Curse of the Jade Bangle
November 30, 2012 7:42 AM   Subscribe

I've broken my favorite piece of a jewelry -- a solid jade bangle. It dropped on the bathroom floor and broke into 2 pieces (pics 1 2). When I put the two pieces together it doesn't look too bad (i.e. I think it was a "clean break" with no additional tiny pieces missing), so I'd like to fix it. Can I do this myself and will it look not horrible? What type of stuff could I use to glue the pieces together? If the answers to the previous questions are no and none, do you know of someone (jeweler/stone person) who could fix it in the DC/MD area?

I know that after fixing it (whether myself or professional), I will have to be extra careful as the joint will be a weak point. Believe me, I've learned my lesson with being careful with nice, sentimental jewelry.
posted by bluefly to Media & Arts (14 answers total)
Most of the sites I have found indicate that you want to use a two part epoxy to repair jade. It looks like there are specific epoxies made for gemstones, but Hughes 330 is the one I see recommended the most. You can probably find it at a craft store or a stone/gem shop. You're right that the joint will be a weak point, so if the bangle is difficult to slide on and off over your hand, it may not hold together as well as you would like.

Good luck; it's a lovely piece!
posted by blurker at 8:02 AM on November 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Agreed that two-part epoxy is the way to go.
posted by woodvine at 8:04 AM on November 30, 2012

I actually fixed a jade bangle with krazy glue and it looks good enough - I can see the break when I look, but it isn't dramatic. (I too dropped it on the bathroom floor.)

But what about calling a Chinese jeweler? There must be one in DC, they almost certainly sell a ton of jade bangles and could probably advise you or repair it or both. Apparently, they can either use "jeweler's epoxy" or else use some kind of metal setting to hold the pieces together. Honestly, the gold "repairs" I see when image searching "repair jade bangle" look really pretty and distinguished. Also, I think they could make the repair "hinged" so that it would not just be a weak point on the bangle.
posted by Frowner at 8:05 AM on November 30, 2012 [3 favorites]

If you have never used two part epoxy, which is also what I'd go with for the fix, before it would likely pay to practice on something else before the bangle.

It's not rocket science but, depending on the specific epoxy and joint, you may need to work moderately quickly, mix the epoxy properly, not make a mess, and use the proper amount. Planning/testing out how you are going to hold the piece together while it cures, and for how long, is another aspect to plan before the fact.

You can do this yourself if you aren't a total klutz but it's not as simple as elmers or crazy glue.
posted by RolandOfEld at 8:10 AM on November 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Another option, possibly to keep in mind for the future -- I had a friend have a broken jade bangle repaired by having something like this done to it. You can always have the broken edges used to set the bracelet in a clasp setting if an epoxy repair doesn't seem like it'll get it done.

Cost a bit more, of course, and requires a jeweler, but it's another option.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:18 AM on November 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

If the break is truly clean and the pieces fit together seamlessly, krazy glue should be fine. Try to look for "gap filling" krazy glue. You'll have to be quick and make sure you fit the pieces together really well.

Excess krazy glue can be cleaned up with acetone, but be careful because acetone can damage some types of jade. You also don't want to damage the glue in the joint.

If there is any gap at all, a two-part epoxy is best.
posted by Behemoth at 8:18 AM on November 30, 2012

Eyebrows McGee's option is also a good one if the bracelet is a squeeze to get on
posted by edgeways at 8:36 AM on November 30, 2012

How about Kintsugi? I'd prefer someone do this professionally rather than using a kit, but it is an interesting concept, and one I think I'd look into!
posted by jph at 8:44 AM on November 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yea, my response above was from while I was on my phone so I couldn't check the images easily.

Addendum now that I've seen it: If that bracelet is a tight fit when it slides over your wrist then I fear even the best epoxy/glue/absolutely rigid fix is eventually going to re-fail at the break because the bond just isn't going to hold well to the small surface area of the break AND the force it is going to be subject to is going to be pretty much normal to the mended plane.

Something like the sleeves or wire would likely be better.
posted by RolandOfEld at 8:48 AM on November 30, 2012

It's not a very tight fit. It doesn't fall off my wrist, but it is not difficult to get on. I think I will consult with a jeweler and see what their recommendation is, and if the cost is not prohibitive (well, not more than the bangle cost to start with), I'll go that route. Thanks for the tip too look for Chinese jewelers, Frowner. If it's too expensive, I might try the epoxy by myself.

Thanks, everyone, for all your input!
posted by bluefly at 8:55 AM on November 30, 2012

If this happened to me (I am surprised it has not, to date) I'd go to Afram Jewelers and talk to them about something like Eyebrows McGee suggested if you can swing it. In any case, they will help you figure out the best solution.

They are at 1436 New York Ave, NW, (202) 347-0332. They are great!
posted by jgirl at 9:13 AM on November 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

The problem with using crazy glue is that cyanoacrylates are not terribly tough glues. They can crack with repeated use and may break again. Epoxys are a better choice, tougher and much less likely to break a second time.

A good application is really important too. A jeweler for a favourite piece might be worth the investment.
posted by bonehead at 9:31 AM on November 30, 2012

As Eyebrows McGee said, in my experience with vintage jewellery, this is how broken jade bangles used to be/are repaired. It doesn't always need to be gold, or hinged - but it can be beautifully done.
posted by peagood at 10:51 AM on November 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

"Krazy glue" is a type of cyanoacrylate glue, a.k.a. "superglue".

They (ideally) form one-molecule-thick bonds between two rigid, non-smooth surfaces (like broken jade!). They are highly sensitive to shock - so if you drop the jade again, don't be surprised if it rebreaks on the same line.

Finally, cyanoacrylate glues require a tiny amount of water to bond. So, if you put too much on, and the surfaces are too dry, they may not bind at all.

Ideally, put teeny tiny drops on one side of the break, breathe heavily on the other side ("fogging" it with breath moisture), and press them HARD together. Hold for 10-60 seconds, depending on the specific type (so hold 60 seconds). If they don't stick, the moisture evaporated, or you put too much glue on.

2-part epoxies are a HUGE range of very effective glues. Some of them are much, much better at handling shock than cyanoacrylate glue. Most are not clear (cyanoacrylates are clear), and if you don't press hard and clean up well, they might leave a visible line.

So, do you want this to be a 1-time-ONLY fix? Use a 2-part epoxy and be prepared to clean carefully with a razor blade and a buffing agent after.

If you can bear it breaking again, but not getting worse, cyanoacrylate. That's what I would do. Both are good ideas.
posted by IAmBroom at 6:25 PM on December 1, 2012

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