Read this before having your jewellery repaired anywhere else!

March 13, 2017

This article addresses some of the myths surrounding jewellery repair and what happens to your treasured items when you take them to be repaired or altered. Some of it isn’t pretty but there is a solution; use a jeweller with an onsite workshop!

So, you need a ring sizing or a chain repairing. You pop along to a high street jeweller and they quote you one to two weeks, sometimes longer. You don’t want to be without your rings for this long but accept it nonetheless. But why does it take so long? The reason is that your precious items are being sent away, often to a goldsmith like myself, to join a long queue of other repairs, often being mixed up with other jewellery from around the country.

Some may deliver your jewellery by hand to the workshop but most use Royal mail to post the items once a week. This adds time. If you miss their delivery by one day, it’s another week before it’s off to the workshop. Then it’ll join hundreds of other items and be posted back a week or two later.

So why don’t the shops have a workshop onsite? Quite simply because they don’t have enough work to employ a full time goldsmith. Plus a workshop can be noisy and create mess. When I was a full time trade repairer I’d service 5-6 shops at any one time plus my own work.

So, you’ve handed your jewellery over and got a receipt. What happens next? Firstly the item will sit in a to- do box until it’s posted or collected. Then once at the workshop it’ll be opened and added to a load of other items to be repaired in a production line style. The reason for this is cost. The jeweller you took the item to will make the most profit from the job, the goldsmith only receives about a third of the price you pay, so time is of the essence. Now, this is where the problems begin. Your item is in an envelope with a written description from the person who took in your repair, the goldsmith has no connection to you and no mental association and can easily mix up your work with someone else’s. It’s surprisingly common and a mistake that’s very difficult to correct.

Other problems arise when the workshop returns the parcel of work. Sometimes the whole lot can go to the wrong shop. This is more common than you’d think as some repairers are sending out up to a hundred parcels a week.

When the repairs are returned the shop, they open it and should check against the original one sent, but very often they don’t- assuming the parcel to be correct- and just put the jobs in the done box. It’s often only when you go to collect your items that inaccuracies are discovered. By then it’s often too late to be corrected.

Then there’s the issue of quality. I’ve been making and repairing jewellery for 26 years and in that time have seen some terrible examples. Poor solder joins, chain links soldered solid, lead solder being used, stones missing etc. A repair workshop will employ several goldsmiths and there are good and bad among them, but you’ve no way of knowing which one is repairing your things.

So what can you do to prevent this and how can I help? Firstly, try and only use a jeweller with a workshop onsite. This way at the least you can be sure your jewellery won’t go missing in the post. It might be fully insured but as I can so often attest, you can’t replace sentiment. Be wary of jewellers who say they have a workshop but don’t really. Ask to meet the goldsmith if you’re in doubt. They don’t always like the limelight but are glad to be let out of the cellar every now and then 😉

Then there’s the issue of quality. If something’s not right you can point this out and get it corrected quickly. If a sizing’s not right it has to go back for another two weeks. This could mean over a month without your engagement or wedding ring.

At my workshop there’s one goldsmith. You’ll speak directly to him at all times. It means there’s nothing lost in translation as there can be when your jewellery passes through several hands. If something needs resizing it’s done quickly, sometimes same day, and you can be sure your jewellery is going no further than from safe to workshop and back again.

We offer full workshop services from chain repairs to full remounts, rhodium plating to a unique commission. There’s no need to make an appointment and we aim to have your jewellery ready in 1 week max, most repairs only taking 2-3 days.

I look forward to discussing your requirements in my workshop but if you have any questions you can call 01162705 375 or email stephen@wilkinsongoldsmiths.co.uk and I’ll get back to you asap.

Stephen Wilkinson, Proprietor.