Easy Fixes for Watches and Jewellery

September 18, 2015

Repairs to watch mechanisms and to valuable jewellery are best left to the professionals, but it's worth attempting some simple fixes for less-precious items to keep them looking their best.

Easy Fixes for Watches and Jewellery

I’ve scratched my watch face

Polish it back to perfection

A shallow scratch on your watch face needn't mean a trip to the jeweller's — polish it out yourself.

  • For a glass-faced watch, try using a jeweller's cloth to polish out the scratch. If you don't have one, dab a little non-gel toothpaste onto the face and rub it in gently with a lint-free cloth. Wipe off with a damp cloth and buff with a dry cloth.
  • If the cover is plastic, try dipping a cotton swab into nail polish remover (acetone). Rub it along the scratch in a circular motion and then remove any excess liquid. Check the watch against the light and repeat until the scratch has disappeared.

My silver brooch is tarnished

Deep clean your sterling silver with aluminum foil

Brooches and other intricate pieces may have deep crevices that are hard to clean of tarnish with a jeweller's cloth. Try this classic trick.

  • Cover the bottom of a pan or dish with aluminum foil, keeping the shiny side up. Place the tarnished jewellery onto the foil.
  • Mix 30 millilitres (two tablespoons) of baking soda into 500 millilitres (two cups) of very hot water and pour the solution onto the jewellery. The tarnish will disappear from the silver, darkening the foil.

The pendant has come off my chain

Repair the jump ring

Jewellers use jump rings to link together pendants, chains and clasps. A jump ring is simply a metal ring with an opening that you can twist open and close tightly. Repairing a jump ring that has worked its way open is simple.

  • To open a jump ring, grip it at each end with a pair of 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.
  • Close the ring by twisting the ends back with pliers until the gap is closed.

For added security, use a soldering iron (available from hardware stores) and lead-free solder to close up the gap in the jump ring.

Tool of the trade

Needle-nose pliers

Manipulating small metal components on jewelry and eyeglasses can be a tricky job. It's much easier if you have two pairs of needle-nose pliers — one to grip the base and one to bend the wire. Cover the tips of the pliers with one turn of electrical tape to protect the small parts of jewelry from scratches.

Make it last

  • Clean your jewellery using a mild detergent (such as dishwashing liquid), warm water and a soft toothbrush.
  • Work in a plastic bowl, not over a sink, to avoid losing your jewelry down the drain.
  • Don't use water on strings of beads — polish them with a soft, dry brush instead.
  • Never use harsh abrasives or strong cleaning agents as these may discolour certain stones.
  • Be sure to remove your jewellery before you do your household cleaning.
  • Store your jewellery in its original box, which is usually lined with satin or velvet that keeps the piece safe from scratches. The box will also increase the value of the jewelry if you choose to sell it at a later date.
  • Regularly check for loose stones and weak links in chains. Fix them yourself or take them for professional repair before they fail — prevention is always better than cure.
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