Jewelry Repair: Is this necklace fixable? If so, with what?
July 22, 2018 10:11 AM   Subscribe

I have a large, heavy necklace, and a piece broke off, taking the chain the clasp hooks into with it. Fixable?

Here's the broken necklace with bonus feline. The missing piece is on the right (the necklace should be symmetrical). As you can see, the broken piece would need to be reattached on five small points. Is there any adhesive strong enough to do this? I'd be fine with using something involving fumes or that's a little bit more money, but I would prefer not to do anything that requires any more equipment than an adhesive out of a bottle (e.g., soldering).

I'm not sure what metal this is. Probably not nickel (or if it is, it's coated in something) because it doesn't bother my skin at all. I see it is turning a bit green. I bought it at Sak's Fifth Avenue Outlet for forty bucks, and I had it only a few months when it broke, which is why I'd like to try to fix it. Thanks.
posted by unannihilated to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Is it bendy when it gets warm? It could be pewter. Technically fixable but would probably cost more than its worth. I'd take it back and try to get a refund
posted by missmagenta at 10:18 AM on July 22, 2018

Bendy when warm? No, never noticed that.
It's been over a year since I bought it, so it's not returnable.
posted by unannihilated at 10:23 AM on July 22, 2018

Unfortunately, I kinda doubt if you're going to end up with a satisfactory repair using an adhesive (or at all). Those are very small contact points that need to be reattached, relative to the size of the piece. That said, if I were going to attempt this repair I would definitely use an epoxy as they are very strong and work well on metals. Clean the broken ends with rubbing alcohol, mix up a small batch of epoxy, and apply to both sides of the break with a toothpick. Press together and make sure that the joint doesn't move even a tiny bit until the epoxy is fully cured, at least 24hrs. You might be OK.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 10:41 AM on July 22, 2018

I can't think of an adhesive that I would trust to support that much necklace on five very small points of contact. If you're not super picky, just stitch the two pieces back together with fine wire or monofilament. You could even add some wire to the other side so it looks symmetrical if anyone notices.

If you want to go all out, I would start by gluing it back together with metal epoxy and then use bits of stiff wire (cut up some paper clips) and more epoxy to reinforce the break from behind. I'm not sure whether metal epoxy is great for skin contact so maybe coat it with clear nail polish after everything is cured. I'd probably still use a bit of thread to stitch the two pieces together in case the bond fails.
posted by yeahlikethat at 10:42 AM on July 22, 2018 [4 favorites]

I doubt that this is fixable through adhesive use. It's some kind of inexpensive pot metal - not to say that it's not pretty! - and the break is at a place where there's a lot of weight. My thought would be to break the other side to match and then either:

1. Get jewelry fittings and a chain at a jewelry supply store so that the actual chain and clasp are attached at the break, or

2. Get some fine jewelry wire or a bunch of little rings and a fine pliers and carefully wire the breaks. The necklace will have an articulation point on each side where the repair is.

3. Get some fine jewelry wire or a bunch of little rings and carefully repair the broken side - it won't be perfectly symmetrical but it will pass muster.

On reflection, I think I'd go with rings rather than wire - you would attach them the way they are attached to hold the different pieces of the necklace together, only you'd attache the broken and unbroken parts. Take the necklace with you to the craft/bead/jewelry supply store and maybe buy two sizes of rings (they're cheap)so that you can get the best fit. If you're only doing one side, you'll want very small rings so that you'll minimize the difference in length between the repaired and non-repaired sides.

You can use strong clippers or jewelry pliers to break off the tiny sticky-out piece, too. Then put maybe two rings in each of the big sections and one in the little middle section.

I think this is quite repairable, and as long as you aren't wearing it in a context where it needs to be perfect, it will be fine. It's got a lot going on and a lot of movement, so the eye won't be drawn to a careful repair.
posted by Frowner at 10:43 AM on July 22, 2018 [5 favorites]

You're not likely going to be able to reattach the broken piece of that grid-like section, but it would be fairly straightforward to remove the grid from both sides and replace it with something else, because near as I can tell it is just held on to the main pieces via jump rings. I could imagine weavings some sections of fine chain together. Or using multiple segments of snake chain or ball chain that draw off each corner of the main piece and then come together at the top.

If I was going to try to glue it back together, I'd probably plan to tightly weave ribbon through the whole grid to support the rejoined pieces, and do the same on the other side to make them match.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:45 AM on July 22, 2018 [4 favorites]

Its very pretty. A decent jewelry maker can repair or re-design it. I have dabbled in jewelry making and I would even up the left side, solder a bar on each side attach 2 loops to each bar and maybe do a new chain. I have had jewelry repaired with glue - not successfully. With 5 layers, it may be heavy. I would consider making it into 2 or more necklaces, maybe ones that could be worn together.
posted by theora55 at 10:48 AM on July 22, 2018 [3 favorites]

You could probably fix it with transparent epoxy glue on the back. It's strong and hardly visible. Since the contact area is very small, you'll need some extra glue to create a transparent 'patch' on the back of the piece.

I would take some plastic wrap, use that to cover a working area (epoxy doesn't stick to it), mix up some of the glue (it's two-component), then make a small puddle as long as the broken part and as wide as your pinkie finger. Then carefully lay the broken pieces on top of the glue and in the correct position. Leave to harden overnight. If any of the glue sticks out to the side of the metal, cut it off with a knife.
posted by Too-Ticky at 10:48 AM on July 22, 2018

I didn't notice that the broken pieces are attached to the center part with jump rings rather than all one solid piece - given that, I think that just replacing the side pieces would be an option. If there's a specialty bead supply store in your area which carries a lot of fittings/chains/etc, they might even be able to advice you. Even in a worst case scenario, you'll be able to get one or two nice necklaces out of it.
posted by Frowner at 10:52 AM on July 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

No adhesive will hold that. Simplest would be to take off the broken side piece at the rings, remove the corresponding side piece and then buy a length of 1/8" velvet ribbon in gray? black? hot pink? Cut in half and thread it through the two rings on each side. Tie in back with a bow and let the ends dangle. Seal the cut ends of the ribbon with a dab of white glue if they look like they'll unravel.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 11:14 AM on July 22, 2018

If it were me I would snap the other side at the same point (or use wire cutters), use some sand paper on any sharp metal edges, then connect the pieces again with some jewelry jump rings.
posted by Crystalinne at 11:36 AM on July 22, 2018 [3 favorites]

yea, adhesive won't work, but a row of jump rings holding the broken pieces together would do the trick. Then you can either break and re-attach the other side in the same way so it all matches, or just add a row of the same jump rings to the other side without breaking it and it will still look symmetrical enough.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 11:50 AM on July 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

I am speaking as a metalsmith who has had many people bring their broken pieces to me for repair. I am guessing it is pewter given the price, and you will not be able to solder it because it will turn to goo. Technically, you could fix it with gel Crazy glue that does work, but once it breaks, there are tiny cracks that form, and it will keep breaking.

Mall jewelry are pieces that are not meant to be kept a long time -- that's why they are made from pewter. If you are partial to it, you could remove the broken parts held together by the jump rings, and then just reattach the chain back to the unbroken parts with the same jump rings.

But it is not worth the trouble because pewter breaks and you could break it trying to fix it. These are seasonable/disposable jewelry. If you want sturdier jewelry, you need to look for silver, copper, bronze, titanium, niobium, not pewter. Silver will be stamped, and there are many metalsmiths out there who do fantastic and durable work that is comparable in price. They make keeper pieces, not the stuff you find at department stores and malls that have all sorts of other trouble with them.
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 6:28 PM on July 22, 2018

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