at Wal Mart. They are the biggest sellers of jewellery in the world, perhaps due in part to paying the lowest prices to the factories who make it for them. Pay a little more for quality, it is worth it in the long run.
The next time you are flipping channels on TV, stop at the home shopping network if they are selling rings. When you see a ring displayed on a moving stand, so you can view the inside of the shank underneath, notice that it is probably hollowed out to save a bit of material (gold, and even silver). This always amazes me, especially with silver, a saving of pennies, but over hundreds of items, it makes cost saving sense for them. Myself, or any knowledgeable Goldsmith, will not touch these rings to size or otherwise work on them. They may collapse, or dent, becoming a major headache for us. Pay a little more for quality.
…………This 19kt white gold engagement ring has a nice thick shank. I only left underneath the diamonds open for cleaning purposes.
If you are looking for a high karat white gold, 19kt is a nicer white than 18kt, which may yellow slightly over time.
On Buying Diamonds ……….
When it comes to buying Diamonds, the internet is full of information to educate consumers. The link I have provided appears to cover what you should know about Diamonds before you go out shopping.
This information was put together by the Diamond Chat Forum and is about the best I have come across so far.
Keep in mind that Diamond grading is a tricky business. Professionals argue over grading all the time, seeing the stones higher or lower grade than the other person. Diamonds are not an investment.You will likely never be able to sell them for more than you paid for them, or even what you paid for them at retail. They are definitely not a rare stone in smaller sizes below a few carats.
However, natural, untreated colored diamonds of exceptional color and quality are indeed rare and in larger weights certainly will hold and increase in value. Diamonds should be bought because of their fire and beauty and amazing response to different lighting situations. When you buy a piece with very low quality diamonds, such as a tennis bracelet with 1.50 carats total weight of diamonds for $299.00, for example, once you leave the lights in the store it will lose its life, only the shiny gold will sparkle, at least while it’s clean. Once again, I can’t stress enough, you get what you pay for.