There are several different layers, methods and techniques involved in restoring ancient and antique jewelry. It can’t be done in one sitting because of the old-world value behind the pieces involved and the delicate state they are sure to be in. You need to go steady, often even slow, when it comes to these things.
People who own or are caretakers of ancient jewelry might have ill looked after pieces in their possession. Modernity has opened new avenues for such people to find repair and restoration sources online. Sooner or later, though, the antique jewelry in question has to land at an actual location where work can begin to restore it to its former glory. Here’s how the process goes…
Assessment & Analysis
The analysis stage is number one and very important. It’s where the jewelry piece is assessed on multiple levels and from diverse angles. The professional sits to figure out all the broken and blemished spots, the areas where stress has been bad to the piece and how best to restore the whole thing and keep it looking its best. There are plenty of variables for the crafter to consider.
Restoration is quite different from conservation. The latter has to do with preservation of ancient and anthropological/archaeological jewelry. This is best seen in museums where the pieces remain as they are, in secure settings. The former, namely restoration, has to do with jewelry you plan to use on a daily basis or for special occasions.
In most cases, an eye for history is paramount. The crafter has to find ways to maintain the jewelry’s old look while restoring it into something that’s beautiful to look at. They aren’t aiming to remodel, they’re seeking to restore.
The assessment period therefore studies the jewelry and finds the areas most at fault and how much damage has been done to the piece.
Judging if there are any stones missing, adding what was once present but now lost and so on all take place in this phase. Most of restoration involves making right any shoddy repair work that was once done to the jewelry piece. There’s a lot of risk involved in this process, so a little detour into risk analysis is also called for.
Even in the case of family heirlooms, the restorer has a lot of risks to balance out. They have to keep the old look and design while rendering it strong and secure by modern standards. There are several different approaches to make sure of this step, so don’t expect the crafter to stick to one particular rule or technique.
What To Avoid
1. Do not – repeat, do not – use glue to fix antique jewelry. Some people assume that because the piece is old it will sit well with any substance, even modern-day glue. It won’t. The chemicals will affect the patina and other elements in your piece and it will show only much later
2. Most ancient jewelry pieces are made of gold. Using lead solder instead of gold itself to hold the piece together is a bad long term decision. The piece will break after a certain time has passed.
3. Altering the original design can sometimes be a bad idea. The ancient design involved is often a constant. Changing that can destabilize other design elements on the piece, from precious stone positions to where fancy curves flow. Do not alter the basic design, especially if the professional you’ve hired advises you to stick to the original.
Finding Antique Jewelry Restorers
a. Rest on laurels and recommendations. You do not want to rely on a rookie for this sort of thing.
b. A passionate professional is worth the fee you pay for their services.
c. Communication has to be a priority, especially in the case of long distances.
d. A good working bond is essential. Keep in mind though that it can sometimes be difficult to deal with professionals in this field, especially some of the really good ones who put up more boundaries than make things easy for you, the client. But in the end they get the job done to perfection.
e. Triple check credentials when seeking restorers online.
Why Does Gehna Help Restore?
We, at Gehna do it because we’re passionate about antique and ancient jewelry.
For a collector, restoring and refurbishing a piece of such esteemed age value enhances its beauty and ‘feel’ in the collection.
For crafters, it helps hone personal knowledge in matters connected to ancient jewelry and, in general, helps prolong the stability of these pieces for the future.