A Time For
Trying to find a unique wedding ring can feel like you’re going round in circles. However, the ring of your dreams might already be in your possession. Jacqueline Maya speaks with Alan Weiss, the owner and master jeweller of Alan Weiss Fine Jewellery, about the growing popularity of jewellery restoration.
Image Credit: ATEIA Photography & Video
Whether it’s an antique reproduction or a treasured family heirloom, many couples are opting to wear vintage jewellery on their wedding day. To help, Melbourne Wedding & Bride explores the benefits and potential risks of restoring an old piece, and reveals how you can make this beloved item uniquely your own while still honouring its past.
Stones With Stories
According to Weiss, more and more couples are choosing to restore handed-down wedding jewellery for a number of reasons, including convenience, potential for savings, their incredibly distinctive qualities and, most importantly, their intrinsic sentimental value.
Choosing to restore a vintage ring over purchasing a brand new bespoke piece gives you the ability to see the item before it’s complete, making it easier to anticipate how it will look once finished. “The couple can already see the piece instead of having to visualise a design beforehand,” Weiss says. “Restoring an heirloom or estate piece can also be less costly than completely remaking the item.”
Antique rings also have an inherent uniqueness and charm. “Couples love the significance of having an antique old-world piece for its beautiful old-cut diamonds or Art Deco design, and are happy to purchase an existing piece to repair, renew or reset in a replica setting to celebrate their love,” he adds.
In addition to preserving its wonderful history, the much-loved item can now be part of a new love story. “It is beneficial for couples to restore a beloved item that has great sentimental value, especially if it has been handed down,” Weiss says. “Refurbishing an antique or heirloom piece gives it an extended life.”
Meeting The Maker
Once you and your partner have decided to restore a vintage piece, Weiss recommends booking in for a consultation with a professional
jeweller who is experienced in the modification, restoration and replication of antique, heirloom or estate jewellery.
During the consultation, the jeweller will first check the overall condition of the item, ensure the stones aren’t made of glass or crystal, examine the
stone settings, and assess general wear and tear. The client will then be quoted for the repairs and given a timeframe, which is usually two weeks to one month, depending on the complexity of the work. “I always advise my clients to organise their wedding jewellery four months before their due date,” Weiss says. “Organising engagements or weddings can sometimes be quite stressful and the last thing the couple needs is the stress of worrying if the jewellery will be ill-fitting on the day.”
While wedding and engagement rings have always been the most commonly restored types of jewellery, couples are also bringing to life other precious items to wear on their wedding day, including brooches, bracelets, pendants, and earrings.
The process of restoring a jewellery piece relies heavily on evaluating the type of metal used beforehand. “Varieties of gold rings have specific ways of wearing,” Weiss says. “The level of work involved for repairing a gold ring could be more extensive.” In addition to resizing, repairing cracks, removing scratches and polishing, a gold ring’s setting may also need re-tipping, where the prongs are mended.
“If the piece has had any previous lead-soldered repairs, then the work is a risk, as lead can be quite damaging to gold,” Weiss says. “This must be removed before anything can be attempted.”
While renowned for his work with yellow, rose and white golds, Weiss especially loves working with platinum. “Platinum is much less likely to suffer from wear issues, but it still needs to be checked,” he says. Weiss also advises that if the ring is platinum and in fair condition, it may only need to be resized, checked for loose stones, retightened, cleaned, and possibly polished to remove scratches. An especially old piece may require a further polish in order to remove the patina.
While the benefits of jewellery restoration are plentiful, there are drawbacks that need to be taken into account. There are always risks involved in refurbishing antique jewellery, however the major concern is that you can never really be sure
of the previous repairs that have been performed on the piece. “The disadvantage of restoring a piece of jewellery is with regards to its pre-restoration condition,” Weiss says. “If a claw on a ring has been re-tipped multiple times, the solder joins can be compromised. The more times a solder join has been melted, the greater the chance of oxidation, making it brittle and compromising its strength. There comes a point when you simply have to remake the item.”
Something Old, Anew
Despite all of its sentimental value, handed-down wedding jewellery was in fact chosen or designed for a previous owner, who most likely had different tastes and style preferences to your own.
If your treasured heirloom isn’t in the style you envisioned, consider combining parts of your pre-loved piece with newly customised elements for a unique result. “Some couples might select an antique ring top with a more contemporary band or perhaps keep the original band and choose a new ring top,” Weiss says. “Using an antique engagement ring with a modern-style wedding band is very trendy at the moment.” Customising a handed-down piece allows you to add your own personalised touch while celebrating and upholding its antiquity at the same time.
Pearls Of Wisdom
To ensure your wedding jewellery remains in great condition long after your special day, Weiss provides some final advice around jewellery care and cleaning.
“Don’t use toothpaste … many customers have used toothpaste to clean their jewellery and then wonder why the piece looks so dull. Cleaning with a dishwashing detergent and a soft, clean toothbrush should do it,” he says. “If there is any ingrained dirt or hand cream, it could be more difficult to clean and may require a professional ultrasonic clean. Otherwise, if it’s just surface oil, a gentle wipe with a soft cloth will do the trick.”
Whether you decide to fully restore a piece of jewellery handed down from generation to generation, or simply take elements from your
favourite antique to create an entirely new design, engaging the services of a highly qualified jeweller will ensure the ring of your dreams is realised.